More instructions regarding the Passover commemoration: unleavened breads, redeem firstborns with a sacrifice, remember that I brought you out of slavery.
As the Israelites left Egypt God led them a longer way, fearing that they would run from a challenge through Philistine country. Moses took the bones of Joseph, since he wanted to be buried in Canaan: Gen 49:29-32 . As they traveled, God led them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
God continues to remind them that he owns the firstborns. This seems like a big deal, either to God or the Israelites. I supposed it’s due to the firstborn being so highly prized.
What I find odd is that God thinks his own people, who have seen his direct actions first hand to kill and destroy an enemy, would run back to Egypt if faced with a fight in the next country they encounter. I would think that a people who had concrete proof that an all might god is guiding them would be confident that they could go anywhere and do anything without fear. Apparently not. Just odd.
The Lord sets out various things that the Israelites are required to do from now on in connection with what is now known as Passover. This is the event, to be commemorated annually, in which God killed the first born male of man and animal in Egypt. To escape the same fate, Moses told the people to slaughter a lamb and spread its blood over their doorway. This way the Lord’s destroyer (or God himself?) would skip that house. Lots of stuff to do with bitter herbs, who can eat the slaughtered lamb and unleavened bread, which is either unleavened because God says so, or because they had to leave in a hurry, which is odd because they all knew what was coming.
So, God sets about to kill children, men and animals, including the Pharaoh’s own son. At this, Pharaoh tells Moses and Aaron to go. All the Egyptians finally want to rush the Israelites away. By coincidence they left 430 years, to the day, after they began living in Egypt. All 600,000 men (women and children apparently aren’t counted).
This is an odd chapter. It’s a very momentous event, the killing of potentially thousands of people in the night. Yet, much of the chapter discusses who can eat the lamb and how anyone eating yeast during this time should be cut off from Israel.
One thing I note is that in Exo 12:44, it mentions that purchased slaves must be circumcised to eat the Passover lamb. Does this mean that slavery is not being done away with? After all that they are going through the Israelites will still have slaves. That’s a little disconcerting.
The Lord promises one more plague. After He manipulated the Egyptians into giving up their gold and silver, Moses tells Pharaoh that God will kill all the firstborn sons of man and animal (what animals?). God, once again, forces Pharaoh to refuse to let the Israelites go.
I don’t know about you, but I expect Israel to completely abolish the practice of slavery after going to these lengths to punish the Egyptians.
Now, God comes right out and says that he’s manipulating Pharaoh and the officials to show off his power. He wants the Israelites to know how He dealt with the Egyptians.
Even after his own officials begs him to relent Pharaoh refused to let Moses and his people go. God sends a swarm of locusts to cover the land and eat everything that was left. Once again, Pharaoh gives in and calls to Moses, who has God remove the plague of locusts, only to have Him harden the Pharaoh’s heart.
Now God sends a darkness over Egypt (except in Goshen) and it lasts for 3 days. Pharaoh wants to know who and what Moses will take with him to worship. When Moses tells him every person and animal Pharaoh once again says no and threatens to kill Moses if he ever sees him again.
Isn’t this overkill by now? I can see that God is trying to make a point. The point seems to be entirely for the benefit of the Israelis: this is what happens when you displease me. But it’s just so overblown that it strains credulity.
The Lord sends Moses to announce more plagues against Egypt if the Pharaoh doesn’t let the Israelites go. Pharoah continues to refuse, so God kills all the livestock (expecting the ones owned by the Israelites, of course). Pharaoh doesn’t budge. Next god sends boils to all the people and animals (I thought they were all dead). Here, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart again.
Finally, the Lord sends Moses with a message of a hail storm like never seen before. Even Pharaoh officials were afraid and brought in their livestock (still dead?). When the hail came it destroyed crops, killed people and animals, except in Goshen, where the Israelites lived.
Finally Pharaoh came to his sense and agree to let Moses and his people go, only to change his mind again after it all stopped. His heart hardened again.
I imagine this whole story is several versions of a legend being added up. With the animals being killed more than a few times and the Pharaoh’s heart being hardened after so much death and destruction. I would imagine the entire people of Egypt just kicking Moses and his people out about now.
So, at this point, the story just seems to be about God showing everyone who’s boss. And he’s coming off as a bit of a prick.