SDMB weekly Bible Study (SDMBWBS)-Week 42 Exodus 13

Welcome to the SDMB weekly Bible Study (SDMBWBS). This week we will be discussing Exodus 13. Since the discussion can turn into a very broad and hijackable thread, we would like the following rules to be adhered to:

  1. These SDMBWBS threads are to deal with the books and stories in the Bible as literature. What I’m hoping to achieve is an understanding of the stories, the time in which they were written, context, and possibly its cultural relevance.

  2. While it is up to the individual to choose to believe or disbelieve any portion, that is not to be the discussion of the thread. If you must, please choose to witness/anti-witness in Great Debates.

  3. The intention is to go through the Bible from front to back in order. While different books are needed to be referred to in order to understand context, please try and keep the focus on the thread’s selected chapter(s)/verse(s).

  4. Since different religions have chosen which books to include or omit, the threads will use the Catholic version of 46 Old Testament Books and 27 New Testament Books. It’s encouraged to discuss why a book was included/omitted during the applicable threads only. BibleHub, as far as I know, is a good resource that compiles many different versions of the verses into one page.(Also the SDMB Staff Reports on Who Wrote the Bible). Please feel free to use whatever source you want, including-and even more helpfully-the original language.

  5. Hopefully we can get through these threads with little to no moderation. A gentle reminder that if a poster comes in and ignores these rules, please use the “report post” function instead of responding.

Links to previous threads:
Genesis 49 & 50 (this includes links to all previous Genesis threads)
Exodus 1
Exodus 2
Exodus 3
Exodus 4
Exodus 5&6
Exodus 7-10
Exodus 11-12

[Exodus 13

New International Version (NIV)](

Consecration of the Firstborn

13 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.”

3 Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast. 4 Today, in the month of Aviv, you are leaving. 5 When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites—the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey—you are to observe this ceremony in this month: 6 For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the Lord. 7 Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. 8 On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. 10 You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.

11 “After the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your ancestors, 12 you are to give over to the Lord the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the Lord. 13 Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.

14 “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt. This is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’ 16 And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”

Crossing the Sea

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”

20 After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
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They’ve just left Egypt, been told to celebrate that event, and the next thing that happens is that the first-born of Israel is consecrated to God. Why? The redemption from Egypt required a great deal of bloodshed. That was the price. Whenever human blood is shed, the text feels that there is something awry in the cosmos that must be redressed (e.g., see Gen 4:10 and Gen 9:5.) Since the first-born of Egypt were slain, the first-born of Israel (who were spared) are to serve God in some way not yet specified. Later, in Numbers 3:11 and 3:45, the tribe of Levites will replace the first-born, and “consecrated to God” will mean serving in the tabernacle and later Temple.

We go from there to a reminder not to eat leavened bread. Why the emphasis on food? Food and eating have, in the past, been an expression of arrogance. Adam and Eve ate from the tree, Noah sinned with wine. So, at this “third creation,” Israel is not allowed to express arrogance through food.

Why not eat bread? Bread is one of the most basic foods of civilization; wandering people don’t engage in agriculture. Instead, they are to eat the most basic kind of bread (matzah), made by mixing flour and water and slopping it down on a hot stone in the desert to bake.

In verse 8, and again in verse 14, the Israelites are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus to their children. This commandment will be repeated four times in the Torah, and is the basis for the Passover seder.

The “sign upon your hand and symbol on your forehead” in verses 9 and 16 are mentioned again in Deuteronomy 6:8 and 11:18. These are phylacteries (Hebrew: tefillin) which religious Jews put on for daily morning prayer.

Verses 17 – 20 are, of course, setting up the crossing of the sea. The translation “Red Sea” is famous (and KJV) but not correct, it’s literally “Sea of Reeds.” The Red Sea is more than 120 miles away from the most likely site for Goshen, which couldn’t have been covered in a week. The Hebrew suf is derived from the Egyptian for papyrus, a reed, which would not grow in the salt water at the shores of the Red Sea. Sarna notes that there is no mention of lack of drinking water until later, so the march probably took the Israelites to the far northeastern corner of Egypt, where there are large lagoons near the shore of the Mediterranean.

They go “around by the desert road” rather than take the “shorter” road, so they’re going on a zig-zag route. This is a deliberate ploy so that Pharaoh will think they are wandering aimlessly and will give chase.

Moses takes the bones of Joseph as was promised in Gen 50:25, the text is almost identical. This is then a literary bookend for the period of slavery, and Joseph’s bones are taken home as a symbol of the patriarchal covenant.

Succoth is presumed to be the Egyptian Tjeku, a day’s journey from the royal palace at Rameses.

The pillars of fire and cloud will be mentioned several times. They have a two-fold function, to guide and also to cover/protect. The symbolism of fire (or light) is often associated with God being near – light is the first thing created, God speaks from the burning bush, etc.

New thread for Exodus 14+15