Exodus 13:15
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that opens the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.
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13:11-16 The firstlings of beast not used in sacrifice, were to be changed for others so used, or they were to be destroyed. Our souls are forfeited to God's justice, and unless ransomed by the sacrifice of Christ, will certainly perish. These institutions would continually remind them of their duty, to love and serve the Lord. In like manner, baptism and the Lord's supper, if explained and attended to, would remind us, and give us occasion to remind one another of our profession and duty.An ass - The ass could not be offered in sacrifice, being an unclean animal: possibly the only unclean animal domesticated among the Israelites at the time of the Exodus. This principle was extended to every unclean beast; see Numbers 18:15.

Thou shalt redeem - The lamb, or sheep, was given to the priest for the service of the sanctuary.

Firstborn of man - The price of redemption was fixed at five shekels of the sanctuary: Numbers 3:47, where see the note.

12, 13. every firstling, &c.—the injunction respecting the consecration of the first-born, as here repeated, with some additional circumstances. The firstlings of clean beasts, such as lambs, kids, and calves, if males, were to be devoted to God and employed in sacrifice. Those unclean beasts, as the ass's colt, being unfit for sacrifice, were to be redeemed (Nu 18:15). No text from Poole on this verse. And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go,.... Showed great reluctance to it, and with difficulty was prevailed upon to dismiss them:

that the Lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of men, and the firstborn of beast: which he did in one night, making use of a destroying angel or angels for that purpose:

therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth thee matrix, being males; that is, the firstborn of all clean creatures, as oxen, sheep, and goats:

but all the firstborn of my children I redeem; by paying five shekels apiece to the priest for them, as before observed; and this law continues to be observed with the Jews; the manner of which, as related by Leo Modena (i), is as follows,"Thirty days being expired after the birth of the child, they call a priest to them; that is to say, one that is descended of the stock of Aaron, whom the father of the child pleaseth; and so, many people being gathered together at the time appointed, the father of the child bringeth before the priest, in a bowl or basin, a good quantity of gold and silver, and then they give him the child into his arms; the priest then calling the mother of it before him, saith unto her, mistress, is this your son? she answereth, yes; then, replies he, have you never had any child before, either male or female, or have miscarried anyone? she saith unto him, no; then doth the priest say, this child is mine, as being the firstborn; then turning himself toward the father, he asketh him, whether he will redeem it or not? who answereth him, saying, see, here is gold and silver, take your own price; then saith the priest unto him, you will redeem it then? the father answereth, I will redeem it; it shall be so then, saith the priest, this child is mine as being the firstborn, as it is written, Numbers 18:16. I therefore take this in exchange, &c. and so he takes the sum of two French crowns, or thereabout, as he thinks good, and then delivers the child to his father and mother, and this day they make a feasting day.''This custom was used in Christ's time, and was observed with respect to him, Luke 2:27.

(i) History of the Jews, par. 4. c. 9. sect. 2.

And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.
15. would hardly, &c.] Heb. dealt hardly in letting us go (or made it hard to let us go), i.e. made difficulties in letting us go: cf., for the Heb., Genesis 35:16.

that Jehovah slew, &c.] cf. Numbers 3:13; Numbers 8:17 (P).Verse 15. - When Pharaoh would hardly let us go. Bather, "when Pharaoh hardened himself against letting us go." At his last interview with Moses, Pharaoh had absolutely refused to let them go with their cattle (Exodus 10:24-27), and Moses had absolutely refused to go without them. I sacrifice all that openeth the womb, being males. And being clean animals. The common sense of the reader or hearer, is expected to supply the restriction. Of my children. Rather, as in verse 13, "of my sons." The festival prescribed was to be to Israel "for a sign upon its hand, and for a memorial between the eyes." These words presuppose the custom of wearing mnemonic signs upon the hand and forehead; but they are not to be traced to the heathen custom of branding soldiers and slaves with marks upon the hand and forehead. For the parallel passages in Deuteronomy 6:8 and Deuteronomy 11:18, "bind them for a sign upon your hand," are proofs that the allusion is neither to branding nor writing on the hand. Hence the sign upon the hand probably consisted of a bracelet round the wrist, and the ziccaron between the eyes, of a band worn upon the forehead. The words are then used figuratively, as a proverbial expression employed to give emphasis to the injunction to bear this precept continually in mind, to be always mindful to observe it. This is still more apparent from the reason assigned, "that the law of Jehovah may be in thy mouth." For it was not by mnemonic slips upon the hand and forehead that a law was so placed in the mouth as to be talked of continually (Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 11:19), but by the reception of it into the heart and its continual fulfilment. (See also Exodus 13:16.) As the origin and meaning of the festival were to be talked of in connection with the eating of unleavened bread, so conversation about the law of Jehovah was introduced at the same time, and the obligation to keep it renewed and brought vividly to mind.
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