Leaving Egypt

Exodus 12:29-51

At midnight, God moves across Egypt, smiting their firstborn children and animals as promised. In despair, Pharaoh calls to Moses and Aaron, telling them to take the Hebrews out from among his people and go serve God in any manner they wish. As God had told them to do earlier, the Israelites ask their Egyptian neighbors for gold, silver and garments, and their requests are granted.


The Children of Israel, freed from the spectre of Egypt after 430 years, travel en masse from Rameses to Succoth. They number 600,000 men alone, not counting women, children or Egyptians who were moved to join them after witnessing the miracles of the plagues. There, they baked leftover dough from the night before into matza.


At this point, God adds details regarding future sacrifices: every male is obligated to participate, but no stranger may eat from it; males must be circumcised to partake; and it must be eaten in one place.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think God takes this opportunity, as they are leaving Egypt, to add more details about eating the Passover lamb? What do you think is the significance of these particular requirements, especially the one that all participants must be circumcised?

Comments ( 8 )

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  • G-d wanted it to be a lasting celebration in future. When a celebration is futile and only short, the importance is not felt so much. But seeing the conditions it should be eaten, it is clear that it was very important in the eyes of HaShem. The way of eating the seider points to the near future. They had to travel and to leave their bloodstained home. Circumcising reinforces the future things . Our people were not going to die in the desert, but to live and to multiply. HE Who gives life will care for them. And so it still is in the seider meal. That’s why children have such an important share in it.

  • The significance of these details like Kenneth said is to make it clear to the Israelites what a milestone event this is. In fact, instructions that "this shall be a Law for you forever" are repeated so as again to emphasize the importance of this event. The more caution a human being is given over something, the more likely they will heed to it. And in fact, they needed this great caution since their minds prior to leaving were preoccupied by the many wonders (plagues) they had witnessed, so possibly they had been distracted, hence the need for more caution.

  • Kenneth Osterman

    It is a sign of the original covenant made with Abraham. This was a milestone event in God’s divine purpose and a reaffirmation of that promise to Israel. Even Moses was challenged about circumcision before he returned to Egypt and Zipporah recognized the importance quicker than Moses.

  • Diana Brown

    This morning as I was reading the Torah, I wondered what “cut off from the congregation of Israel meant” and how the cut off could be grafted back in. I also wondered how the Israeli mothers felt the day after the Egyptian firstborn judgment was executed by the LORD. As I was thinking about this, I got a phone call from my friend with some bad news. We both have the same hairdresser and last night, her second born daughter was thrown from a car as it careened down an embankment. She was flown by air ambulance to a nearby county’s hospital. Her parents received the call at 4am and they rushed down to the hospital. I am unsure if they arrived in time to see Chelsea before she was rushed into surgery but she died from internal bleeding. All the sudden “cut off” took on a new meaning….no more connectiveness in the natural world. Surely only the hope of seeing your dead child in the supernatural age to come is a sustaining hope for those whose loved ones have been cut off from the land of the living.
    I am certain when the Jewish mothers heard the cries of the Egyptian mothers the morning after the night of watching for the LORD’s judgments, their hearts were stirred for their neighbors even if they were harsh and cruel to them. I know my heart was stirred and I fell to my knees and prayed for my hairdresser Charlene and her husband Jimmy this morning. Judgment affects us all. I trust in the Almighty to work this out for our good and His Glory. I know prayer will sustain them and make a way for them to move on without leaving what is precious to them behind.

    • Diana, what a terrible tragedy! I too believe that there must have been some degree of sympathy towards the horrible plagues being inflicted on the Israelite’s enemies. In fact, some of the laws of Passover teach us about this sympathy. In the daily prayers, the prayer of Hallel ‘praises’ is added during the week of Passover. These are a collection of praises from the Book of Psalms, and are considered joyous. The Hallel prayer is added during Festivals, the start of each month, and Hannukah. There is a full and abridged version of this prayer. According to Jewish tradition, the splitting of the sea, and therefore the death of the Egyptians, occurred on the last day of Passover. For this reason, Jewish law dictates that we only say the abridged Hallel prayer on the last day of Passover, for how could we fully rejoice while God’s creations were being drowned. Another example of us showing our sympathies takes place during the Passover Seder. While the Passover Seder is a long evening, recounting the awesome and great actions of God as He saved the Children of Israel from slavery, there is a point during the evening where the ten plagues are recounted. During this portion, participants spill ten drops of wine from their wine glasses, as an expression of sympathy to the Egyptian suffering.

  • Drew

    I am certain that scripture isnt always chronological. So do we have 1 passover, 2 leaving, back to 1( v 43-50 ) then carry on with 2 ?
    i feel i should mention that i am not Jewish nor an Israeli 🙂

    • There is a concept amongst classic commentators that the Torah is not always recorded in order of its occurrence (though there are others who argue with this premise). However, this ‘tool’ for understanding seemingly non-chronological stories is used sparingly, and when it is used, an explanation as to why it was written specifically out of order must be given.

      • A Special Message To The Public

        Tantamount to when God told Moses and Aaron to get the Assyrians to help the Israelites escape Pharoah's tirade in Egypt back in the day.

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