All that opens the matrix is mine; and every firstling among your cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)All that openeth the matrix is mine.—Comp. Exodus 13:12, where the sanctification of the firstborn and the law of redemption had already been declared. For the exact mode of redemption sanctioned, see Numbers 18:15-16.Exodus 34:12. The unfaithfulness of the nation to its covenant with Yahweh is here for the first time spoken of as a breach of the marriage bond. The metaphor is, in any case, a natural one, but it seems to gain point, if we suppose it to convey an allusion to the abominations connected with pagan worship, such as are spoken of in Numbers 25:1-3.And (for that is, as the particle and is oft used; the words following here, and Exodus 34:20, being a particular explication of the general sentence in the beginning of this verse)
all thy cattle which (a particle oft understood)
shall be born male, (as it is also explained Exodus 13:12) the
whatsoever (to wit, of the male kind)
openeth the matrix (which word is fitly understood out of the former member; which is very usual) of ox or (and put for or, as it is oft done) sheep. Exodus 13:2, Exodus 13:12. All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)19. and all, &c.] Something must be out of order: since the first born of cattle are included among ‘all that first openeth the womb,’ ‘mine’ cannot logically be the predicate of and all &c. Perhaps (Di.) thou shalt sanctify (Deuteronomy 15:19), or sacrifice, unto me has fallen out after ‘sheep.’ There is a similar inexactness in Exodus 13:12.
20b. appear before me] read probably see my face. See on Exodus 23:15 b.Verses 19, 20. - All that openeth the matrix is mine, etc. This is a repetition of the command given in Exodus 13:12, 13, which had not been inserted in the "Book of the Covenant." It is again enjoined in Leviticus 27:26, 27. None shall appear before me empty. Repeated from Exodus 23:15. Exodus 34:11-16); and, secondly, the instructions concerning the true worship of Jehovah (Exodus 34:17-26). The warning against friendship with the idolatrous Canaanites (Exodus 34:11-16) is more fully developed and more strongly enforced than in Exodus 23:23. The Israelites, when received into the covenant with Jehovah, were not only to beware of forming any covenant with the inhabitants of Canaan (cf. Exodus 23:32-33), but were to destroy all the signs of their idolatrous worship, such as altars, monuments (see Exodus 23:24), and asherim, the idols of Astarte, the Canaanitish goddess of nature, which consisted for the most part of wooden pillars (see my Comm. on 1 Kings 14:23), and to worship no other god, because Jehovah was called jealous, i.e., had revealed Himself as jealous (see at Exodus 20:5), and was a jealous God. This was commanded, that the Israelites might not suffer themselves to be led astray by such an alliance; to go a whoring after their gods, and sacrifice to them, to take part in their sacrificial festivals, or to marry their sons to the daughters of the Canaanites, by whom they would be persuaded to join in the worship of idols. The use of the expression "go a whoring" in a spiritual sense, in relation to idolatry, is to be accounted for on the ground, that the religious fellowship of Israel with Jehovah was a covenant resembling the marriage tie; and we meet with it for the first time, here, immediately after the formation of this covenant between Israel and Jehovah. The phrase is all the more expressive on account of the literal prostitution that was frequently associated with the worship of Baal and Astarte (cf. Leviticus 17:7; Leviticus 20:5-6; Numbers 14:33, etc.). We may see from Numbers 25:1. how Israel was led astray by this temptation in the wilderness.
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