In last week’s reading, it was “Go” time for Israel and “a mixed multitude that went with them” out of the land of Egypt and into the wilderness to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There is so much in there, but I’m trying to record just one thing that strikes me the most out of these readings each week, so I’m going to stick with Ex. 12:42. There’s a different flavor to it in different translations, so I’ll put a couple here, including the one that knocked me out of my chair:
New English Translation: “It was a night of vigil for the Lord to bring them out from the land of Egypt, and so on this night all Israel is to keep the vigil to the Lord for generations to come.
King James Version: “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.”
Revised Standard Version: “It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the LORD by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.”
The Stone Edition Artscroll Chumash: It is a night of anticipation for Hashem to take them out of the land of Egypt, this was the night for Hashem; a protection for all the Children of Israel for their generations.
Complete Jewish Version: This was a night when ADONAI kept vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt, and this same night continues to be a night when ADONAI keeps vigil for all the people of Israel through all their generations.
First things first: I’m not entirely clear on the timing; however, it appears that Passover begins on Passover (brilliant insight, I know), Nissan 14. But the actual meal begins right at the close of Passover, correct? Thus, by the time the actual passing over of the Lord happened, it was midnight, which means that took place on Nissan 15, not 14, not Passover, interestingly enough, but on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Is that true?
Anyway, I wasn’t struck by my own ignorance (I carry that with me always), but I was struck by the CJV’s rendering of Ex. 12:42, which is about that night, Nissan 15, the night God brought them out of Egypt. Just who exactly is standing vigil over whom? Obviously, it is a night to be kept; that’s clear enough from everything else in the reading. I have to say I like the last two renderings the most, the ones that make God the vigil-keeping watchman and the children the ones who are kept and protected: he kept vigil that night, and he still keeps vigil that night. I think this year, we’ll have five questions at our Seder, the fifth being this: Why is this night different from all other nights? Ans: Because on this night, God stands vigil to deliver all the children of Israel and all the mixed multitude with them who have entered Abraham’s covenant.
And I can’t resist just this one last thing: since this is Unleavened Bread in Ex. 12:42, not Passover, this is not a celebration of being “saved” from the destruction that hit Egypt, this is a memorial of hearing God say, “Go!” after they survived the last plague. It’s the celebration of the very beginning of the journey. They were never supposed to stay in Egypt in a house marked by blood. The promise to Abraham was that they would one day “Go!”
2/4 Correction! My, how old paradigms die hard! The salvation language doesn’t even come into play until the next section (as I noticed this morning). What’s the language of Passover? Twice it is called a sign on one’s right hand and a reminder on one’s forehead, a distinguishing mark. Boy, that’s good to know, isn’t it?