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Exodus 12:15-16

Context
12:15 For seven days 1  you must eat 2  bread made without yeast. 3  Surely 4  on the first day you must put away yeast from your houses because anyone who eats bread made with yeast 5  from the first day to the seventh day will be cut off 6  from Israel.

12:16 On the first day there will be a holy convocation, 7  and on the seventh day there will be a holy convocation for you. You must do no work of any kind 8  on them, only what every person will eat – that alone may be prepared for you.

1 tn This expression is an adverbial accusative of time. The feast was to last from the 15th to the 21st of the month.

2 tn Or “you will eat.” The statement stresses their obligation – they must eat unleavened bread and avoid all leaven.

3 tn The etymology of מַצּוֹת (matsot, “unleavened bread,” i.e., “bread made without yeast”) is uncertain. Suggested connections to known verbs include “to squeeze, press,” “to depart, go out,” “to ransom,” or to an Egyptian word “food, cake, evening meal.” For a more detailed study of “unleavened bread” and related matters such as “yeast” or “leaven,” see A. P. Ross, NIDOTTE 4:448-53.

4 tn The particle serves to emphasize, not restrict here (B. S. Childs, Exodus [OTL], 183, n. 15).

5 tn Heb “every eater of leavened bread.” The participial phrase stands at the beginning of the clause as a casus pendens, that is, it stands grammatically separate from the sentence. It names a condition, the contingent occurrences of which involve a further consequence (GKC 361 §116.w).

6 tn The verb וְנִכְרְתָה (vÿnikhrÿtah) is the Niphal perfect with the vav (ו) consecutive; it is a common formula in the Law for divine punishment. Here, in sequence to the idea that someone might eat bread made with yeast, the result would be that “that soul [the verb is feminine] will be cut off.” The verb is the equivalent of the imperfect tense due to the consecutive; a translation with a nuance of the imperfect of possibility (“may be cut off”) fits better perhaps than a specific future. There is the real danger of being cut off, for while the punishment might include excommunication from the community, the greater danger was in the possibility of divine intervention to root out the evildoer (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 94). Gesenius lists this as the use of a perfect with a vav consecutive after a participle (a casus pendens) to introduce the apodosis (GKC 337 §112.mm).

sn In Lev 20:3, 5-6, God speaks of himself as cutting off a person from among the Israelites. The rabbis mentioned premature death and childlessness as possible judgments in such cases, and N. M. Sarna comments that “one who deliberately excludes himself from the religious community of Israel cannot be a beneficiary of the covenantal blessings” (Exodus [JPSTC], 58).

7 sn This refers to an assembly of the people at the sanctuary for religious purposes. The word “convocation” implies that the people were called together, and Num 10:2 indicates they were called together by trumpets.

8 tn Heb “all/every work will not be done.” The word refers primarily to the work of one’s occupation. B. Jacob (Exodus, 322) explains that since this comes prior to the fuller description of laws for Sabbaths and festivals, the passage simply restricts all work except for the preparation of food. Once the laws are added, this qualification is no longer needed. Gesenius translates this as “no manner of work shall be done” (GKC 478-79 §152.b).



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