The Passover-Unleavened Bread Festival
1 Observe the month Abib#sn The month Abib, later called Nisan (Neh 2:1; Esth 3:7), corresponds to March-April in the modern calendar. and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in that month#tn Heb “in the month Abib.” The demonstrative “that” has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons. he#tn Heb “the Lord your God.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy. brought you out of Egypt by night. 2 You must sacrifice the Passover animal#tn Heb “sacrifice the Passover” (so NASB). The word “animal” has been supplied in the translation for clarity. (from the flock or the herd) to the Lord your God in the place where he#tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in the previous verse. chooses to locate his name. 3 You must not eat any yeast with it; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, symbolic of affliction, for you came out of Egypt hurriedly. You must do this so you will remember for the rest of your life the day you came out of the land of Egypt. 4 There must not be a scrap of yeast within your land#tn Heb “leaven must not be seen among you in all your border.” for seven days, nor can any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until the next morning.#tn Heb “remain all night until the morning” (so KJV, ASV). This has been simplified in the translation for stylistic reasons. 5 You may not sacrifice the Passover in just any of your villages#tn Heb “gates.” that the Lord your God is giving you, 6 but you must sacrifice it#tn Heb “the Passover.” The translation uses a pronoun to avoid redundancy in English. in the evening in#tc The MT reading אֶל (’el, “unto”) before “the place” should, following Smr, Syriac, Targums, and Vulgate, be omitted in favor of ב (bet; בַּמָּקוֹם, bammaqom), “in the place.” the place where he#tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 16:1. chooses to locate his name, at sunset, the time of day you came out of Egypt. 7 You must cook#tn The rules that governed the Passover meal are found in Exod 12:1-51, and Deut 16:1-8. The word translated “cook” (בָּשַׁל, bashal) here is translated “boil” in other places (e.g. Exod 23:19, 1 Sam 2:13-15). This would seem to contradict Exod 12:9 where the Israelites are told not to eat the Passover sacrifice raw or boiled. However, 2 Chr 35:13 recounts the celebration of a Passover feast during the reign of Josiah, and explains that the people “cooked (בָּשַׁל, bashal) the Passover sacrifices over the open fire.” The use of בָּשַׁל (bashal) with “fire” (אֵשׁ, ’esh) suggests that the word could be used to speak of boiling or roasting. and eat it in the place the Lord your God chooses; you may return the next morning to your tents. 8 You must eat bread made without yeast for six days. The seventh day you are to hold an assembly for the Lord your God; you must not do any work on that day.#tn The words “on that day” are not in the Hebrew text; they are supplied in the translation for clarification (cf. TEV, NLT).
The Festival of Weeks
9 You must count seven weeks; you must begin to count them#tn Heb “the seven weeks.” The translation uses a pronoun to avoid redundancy in English. from the time you begin to harvest the standing grain. 10 Then you are to celebrate the Festival of Weeks#tn The Hebrew phrase חַג שָׁבֻעוֹת (khag shavu’ot) is otherwise known in the OT (Exod 23:16) as קָצִיר (qatsir, “harvest”) and in the NT as πεντηχοστή (penthcosth, “Pentecost”). before the Lord your God with the voluntary offering#tn Heb “the sufficiency of the offering of your hand.” that you will bring, in proportion to how he#tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 16:1. has blessed you. 11 You shall rejoice before him#tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 16:1. – you, your son, your daughter, your male and female slaves, the Levites in your villages,#tn Heb “gates.” the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows among you – in the place where the Lord chooses to locate his name. 12 Furthermore, remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and so be careful to observe these statutes.
The Festival of Temporary Shelters
13 You must celebrate the Festival of Temporary Shelters#tn The Hebrew phrase חַג הַסֻּכֹּת (khag hassukot, “festival of huts” or “festival of shelters”) is traditionally known as the Feast of Tabernacles. The rendering “booths” (cf. NAB, NASB, NRSV) is now preferable to the traditional “tabernacles” (KJV, ASV, NIV) in light of the meaning of the term סֻכָּה (sukkah, “hut; booth”), but “booths” are frequently associated with trade shows and craft fairs in contemporary American English. Clearer is the English term “shelters” (so NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT), but this does not reflect the temporary nature of the living arrangement. This feast was a commemoration of the wanderings of the Israelites after they left Egypt, suggesting that a translation like “temporary shelters” is more appropriate. for seven days, at the time of the grain and grape harvest.#tn Heb “when you gather in your threshing-floor and winepress.” 14 You are to rejoice in your festival, you, your son, your daughter, your male and female slaves, the Levites, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows who are in your villages.#tn Heb “in your gates.” 15 You are to celebrate the festival seven days before the Lord your God in the place he#tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 16:1. chooses, for he#tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 16:1. will bless you in all your productivity and in whatever you do;#tn Heb “in all the work of your hands” (so NASB, NIV); NAB, NRSV “in all your undertakings.” so you will indeed rejoice! 16 Three times a year all your males must appear before the Lord your God in the place he chooses for the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Temporary Shelters; and they must not appear before him#tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 16:1. empty-handed. 17 Every one of you must give as you are able,#tn Heb “a man must give according to the gift of his hand.” This has been translated as second person for stylistic reasons, in keeping with the second half of the verse, which is second person rather than third. according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.
Provision for Justice
18 You must appoint judges and civil servants#tn The Hebrew term וְשֹׁטְרִים (vÿshoterim), usually translated “officers” (KJV, NCV) or “officials” (NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT), derives from the verb שֹׁטֵר (shoter, “to write”). The noun became generic for all types of public officials. Here, however, it may be appositionally epexegetical to “judges,” thus resulting in the phrase, “judges, that is, civil officers,” etc. Whoever the שֹׁטְרִים are, their task here consists of rendering judgments and administering justice. for each tribe in all your villages#tn Heb “gates.” that the Lord your God is giving you, and they must judge the people fairly.#tn Heb “with judgment of righteousness”; ASV, NASB “with righteous judgment.” 19 You must not pervert justice or show favor. Do not take a bribe, for bribes blind the eyes of the wise and distort#tn Heb “twist, overturn”; NRSV “subverts the cause.” the words of the righteous.#tn Or “innocent”; NRSV “those who are in the right”; NLT “the godly.” 20 You must pursue justice alone#tn Heb “justice, justice.” The repetition is emphatic; one might translate as “pure justice” or “unadulterated justice” (cf. NLT “true justice”). so that you may live and inherit the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Examples of Legal Cases
21 You must not plant any kind of tree as a sacred Asherah pole#tn Heb “an Asherah, any tree.”sn Sacred Asherah pole. This refers to a tree (or wooden pole) dedicated to the worship of Asherah, wife/sister of El and goddess of fertility. See also Deut 7:5. near the altar of the Lord your God which you build for yourself. 22 You must not erect a sacred pillar,#sn Sacred pillar. This refers to the stelae (stone pillars; the Hebrew term is מַצֵּבֹת, matsevot) associated with Baal worship, perhaps to mark a spot hallowed by an alleged visitation of the gods. See also Deut 7:5. a thing the Lord your God detests.
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