What does Exodus 12:1-36 really mean?

Exodus 12:1-36 is about the Passover ritual given by God to the Israelites as a means of protection and liberation, showcasing the importance of obedience, faith, and sacrifice in experiencing deliverance from bondage.

1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.
3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household.
4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old.
6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.
7 Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts.
10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.
11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.
12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.
13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.”
15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.
16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you.
17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever.
18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.
19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land.
20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”
21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb.
22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.
23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.
24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever.
25 And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service.
26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’
27 Then you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock.
30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead.
31 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said.
32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also.
33 The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.”
34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their cloaks on their shoulders.
35 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing.
36 And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.


Setting the Scene for Exodus 12:1-36

The scene in Exodus 12:1-36 takes place in the land of Egypt, specifically in the final moments leading up to the Israelites’ departure from their bondage. The main characters in this scene are Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites. They have been enslaved in Egypt for generations, enduring harsh labor and oppression under Pharaoh’s rule. However, after a series of plagues sent by God to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites, they are finally on the brink of their liberation.

As instructed by God through Moses and Aaron, the Israelites are preparing for their exodus by following specific rituals and instructions. They are gathered in their homes, marking their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificial lamb as a sign for the Angel of Death to pass over their households during the final plague. The atmosphere is tense yet filled with anticipation as the Israelites follow these instructions with faith and obedience, knowing that their deliverance is at hand. Amidst the chaos and fear in Egypt, the Israelites stand united in their faith and readiness to embark on their journey to freedom, as the events of Exodus 12 unfold.

What is Exodus 12:1-36 about?

This verse speaks to the foundational story of Passover in the Bible, where God commanded the Israelites to mark their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificial lamb so that the final plague would “pass over” their homes, sparing them from harm. This event not only saved the Israelites from destruction but also marked them as a chosen people under God’s protection. It is a powerful foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, who is often referred to as the “Lamb of God” in Christian theology. The sacrificial death of Jesus saves believers from the consequences of sin, just as the blood of the lamb saved the Israelites.

Reflecting on this verse prompts us to consider the themes of sacrifice, redemption, and divine protection. It invites us to contemplate the profound love and mercy of God in providing a way for His people to be saved from destruction. Furthermore, it highlights the continuity and interconnectedness of the Old and New Testaments, showing how the events of the Old Testament point forward to the ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Meditating on this verse reminds us of the depth of God’s plan for salvation and the significance of Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice that spares us from the final consequence of sin. How does this powerful image of sacrificial protection shape our understanding of God’s love and plan for redemption? How does the Passover story strengthen our faith in Jesus as the one who saves us from eternal harm? Let us delve into the richness of this verse and allow it to deepen our appreciation for the interconnectedness of God’s redemptive work throughout history.

Understanding what Exodus 12:1-36 really means

The passage in Exodus 12:1-36 unveils the institution of the Passover, a crucial event in Israel’s history. Here, God instructs Moses and Aaron on the preparations for the Israelites’ departure from Egypt, culminating in the final plague where the firstborn in Egypt perish, while the Israelites are spared. The phrase “This month shall be for you the beginning of months” signifies a fresh start for the Israelites, marking their liberation from slavery. Taking a lamb for each household symbolizes sacrifice and redemption, foreshadowing Christ as the Lamb of God. The blood as a sign on the doorposts represents protection and deliverance, establishing a covenant between God and His people. Eating the Passover lamb in haste reflects the urgency and readiness for God’s deliverance.

In John 1:29, the declaration “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” links the Passover lamb to Jesus Christ, emphasizing His sacrificial role. 1 Corinthians 5:7 reinforces this connection by stating, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed,” underlining Jesus as the fulfillment of the Passover. Hebrews 11:28 underscores the faith element of the Passover, showcasing the importance of trust in God’s deliverance. The relevance of the Passover narrative extends to modern times, as people seek deliverance from various forms of bondage, akin to the Israelites’ liberation from physical slavery. The concept of sacrifice and redemption remains central to Christian faith, reminding believers of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.

Consider a family burdened by financial debt, feeling trapped and despondent. Suddenly, they receive unexpected assistance that clears their debt, offering them a fresh start. This mirrors the Israelites’ liberation from Egypt, granting them a new beginning. Such a narrative helps contemporary readers grasp the transformative power of God’s deliverance. Exodus 12:1-36 transcends mere historical retelling; it imparts profound spiritual truths about God’s faithfulness, the significance of obedience, and the impact of sacrificial love. It prompts introspection, urging individuals to contemplate how God provides deliverance and new beginnings in their own lives.

How can we be covered by the blood of Jesus?

We can be covered by the blood of Jesus by accepting Him as our Savior and believing in His sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. The blood of the Passover lamb in the Old Testament symbolized the protection and salvation given to the Israelites. The blood of Jesus serves as a covering for our sins in the same way, providing us with redemption and protection from spiritual death. We are called to apply the blood of Jesus to our lives through faith and repentance, just as the Israelites were instructed to apply the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. His blood covers us, cleanses us from sin, and shields us from the judgment of God by accepting Jesus as our Passover Lamb. Through His blood, we are made righteous before God and can confidently approach His throne of grace, knowing that we are covered and protected by the sacrificial love of Jesus.


Let’s learn from the Israelites’ swift action in preparing for Passover. Just as they responded promptly to God’s guidance, let’s also delve into our spiritual journey with the same urgency and dedication. Take a moment to assess if your heart and deeds align with God’s will. Are you willing to step up and be ready to follow His path without delay?