Exodus 12:1-14

Exodus 12:1-14
Ordinary A41


1 The LordA said to MosesB and AaronC in the land of Egypt:D 2 This monthE shall mark for you the beginningF of months; it shall be the firstG month of the year for you. 

Notes on verses 1-2

A “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
B “Moses” = mosheh. From mashah (to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out) OR from Egyptian mes or mesu (child, son i.e. child of…). This is Moses – the one drawn out from the water, which is to say, rescued. If derived from the Egyptian, his name would share a root with Rameses and Thutmose.
C “Aaron” = aharon. Derivation uncertain. May mean “bearer of martyrs” OR be related to Ancient Egyptian ꜥḥꜣ rw (warrior lion) OR elevated, exalted, high mountain. This is Aaron. See https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Aaron
D “Egypt” = mitsrayim. Perhaps from matsor (besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment; something hemmed in; a siege or distress or fastness); from tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is Egypt.
E “month” = chodesh. From chadash (to renew, repair). This refers to a new moon. It can also mean monthly.
F “beginning” = rosh. This may come a word that means to shake. It is the head, captain, or chief. It can also be excellent or the forefront. It can be first in position or in statue or in time (i.e. the beginning).
G “first” = rishon. Related to “beginning” in v2. From rishah (early time, or the beginning); from rosh (see note F above). This is the first in position the earliest, the oldest, or the highest rank.

Tell the whole congregationH of IsraelI that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lambJ for each family,K a lamb for each household. 4 If a household is too smallL for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of peopleM who eat of it. 

Notes on verses 3-4

H “congregation” = edah. From yaad (to appoint, assemble or gather selves, agree) OR from ed (witness, testimony, recorder); from ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is a congregation, assembly, or company. It could be a family, crowd, or fixture.
I “Israel” = yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
J “lamb” = seh. Perhaps from sha’ah (to make a loud noise or crash, devastate, rush). This is a lamb, sheep, or goat – a part of a flock.
K “family” = bayit + ab. Literally “according to the house of his father.”
L “too small” = maat. This is diminished, decreased, reduced, insignificant. It is a broad sense of being small or becoming small. Figuratively, this can mean ineffective.
M “people” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.

5 Your lamb shall be without blemish,N a year-old male;O you may take it from the sheepP or from the goats. 6 You shall keepQ it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. 

Notes on verses 5-6

N “without blemish” = tamim. From tamam (to finish or accomplish; to make perfect, demonstrate that you are upright; consume; to complete in a literal or figurative sense). This is entire in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be complete, full, intact, or without defect. Alternately, it could refer to being sound, having integrity, being sincere or perfect.
O “male” = zakar. From zakar (to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention). This is male. Properly, perhaps, it means one who is remembered, which is to say a male.
P “sheep” = kebes. Root may mean to dominate. This is a young male sheep – having just reached the age where it can butt other sheep.
Q “keep” = mishmereth. From mishmar (jail, guard, watch, guard post); from shamar (to keep, watch, or preserve; to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something). This is a guard or watch or guard post. It is used figuratively for obligation, duty, or observance, including religious observance.

7 They shall take some of the bloodR and put it on the two doorpostsS and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lambT that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened breadU and bitter herbs.V 

Notes on verses 7-8

R “blood” = dam. Perhaps from damam (to cease, be or become mute, silent, still, cut off, hold peace, be astonished, die). This is blood, bloodshed, bloodguilt, lifeblood, and death. It is used for people and animals. More often blood from a wound or the blood of the innocent. Used figuratively for violence or for wine. Closely tied to life and death.
S “doorposts” = mezuzah. 19x in OT. From the same as ziz (moving things like animals, abundance). This is a door or gate post. In modern Judaism, a mezuzah adorns the doorpost of many Jewish homes in reference to Deuteronomy 6:9. See https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mezuzah
T “lamb” = basar. From basar (being a messenger, publish, carry preach; properly, this is being fresh, rosy or cheerful as one bearing news). This is flesh, the body, fat, skin, self, nakedness, humankind, or kin. It can also refer to private parts.
U “unleavened bread” = matstsah. From matsats (to drain out). This is unleavened bread – bread that is sweet rather than becoming sour with the flavor of yeast. Can also be used to refer to the festival of Passover, the staple food of which is commonly transliterate matzoh from this word.  
V “bitter herbs” = maror. 3x in OT. From marar (to be bitter, enraged, weep, grieve; properly, to trickle; to become bitter in a literal or figurative sense); from marar (to be bitter, embittered, weep, troubled); from mar (bitterness literal or figurative). This is bitterness or a bitter thing. It is where Mara (Naomi’s new name) and Miriam and Mary come from.

9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs,W and inner organs.X 10 You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.Y 

Notes on verses 9-10

W “legs” = kera. 9x in OT. From kara (to bow, crouch, kneel down, subdue; to bend the knee in many senses). This is the leg, but only from the knee down to the ankle. It is used in the OT of people and of locusts.
X “inner organs” = qereb. Perhaps from qarab (to come near or approach). This is among, in the midst, before, the center It is the inward part, whether literal or figurative. It can also be used for the heart, the site of thoughts and feelings. This word is also used as a technical term for the entrails of the animals who are sacrificed.
Y “burn” = saraph. This is to burn or set on fire. This is the root that the word “seraphim” comes from.

11 This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded,Z your sandals on your feet, and your staffAA in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly.BB It is the passoverCC of the Lord. 

Notes on verse 11

Z “girded” = chagar. This is to gird, bind, or arm. Generally, it is using a belt to gather up one’s garment so that it’s easier to run or move quickly.
AA “staff” = maqqel. 18x in OT. This is a shoot with leaves growing from it or a staff. It could be a walking stick, a stick for guiding (e.g. sheep), a stick for striking like a war club, or a divining rod.
BB “hurriedly” = chippazon. 3x in OT. From chaphaz (to hurry, tremble, or panic). This is hurried flight or trepidation.
CC “passover” = pesach. From pasach (to stop, pass over, skit over, to spare). This is Passover – used for the feast, the lamb of sacrifice, the day, and the festival itself. It means exemption.

12 For I will passDD through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strikeEE down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beingsFF and animals;GG on all the godsHH of Egypt I will execute judgments:II I am the Lord. 

Notes on verse 12

DD “pass” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
EE “strike” = nakah. This is to hit whether lightly or severely. It can be used in a literal or figurative sense. So, this could be beat, punish, give wounds, kill, or slaughter.
FF “human beings” = adam. Perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.
GG “animals” = behemah. This is animal or cattle. It is often used of large quadrupeds.
HH “gods” = elohim.  
II “judgments” = shephet. 16x in OT. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a judgment or a sentence.

13 The blood shall be a signJJ for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will passKK over you, and no plagueLL shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

Notes on verse 13

JJ “sign” = oth. From avah (to mark, sign, point out); OR from uth (to agree). This is a sign in a literal or figurative sense. It could be a flag or monument. It could be evidence or a mark. It could also be an omen or a miracle.  
KK “pass” = pasach. Related to “passover” in v11 8x in OT. See note CC above.
LL “plague” = negeph. 7x in OT. From nagaph (to strike, beat, hurt, stumble, defeat, inflict disease). This is stumbling or any kind of blow. Figuratively, it can also refer to a disease or plague.

14 This day shall be a day of remembranceMM for you. You shall celebrateNN it as a festivalOO to the Lord; throughout your generationsPP you shall observe it as a perpetualQQ ordinance.RR

Notes on verse 14

MM “remembrance” = zikkaron. Related to “male” in v5. From zakar (see note O above). This is a memorial, sign, or reminder.
NN “celebrate” = chagag. 16x in OT. This is feast, celebrating a festival, making a pilgrimage. Properly, it means going in a circle or marching in sacred procession. It implies giddiness and dancing. It can also mean reeling to and fro.
OO “festival” = chag. Related to “celebrate” in v14. From chagag (see note NN above). This is a feast or pilgrimage feast. It can also refer to the gathering or sacrifice for the festival.
PP “generations” = dor. From dur (to move in a circle, which implies living somewhere or remaining there; it can also be the sense of piling or heaping up). This is a revolution of time, which is to say, an age or generation. It can also be a dwelling or one’s posterity.
QQ “perpetual = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
RR “ordinance” = chuqqah. From choq (statute, boundary, condition, custom, limit, ordinance; something that is prescribed or something that is owed); from chaqaq (to inscribe, carve, or decree; a lawmaker; literally, this is engraving, but it implies enacting a law because laws were carved into stone or metal). This is something prescribed such as a statue, custom, or ordinance.

Image Credit: “The Destroying Angel Passes through Egypt” from The Story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, 1873.

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