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Home » Daily Readings, Old Testament

The Exodus Begins

Submitted by on Saturday, 18 July 2009No Comment


NAB HomepageToday’s Readings

 The lectio cursiva skips the promulgation of the Passover (12:14–28), the execution of the Egyptian first-born (12:29–30) and the permission for the Israelites to depart from Egypt (12:31–36).  The present selection highlights the following:

  • the Israelites first move on foot from Rameses to Succoth accompanied by “a crowd of mixed ancestry” apart from the livestock (vv.37–38)
  • since the Israelites were rushed out from Egypt, they had no time to put leaven in the dough they brought along, so for their journey, they had unleavened bread (v.39)
  • the Israelites leave Egypt after four hundred and thirty years of slavery (v. 40–41)
  • as a memorial for this particular moment, the Israelites will hold a vigil on this night in honor of the Lord who held vigil for them (v. 42)


Important to note here is the fact that the people that left Egypt is not purely Israelite.  The hope that all nations will be blessed through the seed of Abraham has its historical core here.  But at the same time, this will also be one of the reasons why — in the mind of the hagiographers — Israel will always be “mixed” with the nations.  In other words, the presence of non-Israelites is like a time-bomb in the midst of Israel that will have its day in the worship of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32) and explode in the land of the Canaanites that they will later on possess. 

Second, we find a historical explanation for the unleavened bread.  Israel ate unleavened bread because of the hurry in which they left Egypt.  How this is enshrined in the Passover rite is in the rubric of Exodus 12:14–20.  No explanation is given here, only the injunction that on Passover all Israel will eat unleavened bread. 

Third, the Passover vigil is also historically based on the night  Israel left Egypt.  The Lord kept awake the whole night for them, so they will also hold a vigil in all generations in honor of the Lord on this night. 


Exodus 12:14
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14And this day shall be for a memorial to you: and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord in your generations with an everlasting observance.

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