This week Daniel and Karl discuss Exodus, Ch. 12, give an overview of the Documentary Hypothesis, delve deep into Jewish religious traditions, and give some grocery shopping advice! You can subscribe through iTunes or other fine vendors of podcasts, or listen below. Daniel-curated midrash is at the bottom of the page.
(Midrash Rabbah) On the tenth day of this month, they shall take to them every man a lamb. . . . You shall keep it until the 14th day of that month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall slaughter it towards evening (12:3–6)
When G‑d told Moses to slaughter the paschal lamb, Moses said: “Master of the Universe! How can I possibly do this thing? Don’t You know the lamb is the Egyptian god? ‘Lo, if we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us?’” (Exodus 8:22)
Said G‑d: “By your life, Israel will not depart from here before they slaughter the Egyptian gods before their very eyes, so that I may teach them that their gods are really nothing at all.” This is what He actually did; for on that night He slew the Egyptian firstborn, and on that night the Israelites slaughtered their paschal lamb and ate it.
(Rashi) 6 And you shall keep it for inspection: Heb. לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת.
This is an expression of inspection, that it [the animal] requires an inspection for a blemish four days before its slaughter. Now why was it [the designated animal] to be taken four days before its slaughter, something not required in the Passover sacrifice of later generations? Rabbi Mathia the son of Charash used to say [in response]: Behold He [God] says: “And I passed by you and saw you, and behold your time was the time of love” (Ezek. 16:8). The [time for the fulfillment of the] oath that I swore to Abraham that I would redeem his children has arrived. But they [the Children of Israel] had no commandments in their hands with which to occupy themselves in order that they be redeemed, as it is said: “but you were naked and bare” (Ezek. 16:7). So He gave them two mitzvoth, the blood of the Passover and the blood of the circumcision. They circumcised themselves on that night, as it is said: “downtrodden with your blood (בְּדָמָיִ) ” (ibid., verse 6), with the two [types of] blood. He [God] states also: “You, too-with the blood of your covenant I have freed your prisoners from a pit in which there was no water” (Zech. 9:11). Moreover, they [the Israelites] were passionately fond of idolatry. [Moses] said to them, “Withdraw and take for yourselves” (Exod. 12:21). [He meant:] withdraw from idolatry and take for yourselves sheep for the mitzvah. — [from Mechilta, here and on verse 21] Note that on verse 21, Rashi explains that differently.
(Rashi) 7 the… door posts:
They are the upright posts, one from this side of the entrance and one from that side. — [from Kid. 22b]
(Rashi) 12 and upon all the gods of Egypt-:
The one made of wood will rot, and the one made of metal will melt and flow to the ground. — [from Mechilta]
(Rashi) 13 And the blood will be for you for a sign:
[The blood will be] for you a sign but not a sign for others. From here, it is derived that they put the blood only on the inside. — [from Mechilta 11]
(Rashi) 19 both among the strangers and the native born of the land:
Since the miracle [of the Exodus] was performed for Israel, it was necessary to [explicitly] include the strangers
(Rashi) 29 smote every firstborn:
Even [a firstborn] of another nation who was in Egypt. — [from Mechilta]
[from Mechilta] from the firstborn of Pharaoh:
Pharaoh, too, was a firstborn, but he remained [alive] of the firstborn. Concerning him, He [God] says: “But, for this [reason] I have allowed you to stand, in order to show you My strength” (Exod. 9:16) at the Red Sea. —
(Rashi) 30 for there was no house in which no one was dead:
If there was a firstborn, he was dead. If there was no firstborn, the oldest household member was called the firstborn, as it is said: “I, too, shall make him [David] a firstborn” (Ps. 89:28) (Tanchuma Buber 19). [Rashi explains there: I shall make him great.]
[from Mechilta] 36 and they lent them:
Even what they [the Israelites] did not request, they [the Egyptians] gave them. You say, “[Lend me] one.” [They responded,] “Take two and go!”
[from Mechilta, Meg. 9a] 40 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. —