And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.
And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.
This day came ye out in the month Abib. (Exodus 13:1-4 KJV)
The day on which this was spoken was the 15th day of the 1st month of the year, following the Pass Over event when the plague of death to the firstborn hit Egypt and all those residing in homes marked with the blood of the Passover lamb were spared.
The plague of death was the last in a series of many signs and wonders that YHVH performed when Pharaoh continually refused to let YHVH’s people go to serve Him.
When we look back before all these things took place, we see YHVH identified Israel as His firstborn son and foretold what would come to pass if Pharaoh refused to let him go.
And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn. (Exodus 4:21-23 KJV)
And according to Exodus 12 we see that it was the result of this plague that compelled Pharaoh to finally let them all go.
And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.
And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.
And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.
And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.
And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.
And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.
And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.
Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:29-41 KJV)
Notice it wasn’t just the children of Israel that went up out of Rameses, but a mixed multitude also went up with them.
Seven Days Thou Shalt Eat Unleavened Bread
While the children of Israel were still in Israel, and Moses and Aaron were given instruction concerning the Passover lamb, they were also told:
Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.
And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.
Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. (Exodus 12:15-20 KJV)
And sure enough, we saw that after the Pass Over event took place they left in haste, having to take their dough before it was leavened. And when they left, they traveled from Rameses to Succoth, and they baked unleavened cakes with the dough. This is where they were assembled on the 15th day. And Moses explained to the people on this day:
And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month.
Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the LORD. Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters.
And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.
And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.
Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year. (Exodus 13:5-10 KJV)
We’re told that the absence of leaven and the eating of the unleavened bread for seven days were to be for a sign and a memorial to the next generation that YHVH’s law may be in his mouth.
Although the instruction given, specifically says, “when YHVH shall bring you into the land…” this ordinance shall be kept, it seems to me this would be important to teach the next generation while we are now scattered among the nations. For this reason, I make it a point to teach my children this lesson by eating unleavened bread for seven days in the first month of each year.
Set Apart Unto YHVH Every Firstling
Moses continued to instruct the people in Succoth on that day:
And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD’S. And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.
And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.
And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt. (Exodus 13:11-16 KJV)
For years now I have wondered what this meant. But it sounds to me now like this was a literal offering that was required of the people during this Feast of Unleavened Bread, not just a dedication service.
Again, the specification of “when YHVH shall bring you into the land…” is given, and since there is no authorized place to make this offering at this time, I do not see how this instruction can be met while we are scattered among the nations.
But I do think it is important to understand and teach to the next generation that this is a necessary requirement during this Feast, considering the multiple references that say not to come before YHVH empty-handed.
Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty: ) And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. (Exodus 23:14-16 KJV)
The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt. All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male. But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty. (Exodus 34:18-20 KJV)
By Strength of Hand YHVH Brought You Out
With both the eating of the unleavened bread for seven days and the sanctification and redemption of the firstborn, we are told they are to be signs and reminders that by YHVH’s strength of hand, He brought His people out of the house of bondage.
Sadly, although I was taught to read and study the Bible growing up, when this time of year came around, I was completely unaware of this Feast. I was too caught up in the trappings of Easter.
While I still recognize and teach my children that Jesus/Yeshua was killed at this time of year and raised to life the third day, I think it is important to continually be reminded of what took place in Egypt and how YHVH brought His people out…not only His firstborn son, but also a mixed multitude.
It is through the lessons taught during the Feast of Unleavened Bread that I believe we can better understand some of what happened 2,000 years ago and what is still yet to come.