Chapter 11 opens with the Lord revealing that this next plague will be the last, and that Pharaoh will let them go – and will drive them away. So now, he tells Aaron and Moses, it has come to the time that the people will “plunder” the Egyptians simply by asking their neighbors for silver and gold as the Lord had told Moses in Exodus 3:21-22. Notice that in verse 3 “the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians”. They will be happy to give them their jewelry!
Then, as God instructed, Moses told Pharaoh how (though all of the people of Israel will be spared, so that the distinction the Lord is making is clear) every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die. The passage doesn’t elaborate on Moses walking out from Pharaoh “in hot anger” in verse 8. But it is hard to imagine that Moses had not become fed up with Pharaoh, as well as the suffering that his stubborn sinful defiance of the Lord was bringing on others. And so it is with our own sin – more often than we may realize.
Just as Pharaoh had previously ordered the death of so many of those born to the people of Israel (Exodus 1:16 and Exodus 1:22), that judgment now falls on him and his own people. As the Lord gives Moses and Aaron instructions for the people to avoid the death that will come to the land, He tells them in verse 2 that this month will become the first month of the year. As the events that will take place in this time of their deliverance will redefine their lives, it is only fitting that it will even do so to their calendars!
Note the many similarities in the Lord’s instructions for this first passover (and all those that will follow) to what we know from the New Testament concerning “our passover lamb,” Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7) – the blood, the unleavened bread, the sacrifice each will make of a lamb in their behalf, just to name a few.
Even the command in verse 46 that “you shall not break any of its bones” reminds us of John 19:36 as it points to Psalm 34:20. The blood on the doorposts from the lambs for the plague to “pass over” them will also be a symbol of their obedience, as will their remembrance and observance of the passover for generations to come (verses 24 ff).
As the Lord said would be so, there was a great cry in the land as no house was untouched by death (verse 30); and Pharaoh does indeed hasten their departure in verses 31-32, as do the Egyptian people. The Lord gives them the Passover proclamation in verses 43-49; and 430 years after 70 people of the house of Israel (Jacob) entered Egypt, more 600,000 of them (besides women and children) went out.
The reference to “by their hosts” in verse 51 has military connotations; but it is God who fought the battle for the people of Israel, as we are reminded of the meaning of Jacob’s new name – “God fights” (Genesis 32:28).
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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