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AND the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Sanctify unto me every firstborn that openeth the womb among the children of Israel, as well of men as of beasts: for they are all mine.

Ver. 2.  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.  Ch.

 

--- Sanctify, set apart. M.

 

--- Openeth, the first male fruit of the womb.  If a female was born the first, none of the children were to be redeemed.  Lu. 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.  C.



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3 And Moses said to the people: Remember this day in which you came forth out of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage, for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought you forth out of this place: that you eat no leavened bread.

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4 This day you go forth in the month of new corn.

Ver. 4.  Corn.  Heb. 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.  C.

 

--- They were distinguished by their respective order, productions, or appearances.  H.



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5 And when the Lord shall have brought thee into the land of the Chanaanite, and the Hethite, and the Amorrhite, and the Hevite, and the Jebusite, which he swore to thy fathers that he would give thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey, thou shalt celebrate this manner of sacred rites in this month.

Ver. 5.  When.  These regulations did not therefore take place in the desert.  M.




6 Seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be the solemnity of the Lord. 7 Unleavened bread shall you eat seven days: there shall not be seen any thing leavened with thee, nor in all thy coasts. 8 And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying: This is what the Lord did to me when I came forth out of Egypt.


9 And it shall be as a sign in thy hand, and as a memorial before thy eyes: and that the law of the Lord be always in thy mouth, for with a strong hand the Lord hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt.

Ver. 9.  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.  H.

 

--- The Jews, understanding the precept literally, write verses taken from this chapter, and Deut. 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.  Matt. xxiii. 5.  The Mahometans teach their scholars, by writing the Coran upon a tablet, and exposing it to their view: (C.) a plan lately introduced in England with great success by Mr. Lancaster.



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10 Thou shalt keep this observance at the set time from days to days. 11 And when the Lord shall have brought thee into the land of the Chanaanite, as he swore to thee and thy fathers, and shall give it thee: 12 Thou shalt set apart all that openeth the womb for the Lord, and all that is first brought forth of thy cattle: whatsoever thou shalt have of the male sex, thou shalt consecrate to the Lord.

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13 The firstborn of an ass thou shalt change for a sheep: and if thou do not redeem it, thou shalt kill it. And every firstborn of men thou shalt redeem with a price.

Ver. 13.  Price.  No other option is given, as the Levites were selected for the ministry.  H.

 

--- The first offspring of impure animals, were to be redeemed or killed; those of the pure were to be offered in sacrifice.  Num. xviii. 15.  Philo.  Dogs, cats, poultry, &c. were to be slain.  Deut. xxiii. 18.  C.


14 And when thy son shall ask thee to morrow, saying: What is this? thou shalt answer him: With a strong hand did the Lord bring us forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Ver. 14.  To-morrow.  At any future period.  Matt. vi. 2.  M.




15 For when Pharao was hardened, and would not let us go, the Lord slew every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of man to the firstborn of beasts: therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the womb of the male sex, and all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.

Ver. 15.  Hardened.  Heb. "by himself," or by his own malice.  W.




16 And it shall be as a sign in thy hand, and as a thing hung between thy eyes, for a remembrance: because the Lord hath brought us forth out of Egypt by a strong hand.

Ver. 16.  It.  This ordinance shall cause thee never to forget the goodness of God.  H.



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17 And when Pharao had sent out the people, the Lord led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines which is near: thinking lest perhaps they would repent, if they should see wars arise against them, and would return into Egypt.

Ver. 17.  Lest.  God maketh use of precautions, to shew the free-will of man.  W.

 

--- The Philistines had before made a great slaughter of the Ephraimites, 1 Par. 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.  C.

 

--- 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.  M.



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18 But he led them about by the way of the desert, which is by the Red Sea: and the children of Israel went up armed out of the land of Egypt.

Ver. 18.  Armed, in order of battle.  Heb. chamushim, "by fives," or in five battalions.  Jos. i. 14.  Jud. viii. 11.  C.

 

--- 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, v. 17.  H.




19 And Moses took Joseph's bones with him: because he had adjured the children of Israel, saying: God shall visit you, carry out my bones from hence with you.

Ver. 19.  Joseph's.  This attention to the dead is commended.  Heb. xi.  W.

 

--- S. 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.



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20 And marching from Socoth they encamped in Etham in the utmost coasts of the wilderness.

Ver. 20.  Etham.  A city on the banks of the Red Sea, giving its name to one of the gulphs, which the Greeks called after the city of Heropolis.  Plin. vi. 29.  The Sept. translate, "They encamped at Othon, which is near the desert;" and (Num. xxxii. 6,) the Hebrews marched three days in the desert of Buthan, before they arrived at Mara.




21 And the Lord went before them to shew the way by day in a pillar of a cloud, and by night in a pillar of fire: that he might be the guide of their journey at both times.

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22 There never failed the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, before the people.

Ver. 22.  Never.  From the station of Etham; or, if we follow S. Jerom, from that of Socoth, or even from Ramesses, according to Bonfrere, till the passage of the Jordan, when the ark supplied its want.  Jos. iii. 11.  This cloud assumed different appearances, as the exigencies of the Hebrews required.  It was a figure of baptism; (1 Cor. x. 1.) the fire designated Jesus Christ, and the cloud the Holy Ghost.  S. Amb. de sac. 6.  C.


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