Exodus Chapter 12

Exodus Chapter 12

Read Exodus Chapter 12. After you have read the chapter, read the passages below to help you dive deeper into the Chapter.  Conclude in Prayer.

Christians pondered virtually every detail of the Passover ritual in Exodus 12.  This chapter is read by the Church during the Paschal services, and has been meditated on profoundly by the teachers and father of the Church. Let us read from their meditations so that we may benefit from this rich chapter. 

“The Passover lamb is not merely a memorial of a historical event that took place in the past, but it represents a present and continuous work of God in the life of His people. The Passover feast also means a personal relationship between every member of the congregation and God Himself, concerning the symbol of the Passover lamb. But as the Lord Christ offered Himself a true “Passover” for the whole world, His Passion, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection become a continuous and permanent Passover in the life of the Church that it celebrates, not only once every year, but in every Divine Liturgy, and experiences its strength throughout everyday.” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty 

FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE PASSOVER - "It was commanded that the paschal lamb, by whose immolation the people of Israel were freed from slavery in Egypt, should be selected five days before the [feast of] Passover, that is, on the tenth [day of the lunar] month, and immolated on the fourteenth [day of the lunar] month at sundown. This signified the one who was going to redeem us by his blood, since five days before the [feast of] Passover (that is, today), accompanied by the great joy and praise of people going ahead and following, he came into God‘s temple, and he was there teaching daily. At last, after five days, having observed up to that point the sacraments of the old Passover, he brought them to perfect fulfillment, and he handed over the new sacraments to his disciples to be observed henceforth. [Then], having gone out to the Mt. of Olives, he was seized by the Jews and crucified [the next] morning. He redeemed us from the sway of the devil on that very day when the ancient people of the Hebrews cast aside the yoke of slavery under the Egyptians by the immolation of the lamb.” - BEDE 

THE GOAT IS FOR PENITENT SINNERS ―"The lamb, the Lord says, ―must be without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. In another place of Holy Writ, it is prescribed that if anyone is unable to keep the Passover in the first month, he is to do so in the second. According to the regulation above, anyone who is unable to sacrifice a lamb may substitute a kid. In the house of the church, moreover, Christ is offered in a twofold manner: if we are just, we eat of the flesh of the lamb; if we are sinners and do penance, for us a goat is slain. This does not mean that Christ is from the goats that stand, as he has taught, on his left hand, but that Christ becomes a lamb or a goat in conformity with individual and personal merit.” - JEROME

EVENING AND MORNING - "It was fitting for Christ to offer the sacrifice in evening of the day in order that the very hour might show the setting and evening of the world as it is written in Exodus: ―And the whole multitude of the children of Israel shall slaughter it in the evening. And again in the Psalms: ―The lifting up of my hands as evening sacrifice. But we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord in the morning.” - CYPRIAN

BLOOD: TYPE AND REALITY "Now if its type had so much power, both in the temple of the Hebrews and in the midst of the Egyptians, when sprinkled on the doorposts, how much more power does the reality have. In its types this blood sanctified the golden altar. Without it, the High Priest did not dare to enter the sanctuary. This blood has ordained priests. In its types it has washed away sins. And if it had such great power in its types, if death shuddered so much at the figure, how would it not even more so be in terror of the reality itself, pray tell?" - CHRYSOSTOM

St. John Chrysostom is trying to bring to our minds the reality of the strength of the blood of Christ. If the blood of goats and sheep can save the people, how much more the blood of Christ Himself? Do You believe in the saving power of the blood of Christ? The Communion of which we participate during every divine Liturgy, is more than just a blessing or a grace. It is Life Himself. When we partake, we become Life. We are alive in Him and He in Us. Death has no power over us. Death cannot reign where Life resides. Let us thank the Lord for His Life! 

EVENING AND MORNING, WEEPING AND GLADNESS "Christians eat the flesh of the lamb every day, that is, they consume daily the flesh of the Word. ―For Christ our pasch is sacrificed. And because the law of the pasch is such that it is eaten in the evening, for this reason the Lord suffered in the evening of the world, that you may always eat of the flesh of the Word, because you are always in the evening until the morning comes. And if in this evening you shall be anxious and ―in weeping and fasting and shall lead your life in every labor of justice, you shall be able to say, ―In the evening weeping shall have place and in the morning gladness. For you shall rejoice in the morning, that is, in the world to come, if in this world you have gathered ―the fruit of justice in weeping and labor.” - ORIGEN

BITTER MEDICINE CURES US - Then too the unleavened bread is commanded to be eaten with bitter herbs; nor is it possible to attain the promised land unless we pass through bitterness. For just as physicians put bitter substances in medicines with a view to the health and healing of the infirm, so also the Physician of our souls with a view to our salvation has wished us to suffer the bitterness of this life in various temptations. [He knows] that the end of this bitterness gains the sweetness of salvation for our soul, just as, on the contrary, the end of the sweetness found in corporeal pleasure, as the example of that rich man teaches, brings a bitter end: torments in hell.” - ORIGEN 

BITTER HERBS ARE GRIEF OR TRIALS -But we eat the flesh of the lamb and the unleavened bread with bitter herbs either by being grieved with a godly grief because of repentance for our sins, a grief which produces in us a repentance unto salvation which brings no regret, or by seeking and being nurtured from the visions of the truth which we discover because of our trials.” - ORIGEN

THE LAMB IS CHRIST - "Children of purity and disciples of chastity, let us celebrate the praises of the virgin-born God with lips all pure. Being counted worthy to partake of the flesh of the spiritual Lamb, let us take the head with the feet, understanding the head as the divinity and the feet as the humanity." - CYRIL OF JERUSALEM

THE LAMB IS THE SCRIPTURES ―"You shall eat it with its head and shanks and inner organs. To me, the head seems to be that of the Lamb, written of in St. John‘s Gospel: ―In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God; he was in the beginning with God. The shanks represent the human nature that he deigned to assume for our salvation. Another interpretation, however, is also possible. The head may be taken to signify spiritual understanding; the shanks, historical narrative; the inner organs are whatever lies hidden within the letter, whatever is not perceived on the surface but is brought to light by exegetes only after they have well considered it in painstaking investigation.” - JEROME

CHRISTIANS MUST BE READY TO ACT - "And let us know that the law also of the most wise Moses is found to have commanded something of this kind to the Israelites. For a lamb was sacrificed on the fourteenth day of the first month, as a type of Christ. For our Passover, Christ is sacrificed, according to the testimony of most sacred Paul. The hiero-phant Moses, then, or rather God by his means, commanded them, when eating its flesh, saying, ―Let your loins be girt, and your shoes on your feet, and your staves in your hands. For I affirm that it is the duty of those who are partakers of Christ to beware of a barren indolence. Yet it is a further duty not to have as it were their loins ungirt and loose but to be ready cheerfully to undertake whatever labors become the saints; and to hasten besides with alacrity wherever the law of God leads them. And for this reason he very appropriately made them wear the garb of travelers [at the Passover].” - CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA

THE JUST PERSON ACTS QUICKLY - "The just man gives an added force to his vow by acting quickly. Accordingly our fathers ate the paschal lamb in haste, girding up their reins, and with shoes on their feet, and standing ready, equipped for departure. The pasch is the passage of the Lord from passion to the exercise of virtue. It is called the pasch of the Lord because the truth of the passion of the Lord was then indicated in the type of the lamb, and its benefits are now being observed.” - AMBROSE 

THE MEANING OF PASSOVER -"Passover means ―passing over. It derives its ancient name from the Lord‘s passing over on this [day] through Egypt, striking the firstborn of the Egyptians and freeing the children of Israel, and from the children of Israel‘s passing over on that night from their slavery in Egypt in order that they might come to the land which had once been promised to their heirs as a land of peace. Mystically it signifies that on this [day] our Lord would pass over from this world to his Father. Following his example, the faithful, having cast off temporal desires and having cast off their slavery to vices by their continual practice of the virtues, should pass over to their promised heavenly fatherland.”

HOW THE PEOPLE LOOKED - "As also the Word of God, when desirous [to establish the paschal feast] said to his disciples, ―With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you. Now that is a wonderful account, for a man might have seen them at that time girded as for a procession or a dance and going out with staves and sandals and unleavened bread. These things, which took place before in shadows, were typical anticipatory symbols. But now the truth has drawn near to us, ―the image of the invisible God, our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light. Instead of a staff, he is our scepter; instead of unleavened bread, he is the bread which came down from heaven; who instead of sandals has furnished us with the preparation of the gospel. It is he who, to speak briefly, by all these means has guided us to his Father. And if enemies afflict us and persecute us, he again, instead of Moses, will encourage us with better words, saying, ―Be of good cheer; I have overcome the wicked one. And if after we have passed over the Red Sea, heat should again vex us or some bitterness of the waters befall us, even then again the Lord will appear to us, imparting to us of his sweetness and his life-giving fountain, saying, ―If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink” - ATHANASIUS 

THE BLOOD SAVES US - "What then did Moses do? ―Sacrifice an unblemished lamb, he said, ―and smear your doors with its blood. What do you mean? Can the blood of an irrational animal save one who expresses reason? ―Yes, he says. ―Not because it is blood but because it prefigures the Master‘s blood. Although statues of the emperor have neither life nor perception, they can save the men endowed with perception and life who flee to them for refuge, not because they are bronze but because they are images of the emperor. So too that blood which lacked life and perception saved the men who had life, not because it was blood but because it was an anticipatory type of the Master‘s blood.” - CHRYSOSTOM

“It is amazing how the Church, in her celebration of the feast of Passover (Resurrection), has practiced since the early days two integrated rites together: the Baptism of the catechumens (the new converters to Christianity), and the Eucharist. In the eve of the Passover, the Bishop baptizes the catechumens, to let them bear the sign of blood on their inner foreheads and in their hearts, to enjoy the reconciliation with God the Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit, and to enjoy the spirit of sonship, that will help them cross over to the divine glories. Then they would approach, together with the rest of believers to partake of the other rite - the Eucharist - in which the Church, striving on earth, appears, as though she, amid her strife, has settled down around the eternal divine altar, feeding on the forever new unleavened bread, and enjoying the holy body and blood, that would never get old. This is our new Passover, the shadow and symbol of which the old Passover bore.” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty

THE BAPTIZED ARE PURIFIED - "For he who is baptized is seen to be purified both according to the law and according to the gospel. According to the law, because Moses sprinkled the blood of the lamb with a bunch of hyssop. According to the gospel, because Christ‘s garments were white as snow, when in the gospel he showed forth the glory of his resurrection.” - AMBROSE

ANOINTING DOORPOSTS AND BAPTIZING CHILDREN - "Be it so, some will say, in the case of those who ask for baptism; what have you to say about those who are still children and conscious neither of the loss nor of the grace? Are we to baptize them too? Certainly, if any danger presses. For it is better that they should be unconsciously sanctified than that they should depart unsealed and uninitiated. A proof of this is found in the circumcision on the eighth day, which was a sort of typical seal. It was conferred on children before they had use of reason. And so is the anointing of the doorposts, which preserved the firstborn, though applied to things which had no consciousness.” - GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS

THE CROSS IS OUR SHIELD - "This [cross] we have been given as a sign on our forehead, just as Israel was given the circumcision. For by it we faithful are set apart from the infidels and recognized. It is a shield and armor and a trophy against the devil. It is a seal that the destroyer may not strike us, as Scripture says.” - JOHN OF DAMASCUS

“The Jews celebrate the earthly Passover, yet deny the heavenly one. But we celebrate the heavenly Passover crossing over the earthly one. The Passover they celebrate is a symbol of the salvation of the firstborns of the Jews. The death of the firstborns of the Egyptians, while the Jewish firstborns were saved, occurred because they were protected by the symbol, by the blood of the Passover sacrifice. But the Passover we celebrate brings salvation to all people, starting with the firstborns who are saved...” - ST. HIPPOLYTUS 

A SIGN OF GOD’S GENEROSITY "Joseph came into Egypt alone, and soon thereafter six hundred thousand depart from Egypt. What is more marvelous than this? What greater proof of the generosity of God, when from persons without means he wills to supply the means for public affairs” - GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS

The stations or stops of the journey: The scholar Origen spoke often of the stations or stops of that journey, as carrying the features of the set off of the soul from the land of bondage to the higher Jerusalem. Rameses: That was the start of the journey; then the people set forth to ‘Succoth’.‘Rameses’, according to Origen, means (the city of corruption), as though the start of the way is for man to get out of (the city of corruption), from motives of sin and evil. We cannot enjoy the journey of salvation, while we stay where sin dwells. Concerning this he says: [If you want the Lord to be your guide, to precede you in the pillar of cloud, to provide you with the rock, the spiritual Manna, and to let you enjoy the spiritual drink, you have to depart from ‘Rameses’]. The Lord speaks clearly about this, saying: “Do not lay for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6: 19); and “If you want “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor ... and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19: 21).This is the meaning of departing from Rameses and following Christ. According to Origen, ‘Succoth’ means tent, as though the believer, as he forsakes the motives of sin, he should consider his life here as a sojourn. He says: [As you cast away corruption, and get away from evil, you should dwell in tents so you do not want to take off, but to be further clothed” above it (1 Corinthians 5: 4). He would be dwelling in tents, he who runs toward God, free and without shackles or burdens. - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty

Exodus 12:43-51

SINNERS MAY NOT EAT THE PASSOVER - "But the deceitful, and he that is not pure of heart and possesses nothing that is pure (as Proverbs says, ―To a deceitful man there is nothing good) shall assuredly, being a stranger and of a different race from the saints, be accounted unworthy to eat the Passover, for ―a foreigner shall not eat of it. Thus Judas, when he thought he kept the Passover, because he plotted deceit against the Savior, was estranged from the city which is above and from the apostolic company. For the law commanded the Passover to be eaten with due observance. But he, while eating it, was sifted of the devil, who had entered his soul” - ATHANASIUS

THE ONE HOUSE IS THE CHURCH - "God says, ―In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not cast the flesh abroad out of the house.‖ The flesh of Christ and the holy thing of the Lord cannot be cast out. The faithful have no home but the one church. This home, this house of unanimity, the Holy Spirit announces unmistakably in the Psalms: ―God who makes men to dwell together of one mind as in a house.” - CYPRIAN

PROPHECY AND FULFILLMENT - "That well-known prophecy likewise was fulfilled: ―Not a bone of him shall you break. For even if this was spoken with reference to the lamb among the Jews, the type preceded for the sake of truth and was, rather, fulfilled in this event. Moreover, that is why the Evangelist cited the prophet. Since he might not seem to be worthy of credence because he was repeatedly making reference to his own testimony, he summoned Moses to testify that this not only did not take place by accident but that it had been foretold in writing from of old. This is the meaning of that famous prophecy: ―Not a bone of him shall be broken." - CHRYSOSTOM

Heavenly Father, truly not enough can be said of Your goodness. You gave the people of Israel the Passover so that they might know salvation through You. You O God, provided a type in the blood and body of the lamb that was to be enjoyed by Your people. We O Lord, are so thankful that our eyes and hearts have been opened to know that You are the Lamb! We, O Lord, are thankful to knowthat we have gained salvation through Your incarnation, Your crucifiction, and Your resurrection! We know dear God that we were saved, are being saved and will be saved! May the reality of our salvation, through You, always be before the eyes of Your Church, and always be on our hearts and our lips so that we may invite all to be a part of the true Passover. AMEN