Exodus 13-16

Rules for rituals: when you get into Canaan, observe the Feast of the Unleavened Bread in Abib.  Eat unleavened bread for 7 days and celebrate a festival on the seventh day.  All firstborn animal must be sacrificed (except asses shall be redeemed with a sheep sacrifice), while all firstborn humans must be redeemed.

God leads the Israelites out of Egypt, not directly into Canaan, but in a roundabout and safer way.  Before they make it far, God hardens the Pharaoh’s heart in order to demonstrate his power, and Pharaoh gives chase to the Israelites, catching up to them at the Reed Sea.  Moses lifts his rod, parts the sea, and leads the Israelites across on dry land; he then stops parting the sea and drowns the Egyptians.  The Israelites sing a song, praising God for drowning the Egyptians and rejoicing in the terror of the Canaanites as they see the Israelites approach.  The people proceed south along the western side of the Sinai Peninsula.  They complain about hunger, so God promises to make manna (the bread of heaven) fall from the sky for them to eat.  For five days, God sends precisely enough manna for everyone, namely an omer (2.3 liters) for each person.  On the sixth day, God sends two omers per person; on the seventh day, God rests and sends no manna.  This cycle repeats for forty years, until the Israelites reach Canaan.

Commentary:

  • Firstborn humans are “redeemed” by paying 5 coins to a kohen (Num. 18:16).  This ceremony, called pidyon ha-ben, takes place on the 31st day after birth.  This ceremony is (incorrectly) described by Luke in Luke 2:22, where Jesus is redeemed by his parents.
  • “Reed Sea” is often incorrectly translated as Red Sea
  • Manna may be the sweet honeydew (still called “manna” in Arabic) found in parts of the Sinai in the summer.  Plant lice eat tree sap and excrete this honeydew.
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