Shemot (Exodus): Bo > Ch 12

G-d tells Moses and Aaron when to start the New Year

  • This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year.

G-d tells Moses and Aaron how the people should mark their doors with lamb blood

  • On the tenth of this month, let each one take a lamb for each parental home, a lamb for each household.
  • But if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor who is nearest to his house shall take one according to the number of people, each one according to one's ability to eat, shall you be counted for the lamb.
  • You shall have a perfect male lamb in its first year; you may take it either from the sheep or from the goats.
  • And you shall keep it for inspection until the fourteenth day of this month,
  • And the entire congregation of the community of Israel shall slaughter it in the afternoon.
  • And they shall take [some] of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel, on the houses in which they will eat it.
  • And on this night, they shall eat the flesh, roasted over the fire, and unleavened cakes; with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
  • You shall not eat it rare or boiled in water, except roasted over the fire its head with its legs and with its innards.
  • And you shall not leave over any of it until morning, and whatever is left over of it until morning, you shall burn in fire.
  • And this is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste it is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord.

G-d tells Moses and Aaron that He will smite the Egyptian firstborns

  • I will pass through the land of Egypt on this night, and I will smite every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast, and upon all the gods of Egypt will I wreak judgments I, the Lord. And the blood will be for you for a sign upon the houses where you will be, and I will see the blood and skip over you, and there will be no plague to destroy [you] when I smite the [people of the] land of Egypt..

G-d tells Moses and Aaron how to celebrate Passover

  • And this day shall be for you as a memorial, and you shall celebrate it as a festival for the Lord; throughout your generations, you shall celebrate it as an everlasting statute.
  • For seven days you shall eat unleavened cakes, but on the preceding day you shall clear away all leaven from your houses,
  • for whoever eats leaven from the first day until the seventh day that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
  • And on the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day you shall have a holy convocation; no work may be performed on them, but what is eaten by any soul that alone may be performed for you.
  • And you shall watch over the unleavened cakes, for on this very day I have taken your legions out of the land of Egypt, and you shall observe this day throughout your generations, [as] an everlasting statute.
  • In the first [month], on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening, you shall eat unleavened cakes, until the twenty first day of the month in the evening. For seven days, leavening shall not be found in your houses, for whoever eats leavening that soul shall be cut off from the community of Israel, both among the strangers and the native born of the land. You shall not eat any leavening; throughout all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened cakes."

Moses tells the elders of Israel what to do, and the people of Israel do so

  • Draw forth or buy for yourselves sheep for your families and slaughter the Passover sacrifice.
  • Take a bunch of hyssop and immerse it in the blood that is in the basin, extend to the lintel and to the two doorposts the blood that is in the basin
  • You shall not go out, any man from the entrance of his house until morning
  • The Lord will pass to smite the Egyptians, and He will see the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, and the Lord will pass over the entrance, and He will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses to smite [you].
  • You shall keep this matter as a statute for you and for your children forever.
  • And it shall come to pass when you enter the land that the Lord will give you, as He spoke, that you shall observe this service. And it will come to pass if your children say to you, What is this service to you? you shall say, It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord, for He passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, and He saved our houses.
  • And the people kneeled and prostrated themselves. So the children of Israel went and did; as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.


  • It came to pass at midnight, and the Lord smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who is in the dungeon, and every firstborn animal.

Pharaoh lets the people go

  • Pharaoh arose at night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great outcry in Egypt, for there was no house in which no one was dead.
  • Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and he let the people go to worship G-d. Pharaoh told them to take the flocks and their cattle and to bless him.
  • Egyptians hastened the children of Israel to leave, so the people picked up their dough when it was not yet leavened, their leftovers bound in their garments on their shoulders.
  • The children of Israel did according to Moses' order, and they borrowed from the Egyptians silver objects, golden objects, and garments. The Lord gave the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians, and they lent them, and they emptied out Egypt.

After 430 years in Egypt 600,000 children of Israel journey from Rameses to Succoth

  • The children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot, the men, besides the young children. And also, a great mixed multitude went up with them, and flocks and cattle, very much livestock. They baked the dough that they had taken out of Egypt as unleavened cakes, for it had not leavened, for they were driven out of Egypt, and they could not tarry, and also, they had not made provisions for themselves.
  • Children of Israel dwelled in Egypt, 430 years. It came to pass at the end of 430 years, and it came to pass in that very day, that all the legions of the Lord went out of the land of Egypt. It is a night of anticipation for the Lord, to take them out of the land of Egypt; this night is the Lord's, guarding all the children of Israel throughout their generations.

G-d tells Moses and Aaron how to bring the Passover sacrifice

  • This is the statute of the Passover sacrifice: No estranged one may partake of it.
  • And every man's slave, purchased for his money you shall circumcise him; then he will be permitted to partake of it.
  • A sojourner or a hired hand may not partake of it.
  • It must be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the meat out of the house to the outside, neither shall you break any of its bones.
  • The entire community of Israel shall make it.
  • And should a proselyte reside with you, he shall make a Passover sacrifice to the Lord. All his males shall be circumcised, and then he may approach to make it, and he will be like the native of the land, but no uncircumcised male may partake of it.
  • There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who resides in your midst.
  • All the children of Israel did; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. It came to pass on that very day, that the Lord took the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt with their legions.

Rashi Commentary

  • This month Heb. הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶה, lit., this renewal. Concerning the month of Nissan, He said to him, “This shall be the first of the order of the number of the months, so Iyar shall be called the second [month], and Sivan the third [month].”
  • the lintel Heb. הַמַשְׁקוֹף. That is the upper [beam], against which the door strikes (שׁוֹקֵף) when it is being closed, lintel in Old French.
  • it is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord Heb. פֶּסַח. The sacrifice is calledפֶּסַח because of the skipping and the jumping over, which the Holy One, blessed be He, skipped over the Israelites’ houses that were between the Egyptians houses.
  • and you shall celebrate it The day that is a memorial for you-you shall celebrate it. But we have not yet heard which is the day of memorial. Therefore, Scripture states: “Remember this day, when you went out of Egypt” (Exod. 13: 3). we learn that the day of the Exodus is the day of memorial. Now on what day did they go out [of Egypt]? Therefore, Scripture states: “On the day after the Passover, they went out” (Num. 33:3). I must therefore say that the fifteenth of Nissan is the day of the festival, because the night of the fifteenth they ate the Passover sacrifice, and in the morning they went out.
  • was four hundred and thirty years Altogether, from the time that Isaac was born, until now, were 400 years. From the time that Abraham had seed [i.e., had a child, the prophecy] “that your seed will be strangers” (Gen. 15:13) was fulfilled; and there were another 30 years from the decree “between the parts” (Gen 15:10) until Isaac was born. It is impossible, however, to say that [they spent 400 years] in Egypt alone, because Kehath [the grandfather of Moses] was [one] of those who came with Jacob. Go and figure all his years, all the years of his son Amram, and Moses’ 80 years; you will not find them [to be] that many, and perforce, Kehath lived many of his years before he descended to Egypt, and many of Amram’s years are included in the years of Kehath, and many of Moses’ years are included in Amram’s years. Hence, you will not find 400 years counting from their arrival in Egypt. You are compelled, perforce, to say that the other dwellings [which the Patriarchs settled] were also called being “sojournings” and even in Hebron, as it is said: “where Abraham and Isaac sojourned (גָּרוּ)” (Gen. 35:27), and [Scripture] states also “the land of their sojournings in which they sojourned” (Exod. 6:4). Therefore, you must say that [the prophecy] “your seed will be strangers” [commences] when he [Abraham] had offspring. And only when you count 400 years from the time that Isaac was born, you will find 210 years from their entry into Egypt. This is one of the things that [the Sages] changed for King Ptolemy. — [from Mechilta, Meg. 9a]
  • It came to pass at the end of four hundred and thirty years, and it came to pass in that very day [This] tells [us] that as soon as the end [of this period] arrived, the Omnipresent did not keep them [even] as long as the blink of an eye. On the fifteenth of Nissan, the angels came to Abraham to bring him tidings. On the fifteenth of Nissan Isaac was born; on the fifteenth of Nissan the decree of “between the parts” was decreed. — [from Mechilta]

Research & Analysis
  • Why is Nissan considered the first month, if the year starts on Rosh Hashanah? Rosh Hashanah was around since the beginning of time, marking the day when G-d created Adam & Eve. It’s the New Year for the normal order of things. It’s the time of the year when G-d decides who will live or die (G-d forbid), how much each person will earn, and what each region’s rainfall will be like. In the Jewish year 2448, G-d rescued Jews from Egypt. Nissan is the first month of our history as a Jewish nation. Six months later, we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the New Year for all people and all life. By counting every month from Nissan, we constantly commemorate the miracle that G-d performed when He took us out of slavery.
  • Events that happened in Nissan:
  • A very interesting movie researching the events of the Exodus:
  • It came to pass at midnight, and the Lord smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt. This shows that G-d is beyond time and space as we know it.
  • He will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses to smite [you]. This tells us that G-d commanded one of the angels to pass through Egypt and smite the firstborns. G-d does not do it Himself because He is above that. This also tells us that angels are beyond time and space as we know it.