Exodus 12

The first Passover meal

1 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the country of Egypt. 2 He said, ‘This month will be the first month of each year for you. 3 Tell all the Israelite people to do this on the 10th day of this month: Each man must choose a lamb to kill as a sacrifice for his family. That will be one lamb for each home. 4 But the family may be too small to eat a whole lamb. Then they must share a lamb with another family that lives near. You must decide how much each person can eat and then count the number of people. 5 The lamb that you choose must have nothing wrong with it. It must be a male lamb that is one year old. It can be either a young sheep or a young goat.

6 Keep the lamb safe until the 14th day of this month. Then every Israelite family must kill their lamb in the evening. 7 They must take some of its blood. They must put the blood on the wood that is round the door of their house. They must put it on each side of the door and above the door. They must do this in every house where they will eat a lamb. 8 That night, they must cook the meat over the fire. They must eat it immediately, with bitter herbs and with bread that has no yeast in it. 9 You must cook the meat before you eat it. Cook it over the fire. Do not cook it in water. Cook the whole lamb, with its head, its legs and the inside parts of its body. 10 You must eat all of the meat before morning arrives. If some of it still remains in the morning, then you must burn it. 11 This is how you must eat the lamb: Dress yourselves so that you are ready to travel. Put your shoes on your feet. Take your stick in your hand. Then eat the food quickly. This is the Passover meal which shows that you obey me, the LORD.

12 On the night that you eat the Passover meal, I will travel through the country of Egypt. I will kill every firstborn son and every firstborn male animal. I will punish all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. 13 When you put the blood round the doors of your houses, that will be a sign that you live there. When I see the blood on your house, I will pass over you. No trouble will hurt you, when I attack the people of Egypt.

12:13I will pass over you is where the English word ‘Passover’ comes from. God made a promise. He would not kill anyone in a house that had blood on the door. He would ‘pass over’ that house.

14 You must remember this day as a special day every year. It will be a festival when you worship me, the LORD. You and your descendants must do this every year, for all time. 15 For 7 days, you must eat bread that has no yeast in it. On the first day of the Passover festival, you must take all the yeast out of your houses. During those 7 days, if anyone eats bread with yeast in it, he will no longer belong to my people, the Israelites. 16 On the first day of the festival, you must bring together all the people to a special meeting. And you must do the same thing on the 7th day. On these special days, you must not do your usual work. You may prepare the food that you need to eat on those days. That is the only work that you may do.

17 This will be a festival when you eat bread with no yeast in it. You will remember that I brought you all out of the country of Egypt on this day. You marched out like an army, family by family! That is why you must enjoy this day as a special day, for all time. This is a rule that you must always obey. 18 In the first month of each year, you must eat bread without yeast in it. Do this from the evening of the 14th day until the evening of the 21st day. 19 For those 7 days, you must not have any yeast in your houses. Whoever eats anything with yeast in it will no longer belong to my people, the Israelites. Everyone must obey these rules, those who live among you as strangers, as well as those who have been born in your land. 20 Eat nothing that has yeast in it. Whatever country you live in, you must eat bread without yeast in it.’

21 Then Moses commanded the leaders of the Israelites to come to him. He said to them: ‘Go and choose a lamb immediately, for each of your families. Then kill the animals for the Passover party. 22 Take some hyssop. Make it wet with the blood that is in the dish. Then put some of the blood on the wood that is round your door. Nobody must go out of the door of his house until the morning.’

12:22‘Hyssop’ is a plant with lots of leaves. They held the hyssop in the hand and they used it like a paint brush. They painted some of the blood on the pieces of wood round the doors.

23 ‘The LORD will pass through the country and he will kill the Egyptians. But when the LORD sees the blood on the wood round the door, he will pass over that house. He will stop the person who kills. The LORD will not let him come into your houses. The LORD will not let him kill you.

12:23‘The person who kills’ was a special angel.

24 You must obey these rules always, both you and your sons, for all time. 25 You will come into the country that the LORD promised to give you. Then you must obey these rules. 26 Your children may say to you: “What does this party mean to you?” 27 Then you must say to them: “It is the LORD's Passover party. The LORD passed over the houses of the Israelites when they were in Egypt. He killed the Egyptians but he saved the people in our houses.” ’ Then the people bent their heads and they worshipped God. 28 And the Israelites did everything that the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron.

29 At midnight, the LORD killed all the firstborn sons in the country of Egypt. The firstborn son of Pharaoh, the king, died. But also, the firstborn son of any man who was in prison died. Every firstborn son in Egypt died. All the firstborn animals died also. 30 Pharaoh and all his servants got up in the middle of the night. All the Egyptians also got up in the middle of the night. Everyone was crying in Egypt because there was a dead person in every home.

The Israelites leave Egypt

31 Then Pharaoh commanded Moses and Aaron to come to him, during the night. He said: ‘Get up! Go away from my people! You and all the Israelites, go! Go. And worship the LORD, as you want to. 32 Take all your animals with you, as you have said. Go away! But ask God to do good things to me too.’

33 The Egyptians really wanted the Israelites to leave. They wanted to send them out of the country immediately. The Egyptians said: ‘If we do not send them away immediately, we will all die!’ 34 So the Israelites took their bread before they had cooked it. They had not even put the yeast into it. They put the bread in dishes and they covered it with clothes. Then they carried the dishes on their shoulders. 35 The Israelites had obeyed Moses. They had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold. They had also asked them for clothes. 36 The LORD had made the Egyptians think good thoughts about the Israelites. Because of this, the Egyptians let them have all that they asked for. So the Israelites took everything that was valuable from the Egyptians.

37 Then the Israelites travelled from Rameses to Succoth. There were about 600,000 men who walked. There were also many women and children. 38 Many other people travelled with them. And they had a very large number of animals, both sheep and cows. 39 The Israelites cooked the bread that they had brought with them from Egypt. It had no yeast in it, because the Israelites left Egypt quickly. The Egyptians had pushed them out. The Israelites did not have time to make bread with yeast in it. Nor did they have time to prepare any other food.

12:39When you make bread with yeast in it, you must wait for the bread to become light and full of air. Then you can cook it. This takes some time. The Israelites were in a hurry. They did not have time for this.

40 The Israelites had lived in Egypt for 430 years. 41 It was on the last day of the 430 years that all the LORD's people left the country called Egypt. 42 The LORD did not sleep on that night, when he brought the Israelites out of Egypt. Because of this, all the Israelites must not sleep during this special night, every year. They and their families must remember this rule, for all time. They must do this, to thank the LORD.

12:42‘The LORD did not sleep.’ This does not mean that God sometimes sleeps. It means that God was watching the Israelites in a special way. He was watching them, when they left Egypt. He was keeping them safe. So the Israelites must have a special party on this night, every year, to thank God.

Rules for the Passover party

43 Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron: ‘These are the rules for the Passover party.

No foreign person can eat the Passover food. 44 If you buy a foreign slave, you must first circumcise him. Then he can eat the food. 45 But if you pay him money for his work, he must not eat the food. A visitor must not eat the food.

46 You must eat the meat in one house. You must not take any of the meat outside the house. You must not break any of the bones in the meat. 47 All the Israelites must enjoy the party together.

48 There may be a foreign person who lives among you. He may want to enjoy the LORD's Passover too. But he must first circumcise himself and all the males in his house. Then he can enjoy the Passover party, like a man who is born in Israel. But no male person without circumcision can enjoy the Passover party. 49 The Israelites and the foreign people who live among you must all obey this rule.’

50 All the Israelites did everything that the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on the same day, the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt, like a large army of people.