The structure of the Book of Exodus 1–18 and accordingly the structure of the law pericope (Exo 12,1–13,16) are the skeleton for the Seder (the rite) of the Passover, celebrated by all Israel on the night of the 15th of Abib every year in honor of the Lord as the sovereign of Israel. The celebration of the Passover is the every–time actualisation (i.e. “making–present”) of the covenant being made by the Lord and Israel during the whole time of the departure out of Egypt, described in the Book of Exodus 1–18, especially in the four pericopes: 6,2–11,10; 12,1–13,16; 13,17–14,31; 15,1–21.
|The Lord had been leading Israel out of Egypt in this manner|
to simultaneously make the covenant with her
according to the four–element ceremony
of the ancient people of the East.
Just as the first essential step in the procedure of the covenant making is the presentation of its partners, especially the stronger of them, including his promises for a weaker partner, so in the first pericope (6,2–11,10) and in the first section of the Passover Seder the majesty of the Lord is shown, whose magnitude was revealed by ten miraculous signs, which were made by Him through Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, and which are announced by the leader of the Passover Seder in any place of the earth where the liturgy of this holy night is performed.
The covenant law, which in the treaties of the ancient covenants is the next element after the presentation of its partners, is represented by the law pericope (12,1–13,16) in the Book of Exodus, and by the eating of the Passover lamb (which is commanded by the paschal law) in the Passover seder. For the actual impossibility to sacrifice the lamb to the Lord in the Jerusalem temple, the seder contains liturgical substitutive acts, whereat the eating matzah with bitter herbs is the most significant sign, which makes it present what was commanded by the Lord in Egypt and what was fulfilled by the forefathers in Egypt: the consumption of the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (cf. Exo 12,8).
It should be noted that the description of the Israelites’ departure out of Egypt, contained in the law pericope (Exodus 12,34–39), serves to explain the aim of the Passover law.
The very act of the irrevocable making (cutting) of the covenant, described in the third pericope (13,17–14,31), is made present in the part 3. of the Passover seder: the eating of the unleavened afikoman, and the prayer for the redemptive exodus, the opening of the door, and the prayer for the outpouring of the God’s anger upon the enemies of the people starting the departure out of Egypt – they are the signs of the “made present” passage of the Lord and His People through the desert and between halves of the divided Rahab, i.e. between the divided waters of the Sea of Reeds. The very act of the covenant making is accomplished in the identical form as the covenant of the Lord with Abram (Gen 15,17f ––> click please).
Just as after the making of the covenant, performed through the passage between the Sea of Reeds, Israel sang a hymn of praise in honor to the God–Saviour (15,1–21), so in the fourth part of the seder Israel raises powerful Hallel, praising with psalms 114–118 and 136 and with songs Him who is God above all gods, and whose grace for Israel is unfathomable.
This hymn simultaneously:
The phrase “And I will take you as my own people, and I will be to you a God” is tantamount to the declaration of will: “Now I want to make a covenant with you”. Right now, God initiates the 4–element ancient ceremonial of the covenant making, whose central act of “cutting” (making) will be fulfilled by the act of the passage of God and Israel between waters of the Sea of Reeds being cut into two halves:
Exo 6,6–8 6 Therefore, say to the Israelites: I am the Lord. I will free you from the forced labor of the Egyptians and will deliver you from their slavery. I will rescue you by my outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 And I will take you as my own people, and I will be to you a God. You will know that I, the Lord, am your God when I free you from the labor of the Egyptians 8 and bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I will give it to you as your own possession – I, the Lord!“
THE FULFILLMENT OF THE COVENANT COMMITMENTS
TAKES PLACE JUST AFTER THE PASSAGE OF THE SEA OF REEDS
(what was written in pericope 5 being symmetrical to pericope 2 in which the description of God’s promises is):
God has already fulfilled the given promise, though through her own guilt will Israel fully enter into possession of the land till after forty years. However this is not important now: now in the hymn is performed the complete fulfillment of the covenant obligations, i.e. the both gifts–giving and receiving of gifts take place on the basis of liturgical anticipation of events which historically will be fulfilled after forty years:
NAB Exo 15,13–17 13 In your mercy you led the people you redeemed; in your strength you guided them to your holy dwelling. 14 The nations heard and quaked; anguish gripped the dwellers in Philistia. 15 Then were the princes of Edom dismayed; trembling seized the chieftains of Moab; All the dwellers in Canaan melted away; 16 terror and dread fell upon them. By the might of your arm they were frozen like stone, while your people, o Lord, passed over, while the people you had made your own passed over. 17 And you brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your inheritance – the place where you made your seat, o Lord, the sanctuary, o Lord, which your hands established.
Just now Israel fully acknowledges her belongingness to the Lord as her God:
NAB Exo 15,1–2 ¹ Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea. ² My strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has been my savior. He is my God, I praise him; the God of my father, I extol him.
NAB Exo 15,11 Who is like to you among the gods, o Lord? who is like to you, magnificent in holiness? O terrible in renown, worker of wonders.
NAB Exo 15,18 The Lord shall reign forever and ever.
NAB Exo 12,27–28 27 you shall reply, ‘This is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he spared our houses.’” Then the people bowed down in worship, 28 and the Israelites went and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.
NAB Exo 12,50 All the Israelites did just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.