Setting Apart the Oldest Sons
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Set apart for me the first boy born in every family. The oldest son of every Israelite mother belongs to me. Every male animal born first to its mother also belongs to me.”
3Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day. It’s the day you came out of Egypt. That’s the land where you were slaves. The Lord used his mighty hand to bring you out of Egypt. Don’t eat anything with yeast in it. 4You are leaving today. It’s the month of Aviv. 5The Lord will bring you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites. He promised your people of long ago that he would give that land to you. It’s a land that has plenty of milk and honey. When you get there, celebrate this holy day in this month. 6For seven days eat bread made without yeast. On the seventh day hold a feast to honor the Lord. 7Eat bread made without yeast during those seven days. Nothing with yeast in it should be found among you. No yeast should be seen anywhere inside your borders. 8On that day talk to your child. Say, ‘I’m doing this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9When you celebrate this holy day, it will be like a mark on your hand. It will be like a reminder on your forehead. This law of the Lord must be on your lips. The Lord used his mighty hand to bring you out of Egypt. 10Obey this law at the appointed time year after year.
11“The Lord will bring you into the land of Canaan. He will give it to you, just as he promised he would. He gave his word to you and your people of long ago. 12After you arrive in the land, give to the Lord the oldest son of every mother. Every male animal born first to its mother among your livestock belongs to the Lord. 13By sacrificing a lamb, buy back every male donkey born first to its mother. But if you don’t buy the donkey back, break its neck. Buy back every oldest son.
14“In days to come, your child will ask you, ‘What does this mean?’ Say to them, ‘The Lord used his mighty hand to bring us out of Egypt. That’s the land where we were slaves. 15Pharaoh was stubborn. He refused to let us go. So the Lord killed every oldest son in Egypt. He also killed all those born first among the people and animals. That’s why I sacrifice to the Lord every male animal born first. And that’s why I buy back each of my oldest sons for the Lord.’ 16This holy day will be like a mark on your hand. It will be like a sign on your forehead. It will remind you that the Lord used his mighty hand to bring us out of Egypt.”
Israel Goes Through the Red Sea
17Pharaoh let the people go. The shortest road from Goshen to Canaan went through the Philistine country. But God didn’t lead them that way. God said, “If they have to go into battle, they might change their minds. They might return to Egypt.” 18So God led the people toward the Red Sea by taking them on a road through the desert. The Israelites were ready for battle when they went up out of Egypt.
19Moses took the bones of Joseph along with him. Joseph had made the Israelites give their word to do this. He had said, “God will surely come to help you. When he does, you must carry my bones up from this place with you.” (Genesis 50:25)
20The people left Sukkoth. They camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud. It guided them on their way. At night he led them with a pillar of fire. It gave them light. So they could travel by day or at night. 22The pillar of cloud didn’t leave its place in front of the people during the day. And the pillar of fire didn’t leave its place at night.