Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Sanctify unto me every first-born. Sanctification in this place means, that the first-born males of the Hebrews should be deputed to the ministry in the divine worship: and the first-born of beasts to be given for a sacrifice. (Challoner) --- Sanctify, set apart. (Menochius) --- Openeth, the first male fruit of the womb. If a female was born the first, none of the children were to be redeemed. (Luke ii. 23.) Jesus Christ submitted to this law; though many of the fathers have asserted that, on account of his miraculous conception and birth, he was not subjected to it; while others maintain the contrary. (Calmet)
Corn. Hebrew Abib; which was styled Nisan after the Babylonian captivity. At this time, peculiar names were not yet given to the months, by the Hebrews or Egyptians. (Calmet) --- They were distinguished by their respective order, productions, or appearances. (Haydock)
When. These regulations did not therefore take place in the desert. (Menochius)
And it, &c. The festivals appointed by God and his Church, naturally remind us of the favours which we have received, and help us to meditate on the law. (Haydock) --- The Jews, understanding the precept literally, write verses taken from this chapter, and Deuteronomy vi. and xi., upon parchment, and bind these tephilins, or phylacteries, on their forehead. But if these scrolls were requisite, why do they not also put them in their mouth and in their heart? Jesus Christ condemns the vanity of the Pharisees, who wore these bandages extremely large, Matthew xxiii. 5. The Mahometans teach their scholars, by writing the Coran upon a tablet, and exposing it to their view: (Calmet) a plan lately introduced in England with great success by Mr. Lancaster.
Price. No other option is given, as the Levites were selected for the ministry. (Haydock) --- The first offspring of impure animals, were to be redeemed or killed; those of the pure were to be offered in sacrifice, Numbers xviii. 15. (Philo.) Dogs, cats, poultry, &c. were to be slain, Deuteronomy xxiii. 18. (Calmet)
To-morrow. At any future period, Matthew vi. 2. (Menochius)
Hardened. Hebrew, "by himself," or by his own malice. (Worthington)
It. This ordinance shall cause thee never to forget the goodness of God. (Haydock)
Lest. God maketh use of precautions, to shew the free-will of man. (Worthington) --- The Philistines had before made a great slaughter of the Ephraimites, 1 Paralipomenon vii. 21. The Chanaanites would also be ready to oppose the Hebrews, if they had attempted to enter by the road of Pelusium, and perhaps the Idumeans and Amalecites also would have met them in front, while the Egyptians attacked their rear. (Calmet) --- This journey, Philo says, would not have taken up above three days. The battle with Amalec took place only 40 days afterwards, and God protected his people. (Menochius)
Armed, in order of battle. Hebrew chamushim, "by fives," or in five battalions. (Josue i. 14; Judges viii. 11.) (Calmet) --- Calvin asks where the Hebrews could procure arms, as if to cavil with this translation. But surely they might get them in the same manner as the vessels of gold; and they undoubtedly were not destitute of arms when they encountered the Amalecites, ver. 17. (Haydock)
Joseph's. This attention to the dead is commended, Hebrews xi. (Worthington) --- St. Stephen assures us, that the bones of the other patriarchs were deposited at Sichen; and we may conclude, that they were transported on this occasion by their respective families, Acts vii. 16.
Etham. A city on the banks of the Red Sea, giving its name to one of the gulfs, which the Greeks called after the city of Heropolis. (Pliny, Natural History vi. 29.) The Septuagint translate, "They encamped at Othon, which is near the desert;" and (Numbers xxxii. 6,) the Hebrews marched three days in the desert of Buthan, before they arrived at Mara.
Never. From the station of Etham; or, if we follow St. Jerome, from that of Socoth, or even from Ramesses, according to Bonfrere, till the passage of the Jordan, when the ark supplied its want, Josue iii. 11. This cloud assumed different appearances, as the exigencies of the Hebrews required. It was a figure of baptism; (1 Corinthians x. 1) the fire designated Jesus Christ, and the cloud the Holy Ghost. (St. Ambrose, de Sac. 6.) (Calmet)