Exodus 13

1. The consecration of the firstborn; an act that means nothing more than setting the firstborn apart for God (13:1-2, 11-16). The firstborn males of both the animals (livestock) and of an Israelite mother. The reason for this consecration was in memory of what the Lord did to the Egyptians (killing their firstborn) and what he did for the Israelites in bringing them out from under Egyptian bondage. Only the males were to be set apart for the Lord; that brings to a mind a question: was it only the firstborn males of the Egyptians that were struck by the Lord? The Scripture does not indicate, although Davis suggests that the Hebrew word “was limited to firstborn males who alone had been in danger from the previous plague” (p. 161).

2. More attention is given to the feast of Unleavened Bread (13:3-10). Why the insistence on unleavened bread? There are two reasons: first, and foremost, the Lord declared as much; second, there was a lack of time element associated with the use. Perhaps there was an incorporating of the consecration with the feast rather than the two being separated. This seems to be the natural interpretation. The mark on the hand or the frontlet on the forehead (13:9), Keil & Delitzsch said, “…the commands… are to be to the Israelites for signs upon the hand, and for bands between the eyes, i.e., they are to be kept in view like memorials upon the forehead and the hand” (Keil & Delitzsch).

3. Pharaoh now regroups and sends his army to retrieve what they had lost. The Lord, however, prepares His Israelites to receive the king in a way the king is not prepared to be received. Rather than going toward the land of the Philistines, the Lord sent them another way, toward the Red Sea. Exactly what portion of the Red Sea was ultimately crossed is unknown, but it has been suggested that in ancient times the Suez Canal could have been that portion of the Red Sea that the Israelites went toward. In any case, the Lord moves them in this direction and prepares for the final showdown (13:17-22).

4. Application: the idea of consecration is a worthy point of consideration. The New Testament tells us we are to set apart the Lord in our hearts, always being ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15). This is the idea of consecration. The Israelites were to set aside their firstborn to the Lord; let us set aside God’s firstborn (Colossians 1:15) as well.