The Law of the Firstborn
1Then the Lord said to Moses, 2“Give every firstborn male to me. Every firstborn male among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.”
3Moses said to the people, “Remember this day, the day you left Egypt. You were slaves in that land, but the Lord with his great power brought you out of it. You must not eat bread made with yeast. 4Today, in the month of Abib, you are leaving Egypt. 5The Lord will lead you to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, and Jebusites. This is the land he promised your ancestors he would give you, a fertile land. There you must celebrate this feast during the first month of every year. 6For seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, and on the seventh day there will be a feast to honor the Lord. 7So for seven days you must not eat any bread made with yeast. There must be no bread made with yeast anywhere in your land. 8On that day you should tell your son: ‘We are having this feast because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9This feast will help you remember, like a mark on your hand or a reminder on your forehead. This feast will remind you to speak the Lord’s teachings, because the Lord used his great power to bring you out of Egypt. 10So celebrate this feast every year at the right time.
11“And when the Lord takes you into the land of the Canaanites, the land he promised to give you and your ancestors, 12you must give him every firstborn male. Also every firstborn male animal must be given to the Lord. 13Buy back every firstborn donkey by offering a lamb. But if you don’t want to buy the donkey back, then break its neck. You must buy back from the Lord every firstborn of your sons.
14“From now on when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you will answer, ‘With his great power, the Lord brought us out from Egypt, the land where we were slaves. 15The king of Egypt was stubborn and refused to let us leave. But the Lord killed every firstborn male in Egypt, both human and animal. That is why I sacrifice every firstborn male animal to the Lord, and that is why I buy back each of my firstborn sons from the Lord.’ 16This feast is like a mark on your hand and a reminder on your forehead to help you remember that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his great power.”
The Way Out of Egypt
17When the king sent the people out of Egypt, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was the shortest way. God said, “If they have to fight, they might change their minds and go back to Egypt.” 18So God led them through the desert toward the Red Sea. The Israelites were dressed for fighting when they left the land of Egypt.
19Moses carried the bones of Joseph with him, because before Joseph died, he had made the Israelites promise to do this. He had said, “When God saves you, remember to carry my bones with you out of Egypt.”
20The Israelites left Succoth and camped at Etham, on the edge of the desert. 21The Lord showed them the way; during the day he went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud, and during the night he was in a pillar of fire to give them light. In this way they could travel during the day or night. 22The pillar of cloud was always with them during the day, and the pillar of fire was always with them at night.