The Exodus Begins

Exodus 12:36-13:22
I. Context • Who are the main characters in this passage? What do we know about them? • Moses:

When does this passage take place? • The passage takes place immediately following Passover. Also mentioned is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasted from the evening of the 14th day through the evening of the 21st day. Abib/Nisan corresponds with the later part of March and the first part of April on our calendar, basically the same time of year as it is now.

Where does this passage take place? • At the onset of the passage, the Israelites leave Goshen and travel from Rameses to Succoth (12:37). After leaving Succoth, they traveled to Etham and camped there, which is where the passage ends.

What is going on? (Summary of Events) After God struck down all the firstborn of Egypt, including Pharaoh’s son, Pharaoh finally releases Moses and the Israelites from their bondage and allows them to leave. After plundering the Egyptians (see 12:36), they set out from Rameses and traveled to Succoth, 600,000 men along with women, children and livestock. God reiterates the regulations for Passover with Moses and Aaron, telling them specifically how the Passover was to be observed as well as who was and was not allowed to participate. (12:37-50) The Lord told Moses that the firstborn males of both man and beast were to be consecrated—that is, set apart—for him. Moses related this information to the people as well as gave instruction on observing the Feast of Unleavened Bread and of the importance of remembering what the Lord had done for them that day (13:1-16) The Lord led the Israelites south through the desert toward the Red Sea, even though it would have been a more direct route to Canaan to travel east along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Apparently there was the threat of attack from the Philistines and/or others that lived in that area, plus, as we will see later, God had plans to meet them at Sinai, which was in the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula. They took Joseph’s bones with them, as he had made his sons promise at his death. They traveled from Succoth to Etham and the Lord led them by a pillar of cloud during the day and by a pillar of fire at night. (13:17-22)


Interpretation • What principles are illustrated in this passage? What would you consider the theme of this passage?

How is God involved in this passage? Is he in the foreground or background? What do we learn of his character?

How does this passage point us toward or connect with Christ?

Why do you think God gave such specific instructions regarding the Passover regulations, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the consecration of all firstborn males?


Application • God gave very specific instructions to the Israelites regarding how he was to be worshipped during Passover. Throughout scripture, God is very clear about how his people are to approach him. We must remember, especially in our “me” focused society, that we come to God on his terms, not ours. • The Lord doesn’t always lead us on the easy path. He could have very easily led the Israelites due east from Goshen and they may have reached Canaan much sooner, but he chose, instead, to lead them on a more difficult and trying route. This harder route served to prepare the Israelites and refine their faith in God, just as our challenges serve to sanctify us daily, giving us the opportunity and privilege of growing to be more like Christ if we suffer well.