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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Exodus

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13.1–16 : Consecration of the firstborn and Festival of Unleavened Bread.

1–2 :

Consecration of the firstborn (continued in vv. 11–16 ). The devotion of the firstborn of humans and of animals to God, the giver of fertility, assures continuing increase and well‐being ( 22.29–30; Lev 27.26–27; Num 18.15 ). Because of the liberation, Israelite firstborn belong to God just as the Egyptian firstborn do ( 4.22–23n.; Num 3.13; 8.17–18 ).

3–10 :

Festival of unleavened bread. Moses gives further instructions (cf. 12.14–20n. ).

4 :

Abib, the older name for the month of the Exodus ( 23.15; 12.2n. ).

5 :


8 :

Tell your child, 12.24–27n. Later generations can tell what God did for me when I came out of Egypt, since ritual makes the liberation present again to the worshipers (Deut 5.2–3 ).

9 :

V. 16; Deut 6.8 .

11–16 :

Consecration of the firstborn (resuming the instructions begun in vv. 1–2 ). For the first time firstborn of animals and humans that belong to God are specified as male; cf. 11.5; 12.29–30 .

13 :

Unclean animals, of which the donkey is typical (Lev 11; Deut 14.3–21 ), and male … children may be redeemed by substituting a sheep ( 34.19–20; cf. Gen 22.13 ). In Num 3.12–13 the service of the Levites is a substitute for the firstborn of the other Israelites.

14–15 :

Your child, 12.24–27n.

13.17–15.21 : God rescues Israel at the sea

(Ps 78.13–14,52–53; 106.7–12 ).

13.17–14.31 : The story of the rescue is first told in prose.

13.17–14.4 :

God plans one more stubborn act from Pharaoh.

17 :

Philistines, one of the “Sea Peoples,” who came to Canaan's southwestern coast from the Aegean Sea around 1200 BCE. The rejected route is the main coastal road into Canaan (color Map 3 at back of book).

18 :

The Hebrew name for the Red Sea is “yam suf,” which can mean both Sea of Reeds ( 2.3n. ) and Sea of the End (that is, distant). Some retain the traditional meaning, the Red Sea, while others think a shallow body of water farther north, perhaps in the area of Lake Timsah, is meant. It seems more fitting contextually that the climax of the liberating process should involve a miraculous splitting of a great and distant sea rather than a storm in a shallow lake. On this view the rescue is set in the northern part of the Gulf of Suez, the northwestern “rabbit ear” of the Red Sea. It should be noted, however, that underlying the narrative are several traditions, which may not be fully consistent.

19 :

Gen 50.25–26 .

20 :

The second stage of the journey (Num 33.6 ). Succoth, 12.37 . The precise locations of Etham, and of Pi‐hahiroth, Migdol, and Baal‐zephon ( 14.2 ) are unknown.

21–22 :

The pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire are signs of God's presence to guide their travels while shielding them from the sun by day and giving them light and warmth at night ( 3.2n.; 19.9; 33.9; 40.34–38; 1 Kings 8.10–11; Ps 78.14; 105.39 ).

14.1 :

Moses is the sole human leader; Aaron does not reappear in this role until 16.2 (but see 15.20 ).

2–4 :

The third stage of the journey (see 13.20n.; Num 33.7 ). God tells the Israelites to turn back so that Pharaoh will stubbornly try to defeat Israel's God after all.

2 :

The sea, 13.18n.

4 :

Harden, 4.21n. Know, 5.2n.

5–12 :

Pharaoh takes the bait, and the pursuing Egyptian army terrifies the Israelites.

8 :

Hardened, 4.21n.

11–12 :

15.24n. The statement quoted in v. 12 has not appeared, but a similar attitude is evident in 5.21; 6.9 .

13–31 :

God the warrior fights for Israel.

13–14 :

V. 25; 15.3; Ps 24.8 .

17–18 :

Harden, 4.21n. In this episode God hardens the hearts not only of Pharaoh, but also of all the Egyptian army. The goal is the same, namely that the divine reputation be enhanced and they know, that is, acknowledge, Israel's God (v. 4; 5.2n. ).

19–20 :

The divine presence is symbolized in two ways here: both as the angel of God ( 3.2n. ) and the pillar of cloud (v. 24; 13.21–22n. ). God's presence is needed now as shield against the pursuing army.

21–22 :

In this Priestly summary, the east wind blowing over the waters and causing dry ground recalls Gen 1.2,9; 8.1 (also P).

24–25a :

An alternate tradition, according to which the Egyptians in chariots got stuck in the mud as the Israelites escaped on foot.

25b :

The Egyptians acknowledge God (vv. 17–18 ), but it is too late.

31 :

God's purpose as far as the Israelites are concerned is fulfilled.

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