13:2 “Set apart 1 to me every firstborn male – the first offspring of every womb 2 among the Israelites, whether human or animal; it is mine.” 3
13:5 When 4 the Lord brings you to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, 5 then you will keep 6 this ceremony 7 in this month.
13:8 You are to tell your son 8 on that day, 9 ‘It is 10 because of what 11 the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 13:9 12 It 13 will be a sign 14 for you on your hand and a memorial 15 on your forehead, 16 so that the law of the Lord may be 17 in your mouth, 18 for 19 with a mighty hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt. 13:10 So you must keep 20 this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year. 21
1 tn The verb “sanctify” is the Piel imperative of קָדַשׁ (qadash). In the Qal stem it means “be holy, be set apart, be distinct,” and in this stem “sanctify, set apart.”
sn Here is the central principle of the chapter – the firstborn were sacred to God and must be “set apart” (the meaning of the verb “sanctify”) for his use.
2 tn The word פֶּטֶּר (petter) means “that which opens”; this construction literally says, “that which opens every womb,” which means “the first offspring of every womb.” Verses 12 and 15 further indicate male offspring.
3 tn Heb “to me it.” The preposition here expresses possession; the construction is simply “it [is, belongs] to me.”
4 tn Heb “and it will be when.”
6 tn The verb is וְעָבַדְתָּ (vÿ’avadta), the Qal perfect with a vav (ו) consecutive. It is the equivalent of the imperfect tense of instruction or injunction; it forms the main point after the temporal clause – “when Yahweh brings you out…then you will serve.”
7 tn The object is a cognate accusative for emphasis on the meaning of the service – “you will serve this service.” W. C. Kaiser notes how this noun was translated “slavery” and “work” in the book, but “service” or “ceremony” for Yahweh. Israel was saved from slavery to Egypt into service for God as remembered by this ceremony (“Exodus,” EBC 2:383).
8 tn The form is the Hiphil perfect with the vav (ו) consecutive, carrying the sequence forward: “and you will declare to your son.”
sn A very important part of the teaching here is the manner in which the memory of the deliverance will be retained in Israel – they were to teach their children the reasons for the feast, as a binding law forever. This will remind the nation of its duties to Yahweh in gratitude for the great deliverance.
9 tn Heb “day, saying.” “Tell…saying” is redundant, so “saying” has not been included in the translation here.
10 tn “it is” has been supplied.
11 tn The text uses זֶה (zeh), which Gesenius classifies as the use of the pronoun to introduce a relative clause after the preposition (GKC 447 §138.h) – but he thinks the form is corrupt. B. S. Childs, however, sees no reason to posit a corruption in this form (Exodus [OTL], 184).
12 sn This passage has, of course, been taken literally by many devout Jews, and portions of the text have been encased in phylacteries and bound on the arm and forehead. B. Jacob (Exodus, 368), weighing the pros and cons of the literal or the figurative meaning, says that those who took it literally should not be looked down on for their symbolic work. In many cases, he continues, it is the spirit that kills and the letter makes alive – because people who argue against a literal usage do so to excuse lack of action. This is a rather interesting twist in the discussion. The point of the teaching was obviously meant to keep the Law of Yahweh in the minds of the people, to remind them of their duties.
13 tn That is, this ceremony.
14 tn Heb “for a sign.”
15 tn Heb “for a memorial.”
sn That these festivals and consecrations were to be signs and memorials is akin to the expressions used in the book of Proverbs (Prov 3:3, “bind them around your neck…write them on your heart”). The people were to use the festivals as outward and visible tokens to remind them to obey what the Law required.
17 tn The purpose of using this ceremony as a sign and a memorial is that the Law might be in their mouth. The imperfect tense, then, receives the classification of final imperfect in the purpose clause.
19 tn This causal clause gives the reason for what has just been instructed. Because Yahweh delivered them from bondage, he has the strongest claims on their life.
20 tn The form is a perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive, functioning as the equivalent of an imperfect of instruction or injunction.
21 tn Or “every year,” or “year after year.”