Day 68: The Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt


selective photography of white lamb on hay
Photo by Paul Seling on

Read Exodus 12:21-42

21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23 When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.
29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”
33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.
37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.
40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. 42 Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come.

Father killed Mookie.

We knew he would. Four days ago we chose him, and Father assigned me to feed and care for him. He told me not to name him because he was the sacrifice lamb, but I named him Mookie.

Father was right.

Standing by the table now I must eat the lamb and it chokes me. I don’t want to eat Mookie. His blood is on our door.

It’s all very strange.

We never eat standing up, and Mother and Father are so solemn. Little Kohath stands on a stool because he’s too short to see the table from the floor. He thinks we’re playing a game and his laughter sounds wrong in this quiet night.

Somewhere, someone screams.

The scream turns into a high, keening wail of grief and then others join in. More screams. More wails. They fill the darkness and press against our house, crashing over our table. We hold hands.

Even Kohath is silent now.

A frantic knock at our door. Our Egyptian master stands there, grief on his face and something else, terror. He’s afraid of us.


It’s all he says.

Like they knew this was coming, Father and Mother hurriedly gather our few things. Mother scoops up the bread dough – we haven’t put the yeast in yet – and out we go, under the doorpost that has Mookie’s blood, into the dark, screaming night.

The Egyptians are pouring out of their homes, watching us walk by.

“Will they hurt us?” Kohath whispers. He’s thinking about the wounds on Father’s back. Mother shushes him, then she does the most amazing thing. She walks right up to our master’s wife and asks for her earrings and – will the wonders never end? – the woman gives them!

As we walk, we’re joined by other Israelites: family and friends. Soon we’re an enormous crowd, just walking out of Egypt. People are saying all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians have died, and I think of the sadness in Mother’s eyes since they killed my baby brother a month ago.

“Where are we going?” Kohath asks as we leave the city behind us and walk into the desert. It is still very cold but getting lighter.

“We’re going Home, son.”

Is that Father’s voice? It sounds different, fierce somehow, and larger. It sounds – joyful.

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