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Exodus 12 English Complete Jewish Bible
10 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. יוְלֹֽא־תוֹתִ֥ירוּ מִמֶּנּוּ עַד־בּ֑קֶר וְהַנֹּתָ֥ר מִמֶּנּוּ עַד־בּ֖קֶר בָּאֵ֥שׁ תִּשְׂרֹֽפוּ:
11 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. יאוְכָ֘כָה֘ תּֽאכְל֣וּ אֹתוֹ֒ מָתְנֵיכֶ֣ם חֲגֻרִ֔ים נַֽעֲלֵיכֶם֙ בְּרַגְלֵיכֶ֔ם וּמַקֶּלְכֶ֖ם בְּיֶדְכֶ֑ם וַֽאֲכַלְתֶּם אֹתוֹ֙ בְּחִפָּז֔וֹן פֶּסַח ה֖וּא לַיהֹוָֽה:
22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop and immerse [it] in the blood that is in the basin, and you shall extend to the lintel and to the two doorposts the blood that is in the basin, and you shall not go out, any man from the entrance of his house until morning. כבוּלְקַחְתֶּם אֲגֻדַּת אֵז֗וֹב וּטְבַלְתֶּם֘ בַּדָּם אֲשֶׁר־בַּסַּף֒ וְהִגַּעְתֶּם אֶל־הַמַּשְׁקוֹף֙ וְאֶל־שְׁתֵּי הַמְּזוּזֹ֔ת מִן־הַדָּם אֲשֶׁר בַּסָּף וְאַתֶּם לֹ֥א תֵֽצְא֛וּ אִ֥ישׁ מִפֶּתַח־בֵּית֖וֹ עַד־בּֽקֶר:

For the original Passover, the Israelites were told to burn the leftovers in the morning and not to go outside until morning.

Yet, they were also told to “eat it in haste”, appropriately dressed and ready to leave at a moment's notice.

Why the need for haste in eating and the need for appropriate clothing if it would be many hours before they could actually depart?

Or more specifically, what did the people do following the hastily eaten meal: stand around for the rest of the night, dressed and ready to depart; change out of their travelling clothes and go to bed until dawn, or … ?

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  • judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/98385/…
    – rosends
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 15:12
  • @rosends, that's an unanswered question. It's similar in nature, but it asks over a period of months, not hours. Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 0:41
  • Excellent question Ray! I don't know the answer to this question, but I suspect that the Israelites did not leave Egypt at dawn but after midnight when Pharaoh and the egyptians chased them out. Chapter 12 makes that abundantly clear. For example the text states that their dough didnt have time to ferment and rise due to them leaving earlier than expected. This means they left at night, not during the day. Perhaps this was part of God's plan, he led them to believe that they were gonna leave at dawn, but unexpectedly they were chased out; to commemorate this we eat Matzah.
    – Bach
    Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 0:13
  • I should mention though that the Talmud in Brachos (9a) clearly states that they left at dawn, and Rashi there cites v. 22 as proof.
    – Bach
    Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 0:16

1 Answer 1

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I always wanted to work out the possible practical chain of events on that fateful night.

The Ibn Ezra describes this in a logical sequence. (12:31 second commentary) His problem is the geographical scope to envision the entire nation, to actually have have left by the 15th day of the month of which we are celebrating yearly.

A side note, that we can consider leaving by merely leaving the confines of their dwellings although this doesn't seem likely, as it does state וַיְהִ֕י בְּעֶ֖צֶם הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה הוֹצִ֨יא יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶת־בְּנֵ֧י יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם עַל־צִבְאֹתָֽם, translating as that exact date the Jewish nation left the land of egypt.

The Ibn Ezra continues, with a consideration of the land that must be walked to get to the borders of Egypt. Just the distance from the palace of Egypt and Ramses is six parsaot (24 Kilometers, 7.2 hours by walk).

Pharaoh had to command his servants, or travel himself to Ramses, then in Ramses, the Jews are spread out (according to Ibn Ezra eight parsaot, over 9 hours of walking distance).

The entire nation was not traveling by horse but, rather with their feet as stated וְכָ֘כָה֮ תֹּאכְל֣וּ אֹתוֹ֒ מׇתְנֵיכֶ֣ם חֲגֻרִ֔ים נַֽעֲלֵיכֶם֙ בְּרַגְלֵיכֶ֔ם וּמַקֶּלְכֶ֖ם בְּיֶדְכֶ֑ם, This is how you shall eat it: with your belt on your waist, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand.

Clearly depicting a nation who is walking, also it's logical that leaving with their entire families could not be done by animal alone.

Then there is the actual leaving of Ramses to the border of Egypt to consider the 15th day, the day of "Exodus". Granted it is close to the border, it still had to have been a couple of hours. (per modern day Pi-Ramesses)

So you have Pharaoh traveling to Ramses, 1 hour by horse, then you must spread the news to the far ends of Ramses, another hour by horse, then you must leave from the far ends of Ramses to the location at the eastern border of Ramses, 9 hours.

Then you must leave Egypt, 4 hours. 15 hours give or take. Now Pharoah wakes up at midnight, let's say 12:30. Then he or his forces arrive at the corners of all of Ramses at 2:30 with the news. If the Jews only leave at sunset, it will take them 13 or more hours to reach the border of Egypt. From sunrise to sunset in the spring is 12 hours.

The Ibn Ezra had this difficulty and surmised that the Jews left at dawn and not sunrise, giving them an extra hour or so. And he fixes another difficulty in the verses הוציאך י״י אלהיך ממצרים לילה (דברים ט״ז:א׳), וכתוב אחר: היום אתם יוצאים Is it day or night that they left?

He gets around this by stating that they left at dawn, which is not day according to the Torah. Which means that they left at night and day, each according to their location. The most westerner Ramses Jews had to leave the first to meet the crowd going east. And the most easterner Jews only had to wait till the crowd amassed to leave.

Another explanation is:

Dealing with the verse 12:22 לֹ֥א תֵצְא֛וּ אִ֥ישׁ מִפֶּֽתַח־בֵּית֖וֹ עַד־בֹּֽקֶר׃ stating that the Jewish nation is not allowed to leave there dwellings till dawn.

Another verse (12:41) בְּבַ֤יִת אֶחָד֙ יֵאָכֵ֔ל לֹא־תוֹצִ֧יא מִן־הַבַּ֛יִת מִן־הַבָּשָׂ֖ר ח֑וּצָה וְעֶ֖צֶם לֹ֥א תִשְׁבְּרוּ־בֽוֹ, prohibiting only bringing the meat outside.

If you say that this verse is only talking about "the generations". Then you must say that it was permitted for them to break the bone of the sacrifice. To answer the difficulty, this verse can be explaining the ruling of leaving your house; as only bringing the meat outside.

A proof to this, is the verse וַתֶּחֱזַ֤ק מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ עַל־הָעָ֔ם לְמַהֵ֖ר לְשַׁלְּחָ֣ם מִן־הָאָ֑רֶץ כִּ֥י אָמְר֖וּ כֻּלָּ֥נוּ מֵתִֽים׃ - The Egyptians were urgent with the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, "We are all dead men."

This verse is seemingly a response of trepidation and fear on the part of the Egyptians following the devastation. This seems an act in the moment and not something done only once the sun rose; hours later.

Also this verse states the forceful nature of the Egyptians, to a point that the Jews could not wait to have the Bread rise and baked it right away. It is hard to imagine that the Egyptians had this aggression only in the morning and not right after the chaos.

וַיֹּאפ֨וּ אֶת־הַבָּצֵ֜ק אֲשֶׁ֨ר הוֹצִ֧יאוּ מִמִּצְרַ֛יִם עֻגֹ֥ת מַצּ֖וֹת כִּ֣י לֹ֣א חָמֵ֑ץ כִּֽי־גֹרְשׁ֣וּ מִמִּצְרַ֗יִם וְלֹ֤א יָֽכְלוּ֙ לְהִתְמַהְמֵ֔הַּ וְגַם־צֵדָ֖ה לֹא־עָשׂ֥וּ לָהֶֽם׃ - They baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought out of Egypt; for it wasn't leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt, and couldn't wait, neither had they prepared for themselves any food.

And the verse בְּעֶ֙צֶם֙ הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה יָ֥צְא֛וּ, That "day" they went out of Egypt, can be explained by the final Exodus through the borders and not the beginning of the "leaving".

A side note, the Ibn Ezra also states that Moshe and Aaron were dwelling in the city of Pharaoh at the time of Exodus. Pharaoh got up and went to them, and they traveled to Ramses to deliver the news. I think he is motivated by the verse. וַיִּקְרָא֩ לְמֹשֶׁ֨ה וּֽלְאַהֲרֹ֜ן לַ֗יְלָה, and he called to Moshe and Aaron.

This verse also makes the point of Pharaoh giving the command at "night".

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