Exodus 13:1-16

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 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 them plenty of good food and drink, enough for everyone. When the Lord brings you in to 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 So, 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.’