Saturday, July 17, 2004

Exodus 13

This chapter is, in part, a recapitulation and intensification of what has gone before. In particular, the injunction against leavening during Passover is repeated.

As the Israelites travel from the store city, Rameses (Ex. 1:11) to Succoth, they are accompanied by a crowd of "other people," according to Exodus 12: 38.  Succoth is also the name of the Festival of Booths, so called because the Israelites stayed in huts as they traveled ( They are armed for battle, and yet God leads them away from the Philistines and by the desert road to the Red Sea.  The trip has an important secondary mission, to return Joseph's bones to Canaan. And God appears in new forms, as a pillar of fire and as a pillar of cloud. 

In this chapter, God claims every firstborn male, whether Hebrew or animal. Where the Egyptian firstborn men simply died, the Lord allows Hebrews to redeem their sons, with the redemption price set at 100 grams of silver (  Similarly, donkeys may be redeemed with a lamb. 

Consider the story of Abraham and Isaac/Ishmael in this light. Abraham did not trust the Lord quite enough to believe that a post-menopausal woman, Sarai, could bear a child. Therefore, his firstborn child was a "wild donkey of a man."  When Isaac came along, the child Abraham genuinely treasured, God made him take Isaac for sacrifice. The redemption thus echoes the story of Isaac, reminds people that God owns us all, and foreshadows the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God. 

We are, after all, God's donkeys.  


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