Tuesday, December 12

Exodus 11-15

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Death for Egypt’s Firstborn

     11[1-3] Then Yahweh said to Moses, “I’ll send one more plague on the ruler of Egypt and the land of Egypt. After that, the ruler of Egypt will let you go. When he let’s you go, he’ll make you all to leave quickly. Tell all the Israelite men and women to ask their Egyptian neighbors for things of silver and gold.” Yahweh had caused the Egyptians to be kind to the people of Israel and Moses was considered a very great man in the land of Egypt, respected by the ruler of Egypt’s officials and the Egyptian people.

     [4-8] Then Moses said to the ruler of Egypt, “This is what Yahweh says: At midnight tonight I’ll pass through the heart of Egypt and all the firstborn will die in Egypt, from the firstborn of the ruler of Egypt, who sits on his throne, to the firstborn of his worker girl who grinds the flour. Even the firstborn of all the animals will die. Then a loud cry will sound throughout the land of Egypt, one like no one has heard before or will ever hear again. But not even a dog will bark against any of the Israelites or their animals. Then you’ll know that Yahweh makes a difference between the Egyptians and the Israelites. All of your people will run and fall to the ground before me, saying, ‘Get out! And take all your followers with you.’ After that, I’ll go out!” Then, Moses left the ruler of Egypt, being very angry. 

     [9-10] Now Yahweh had told Moses earlier, “The ruler of Egypt won’t listen to you, so I’ll do even more amazing things in the land of Egypt.” So Moses and Aaron did these miracles in the ruler of Egypt’s presence, but Yahweh made the ruler of Egypt’s heart stubborn, and he wouldn’t let the Israelites go out of His land.

The First Passover

     12[1-10] While the Israelites were still in the land of Egypt, Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. Say to all the people of Israel, ‘On the tenth day of this month each family will choose a lamb for a sacrifice, one animal for each household.’ If a family is too small to eat a whole animal, let them share with another family next door. Take the animal in keeping with the size of each family and how much they can eat. The animal you pick can’t have anything wrong with it, and will be a first-year-male, either a sheep or a goat. “Take care of it until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then all the people of Israel will kill their lamb or young goat as the sun goes down. They need to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the animal. That same night they will roast the meat over a fire and eat it along with bread made without yeast and bitter greens. Don’t eat any of the meat raw or boiled in water. The whole animal, including the head, legs, and insides, will be roasted over a fire. Don’t leave any of it until the next morning and burn whatever is left.

     [11-20] “This is the way you’ll eat it: Be dressed with your belt on and your sandals on your feet, and have your walking stick in your hand. So eat it quickly, because this is Yahweh’s Passover. On that night I’ll pass through the land of Egypt and kill every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human and animal. I’ll judge and punish all the gods of Egypt, because I Am Yahweh! But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you’re staying. When I see the blood, I’ll pass over you and this plague of death won’t touch you when I punish the land of Egypt. This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you’ll celebrate it as a feast to Yahweh. Make a law to keep it forever. For seven days the bread you eat won’t be made with yeast. On the first day of the feast, take out all of the yeast from your homes. Anyone who eats bread made with yeast during the seven days of the feast will be put out from the people of Israel. On the first day and again on the seventh day of the feast, all the people will come together to worship. No work of any kind may be done on these days except for fixing the food. Celebrate this Feast of Unleavened Bread to remind you that I brought your people out of the land of Egypt on this very day. Celebrate this day from generation to generation and make it a law. The bread you eat won’t be made with yeast from the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day of that month. During those seven days, let no yeast stay in your homes. Anyone who eats anything made with yeast during this week will be put out from the people of Israel, whether they are an Israelite or a foreigner. During those days you won’t eat anything made with yeast. Wherever you live, eat only bread made without yeast.”

     [21-27] Then Moses called all the leaders of Israel together and said to them, “Go, pick out a lamb in keeping with the size of each of your families, and kill the Passover sacrifice. Then take a branch of hyssop and dip it into the blood in the pan and brush it across the top and sides of the doorframes of your houses. And no one may go out through the door until morning. Yahweh will pass through the land to kill the Egyptians. But when God sees the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe, Yahweh will pass over your home and won’t let the death angel come into your house to kill you. Remember to keep these things as a law for you and your descendants forever. When you come into the land Yahweh has promised to give you, you’ll keep this ceremony. Then when your children ask, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’ you’ll say, ‘It’s the Passover sacrifice to Yahweh, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt to free us and killed the Egyptians.’” So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.

     [28-30] So the people of Israel did just as Yahweh had told Moses and Aaron. And that night at midnight, Yahweh killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of the ruler of Egypt, who sat on his throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner in the jail. Even the firstborn of their animals were killed. So the ruler of Egypt and all his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and a loud cry was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There wasn’t a house where someone wasn’t dead.

IsraelLeaves Egypt

     [31-36] Then the ruler of Egypt sent for Moses and Aaron during the night, saying, “Get up and go! Leave my people and take the rest of the Israelites with you! Go and worship Yahweh as you’ve asked. Take your flocks and herds, as you said, and be gone, and bless me also.” So all the Egyptians hurried the people of Israel out of the land quickly because they thought, “We’ll all die!” So the Israelites took their bread dough before yeast was added and wrapped their kneading bowls in their clothes, carrying them on their shoulders. And the people of Israel had done as Moses told them; they had asked the Egyptians for clothing and things of silver and gold. Yahweh caused the Egyptians to be kind to the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for. So they took the riches of the Egyptians!

     [37-42] That night the people of Israel left Rameses and went to Succoth, with about 600,000 men on foot, plus all the women and children. A bunch of non-Israelites went with them, along with many flocks and herds. So they baked pancakes from the dough without yeast, which they had brought from Egypt. It was made without yeast because the people were driven out of Egypt in such a hurry that they had no time to make the bread or other food. The people of Israel had lived in Egypt for 430 years. On the last day of the 430th year all the people of Yahweh left Egypt. It’s a night to remember Yahweh for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. So this is the night for all the people of Israel to remember Yahweh, and it will be celebrated every year, from generation to generation.

Instructions for the Passover

     [43-51] Then Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron, “This is what you’ll do for the feast of the Passover. No foreigners will eat it. But any worker who has been bought may eat it if he has had his foreskin cut off. Visitors and hired workers may not eat it. Each Passover lamb will be eaten in one house. Don’t carry any of its meat outside, and don’t break any of its bones. All the people of Israel will celebrate this feast. If a foreigner living among wants to celebrate Yahweh’s Passover, let all their males have their foreskins cut off. Then they may celebrate the Passover with you like a native-born Israelite. But no male who has not had his foreskin cut off may ever eat the Passover meal. This law applies to everyone, whether a native-born Israelite or a foreigner living among you.” So all the people of Israel did what Yahweh had told Moses and Aaron to do. On that very day Yahweh brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their family groups.

Dedication of the Firstborn

     13[1-7] Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Dedicate to Me every firstborn, whatever opens the womb, among the Israelites, both humans and animals. It’s Mine” So Moses said to the people, “This is a day to remember forever, the day you left Egypt, the place where you worked so hard. Today, Yahweh has brought you out with a strong hand, so remember, eat no food containing yeast. On this day, in the month of Abib, (which means tender and green) you’re going out. After Yahweh brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which God promised to your ancestors, a land full of milk and honey, you’ll celebrate this event in this month each year. For seven days your bread won’t be made with yeast, and on the seventh day, celebrate a feast to Yahweh. Eat bread without yeast during those seven days. There will be no yeast bread or any yeast at all found in your houses during this time.

     [8-16] “On the seventh day you’ll explain to your children, ‘I’m doing this because of what Yahweh did for me when I left Egypt.’ This annual feast will be a visible sign to you, like a mark on your hand, to help you remember Yahweh’s Laws because with a strong hand Yahweh saved you out of Egypt.’ So keep the law of this feast at this time each year. When Yahweh gives you the land where the Canaanites now live, as was promised to your ancestors, you’ll set apart all that opens the womb, that is, every firstborn male from all your animals because they belong to Yahweh. But you’ll buy back a firstborn donkey by giving a lamb in its place. But if you don’t want to buy it back, you’ll break its neck. And every firstborn human son you’ll buy back. And in the future, when your children ask you, ‘What does all this mean?’ Then you’ll tell them, ‘With a strong hand, Yahweh brought us out of Egypt, the place where we worked so hard. The ruler of Egypt was stubborn and wouldn’t let us go, so Yahweh killed all the firstborn males throughout the land of Egypt, both people and animals. So I now sacrifice all the firstborn males to Yahweh, but the firstborn sons are always bought back.’ This ceremony will be like a mark on your hand to help you remember that with a strong hand, Yahweh brought us out of Egypt.”

IsraelWanders Through the Countryside

     [17-22] When the ruler of Egypt finally let the people go, God didn’t lead them by the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was closer. But God said, “The people might change their minds if they’re faced with a war, and go back to Egypt.” So God led them around through the countryside of the Red Sea. So the Israelites left Egypt in order, ranked by their family groups. Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel promise to do this. He said, “God will certainly come to help you, so take my bones from this place with you.” The Israelites left Succoth and camped at Etham on the edge of the countryside. Yahweh went ahead of them by day with a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light, so they could go by day and night. And Yahweh didn’t take the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night away from the people.

 The Egyptians Pursue Israel

     14[1-4] Then Yahweh told Moses: “Tell the Israelites to turn and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea, across from Baal-zephon. Camp there by the sea. Then the ruler of Egypt will think, ‘The Israelites are confused by the land and trapped in the countryside!’ And once again I’ll make the ruler of Egypt’s heart stubborn, and he’ll chase after you. I’ll get more respect than the ruler of Egypt and all his army and the Egyptians will know that I Am Yahweh!” So they camped there as they were told.

      [5-9] When word reached the ruler of Egypt that the Israelites had left, the ruler of Egypt and his officials changed their minds, saying, “What have we done, letting all those Israelite workers go?” So the ruler of Egypt got his chariot ready and took his troops with him. He took with him 600 of Egypt’s best chariots, along with the rest of the chariots of Egypt, with leaders over them all. So Yahweh made the heart of the ruler of Egypt stubborn, so he chased after the people of Israel, who had bravely left. The Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of the ruler of Egypt, his horsemen and fighters and caught up with them camping by the seashore near Pi-hahiroth, across from Baal-zephon.

     [10-14] As the ruler of Egypt approached, the people of Israel looked up and saw the Egyptians catching up with them. They were very scared and prayed to Yahweh. Then they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the countryside? Weren’t there any graves in Egypt? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Isn’t this what we told you in Egypt when we said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us work for the Egyptians?’ It’s better to work in Egypt than to die in the countryside!’” But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just be still and watch Yahweh save you today. The Egyptians you see today you’ll never see again. Yahweh will fight for you, so be quiet!”

Crossing the Red Sea

     [15-18] Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to go on! Pick up your stick and raise your hand over the sea and divide it. The Israelites will walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground. And I’ll make the hearts of the Egyptians stubborn, and they’ll follow them in. So I’ll get more respect than the ruler of Egypt and all his troops, his chariots, and his horsemen. Then all Egypt will know that I Am Yahweh, when I get respect for Myself over the ruler of Egypt and his armies!”

     [19-22] Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved behind the camp. The pillar of cloud moved from the front and stood behind them. The cloud came between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. So it was a cloud and darkness to the Egyptians, and it gave light by night to the Israelites, so neither went to the other all night. Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and Yahweh held back the water with a strong east wind all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. So the waters were divided. So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side of them!

     [23-25] Then the Egyptians, all of the ruler of Egypt’s horses, chariots, and horsemen, chased them into the middle of the sea. Just before morning Yahweh looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and troubled their forces. Their chariot wheels fell off, making their chariots hard to drive, so the Egyptians said, “Let’s run away from these Israelites! Yahweh is fighting for them against Egypt!”

     [26-28] Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Raise your hand over the sea again, so the waters will come back and cover the Egyptian chariots and horsemen.” So as the sun began to rise, Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the sea became deep again, while the Egyptians were moving through it. So Yahweh drowned the Egyptians in the sea. When the waters went back and covered all the chariots and horsemen, all the army of the ruler of Egypt, not one lived.

     [29-31] But the people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, as the water stood up like a wall on both sides of them. So Yahweh saved Israel from the hand of the Egyptians that day and the Israelites saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. When the people of Israel saw the great power that Yahweh had used against the Egyptians, they feared Yahweh. They put their faith in Yahweh and believed Moses, God’s servant.

A Song of Deliverance

     15[1-7] Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to Yahweh:

“I’ll sing to Yahweh because You have amazingly won our freedom;

You have thrown both horse and rider into the sea.

Yahweh is my strength and my song; You have saved me.

This is my God, and I’ll praise You, the God of my ancestors, and I’ll applaud You!

Yahweh is a strong warrior; Yahweh is God’s name!

The ruler of Egypt’s chariots and army You have thrown into the sea.

The ruler of Egypt’s best leaders are drowned in the Red Sea.

The deep waters covered them; they sank to the bottom like a stone.

“Your strong hand, O Yahweh, is amazing in power.

Your strong hand, O Yahweh, smashes the enemy in pieces.

In the greatness of Your majesty, You overthrow those who rise against You.

You let Your anger burn; and it burns them like straw.

     [8-13] At the blast of Your breath, the waters rose up!

The rising waters stood straight up like a wall;

in the heart of the sea the deep waters became hard like glass.

“The enemy bragged, ‘I’ll chase them and catch up with them.

I’ll steal all their stuff and get what I want from them.

I’ll pull my knife; my strong hand will kill them.’

But You blew with Your breath, and the sea covered them.

They sank like lead in the great waters.

“Who is like You among the gods, O Yahweh, Who is like You, amazing in goodness,  

deserving our praises, doing great amazing things?

You raised Your strong hand, and the earth swallowed our enemies.

With Your forgiveness You lead the people you’ve saved.

In Your strength, You guide them to Your place of worship.

     [14-18] The peoples will hear and tremble; those who live in Philistia will sorrow.

The leaders of Edom are confused; the great ones of Moab will tremble.

All who live in Canaan will melt away; fear and dread will fall upon them.

The power of Your arm makes them stand as still as a stone

until your people pass by, O Yahweh, until the people you purchased pass by.

You’ll bring them in and plant them on your own mountain,

the place where You stay, O Yahweh, the place of worship, O Yahweh, that your hands have made.

Yahweh will reign forever and ever!”

     [19-21] When the ruler of Egypt’s horses, chariots, and horsemen went into the sea, Yahweh brought the waters down on them. But the people of Israel went through the middle of the sea on dry ground! Then Miriam, the preacher, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced. And Miriam sang this song:

“I’ll sing to Yahweh because You have amazingly won our freedom; You have thrown both horse and rider into the sea.”

Bitter Water at Marah

     [22-27] Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They traveled in this desert for three days but found no water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah (which means “bitter”). Then the people complained to Moses, saying, “What are we going to drink?” So Moses prayed to Yahweh for help, and Yahweh showed him a tree. When Moses threw it into the water, it made the water good to drink. It was there at Marah that Yahweh gave them a law to test their faithfulness. God said, “If you’ll listen carefully to the voice of Yahweh your God and do what’s right in My sight, listening to what I tell you and keeping all My laws, then I’ll not make you suffer any of the problems I sent on the Egyptians; because I Am Yahweh who heals you.” Then the Israelites traveled on to the oasis of Elim, where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees. They camped there beside the water.

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