Exodus 13

The firstborn males are special

1 The LORD spoke to Moses. 2 He said: ‘Keep every firstborn male separate and special for me. Every male who is the first to be born of his mother is mine. He is mine, whether he is man or animal.’

13:2God had killed the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, but he had saved the firstborn sons of the Israelites. Because of this, the firstborn sons were special. God said: ‘They are mine.’

3 Moses said to the people: ‘Remember this day, the day when you came out of Egypt. You left the place where you were slaves. The LORD brought you out with powerful authority. Remember! Do not eat anything that that has yeast in it on this day. 4 Today you are leaving Egypt. It is the month of Abib. 5 The LORD will bring you to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. God promised your ancestors that he would give that country to you. It is a country where there is plenty to eat and to drink. When the LORD brings you in, you must enjoy the Passover party in this month. 6 For 7 days you must eat bread without yeast in it. Then on the 7th day you must have a party for the LORD. 7 Eat bread without yeast during those 7 days. There must not be anything that has yeast in it among you. Nobody must see any yeast anywhere, in the whole of your country. 8 On that day, you must tell your son the reason for this. Say to him: “I do this because of what the LORD did for me. This is because he brought me out of Egypt.” 9 This special time will be like a sign on your hand. It will be like something that you fix between your eyes. It will cause you to remember. Then you will not forget to speak always about the Law of the LORD. It is because the LORD brought you out of Egypt with great power. 10 At the same time, every year, you must obey what I have said.

11 The LORD will bring you into the country of the Canaanites. It is the country that he promised to you and to your ancestors. He will give it to you. 12 You must give to the LORD all the males that are born first. All the male animals that are born first are the LORD's animals. 13 When a donkey is born first, you must kill a lamb instead of the donkey. If you do not do that, then the donkey must die. You must break its neck. If your son is born first, then you must kill an animal instead of your son.

14 One day, your son may ask you a question: “What does this mean?” Then you must say to him: “The LORD brought us out of Egypt with powerful authority. He brought us from the place where we were slaves. 15 Pharaoh completely refused to let us go. But the LORD killed all the firstborn sons in the country of Egypt. He killed all the firstborn males, both people and animals. That is why I do this. I kill and I give to the LORD all the firstborn male animals. But I do not kill the firstborn sons. Instead, I kill an animal for each firstborn son and I give it to God.” 16 So, it will be like a sign on your hand and something between your eyes. It will cause you to remember. You will remember that the LORD brought us out of Egypt with his powerful authority.’

The Israelites cross the Red Sea

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them through the country of the Philistines. This was near, but God did not do that. God said: ‘If the people see war, they may change their minds. Then they may return to Egypt.’ 18 So God led the people round by the desert road. They went towards the Red Sea. When the Israelites came out of the country of Egypt, they were ready to fight.

19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him. Joseph had caused the Israelites to promise to do this. He had said: ‘God will save you and then you must carry my bones with you from this place.’

13:19We can read about this in Genesis 50:24-25. Joseph was one of Jacob's sons who became a ruler in Egypt. He died there. But he did not want his family to bury him in Egypt. He wanted them to bury him in the country called Canaan.

20 The Israelites moved on from Succoth. Then they stayed at Etham, on the edge of the desert. 21 During the day, the LORD led them in a cloud that went in front of them. During the night, he went in a cloud that had fire in it. This gave them light, so they could travel during the day or the night. 22 The cloud did not leave the people during the day. Nor did the fire in the cloud leave them during the night. It was always in front of them.