A Better Understaning of Passover
Why Leave in Haste?

by: Jim Rector

March 2006


Getting back to our story now, we left the Israelites at the beginning of the 15th day in the evening hurriedly partaking of this first Passover meal. Deuteronomy 16 comments on the haste involved by saying:

“Observe the month of Abib (Nisan), and keep the Passover unto the Lord your God, for in the month Abib the Lord your God brought you forth out of Egypt by night.You shall therefore sacrifice the Passover unto the Lord your God, of the flock and the herd, in the place where the Lord shall choose to place His name there. You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shall you eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for you came forth out of the land of Egypt IN HASTE . . . You may not sacrifice the Passover within any of your gates, which the Lord your God gives you: but at the place which the Lord your God shall choose to place His name in, there shall you sacrifice the Passover at even, AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN, at the season that you came forth out of Egypt” (Duet. 16:1-6).

This passage is very revealing in that it puts the timing of the Passover in different language, but still confirms all the other pertinent Scriptures on the issue. Here is it stated that the Passover was to be slain at the going down of the sun.  At first glance, some might think that this is saying sunset, but not so! The verse plainly says at the GOING DOWN OF THE SUN, not AFTER THE SUN HAD ALREADY GONE DOWN!  So it clearly is referring to a time period prior to sundown, and that can only be on the afternoon of the 14th day. Otherwise, one would have to say that the sacrifice occurred on the 13th day, something that is untenable in Scripture.

This passage in Deuteronomy also speaks of the haste in which the Israelites were forced to leave Egypt. God could have orchestrated things entirely differently had He desired, but He chose to conduct the Exodus as He did for a very significant reason. Why make the children of Israel depart from Egypt so suddenly, so abruptly, so quickly?What was the hurry? Why such an emphasis on haste? Notice just how specific the language is in this regard:

“Then Moses called for the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the Passover. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin: and none o f you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood upon the lintel and the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you . . . And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt . . . And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants . . . And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, RISE UP AND GET YOU FORTH from among my people . . . also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and BE GONE . . . And the Egyptians were URGENT upon the people, that they might send them out of the land IN HASTE; for they said, We be all dead men.And the people took their dough BEFORE it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders” (Ex. 12:21-34).

The emphasis upon haste is literally overwhelming in this passage. One thing is positively clear–God intended the Israelites to get out of Egypt immediately, that very 15th day. I realize that some believers claim that they couldn’t leave that quickly, because they had to have time to spoil the Egyptians, for it states in the very next verse that -

“the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians . . . and they spoiled the Egyptians” (Ex. 12:35-36).

There is no reason for uncertainty in how the flow of events unfolded. God knew long before the Exodus what He was going to do and how it would be accomplished. Notice that early on, at the time when God first commissioned Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, He said:

“And I will stretch out My hand, and smite Egypt with all My wonders, which I will do in the midst thereof; and after that he will let you go. And I will give this people FAVOR in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall come to pass, that, when you go, you shall not go empty.But every woman SHALL BORROW of her neighbor, and of her that sojourns in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment; and you shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and you shall spoil the Egyptians” (Ex. 3:20-22).

Since this event was already well known to God ahead of time, when did it actually occur? On the night when the plague struck, or possibly the next day? No, not at all. Notice that well before the onset of the final plague that God gave Moses specific instruction with regard to this very endeavor:

“Speak NOW in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbor, and every woman of her neighbor, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold. And the Lord GAVE the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians” (Ex. 11:2-3).

It is quite apparent that this event transpired at an earlier time, that God had already made provision for the Israelites in this regard, for the very reason that they would have no time at the moment of their departure.We are blessed to have the obviously correct translation of the Exodus 12:35-36 passage in The Tahakh, The Jewish Holy Scriptures. It reads as follows:

“The Israelites HAD DONE Moses’ bidding and borrowed from the Egyptians objects of silver and gold, and clothing. And the Lord HAD favorably disposed the Egyptians toward the people, and they let them have their request; thus they stripped the Egyptians” (Ex. 12:35-36).

 Everything was pre-planned by God through Moses so that the children of Israel could get out of Egypt in haste. Doing it quickly was very important. It was, in fact, imperative, so much so, that God actually describes the event in the strongest possible language:

“And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth . . . and they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were THRUST OUT of Egypt, and COULD NOT TARRY, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual” (Ex. 12:37-39).

There can be absolutely no doubt as to what is being said in this drama. The Israelites had to get out of Egypt immediately. They couldn’t wait, not for anything! But why? What was God’s reason for insisting on all this haste?

The answer is spiritual in nature. Egypt is a type of sin and the world. When one is set free from spiritual Egypt by the blood of the true Passover Lamb, Yahshua, what is the first thing that must be done? It is very obvious when we consider the way Israel’s departure from Egypt unfolded. God did not intend that the Israelites spend any more time in physical Egypt than He expects us to spend in spiritual Egypt! In both cases, He wants His people OUT RIGHT NOW!! There is no time to wait, and that is precisely why Israel had to leave so rapidly.It was done to teach us a great spiritual lesson, and it is very important that we understand how this teaching was built into the events surrounding ancient Israel’s departure from Egypt.

The Bible says absolutely nothing about them having to spend extra time doing anything. If the Bible doesn’t say it, why try to manufacture it? And in this particular case, the Scriptures are adamant in saying the very opposite–that the people COULD NOT TARRY!

There is no information whatsoever that the Israelites had to spend extra time during the night or the next day borrowing from the Egyptians.Even if this event had not already occurred, as the Bible indicates, there is still no evidence at all that this took them so much time that it caused their departure to be delayed by many hours or a whole day. 

Secondly, there is nothing in Scripture that informs us that the people had to have extra time to get to the city of Rameses BEFORE they left Egypt.  Where does it say in the Bible that this occurred?  It’s simply not there.  If it’s not there, we should let the Bible speak for itself.

The other reason given for a possible delay in Israel’s exodus from Egypt is that there were just too many people to get organized and under way in the short time the Bible gives for this endeavor. History clearly tells us that God had already led Moses to carefully orchestrate the entire departure, right down to the last detail, that he had previously, ahead of time, gathered the people together in one place, so that they could leave at a moment’s notice.   

Every reason postulated for the children of Israel having to stay in Egypt an extra 24-36 hours is disproved either by not being in Scripture at all or by historical information that more than adequately explains how things transpired during that crucial period of time. When we seriously consider that God does not want us to have any reasons to stay in spiritual Egypt, we ought to make the connection between that reality and the unfolding of events during the Exodus. One is a type of the other, and God Himself was the architect of the whole matter.

So, the first journey the children of Israel take on their way out of Egypt is to remove from Rameses to Succoth. We know that this was accomplished on the 15th day of the first month, which we also understand to be the first day of Unleavened Bread.  On occasion, the argument that God would not have had the people go on a forced march on a holyday is brought up, yet the Scriptures show that God had human beings do any number of things on holydays that would, under other circumstances, have constituted work or labor. The priests always worked on the Sabbath and annual holydays. When Israel entered into the Promised Land, God had the entire nation march around Jericho seven times on the Sabbath! Read the account in II Kings 11 of how young Joash was crowned king on the Sabbath and all the preparations that were necessary, not just by priests, but by the soldiers and others. Clearly, God can command His people to do whatever He desires on any day, and do so without transgressing His own Law as well. The fact that Israel departed Egypt on an annual holyday, the first day of Unleavened Bread, only lends weight to the spiritual meaning of the day itself.  It is wrong to come out of sin because of a Sabbath day? Hardly!  In fact, there is no better time.  Is it bad to receive one’s freedom on a holyday? Let us hope not!  It fits more perfectly then than at any other time! Is it a sin to joyously embrace one’s liberation and leave the prison cell behind on a sacred day? Absolutely not!  The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath! Let every holy occasion be a day of deliverance, none more so than the first day of Unleavened Bread!

Notice how Exodus 12 concludes with regard to the Passover and the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt:

“And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth . . . Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelled in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.  And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.  It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt; this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the PASSOVER. There shall no stranger eat thereof . . . In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry forth aught of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall you break a bone thereof. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it . . . Thus did all the children of Israel; as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. And it came to pass the SELFSAME DAY, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies” (Ex. 12:37-51).

If one just calmly, but seriously, reads the incredible account in Exodus 12, the evidence of how the sequence of events unfolded is so clear and speaks so eloquently and powerfully. God has not left anything undone or unsaid in communicating what we need to know concerning the timing of the Passover sacrifice, the celebration of the Passover, and the Days of Unleavened Bread. 

What was set down anciently in the days of Moses was obeyed in that critical year when Israel was set free from Egyptian bondage. In the ensuing years, the extent to which that nation remained faithful to the instructions given them is debatable, especially in the days prior to the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile.