Exodus 13:1-2

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Exodus 13:1
  • Exodus 13:2

The book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah (“law”). It continues the story of Genesis concerning the migration of the family of Jacob (the Israelites) to Egypt (Genesis 50). It describes the commissioning of Moses and Aaron as God’s representatives on earth to accomplish God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land (the land of Canaan). It also relates the miraculous deliverance from Egypt beginning with the plagues on Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. It then describes the journey to Mount Sinai and the establishment of the Mosaic covenant with the Israelites. The last part of the book involves the specifications and building of the tabernacle – the place where the Lord Himself dwelt amongst His people.

In the book of Exodus, the focus shifts to the deliverance of God’s people.

In chapter 13, the LORD sat apart the firstborn to Himself. He had just preserved their lives by passing over the houses with the blood on the door frame in the tenth plague. As a result, the firstborn belonged to Him. The LORD also gave laws concerning the firstborn and the Feast of Unleavened Bread when the Israelites inhabit the Promised Land. After this was established, the Israelites began their exodus from Egypt to go to the land the LORD had promised them.  


Chapter 13 can be outlined as follows:

  • The LORD Sanctifies the Firstborn (13:1 – 2)
  • The LORD Adds Instructions About the Feast of Unleavened Bread (13:3 – 10)
  • The LORD Adds Instructions About the Firstborn in the Promised Land (13:11 – 16)
  • The LORD Leads Israel Out of Egypt (13:17 – 22)


The first sixteen verses are somewhat repetitive to what has been said in previous chapters. The repetition is employed here by the LORD to emphasize the importance of these concepts. Verses 1 – 2 contain the LORD’s command to set apart the firstborn to Him. Verses 3 – 10 repeat the rules for observing the feast of Unleavened Bread. Then verses 11 – 16 provide additional instruction concerning the firstborn. There are also rules laid out for celebrating both the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The Lord commands Israel to set apart the firstborn of all people and animals to His service.

In chapter 12, the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast. The idea behind the word “sanctify” (Heb. piel of qadesh) is “to set apart for a special purpose,” “declare holy,” or “dedicate for God’s use only.” The “firstborn” (male only – see verse 12) belonged to the LORD and to Him only.

To make it more explicit, the firstborn was the first offspring of every womb (lit. “that which opens the womb”). It included animal life as well. The LORD declared that all firstborn males of Israel and animals belongs to Me. In other words, those whom the LORD delivers must be set apart to the LORD for His service.

Biblical Text

1Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.”

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