Exodus 13:16
And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.
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(16) It shall be for a token.—See the comment on Exodus 13:9. The “frontlets” (totaphôth) of this passage, and of Deuteronomy 6:8, were called tephillin in Chaldee, both words signifying properly “bands” or “circlets.” The injunctions on the subject which are here given might undoubtedly be explained as metaphorical; but those in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 seem to have been intended, and were certainly understood, literally.

Exodus 13:16. For frontlets between thine eyes — As conspicuous as any thing fixed to thy forehead, or between thine eyes. That is, they were constantly to retain such a sense of their deliverance as if they had it before their eyes.

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). For frontlets; instead of frontlets. The sense is, This practice shall make your deliverance from Egypt as fresh and evident to you, and to your children, as any thing which you see hanged or written upon one another’s foreheads. See Ezekiel 9:4. It seems strange to me, that they that understand the sign on the hand, and the memorial between the eyes, Exodus 13:9, metaphorically, should understand the

frontlets between the eyes in this place properly, seeing the phrase is perfectly the same; only here is a more particular allusion to the custom of the Egyptians, which used to wear some devices upon their foreheads, which probably they called totaphoth, which were memorials of their idols, or of something relating to them. And therefore it seems unlikely that he should here prescribe the use of the same things to the Jews; and the more probable meaning of the phrase is only this, that this practice would be as effectual and useful a remembrancer of this mighty and glorious work of God in bringing them out of Egypt, as those contrivances were to the Egyptians of their idols.

And it shall be for a token upon thine head, and for frontlets between thine eyes,.... These laws observed concerning the setting apart the firstlings of their beasts, the redemption of the firstborn of unclean ones, and of the firstborn of men, will bring the reason of it, the destruction of the firstborn of Egypt, and the preservation of the firstborn of Israel, as fresh to remembrance as any token upon the hand, put there to bring things to mind; and it will be as easily and as clearly discerned as anything upon a man's forehead may be seen by another:

for by strength of hand the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt: which is often mentioned, that it might be observed; it being the signs and wonders which the omnipotent hand of God wrought, especially the last, which worked upon Pharaoh, to let the people of Israel go; and their posterity, in all succeeding ages, would speak of this affair as if personally concerned in it, they being then in the loins of their ancestors, and represented by them, as well as they reaped and enjoyed all the benefits of that wonderful deliverance, the possession of the land of Canaan, and the blessings of it, as well as many other privileges both of a civil and religious kind. And so Maimonides (k) says,"in every age a man is obliged to consider himself as if he in himself now went out of the bondage of Egypt, as it is said, "and he brought us forth from thence", &c.''

(k) Hilchot Chametz Umetzah, c. 7. sect. 6.

And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.
16. Like Maẓẓoth (v. 9), the redemption of the firstborn is to serve the same purpose as a ritual mark, or badge, in reminding Israel constantly of what Jehovah had done for them.

frontlets] Heb. ṭôṭâphôth (properly, perhaps,—from the Arabic ṭâfa, to make a circuit,—circlets or headbands1[137]): Deuteronomy 6:8; Deuteronomy 11:18 †. The word takes the place of the ‘memorial’ in v. 9. Originally, as the comparative study of religions makes probable, the ‘frontlet’ was some kind of badge worn upon the forehead as a mark of belonging to the national Deity, by which he might know who were his, and (like an amulet) guaranteeing them his protection, and also reminding those who bore it of their ceremonial duties towards him. Here it is merely said that the redemption of the firstborn is to be for (i.e. to serve the same purpose as) a ‘sign,’ or ritual mark (see on v. 9) upon the head, and ‘frontlets’ on the forehead, in reminding Israel of its duties towards Jehovah. In Deuteronomy 6:8; Deuteronomy 11:18, where the same two expressions are used, but the reference is to words, it has been generally supposed that material objects are meant (see, however, against this view the strong arguments of A. R. S. Kennedy, art. Phylacteries in DB. p. 871 f.: it is not clear that ‘these words’ in Deuteronomy 6:6 refer to vv. 4, 5 alone; cf. Deuteronomy 11:18[138]); and the later Jews gave effect to this interpretation of the passage by inscribing Deuteronomy 13:1-16, Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21 on small scrolls of parchment, which were enclosed in cases, and bound with leathern thongs to the forehead and left arm. These are the tephillin, ‘prayers,’ of the later Jews, the φυλακτήρια (i.e. preservatives against demons, amulets: cf. Targ. on Song of Solomon 8:3, where protection against demons is expressly said to be the object of binding on the tephillin), mentioned in Matthew 23:5 (see further DB. l.c.).

[137] This meaning is not certain; but the sense drop, jewel (worn as an amulet) does not seem established by Shabb. vi. 1, 5, quoted for it by Kennedy (DB. iii. 872) Ṭôṭépheth certainly denotes there something worn by women; but the Gemara ibid. interprets of a band ‘going round from ear to ear.’ The word is extremely rare: Levy (NHWB. s.v.) states that he knows no other occurrence in post-Bibl. Heb. literature. In 2 Samuel 1:10 Targ. it is used of the armlet worn by Saul.

[138] LXX. also (in Dt. as well as in Ex.) interpret figuratively, ἀσάλευτον πρὸὀφθαλμῶν σου, i.e. ‘something immoveably fixed before [not ‘between’] thine eyes,’ ever present to thy thoughts.

Verse 16. - A sign... frontlets. See the comment on verse 9. It is the custom among the Jews to write this entire passage - Exodus 13:1-16 - on two of the four strips of parchment contained in the tephillin. The others have inscribed on them Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and Deuteronomy 11:13-21.

CHAPTER 13:17-20 Exodus 13:16לשׁלּחנוּ הקשׁה: "he made hard" (sc., his heart, cf. Exodus 7:3) "to let us go." The sanctification of the first-born is enforced in Exodus 13:16 in the same terms as the keeping of the feast of Mazzoth in Exodus 13:9, with this exception, that instead of לזכרון we have לטוטפת, as in Deuteronomy 6:8, and Deuteronomy 11:18. The word טוטפת signifies neither amulet nor στίγματα, but "binding" or headbands, as is evident from the Chaldee טוטפא armlet (2 Samuel 1:10), טוטפתּא tiara (Esther 8:15; Ezekiel 24:17, Ezekiel 24:23). This command was interpreted literally by the Talmudists, and the use of tephillim, phylacteries (Matthew 23:5), founded upon it;

(Note: Possibly these scrolls were originally nothing more than a literal compliance with the figurative expression, or a change of the figure into a symbol, so that the custom did not arise from a pure misunderstanding; though at a later period the symbolical character gave place more and more to the casual misinterpretation. On the phylacteries generally, see my Archologie and Herzog's Cycl.)

the Caraites, on the contrary, interpreted it figuratively, as a proverbial expression for constant reflection upon, and fulfilment of, the divine commands. The correctness of the latter is obvious from the words themselves, which do not say that the commands are to be written upon scrolls, but only that they are to be to the Israelites for signs upon the hand, and for bands between the eyes, i.e., they are to be kept in view like memorials upon the forehead and the hand. The expression in Deuteronomy 6:8, "Thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes," does not point at all to the symbolizing of the divine commands by an outward sign to be worn upon the hand, or to bands with passages of the law inscribed upon them, to be worn on the forehead between the eyes; nor does the "advance in Deuteronomy 6:8 from heart to word, and from word to hand or act," necessarily lead to the peculiar notion of Schultz, that "the sleeve and turban were to be used as reminders of the divine commands, the former by being fastened to the hand in a peculiar way, the latter by an end being brought down upon the forehead." The line of thought referred to merely expresses the idea, that the Israelites were not only to retain the commands of God in their hearts, and to confess them with the mouth, but to fulfil them with the hand, or in act and deed, and thus to show themselves in their whole bearing as the guardians and observers of the law. As the hand is the medium of action, and carrying in the hand represents handling, so the space between the eyes, or the forehead, is that part of the body which is generally visible, and what is worn there is worn to be seen. This figurative interpretation is confirmed and placed beyond doubt by such parallel passages as Proverbs 3:3, "Bind them (the commandments) about thy neck; write them upon the tables of thine heart" (cf. Proverbs 3:21, Proverbs 3:22, Exodus 4:21; Exodus 6:21-22; Exodus 7:3).

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