12:3 Tell the whole community of Israel, ‘In the tenth day of this month they each 1 must take a lamb 2 for themselves according to their families 3 – a lamb for each household. 4 12:4 If any household is too small 5 for a lamb, 6 the man 7 and his next-door neighbor 8 are to take 9 a lamb according to the number of people – you will make your count for the lamb according to how much each one can eat. 10 12:5 Your lamb must be 11 perfect, 12 a male, one year old; 13 you may take 14 it from the sheep or from the goats. 12:6 You must care for it 15 until the fourteenth day of this month, and then the whole community 16 of Israel will kill it around sundown. 17
1 tn Heb “and they will take for them a man a lamb.” This is clearly a distributive, or individualizing, use of “man.”
2 tn The שֶּׂה (seh) is a single head from the flock, or smaller cattle, which would include both sheep and goats.
3 tn Heb “according to the house of their fathers.” The expression “house of the father” is a common expression for a family.
sn The Passover was to be a domestic institution. Each lamb was to be shared by family members.
4 tn Heb “house” (also at the beginning of the following verse).
5 sn Later Judaism ruled that “too small” meant fewer than ten (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 88).
6 tn The clause uses the comparative min (מִן) construction: יִמְעַט הַבַּיִת מִהְיֹת מִשֶּׂה (yim’at habbayit mihyot miseh, “the house is small from being from a lamb,” or “too small for a lamb”). It clearly means that if there were not enough people in the household to have a lamb by themselves, they should join with another family. For the use of the comparative, see GKC 430 §133.c.
7 tn Heb “he and his neighbor”; the referent (the man) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
8 tn Heb “who is near to his house.”
9 tn The construction uses a perfect tense with a vav (ו) consecutive after a conditional clause: “if the household is too small…then he and his neighbor will take.”
10 tn Heb “[every] man according to his eating.”
sn The reference is normally taken to mean whatever each person could eat. B. Jacob (Exodus, 299) suggests, however, that the reference may not be to each individual person’s appetite, but to each family. Each man who is the head of a household was to determine how much his family could eat, and this in turn would determine how many families shared the lamb.
11 tn The construction has: “[The] lamb…will be to you.” This may be interpreted as a possessive use of the lamed, meaning, “[the] lamb…you have” (your lamb) for the Passover. In the context instructing the people to take an animal for this festival, the idea is that the one they select, their animal, must meet these qualifications.
12 tn The Hebrew word תָּמִים (tamim) means “perfect” or “whole” or “complete” in the sense of not having blemishes and diseases – no physical defects. The rules for sacrificial animals applied here (see Lev 22:19-21; Deut 17:1).
13 tn The idiom says “a son of a year” (בֶּן־שָׁנָה, ben shanah), meaning a “yearling” or “one year old” (see GKC 418 §128.v).
14 tn Because a choice is being given in this last clause, the imperfect tense nuance of permission should be used. They must have a perfect animal, but it may be a sheep or a goat. The verb’s object “it” is supplied from the context.
15 tn The text has וְהָיָה לָכֶם לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת (vÿhaya lakem lÿmishmeret, “and it will be for you for a keeping”). This noun stresses the activity of watching over or caring for something, probably to keep it in its proper condition for its designated use (see 16:23, 32-34).
16 tn Heb “all the assembly of the community.” This expression is a pleonasm. The verse means that everyone will kill the lamb, i.e., each family unit among the Israelites will kill its animal.
17 tn Heb “between the two evenings” or “between the two settings” (בֵּין הָעַרְבָּיִם, ben ha’arbayim). This expression has had a good deal of discussion. (1) Tg. Onq. says “between the two suns,” which the Talmud explains as the time between the sunset and the time the stars become visible. More technically, the first “evening” would be the time between sunset and the appearance of the crescent moon, and the second “evening” the next hour, or from the appearance of the crescent moon to full darkness (see Deut 16:6 – “at the going down of the sun”). (2) Saadia, Rashi, and Kimchi say the first evening is when the sun begins to decline in the west and cast its shadows, and the second evening is the beginning of night. (3) The view adopted by the Pharisees and the Talmudists (b. Pesahim 61a) is that the first evening is when the heat of the sun begins to decrease, and the second evening begins at sunset, or, roughly from 3-5