The Passover


The Lord gave Moses and Aaron the directions for the celebration of the Feast of the Passover, which became an annual memorial for Israel to commemorate deliverance from bondage in Egypt.  While the Egyptians were awaiting their doom, Israel was preparing for the Passover and the Feast (Exodus 12:1-13) of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:14-20).  The Passover was to be celebrated in the first month of the year.  This month was traditionally the time of the Vernal Equinox and the beginning of Spring.  On the 10th, the passover lamb was to be selected.  The lamb must be "an unblemished male a year old."  The lamb was to be killed "between the evenings" (`ben ha`arebajim, Exodus 12:6), which means between sundown and dark (3:00 PM to 6:00 PM) on the 14th.  The innocent lambs would die in the place of the Hebrew children.  Blood from the lamb was to be put on the doorposts and lentil of the houses.  The lamb was to be roasted with fire and served with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

The feast was called "the LORD's Passover" (Exodus 12:11).  The word, Passover, is the Hebrew pesach from the verb, pasach, to leap or hop, from which the meaning passover is derived.

Exodus 12:12-13
12 ‘For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. 13 ‘And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
On the night of the Passover, the Lord (Jehovah) would kill the all the first born in Egypt, both man and animal, and He would execute judgments against all the demon-gods of Egypt.  Notice that the demons were also judged because they empowered the Egyptians.  Egypt was a slave to demons, and Israel was a slave to Egypt.  When the LORD saw the lamb's blood on the houses of the Israelites, however, He would pass over and not kill their firstborn or cause any plague.

The Israelites would eat unleavened bread beginning at evening on the 14th (which is actually the beginning of the 15th) and continue to eat unleavened bread for 7 days (until the 21st).

So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders. (Exodus 12:34, NAS)

 “You shall not eat leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), in order that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 16:3, NAS)

They ate unleavened bread because they would leave Egypt in haste and not have time for the bread to rise.  Therefore, the number, 21, means Providential Preventative Suffering.  They had bread in the crisis, although it was not risen.  The unleavened bread also represented the impeccability of the sin bearer who would go to the cross to pay for the sins of the world.  Thus, the bead as a symbol could not be adulterated with leaven.Doorposts
Exodus 12:23
23 “For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.
The "destroyer" is the same as the "destroying angel" (1 Chronicles 21:15), the "destroying one" (or he who destroyed) (Hebrews 11:28),  and "the destroyer" (1 Corinthians 10:10).  The angel responsible for death is Michael the archangel (Jude 9).  However, the destroying angel works directly with the Lord because death is a sovereign decision of God.


The night of the 14th, which was the 15th Hebrew time, the LORD killed all the first born in Egypt as He had warned.
Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the first-born of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the first-born of cattle. (Exodus 12:29, NAS)
Pharaoh and all of Egypt were awakened in the middle of the night.  There were cries all over the land.
And Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead. (Exodus 12:30, NAS)
In the face of death, Pharaoh finally gave up and agreed to let all of Israel go along with their flocks and herds.
Exodus 12:31-32, NAS
31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the Lord, as you have said. 32 “Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also.”
Pharaoh even requested from Moses and Aaron, "bless me also," which means leave your blessing on us when you leave.  The Egyptian also begged Israel to leave in haste because they had the fear of death.
Exodus 12:33-36, NAS
33 And the Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, “We shall all be dead.” 34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders. 35 Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; 36 and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
The Israelites left with the spoils of victory, but they ate unleavened bread because they left in haste.


Israel left Egypt the night of the 14th (morning of the 15th).  The hand of the Lord had delivered them from bondage as He had promised, and they were on their way to the Promised Land.  The number of Israelite men who left Egypt was 600,000.  In addition there were women and children as well as large flocks and herds.  There were also Egyptian believers who left with them.  The total who left Egypt was at least 2 million.  All who left Egypt were believers.
Exodus 12:37-39, NAS
37 Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children. 38 And a mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock. 39 And they baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.
Freedom from Egypt, which is a symbol of the world (the Cosmic System), was necessary to fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 15:13-14; Galatians 3:17).  The Lord told Abraham that Israel would be in slavery for 400 years, which is a round number.  Then the Lord would give them freedom and fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant, which meant giving them the Promised Land.  The more precise number, 430, means to be fulfilled.
And it came about at the end of four hundred and thirty years, on that very same day, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:41)
The phrase, "on that very same day," does not mean 430 years to the day since Jacob went down to Egypt.  It means the same day as the very day of the Passover and Unleavened Bread observance (Exodus 12:11, 14, 17).

Sanctification of the Firstborn

In order for the Lord to deliver Israel for Egypt, the firstborn of Israel had to be sanctified to the Lord as well as the firstborn of the livestock (Exodus 13:1-16).  To be sanctified means to be separated or consecrated to the Lord.  This was the price of deliverance from Egypt.  The firstborn children must be dedicated to the Lord.  Only when Israel obeyed the Lord would they be delivered.  Those who left Egypt had to be on God's side.  Thus the Justice of God separated between Israel and Egypt as a baby is separated from the womb at birth, or a person is separated from life at death.

The implementation methodology for the Passover would be the same as for the Nine Plagues.  Pharaoh's heart would be hardened.  The word for hardened in verse 15 is the Hebrew qashah, which means to harden in the sense of to be difficult, stubborn, or recalcitrant.  This same word was used to describe the implementation methodology in Exodus 7:3 and again until Exodus 13:15.

Exodus from Egypt

Exodus Route

The Lord did not lead Israel up the normal highway directly into the Promised Land through what is now the Gaza Strip and was the then the land of the Philistines.
Exodus 13:17-18, NAS
17 Now it came about when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war, and they return to Egypt.” 18 Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt.
If they had gone into the hostile land of the Philistines, they would have had to go to war, and the Hebrews who left Egypt were not military material.  Slaves and criminals don't make good soldiers because they are rebellious and cowardly.  The Lord took this into consideration and led them toward the Red Sea to the south.  Not only did the Lord direct the attack on Egypt, He also directed the journey out of Egypt.  He did not lead Israel to destruction.

Fire PillarCloudThey also carried the sarcophagus of Joseph with them, for Joseph had made them promise to bury him in the Promised Land.

Exodus 13:19-22, NAS
19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God shall surely take care of you; and you shall carry my bones from here with you.” 20 Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
The Lord led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

Pharaoh's Pursuit

The battle is not over until the king is killed.  The Lord had a plan to harden Pharaoh's heart again and bring about his own destruction.
Exodus 14:1-4, NAS
1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. 3 “For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 “Thus I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
The word for hardened here is chazaq, which stresses the strength, or firmness of Pharaoh's convictions against God.  This same word for hardened appeared after the last plague.  It shows that Pharaoh had again taken the offensive.  But his time would be his last, for this was the sin unto death.
Exodus 14:5-8, NAS
5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; 7 and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly.
Pharaoh suddenly had a change of heart, along with his staff; so he mobilized his army with all his chariots to go get Israel and bring them back.  The word for hardened here is again chazaq.
Exodus 14:9-12
9 Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
10 And as Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 “Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
Israel was now in a vulnerable position with the Red Sea to the east, mountains to the south, and Pharaoh's army approaching from the west.  This was a test of faith.  Did the Lord bring them out to destroy them?  Obviously not.  After witnessing the power of God in delivering them from Egypt, the Israelites flunked the test of faith.  They refused to apply Bible Doctrine and went into denial and projection.  They blamed everything on Moses.

Crossing the Red Sea

Moses understood the test of faith, and He trusted the Lord to deliver him.  His logic was simple.  Does the Lord want us to be destroyed?  No.  Then the Lord will deliver us.
But Moses said to the people, "Do not fear. Stand firm and watch the deliverance of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today! For the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again ever. (Exodus 14:13)
Moses was facing the disaster test with 2 million panic stricken emotional wimps.  He first told them not to be afraid (Qal imperfect).  Then he give them two orders, which were obviously shouted in their faces:  "Stand firm and watch the deliverance of the Lord."  "Stand firm" is the Hebrew jatsab, which means to hold your ground or take up a defensive position against an opposing army.  It is the equivalent of "resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7b).  Then they must "watch the deliverance of the Lord."  This would be the last time they would ever see the Egyptians.
The Lord will fight for you, but you keep quiet." (Exodus 14:14)
"The Lord will fight for you."  This was equivalent to David's rallying cry against Goliath, "the battle is the Lord's" (1 Samuel 17:47).  But they must "keep quiet" (Hiph'il imperfect).  They are full of fear and are crying, screaming, and falling apart.  The crisis must be met with thought - not emotion and panic.  Emotion is the absence of thought and no solution for the disaster.
Exodus 14:15-16
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to Me? Direct the people of Israel to move out. 16 “And as for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.
The Lord told Moses, "Why are you (Moses) crying out to Me?"  Moses was obviously praying for the Lord's help.  The Lord told Moses to direct the people to move out, i.e. to break camp and go toward the Red Sea.  The word, "direct," is the Hebrew dabar (Pi'el imperative), which is the intensive stem.  It means to give specific orders forcefully.  The Lord was going to part the waters of the Red Sea so that Israel can walk across on dry land.
Exodus 14:17-18
17 “And as for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be glorified through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 “Then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I am glorified through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.”
After the Lord told Moses what to do, He explained what He was about to do to win the victory over Pharaoh and his army.  The king must die to win the victory.  He was going to harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they would go into the Red Sea after Israel.  The word for hardened here is again chazaq.  The Lord would perform another miracle so that He would be glorified through the destruction of Pharaoh's army in the Red Sea.  This miracle would be heard round the world and be the basis for world-wide evangelism.
Exodus 14:19-20, NAS
19 And the angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night.
Then the angel of God who had been leading them moved to perform a rear guard action.  The angel of God was the Shekinah Glory, a preincarnate manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Lord at times appeared as an angel before He became a man.  The cloud at night on the side of the Egyptians prevented them from seeing, but there was light on the side of Israel.  Thus, the Egyptians were kept separate from Israel all night.
Exodus 14:21-22, NAS
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided.  22 And the sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
The Red Sea was parted by a strong east wind that blew all night, so that Israel crossed on dry ground.  The Red Sea is affected by winds, and winds from certain directions can dry up parts of it.   However, the east is not the best direction to accomplish this.  Granted, the east could apply from northeast to southeast per the Hebrew, but it would still take a miracle to part the sea at the right time and close it back up on the Egyptians.  The Lord performed the miracle, and Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry land.
Exodus 14:23-25, NAS
23 Then the Egyptians took up the pursuit, and all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen went in after them into the midst of the sea. 24 And it came about at the morning watch, that the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion. 25 And He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from Israel, for the Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians.”
The Egyptians along with Pharaoh in their arrogance thought they could cross the Red Sea the same way Israel had crossed.  However, the Lord, who was in the cloud and pillar of fire, confused them.  He made their chariots swerve and made them drive with difficulty.  The Egyptians recognized divine opposition, but they continued to pursue Israel in their arrogance.
Exodus 14:26-28, NAS
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 And the waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained.
As Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, the waters of the Red Sea returned and covered the army of Egypt.  That was at daybreak.  There were no survivors.  Pharaoh and his entire army had perished.  The only people who crossed the Red Sea were believers.  Thus, the crossing of the Red Sea became a symbol of salvation.
Exodus 14:29-31, NAS
29 But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 And when Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.
But Israel was safe on the other shore.  They had all crossed through the sea on dry ground.  They saw the dead Egyptians and realized that they had watched the deliverance of the Lord.  Therefore, they feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and Moses.  Pharaoh had gone down in the cycles of punishment to the sin unto death, while Moses had been promoted in the cycles of blessing by the Lord.  The signs and wonders the Lord performed became the basis for evangelizing the entire world and set the record for the destruction of an arrogant king with a hardened heart.  Through the Nine Plagues and the Passover, God completely destroyed Pharaoh and the famous Egyptian Empire.



1.  Pillar of Fire:  Derived from Kilauea Volcano photo by C. Heliker,  USGS, September 19, 1984.

Released December 9, 1999 - Revised September 28, 2011

Author: Larry Wood
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