11:1 1 The Lord said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt; after that he will release you from this place. When he releases you,2 he will drive you out completely3 from this place. 11:2 Instruct4 the people that each man and each woman is to request5 from his or her neighbor6 items of silver and gold.”7
11:4 Moses said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘About midnight10 I will go throughout Egypt,11 11:5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh12 who sits on his throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. 11:6 There will be a great cry throughout the whole land of Egypt, such as there has never been,13 nor ever will be again.14 11:7 But against any of the Israelites not even a dog will bark15 against either people or animals,16 so that you may know that the Lord distinguishes17 between Egypt and Israel.’ 11:8 All these your servants will come down to me and bow down18 to me, saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow19 you,’ and after that I will go out.” Then Moses20 went out from Pharaoh in great anger.
11:9 The Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that my wonders21 may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”
12:1 1 The Lord said2 to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,3 12:2 “This month is to be your beginning of months; it will be your first month of the year.4 12:3 Tell the whole community of Israel, ‘In the tenth day of this month they each5 must take a lamb6 for themselves according to their families7—a lamb for each household.8 12:4 If any household is too small9 for a lamb,10 the man11 and his next-door neighbor12 are to take13 a lamb according to the number of people—you will make your count for the lamb according to how much each one can eat.14 12:5 Your lamb must be15 perfect,16 a male, one year old;17 you may take18 it from the sheep or from the goats. 12:6 You must care for it19 until the fourteenth day of this month, and then the whole community20 of Israel will kill it around sundown.21 12:7 They will take some of the blood and put it on the two side posts and top of the doorframe of the houses where they will eat it. 12:8 They will eat the meat the same night;22 they will eat it roasted over the fire with bread made without yeast23 and with bitter herbs. 12:9 Do not eat it raw24 or boiled in water, but roast it over the fire with its head, its legs, and its entrails. 12:10 You must leave nothing until morning, but you must burn with fire whatever remains of it until morning. 12:11 This is how you are to eat it—dressed to travel,25 your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.26
12:12 I will pass through27 the land of Egypt in the same28 night, and I will attack29 all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both of humans and of animals,30 and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment.31 I am the Lord. 12:13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, so that when I see32 the blood I will pass over you,33 and this plague34 will not fall on you to destroy you35 when I attack36 the land of Egypt.37
12:14 This day will become38 a memorial39 for you, and you will celebrate it as a festival40 to the Lord—you will celebrate it perpetually as a lasting ordinance.41 12:15 For seven days42 you must eat43 bread made without yeast.44 Surely45 on the first day you must put away yeast from your houses because anyone who eats bread made with yeast46 from the first day to the seventh day will be cut off47 from Israel.
12:16 On the first day there will be a holy convocation,48 and on the seventh day there will be a holy convocation for you. You must do no work of any kind49 on them, only what every person will eat—that alone may be prepared for you. 12:17 So you will keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because on this very50 day I brought your regiments51 out from the land of Egypt, and so you must keep this day perpetually as a lasting ordinance.52 12:18 In the first month,53 from the fourteenth day of the month, in the evening, you will eat bread made without yeast until the twenty-first day of the month in the evening. 12:19 For seven days54 yeast must not be found in your houses, for whoever eats what is made with yeast—that person55 will be cut off from the community of Israel, whether a foreigner56 or one born in the land. 12:20 You will not eat anything made with yeast; in all the places where you live you must eat bread made without yeast.’ ”
12:21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel, and told them, “Go and select57 for yourselves a lamb or young goat58 for your families, and kill the Passover animals.59 12:22 Take a branch of hyssop,60 dip it in the blood that is in the basin,61 and apply to the top of the doorframe and the two side posts some of the blood that is in the basin. Not one of you is to go out62 the door of his house until morning. 12:23 For the Lord will pass through to strike Egypt, and when he sees63 the blood on the top of the doorframe and the two side posts, then the Lord will pass over the door, and he will not permit the destroyer64 to enter your houses to strike you.65 12:24 You must observe this event as an ordinance for you and for your children forever. 12:25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give to you, just as he said, you must observe66 this ceremony. 12:26 When your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’67—12:27 then you will say, ‘It is the sacrifice68 of the Lord’s Passover, when he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck69 Egypt and delivered our households.’ ” The people bowed down low70 to the ground, 12:28 and the Israelites went away and did exactly as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.71
12:29 72 It happened73 at midnight—the Lord attacked all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the prison, and all the firstborn of the cattle. 12:30 Pharaoh got up74 in the night,75 along with all his servants and all Egypt, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no house76 in which there was not someone dead.
sn The last plague is the most severe; it is that for which all the others were preliminary warnings. Up to this point Yahweh had been showing his power to destroy Pharaoh, and now he would begin to do so by bringing death to the Egyptians, a death that would fulfill the warning of talionic judgment—“let my son go, or I will kill your son.” The passage records the announcement of the judgment first to Moses and then through Moses to Pharaoh. The first two verses record the word of God to Moses. This is followed by a parenthetical note about how God had elevated Moses and Israel in the eyes of Egypt (v. 3). Then there is the announcement to Pharaoh (vv. 4–8). This is followed by a parenthetical note on how God had hardened Pharaoh so that Yahweh would be elevated over him. It is somewhat problematic here that Moses is told not to see Pharaoh’s face again. On the one hand, given the nature of Pharaoh to blow hot and cold and to change his mind, it is not impossible for another meeting to have occurred. But Moses said he would not do it (v. 29). One solution some take is to say that the warning in 10:28 originally stood after chapter 11. A change like that is unwarranted, and without support. It may be that vv. 1–3 are parenthetical, so that the announcement in v. 4 follows closely after 10:29 in the chronology. The instruction to Moses in 11:1 might then have been given before he left Pharaoh or even before the interview in 10:24–29 took place. Another possibility, supported by usage in Akkadian, is that the expression “see my face” (and in v. 29 “see your face”) has to do with seeking to have an official royal audience (W. H. C. Propp, Exodus 1–18 [AB], 342). Pharaoh thinks that he is finished with Moses, but as 11:8 describes, Moses expects that in fact Moses will soon be the one in a position like that of royalty granting an audience to Egyptians.
tn The expression כְּשַּׂלְּחוֹ כָּלָה (késallékho kalah) is difficult. It seems to say, “as/when he releases [you] altogether.” The LXX has “and when he sends you forth with everything.” Tg. Onq. and modern translators make kala adverbial, “completely” or “altogether.” B. S. Childs follows an emendation to read, “as one sends away a bride” (Exodus [OTL], 130). W. C. Kaiser prefers the view of Yaron that would render it “in the manner of one’s sending away a kallah [a slave purchased to be one’s daughter-in-law]” (“Exodus,” EBC 2:370). The last two readings call for revising the vocalization and introducing a rare word into the narrative. The simplest approach is to follow a meaning “when he releases [you] altogether,” i.e., with all your people and your livestock.
tn The words are emphatic: גָּרֵשׁ יְגָרֵשׁ (garesh yégaresh). The Piel verb means “to drive out, expel.” With the infinitive absolute it says that Pharaoh “will drive you out vigorously.” He will be glad to be rid of you—it will be a total expulsion.
tn Heb “Speak now in the ears of the people.” The expression is emphatic; it seeks to ensure that the Israelites hear the instruction.
tn The verb translated “request” is וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ (véyish’alu), the Qal jussive: “let them ask.” This is the point introduced in Exod 3:22. The meaning of the verb might be stronger than simply “ask”; it might have something of the idea of “implore” (see also its use in the naming of Samuel, who was “asked” from Yahweh [1 Sam 1:20]).
sn See D. Skinner, “Some Major Themes of Exodus,” Mid-America Theological Journal 1 (1977): 31–42.
tn Heb “in the eyes of.”
tn Heb “in the eyes of the servants of Pharaoh and in the eyes of the people.” In the translation the word “Egyptian” has been supplied to clarify that the Egyptians and not the Israelites are meant here.
sn The presence of this clause about Moses, which is parenthetical in nature, further indicates why the Egyptians gave rather willingly to the Israelites. They were impressed by Moses’ miracles and his power with Pharaoh. Moses was great in stature—powerful and influential.
tn Heb “about the middle of the night.”
tn Heb “I will go out in the midst of Egypt.”
sn The firstborn in Egyptian and Israelite cultures was significant, but the firstborn of Pharaoh was most important. Pharaoh was considered a god, the son of Re, the sun god, for the specific purpose of ruling over Re’s chief concern, the land of Egypt. For the purpose of re-creation, the supreme god assumed the form of the living king and gave seed which was to become the next king and the next “son of Re.” Moreover, the Pharaoh was the incarnation of the god Horus, a falcon god whose province was the heavens. Horus represented the living king who succeeded the dead king Osiris. Every living king was Horus, every dead king Osiris (see J. A. Wilson, “Egypt,” Before Philosophy, 83–84). To strike any firstborn was to destroy the heir, who embodied the hopes and aspirations of the Egyptians, but to strike the firstborn son of Pharaoh was to destroy this cardinal doctrine of the divine kingship of Egypt. Such a blow would be enough for Pharaoh, for then he would drive the Israelites out.
tn Heb “which like it there has never been.”
tn Heb “and like it it will not add.”
tn Or perhaps “growl”; Heb “not a dog will sharpen his tongue.” The expression is unusual, but it must indicate that not only would no harm come to the Israelites, but that no unfriendly threat would come against them either—not even so much as a dog barking. It is possible this is to be related to the watchdog (see F. C. Fensham, “Remarks on Keret 114b—136a,” JNSL 11 : 75).
tn Heb “against man or beast.”
sn Moses’ anger is expressed forcefully. “He had appeared before Pharaoh a dozen times either as God’s emissary or when summoned by Pharaoh, but he would not come again; now they would have to search him out if they needed help” (B. Jacob, Exodus, 289–90).
tn Heb “that are at your feet.”
tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
sn Chapter 12 details the culmination of the ten plagues on Egypt and the beginning of the actual deliverance from bondage. Moreover, the celebration of this festival of Passover was to become a central part of the holy calendar of Israel. The contents of this chapter have significance for NT studies as well, since the Passover was a type of the death of Jesus. The structure of this section before the crossing of the sea is as follows: the institution of the Passover (12:1–28), the night of farewell and departure (12:29–42), slaves and strangers (12:43–51), and the laws of the firstborn (13:1–16). In this immediate section there is the institution of the Passover itself (12:1–13), then the Unleavened Bread (12:14–20), and then the report of the response of the people (12:21–28).
tn Heb “and Yahweh said.”
tn Heb “saying.”
sn B. Jacob (Exodus, 294–95) shows that the intent of the passage was not to make this month in the spring the New Year—that was in the autumn. Rather, when counting months this was supposed to be remembered first, for it was the great festival of freedom from Egypt. He observes how some scholars have unnecessarily tried to date one New Year earlier than the other.
tn Heb “and they will take for them a man a lamb.” This is clearly a distributive, or individualizing, use of “man.”
tn The שֶּׂה (seh) is a single head from the flock, or smaller cattle, which would include both sheep and goats.
tn Heb “house” (also at the beginning of the following verse).
tn The clause uses the comparative min (מִן) construction: יִמְעַט הַבַּיִת מִהְיֹת מִשֶּׂה (yim’at habbayit mihyot miseh, “the house is small from being from a lamb,” or “too small for a lamb”). It clearly means that if there were not enough people in the household to have a lamb by themselves, they should join with another family. For the use of the comparative, see GKC 430 §133.c.
tn Heb “he and his neighbor”; the referent (the man) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
tn Heb “who is near to his house.”
tn The construction uses a perfect tense with a vav (ו) consecutive after a conditional clause: “if the household is too small … then he and his neighbor will take.”
tn Heb “[every] man according to his eating.”
sn The reference is normally taken to mean whatever each person could eat. B. Jacob (Exodus, 299) suggests, however, that the reference may not be to each individual person’s appetite, but to each family. Each man who is the head of a household was to determine how much his family could eat, and this in turn would determine how many families shared the lamb.
tn The construction has: “[The] lamb … will be to you.” This may be interpreted as a possessive use of the lamed, meaning, “[the] lamb … you have” (your lamb) for the Passover. In the context instructing the people to take an animal for this festival, the idea is that the one they select, their animal, must meet these qualifications.
tn Because a choice is being given in this last clause, the imperfect tense nuance of permission should be used. They must have a perfect animal, but it may be a sheep or a goat. The verb’s object “it” is supplied from the context.
tn Heb “all the assembly of the community.” This expression is a pleonasm. The verse means that everyone will kill the lamb, i.e., each family unit among the Israelites will kill its animal.
tn Heb “between the two evenings” or “between the two settings” (בֵּין הָעַרְבָּיִם, ben ha’arbayim). This expression has had a good deal of discussion. (1) Tg. Onq. says “between the two suns,” which the Talmud explains as the time between the sunset and the time the stars become visible. More technically, the first “evening” would be the time between sunset and the appearance of the crescent moon, and the second “evening” the next hour, or from the appearance of the crescent moon to full darkness (see Deut 16:6—“at the going down of the sun”). (2) Saadia, Rashi, and Kimchi say the first evening is when the sun begins to decline in the west and cast its shadows, and the second evening is the beginning of night. (3) The view adopted by the Pharisees and the Talmudists (b. Pesahim 61a) is that the first evening is when the heat of the sun begins to decrease, and the second evening begins at sunset, or, roughly from 3–5 p.m. The Mishnah (m. Pesahim 5:1) indicates the lamb was killed about 2:30 p.m.—anything before noon was not valid. S. R. Driver concludes from this survey that the first view is probably the best, although the last view was the traditionally accepted one (Exodus, 89–90). Late afternoon or early evening seems to be intended, the time of twilight perhaps.
tn Heb “this night.”
sn Bread made without yeast could be baked quickly, not requiring time for the use of a leavening ingredient to make the dough rise. In Deut 16:3 the unleavened cakes are called “the bread of affliction,” which alludes to the alarm and haste of the Israelites. In later Judaism and in the writings of Paul, leaven came to be a symbol of evil or corruption, and so “unleavened bread”—bread made without yeast—was interpreted to be a picture of purity or freedom from corruption or defilement (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 90–91).
sn This ruling was to prevent their eating it just softened by the fire or partially roasted as differing customs might prescribe or allow.
tn Heb “your loins girded.”
tn The meaning of פֶּסַח (pesakh) is debated. (1) Some have tried to connect it to the Hebrew verb with the same radicals that means “to halt, leap, limp, stumble.” See 1 Kgs 18:26 where the word describes the priests of Baal hopping around the altar; also the crippled child in 2 Sam 4:4. (2) Others connect it to the Akkadian passahu, which means “to appease, make soft, placate”; or (3) an Egyptian word to commemorate the harvest (see J. B. Segal, The Hebrew Passover, 95–100). The verb occurs in Isa 31:5 with the connotation of “to protect”; B. S. Childs suggests that this was already influenced by the exodus tradition (Exodus [OTL], 183, n. 11). Whatever links there may or may not have been that show an etymology, in Exod 12 it is describing Yahweh’s passing over or through.
tn The verb וְעָבַרְתִּי (vé’avarti) is a Qal perfect with vav (ו) consecutive, announcing the future action of God in bringing judgment on the land. The word means “pass over, across, through.” This verb provides a contextual motive for the name “Passover.”
tn Heb “this night.”
tn Heb “from man and to beast.”
tn The phrase אֶעֱשֶׂה שְׁפָטִים (’e’eseh shéfatim) is “I will do judgments.” The statement clearly includes what had begun in Exod 6:1. But the statement that God would judge the gods of Egypt is appropriately introduced here (see also Num 33:4) because with the judgment on Pharaoh and the deliverance from bondage, Yahweh would truly show himself to be the one true God. Thus, “I am Yahweh” is fitting here (see B. Jacob, Exodus, 312).
tn Both of the verbs for seeing and passing over are perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutives: וּפָסַחְתִּי … וְרָאִיתִי (véra’iti … ufasakhti); the first of these parallel verb forms is subordinated to the second as a temporal clause. See Gesenius’s description of perfect consecutives in the protasis and apodosis (GKC 494 §159.g).
tn The meaning of the verb is supplied in part from the near context of seeing the sign and omitting to destroy, as well as the verb at the start of verse 12 “pass through, by, over.” Isa 31:5 says, “Just as birds hover over a nest, so the Lord who commands armies will protect Jerusalem. He will protect and deliver it; as he passes over he will rescue it.” The word does not occur enough times to enable one to delineate a clear meaning. It is probably not the same word as “to limp” found in 1 Kgs 18:21, 26, unless there is a highly developed category of meaning there.
sn For additional discussions, see W. H. Elder, “The Passover,” RevExp 74 (1977): 511–22; E. Nutz, “The Passover,” BV 12 (1978): 23–28; H. M. Kamsler, “The Blood Covenant in the Bible,” Dor le Dor 6 (1977): 94–98; A. Rodriguez, Substitution in the Hebrew Cultus; B. Ramm, “The Theology of the Book of Exodus: A Reflection on Exodus 12:12,” SwJT 20 (1977): 59–68; and M. Gilula, “The Smiting of the First-Born: An Egyptian Myth?” TA 4 (1977): 94–85.
tn Heb “and this day will be.”
tn The expression “will be for a memorial” means “will become a memorial.”
sn The instruction for the unleavened bread (vv. 14–20) begins with the introduction of the memorial (זִכָּרוֹן [zikkaron] from זָכַר [zakhar]). The reference is to the fifteenth day of the month, the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. B. Jacob (Exodus, 315) notes that it refers to the death blow on Egypt, but as a remembrance had to be held on the next day, not during the night. He also notes that this was the origin of “the Day of the Lord” (“the Day of Yahweh”), which the prophets predicted as the day of the divine battle. On it the enemy would be wiped out. For further information, see B. S. Childs, Memory and Tradition in Israel (SBT). The point of the word “remember” in Hebrew is not simply a recollection of an event, but a reliving of it, a reactivating of its significance. In covenant rituals “remembrance” or “memorial” is designed to prompt God and worshiper alike to act in accordance with the covenant. Jesus brought the motif forward to the new covenant with “this do in remembrance of me.”
tn The verb וְחַגֹּתֶם (vékhaggotem), a perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive to continue the instruction, is followed by the cognate accusative חַג (khag), for emphasis. As the wording implies and the later legislation required, this would involve a pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Yahweh.
tn This expression is an adverbial accusative of time. The feast was to last from the 15th to the 21st of the month.
tn Or “you will eat.” The statement stresses their obligation—they must eat unleavened bread and avoid all leaven.
tn The etymology of מַצּוֹת (matsot, “unleavened bread,” i.e., “bread made without yeast”) is uncertain. Suggested connections to known verbs include “to squeeze, press,” “to depart, go out,” “to ransom,” or to an Egyptian word “food, cake, evening meal.” For a more detailed study of “unleavened bread” and related matters such as “yeast” or “leaven,” see A. P. Ross, NIDOTTE 4:448–53.
tn The verb וְנִכְרְתָה (vénikhrétah) is the Niphal perfect with the vav (ו) consecutive; it is a common formula in the Law for divine punishment. Here, in sequence to the idea that someone might eat bread made with yeast, the result would be that “that soul [the verb is feminine] will be cut off.” The verb is the equivalent of the imperfect tense due to the consecutive; a translation with a nuance of the imperfect of possibility (“may be cut off”) fits better perhaps than a specific future. There is the real danger of being cut off, for while the punishment might include excommunication from the community, the greater danger was in the possibility of divine intervention to root out the evildoer (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 94). Gesenius lists this as the use of a perfect with a vav consecutive after a participle (a casus pendens) to introduce the apodosis (GKC 337 §112.mm).
sn In Lev 20:3, 5–6, God speaks of himself as cutting off a person from among the Israelites. The rabbis mentioned premature death and childlessness as possible judgments in such cases, and N. M. Sarna comments that “one who deliberately excludes himself from the religious community of Israel cannot be a beneficiary of the covenantal blessings” (Exodus [JPSTC], 58).
tn Heb “all/every work will not be done.” The word refers primarily to the work of one’s occupation. B. Jacob (Exodus, 322) explains that since this comes prior to the fuller description of laws for Sabbaths and festivals, the passage simply restricts all work except for the preparation of food. Once the laws are added, this qualification is no longer needed. Gesenius translates this as “no manner of work shall be done” (GKC 478–79 §152.b).
tn “month” has been supplied.
tn “Seven days” is an adverbial accusative of time (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 12, §56).
tn The term is נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), often translated “soul.” It refers to the whole person, the soul within the body. The noun is feminine, agreeing with the feminine verb “be cut off.”
tn Or “alien”; or “stranger.”
tn Heb “draw out and take.” The verb has in view the need “to draw out” a lamb or goat selected from among the rest of the flock.
tn The Hebrew noun is singular and can refer to either a lamb or a goat. Since English has no common word for both, the phrase “a lamb or young goat” is used in the translation.
tn The word “animals” is added to avoid giving the impression in English that the Passover festival itself is the object of “kill.”
sn The hyssop is a small bush that grows throughout the Sinai, probably the aromatic herb Origanum Maru L., or Origanum Aegyptiacum. The plant also grew out of the walls in Jerusalem (1 Kgs 4:33). See L. Baldensperger and G. M. Crowfoot, “Hyssop,” PEQ 63 (1931): 89–98. A piece of hyssop was also useful to the priests because it worked well for sprinkling.
tn Heb “and you, you shall not go out, a man from the door of his house.” This construction puts stress on prohibiting absolutely everyone from going out.
tn The first of the two clauses begun with perfects and vav consecutives may be subordinated to form a temporal clause: “and he will see … and he will pass over,” becomes “when he sees … he will pass over.”
tn “you” has been supplied.
tn Heb “what is this service to you?”
sn This expression “the sacrifice of Yahweh’s Passover” occurs only here. The word זֶבַח (zevakh) means “slaughtering” and so a blood sacrifice. The fact that this word is used in Lev 3 for the peace offering has linked the Passover as a kind of peace offering, and both the Passover and the peace offerings were eaten as communal meals.
tn The verb means “to strike, smite, plague”; it is the same verb that has been used throughout this section (נָגַף, nagaf). Here the construction is the infinitive construct in a temporal clause.
tn The two verbs form a verbal hendiadys: “and the people bowed down and they worshiped.” The words are synonymous, and so one is taken as the adverb for the other.
tn Heb “went away and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.” The final phrase “so they did,” which is somewhat redundant in English, has been represented in the translation by the adverb “exactly.”
sn The next section records the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and so becomes the turning point of the book. Verses 28 and 29 could be included in the exposition of the previous section as the culmination of that part. The message might highlight God’s requirement for deliverance from bondage through the application of the blood of the sacrifice, God’s instruction for the memorial of deliverance through the purging of corruption, and the compliance of those who believed the message. But these verses also form the beginning of this next section (and so could be used transitionally). This unit includes the judgment on Egypt (29–30), the exodus from Egypt (31–39) and the historical summation and report (40–42).
tn The verse begins with the temporal indicator וַיְהִי (vayéhi), often translated “and it came to pass.” Here it could be left untranslated: “In the middle of the night Yahweh attacked.” The word order of the next and main clause furthers the emphasis by means of the vav disjunctive on the divine name preceding the verb. The combination of these initial and disjunctive elements helps to convey the suddenness of the attack, while its thoroughness is stressed by the repetition of “firstborn” in the rest of the verse, the merism (“from the firstborn of Pharaoh … to the firstborn of the captive”), and the mention of cattle.
tn Heb “arose,” the verb קוּם (qum) in this context certainly must describe a less ceremonial act. The entire country woke up in terror because of the deaths.
tn The noun is an adverbial accusative of time—“in the night” or “at night.”
sn Or so it seemed. One need not push this description to complete literalness. The reference would be limited to houses that actually had firstborn people or animals. In a society in which households might include more than one generation of humans and animals, however, the presence of a firstborn human or animal would be the rule rather than the exception.