Exodus 13:1-16



The instruction given to Moses in this chapter (verse 1-16) concerns Israel remembering.  It is often good to remember, but it is often bad to remember.  When God tells us to remember, it is always good. 

What is it that God wants Israel to remember?

I.   Verse 1-2 – To sanctify the firstborn.

II.   Verse 3-10 – To keep the purpose of the Passover.

III.   Verse 11-16 – To redeem the firstborn.

Why does God want Israel to remember?

I.   It is too easy to forget and take the blessings of God for granted.

II.   So Israel will know God has blessed them in the past, he is presently blessing them, and he will continue to bless them.

III.   When Israel gets in a tight place, a hard place, when they are facing a terrible situation, or bad circumstances, they will have faith to continue to trust Christ even when it looks like God has forsaken them.

IV.   God brought 10 plagues upon Egypt “out of the blue”.  God is always able to bring plagues upon the enemies of Israel “out of the blue”.  God is able to protect, guide and lead his people into perfect happiness, strength, and more blessings than they ever realize is possible.

V.   God knows (according to verse 17-18) that Israel was not going to stand against any enemy, therefore, he would bring them to the promised land by another, longer route, giving them time to consider his greatness and ability to protect them and give them the land.  They failed in the first case, and they failed in the second case.  God gave them ample opportunity, but they refused to listen.  So it is with us. God gives us ample opportunity.  When we fail to listen, and learn, we also fail to be faithful.



Verse 1-2


Verse 1-2 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  2  Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, [both] of man and of beast: it [is] mine.

I.   See my notes on Numbers 3 for a more complete explanation of the redemption of the tribe of Levi for the firstborn of all Israel.


II.   See also my notes on Exodus 13:11-13 for a more complete explanation of this verse.

A.     Suffice to say at this point, that every first born belongs to the Lord, because God killed the first born of the land of Egypt, and let the first born of Israel go free.

B.     This is a symbol of somebody else paying the price for the first born of Israel.

1.       Somebody has to pay the price.

2.       The first born of Egypt paid the price for the first born of Israel.

3.       The lamb will pay the price for the donkey.

4.       Christ paid the price for us.



Verse 3-10


Verse 3  And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this [place]: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.

I.   The key word here is “remember”.

A.     This key word continues at least until Israel gets to the Red Sea.

B.     If Israel had only remember what God told them, they would have the victory, not defeat.

C.     They would not have died in the wilderness, but would have victoriously entered into the promised land.


II.   Remember this day in which ye came out of the land of Egypt.

A.     Remember the house of Egypt as a house of bondage.

1.       Israel continually remember their time in Egypt as a good time.

2.       They remembered the leeks, the garlic, the onions, so forth.

3.       They forgot the hard labor.

4.       They forgot the oppression.

5.       They forgot they had prayed to the Lord for a deliverer.

6.       They forgot how God judged, condemned, and plagued Egypt.

7.       They forgot that Egypt is a ruined nation.

8.       They forgot they had nothing to go back to.

B.     God brought Israel out of Egypt by his strength.

1.       Israel should be greatly blessed when they remember how strong God revealed himself in Egypt.

2.       Israel should be greatly blessed when they remember how unworthy they are of God’s blessing, protection, and guidance.

3.       If Israel would only remember these things, they would be humbled, be blessed, and be victorious.


Verse 4  This day came ye out in the month Abib.

I.   God remembers.


II.   The day of leaving Egypt was so important that God started the Jewish calendar from that time.

A.     All the year’s events would be numbered from the time Israel came out of Egypt.

B.     Our lives should be numbered from the time we were saved, brought out of sin, and the world.


Verse 5  And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month.

I.   When Israel gets to the promised land, they should remember and keep the Passover.

A.     Israel would not keep the Passover until they got to Canaan.

B.     This was not supposed to be very long, but because of Israel’s rebellion, it took them 40 extra years to make the trip.


Verse 6  Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day [shall be] a feast to the LORD.

I.   The Feast of Unleavened Bread shall last seven days, and a special holy day shall be on the seventh day.

A.     The Passover will be celebrated before the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

B.     There would be at last one “normal” sabbath day during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.


Verse 7  Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters.

I.   Unleavened bread.

A.     Leaven is always a type of sin, therefore these seven days leaven shall be put away.

1.       Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days.

2.       Unleavened bread shall not be seen with thee.

3.       Unleavened bread shall not be seen in all thy (living) quarters.

B.     Leaven would be completely done away with.

1.       New leaven comes naturally.

2.       It is spiritual strength that demands the absence of leaven.

C.     God is never stating that leaven (sin) is okay at other times.


Verse 8  And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, [This is done] because of that [which] the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.

I.   Teaching your children.

A.     Note that it is the responsibility of the parent to teach their children.

1.       Many parents today have turned that responsibility over to somebody else, while the parent goes about their business.

2.       That is why our society is in such trouble today.

B.     Note that this passage is speaking about “family worship”.

1.       Many churches today divide their assemblies up into little groups.

2.       This is the “modern” way, but it isn’t God’s way.

3.       God wants family to be together.

C.     When the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread is celebrated, children’s questions would be answered by the parents.

1.       Children are naturally curious, and freely and willingly ask many questions when given the opportunity.

2.       It is apparent from this verse that parents should give their children ample opportunity to ask questions.


Verse 9  And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD'S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.

I.   Keep this feast as a remembrance.

A.     There is no saving grace in this ceremony.

B.     Keeping the celebration is not a sign that one person is more faithful than another.

1.       The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread is a memorial service.

2.       The Lord’s Supper is also a memorial service.

3.       The Lord’s Supper is not the Passover, and the Passover is not the Lord’s Supper.


Verse 10  Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year.

I.   Keep the feast annually.

A.     God set the time for Israel to keep the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.

B.     God didn’t set the time for his local churches to keep the Lord’s Supper.


II.   The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread is to be kept habitually, without them becoming a habit.

A.     Even though these are kept regularly, they are never to become a habit.

1.       Church attendance should be regular, but never become a habit (in the sense we do it without thinking).

2.       We do many necessary things regularly, and they never become a habit.



Verse 11-16


Verse 11. And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee,

I.   Note the word “when”.

A.     The redemption of the first born was to be done in Canaan, not before.

B.     Just as surely as God told your fathers he would give you the land, you shall redeem the first born.


Verse 12  That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males [shall be] the LORD'S.

I.   The words “set apart” means to sanctify.

A.     The matrix is the womb.

B.     Note that all that is born belongs to the Lord, not just the first born.

1.       While all belong to the Lord, the first born must be redeemed.

2.       All the first born of the males belong to the Lord.


Verse 13  And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.

See my comments on Exodus 34:20 34V01-35.DOC for an explanation of the redemption of the firstling of the ass.


I.   The Feast of Unleavened Bread (The Passover is also included).  Israel had just proclaimed another feast (32:5,6), and the proper feast days must be taught again. Note: Satan has his holidays and God has His.  Do we know the difference?

A.     Verse 19,20 - The first of all belong to the Lord.  This further strengthens the command against idol worship and establishes again the proper sacrifice.

B.     A lesson of redemption.

1.       An ass is an animal of humility, royalty, and wealth.

2.       This typifies the human race.

3.       The lamb typifies Jesus Christ.

4.       Either the lamb or the ass must die.

5.       Either Jesus Christ or us must die.




I.   The Ass - donkey - needed a substitution in order to live, so do we.


II.   Donkey is a symbol of: patience, gentleness, intelligence, meekness, submission, and great power of endurance - a prized animal by people in the Bible.

A.     Balaam rode on a donkey - The donkey was the only animal in the Bible that talked.

B.     Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.

C.     The donkey is a symbol of peace, the horse a symbol of war.

D.     For every firstborn donkey you saw during the Bible days, you would know there was an innocent lamb that gave its life that the donkey might life.

E.      For every saved person you see today, you know an innocent saviour gave His life that they might live.


III.   We are lost because we have a sinful nature we inherited from Adam.  Some people don't like this, because they want control of their lives themselves, and think it is unfair to be charged with Adam's sin.

A.     Gen. 1:28 - Be fruitful and replenish the earth.  This command was not only given to Adam, but intended for all.  At least we take this command to mean us too.

B.     Gen. 3:17-19 - Earn living by sweat of face.  This not only applies to Adam, but also to us.

C.     Gen. 2:16,17 - Tie in "A" and "B" to "C".  If we accept Gen. 1:28 and 3:17-19 as applying to us when God was plainly talking to Adam, why don't we also accept Gen. 2:16,17 as also applying to us when God was plainly talking to Adam?  Note:  Adam is the "first Adam", Christ is the "second Adam", I Cor. 15:22.

D.     Why do babies die?  To show to all that:

1.       It's original sin that causes death, not just the sin in a person's life.

2.       Babies have original sin without committing actual sin.

3.       This puts all under condemnation, for all have been born.


IV.   The substitute must be right.

A.     The lamb must be a special lamb, not just any lamb.

B.     Phil. 2 - Jesus was born of a virgin - with a human body.

C.     Conceived by Holy Spirit - Matt. 1:20.

D.     Rev. 5:1-7 - Jesus is the one that opened the 7-sealed book.


V.   Scriptures that show Christ paid the price for us.

A.     Is. 53:4-12.

1.       Every verse tells of Christ, our substitute.

2.       Verse 4 - middle of verse 10 - Isaiah speaks as if the sacrifice was already complete.  He was looking by Faith.  He was already saved.  {This ought to reveal to us that Old Testament people were saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by the keeping of the law.}

3.       Middle of verse 10 - First of verse 12 - Shows future tense.  Isaiah looking forward to the coming sacrifice and the reward on Christ because of the sacrifice.

4.       Latter part of verse 12 - past tense again.

B.     Gal. 3:13 - Christ has been made a curse for us - paid law for us.

C.     Heb. 2:9 - Christ tasted death for every man.

D.     Heb. 9:28 - Bare the sins of many.

E.      I Peter 3:18 - The just suffered for the unjust.  We suffer unjustly for the stand we take for Christ, He suffered unjustly because of our sins.

F.      I Peter 2:24 - Bare our own sins in His own body on the tree.

G.     I John 3:5 - He took away our sins.  This verse takes us back to Ex. 34:19,20.  Our Text.  The donkey needed a substitute, and we need a substitute today.  Jesus Christ is our substitute.


Verse 14  And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What [is] this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:

I.   Note my comments on verse 8 concerning how the family is to teach their own children.

A.     The children will ask questions about why the little lamb must be killed for the donkey.

B.     The explanation will be that God commanded it.

1.       Strength of hand refers to the killing of the first born by God.

2.       Because God killed the first born of Egypt, God demands we give our first born to him.

3.       The explanation continues in the next verse.


Verse 15  And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.

I.   The implication is that if Pharaoh had obeyed the Lord, the first born would not have died.

A.     Obedience saves a lot of grief.

B.     Disobedience on Pharaoh’s part (and all the Egyptians) caused the wrath of God upon them all.

1.       The first born of all men died.

2.       The first born of all animals died.

C.     Therefore all first born males (donkeys) that are born are sacrificed.

1.       It should be noted that the donkey is a royal animals.

2.       In our society, the horse is consider a royal animal, but in the Bible the horse is considered an animal of war.

a.       Absalom rode on a mule (a kingly animal) to show he was kingly.

b.       Christ rode on a foal of an ass to show himself a king.

D.     No human is ever sacrificed for another human, except that Christ was given as a sacrifice by God, to God, for us.


Verse 16  And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.

I.   These ceremonies are to be a constant reminder of sin, and redemption.

A.     If we aren’t constantly reminded of our sinfulness, we soon forget how sinful we are.

B.     If we aren’t constantly reminded of God’s grace on us, we soon forget how great his mercies and grace are toward us.