Exodus 13

Firstborn sons

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 his powerful authority. Remember! Do not eat anything that has yeast in it on this day. 4 Today you are leaving Egypt. It is the first month of the year, called Abib. 5 The Lord will bring you to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. God promised your ancestors that he would give that land to you. The land will give you plenty of good food and drink, enough for everyone. When the Lord brings you into that place, you must eat the Passover meal to worship God in this month every year. 6 For seven days you must eat bread without yeast in it. Then on the seventh day you must have a festival for the Lord. 7 Eat bread without yeast during those seven days. There must not be any yeast left among you, in the whole of your land.

8 On that day, you must tell your children the reason for this festival. Tell them, “We do this because of what the Lord did for us. He brought us out of Egypt.” 9 This special time will be like a mark on your hand. It will be like something that you fix between your eyes. It will be a sign that causes you to remember what happened on this day. Then you will not forget to speak about the Law of the Lord. Remember this: The Lord brought you out of Egypt with his great power. 10 Every year, at the right time you must do what I have said.

11 The Lord will bring you into the land of the Canaanites. It is the land that he promised to give to you and to your ancestors. When he gives it to you, you must do this: 12 You must give to the Lord all the firstborn males. That includes your own firstborn sons, and the male animals that are born first. They belong to the Lord. 13 When a donkey gives birth to her first male, you must give a lamb to God, instead of the donkey. If you do not do that, you must kill the donkey. You must break its neck. For any of your own firstborn sons, you must give an animal instead of your son.

14 One day, your son may ask you, “What does this mean?” Then you must say to him, “The Lord brought us out of Egypt with his powerful authority. He took us away from the place where we were slaves. 15 Pharaoh 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 offer all the firstborn male animals as a sacrifice to the Lord. But for each of my firstborn sons, I give an animal to God instead.” 16 It will be like a mark on your hand or something that you fix between your eyes. It will be a sign that causes you to remember what happened. You will remember that the Lord used his great power to bring us out of Egypt.’

The Israelites cross the Red Sea

17 When Pharaoh let the people go away, God did not lead them through the country of the Philistines. This was a short way for them to go, but God did not lead them that way. God said, ‘If the people have to fight a 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 Joseph's bones with him. Joseph had made the Israelites promise to do this. He had said, ‘One day, God will come and he will save you. Then you must carry my bones with you when you leave this place.’

13:19See 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 Canaan.

20 The Israelites travelled from Succoth and they arrived at Etham. They put up their tents there, on the edge of the desert. 21 As they travelled, the Lord was leading them. During the day, he was there as a pillar of cloud that went in front of them. During the night, he went as a pillar of fire. 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 leave them during the night. It was always in front of them.