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פָּרָשַׁת בֹּא | Parashat Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16), color-coded according to its narrative layers

According to the poetry of the Midrash Tanchuma, Bereshit 1:1, the words of the Torah were inscribed “black fire on white fire.” For many years, I’ve wanted to look deeply into the black fire and visualize the full spectrum of the Torah’s sources, hidden within the black fire but revealed through a critical analysis of its layers of redaction. Below, I’ve set the text of the first Torah portion in the annual Torah reading cycle, using color-coding to distinguish the stratigraphic layers forming the composition of the Masoretic text according to the Supplementary Hypothesis presented by Tsemaḥ Yoreh in his Kernel to Canon series of books (2013-2017). As Dr. Yoreh explains,

The Supplementary Hypothesis asserts that the Pentateuch was composed by several different writers. This reflects an overwhelming academic consensus on Biblical authorship, even among scholars who do not subscribe to the Supplementary Hypothesis in particular.[….] According to the Supplementary Hypothesis, Biblical narrative is layered. No editor took a blowtorch to the parts of the Bible he disagreed with and destroyed them; if he had, we would not find these repetitions and contradictions. Instead, Biblical narrative began with a coherent, foundational bedrock, which over time accreted more and more storylines. Unlike geological processes, though, this process of addition was deliberate. What happened if one author disagreed with his predecessor’s storyline or worldview? He did not simply take an axe to the narrative; instead, he attempted to bury his predecessor’s point of view by repeating his own over and over again, thus skewing our understanding of the story in new ways. Every generation of readers sees the world differently, and thus every generation of writers seeks to adapt their predecessors’ cultural heritage to their own situation. We are not meant simply to dismiss earlier stories; rather, the intention of later writers is to transform our understanding of those stories via their additions.

⬛ The kernel of biblical text upon which all other narratives were laid is thought to have been composed in the mid- to late eighth century BCE toward the end of the heyday of the northern Kingdom of Ephraim (one of the two kingdoms that occupied Biblical Israel). This layer, commonly referred to as ‘E’, is indicated with INDIGO text. The first parashah containing text of this layer was parashat Vayera in Sefer Bereshit.

⬛ The next oldest layer is thought to have been composed in the late 8th or early 7th century BCE in the southern Kingdom of Judah. This layer, commonly known as ‘J’, is indicated with a BLUE text.

⬛ The book of Deuteronomy (sefer Devarim) is considered the composite of two layers of redaction, ‘D1’ and ‘D2,’ the latter of which also added some verses to the book of Exodus (sefer Shemot) in Parashat Bo. Together, these layers (commonly referred to as the ‘Deuteronomist’) are thought to have formed by a complex process that reached probably from the 7th century BCE to the early 5th. In general, D2 shares a particularly non-Judean perspective following the split between the north (Ephraim/Yisrael) and the south (Yehudah) after the reign of Shlomo/Solomon, a perspective that was ignored by D1 (and successive authors). Dr. Yoreh writes, “In D’s only Pentateuchal intervention outside of the book of Deuteronomy, D2 makes explicit that which [is] implicit in P [the ‘Priestly’ strata, see below], namely that the sanctification of the firstborn is in remembrance of YHVH killing the firstborn Egyptians and sparing the firstborn Israelites. According to this author, this is all part of the Passover celebration (P doesn’t legislate Passover laws in Exodus). The reason for this source’s intervention is that the exodus from Egypt is the seminal event in Israelite history and the reason for so many Deuteronomistic laws, such as treating the sojourner with respect and keeping the Sabbath. Its vital didactic function, therefore, needed to be emphasized as the Exodus was being narrated, since no other source had done so.” D2 appears here in BROWN text.

⬛ The next strata, thought to have been composed during the exilic to early post-exilic period (571–486 BCE) is, as Dr. Yoreh explains, “responsible for supplementing the ‘J’ narrative with dates, names, and numbers, thus ‘ordering’ and authenticating ‘J’s account.” This layer, commonly referred to as ‘P’ (for ‘Priestly’) appears here in GREEN text.

⬛ The next strata popularized Kohanite law for the remnant of Judah after the Temple was destroyed, and functioned as an intermediary between Kohanite lists and laws and the surrounding narrative. This layer, which Dr. Yoreh calls ‘H’ (for the ‘Holiness Code’) appears here in LIME-GREEN text.

⬛ The most recent layer of text, is a post-exilic (pre-3rd century BCE) text that Dr. Yoreh refers to as the “Bridger” which supplements earlier strata with genealogies and popular myths, providing narrative bridges between distant story cycles. This ‘B’ layer is presented here in FUCHSIA.

Parashat Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16) in the annual Torah reading cycle, is read on the first shabbat of the month of Shvat. The parashah is preceded by parashat Va’era (Exodus 6:2-9:35); parashat B’shalaḥ (Exodus 13:17-17:16) follows it.

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

י א וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה בֹּ֖א אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֑ה כִּֽי־אֲנִ֞י הִכְבַּ֤דְתִּי אֶת־לִבּוֹ֙ וְאֶת־לֵ֣ב עֲבָדָ֔יו לְמַ֗עַן שִׁתִ֛י אֹתֹתַ֥י אֵ֖לֶּה בְּקִרְבּֽוֹ׃ ב וּלְמַ֡עַן תְּסַפֵּר֩ בְּאׇזְנֵ֨י בִנְךָ֜ וּבֶן־בִּנְךָ֗ אֵ֣ת אֲשֶׁ֤ר הִתְעַלַּ֙לְתִּי֙ בְּמִצְרַ֔יִם וְאֶת־אֹתֹתַ֖י אֲשֶׁר־שַׂ֣מְתִּי בָ֑ם וִֽידַעְתֶּ֖ם כִּי־אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָֽה׃
10 1 YHVH said to Mosheh: “Come to Pharaoh! For I have made his heart and the heart of his servants heavy-with-stubbornness, in order that I may put these my signs among them 2 and in order that you may recount in the ears of your child and of your child’s child how I have been capricious with Mitsrayim, and my signs, which I have placed upon them – that you may know that I am YHVH.”[1]The purpose of the plagues according to P is the aggrandizement of the Lord’s name for future generations, and compare Exodus 12:14 and Joshua 4:20-24. Note also the use of “signs” in vs. 1, rather than the strong hand of the other sources, as well as the formula, “I am the Lord”, which appears in Exodus 6:2. The only anomalous feature here is the use of כבד for the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart otherwise found in J – The second to final verse of the previous chapter (J) mentions the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart employing כבד, there it says that Pharaoh hardened his heart, here it explains that it was the Lord who caused this hardening.

ג וַיָּבֹ֨א מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאַהֲרֹן֮ אֶל־פַּרְעֹה֒ וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ אֵלָ֗יו כֹּֽה־אָמַ֤ר יְהֹוָה֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י הָֽעִבְרִ֔ים עַד־מָתַ֣י מֵאַ֔נְתָּ לֵעָנֹ֖ת מִפָּנָ֑י שַׁלַּ֥ח עַמִּ֖י וְיַֽעַבְדֻֽנִי׃ ד כִּ֛י אִם־מָאֵ֥ן אַתָּ֖ה לְשַׁלֵּ֣חַ אֶת־עַמִּ֑י הִנְנִ֨י מֵבִ֥יא מָחָ֛ר אַרְבֶּ֖ה בִּגְבֻלֶֽךָ׃ ה וְכִסָּה֙ אֶת־עֵ֣ין הָאָ֔רֶץ וְלֹ֥א יוּכַ֖ל לִרְאֹ֣ת אֶת־הָאָ֑רֶץ וְאָכַ֣ל ׀ אֶת־יֶ֣תֶר הַפְּלֵטָ֗ה הַנִּשְׁאֶ֤רֶת לָכֶם֙ מִן־הַבָּרָ֔ד וְאָכַל֙ אֶת־כׇּל־הָעֵ֔ץ הַצֹּמֵ֥חַ לָכֶ֖ם מִן־הַשָּׂדֶֽה׃ ו וּמָלְא֨וּ בָתֶּ֜יךָ וּבָתֵּ֣י כׇל־עֲבָדֶ֘יךָ֮ וּבָתֵּ֣י כׇל־מִצְרַ֒יִם֒ אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹֽא־רָא֤וּ אֲבֹתֶ֙יךָ֙ וַאֲב֣וֹת אֲבֹתֶ֔יךָ מִיּ֗וֹם הֱיוֹתָם֙ עַל־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה עַ֖ד הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה וַיִּ֥פֶן וַיֵּצֵ֖א מֵעִ֥ם פַּרְעֹֽה׃
3 Mosheh and Aharon came to Pharaoh, they said to him: “Thus says YHVH, the elo’ah of the Hebrews: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Send free my people, that they may serve me! 4 But if you refuse to send my people free, here, on the morrow I will bring the locust-horde into your territory! 5 They will cover the aspect of the fertile-ground, so that one will not be able to see the fertile-ground, they will consume what is left of what escaped, of what remains for you from the hail, they will consume all the trees that spring up for you from the field, 6 they will fill your houses, the houses of all your servants, and the houses of all Mitsrayim, as neither your fathers nor your fathers’ fathers have seen from the day of their being upon the fertile-ground until this day.'” He turned and went out from Pharaoh.

ז וַיֹּאמְרוּ֩ עַבְדֵ֨י פַרְעֹ֜ה אֵלָ֗יו עַד־מָתַי֙ יִהְיֶ֨ה זֶ֥ה לָ֙נוּ֙ לְמוֹקֵ֔שׁ שַׁלַּח֙ אֶת־הָ֣אֲנָשִׁ֔ים וְיַֽעַבְד֖וּ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵיהֶ֑ם הֲטֶ֣רֶם תֵּדַ֔ע כִּ֥י אָבְדָ֖ה מִצְרָֽיִם׃ ח וַיּוּשַׁ֞ב אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֤ה וְאֶֽת־אַהֲרֹן֙ אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֔ה וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֔ם לְכ֥וּ עִבְד֖וּ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֑ם מִ֥י וָמִ֖י הַהֹלְכִֽים׃ ט וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֔ה בִּנְעָרֵ֥ינוּ וּבִזְקֵנֵ֖ינוּ נֵלֵ֑ךְ בְּבָנֵ֨ינוּ וּבִבְנוֹתֵ֜נוּ בְּצֹאנֵ֤נוּ וּבִבְקָרֵ֙נוּ֙ נֵלֵ֔ךְ כִּ֥י חַג־יְהֹוָ֖ה לָֽנוּ׃ י וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֗ם יְהִ֨י כֵ֤ן יְהֹוָה֙ עִמָּכֶ֔ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר אֲשַׁלַּ֥ח אֶתְכֶ֖ם וְאֶֽת־טַפְּכֶ֑ם רְא֕וּ כִּ֥י רָעָ֖ה נֶ֥גֶד פְּנֵיכֶֽם׃ יא לֹ֣א כֵ֗ן לְכֽוּ־נָ֤א הַגְּבָרִים֙ וְעִבְד֣וּ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֔ה כִּ֥י אֹתָ֖הּ אַתֶּ֣ם מְבַקְשִׁ֑ים וַיְגָ֣רֶשׁ אֹתָ֔ם מֵאֵ֖ת פְּנֵ֥י פַרְעֹֽה׃
7 Pharaoh’s servants said to him: “How long shall this one be a snare to us? Send the men free, that they may serve YHVH their elo’ah! Do you not yet know that Mitsrayim is lost?” 8 Mosheh and Aharon were returned to Pharaoh, and he said to them: “Go, serve YHVH your elo’ah! – Who is it, who is it that would go?” 9 Mosheh said: “With our young ones, with our elders we will go, with our sons and with our daughters, with our sheep and with our oxen we will go – for it is YHVH’s pilgrimage-festival for us.” 10 He said to them: “May YHVH be thus with you, the same as I mean to send you free along with your little-ones! You see – yes, your faces are set toward ill! 11 Not thus – go now, O males, and serve YHVH, for that is what you (really) seek!” And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s face.

שני יב וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה נְטֵ֨ה יָדְךָ֜ עַל־אֶ֤רֶץ מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ בָּֽאַרְבֶּ֔ה וְיַ֖עַל עַל־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם וְיֹאכַל֙ אֶת־כׇּל־עֵ֣שֶׂב הָאָ֔רֶץ אֵ֛ת כׇּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר הִשְׁאִ֖יר הַבָּרָֽד׃ יג וַיֵּ֨ט מֹשֶׁ֣ה אֶת־מַטֵּ֘הוּ֮ עַל־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֒יִם֒ וַֽיהֹוָ֗ה נִהַ֤ג רֽוּחַ־קָדִים֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ כׇּל־הַיּ֥וֹם הַה֖וּא וְכׇל־הַלָּ֑יְלָה הַבֹּ֣קֶר הָיָ֔ה וְר֙וּחַ֙ הַקָּדִ֔ים נָשָׂ֖א אֶת־הָאַרְבֶּֽה׃ יד וַיַּ֣עַל הָֽאַרְבֶּ֗ה עַ֚ל כׇּל־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם וַיָּ֕נַח בְּכֹ֖ל גְּב֣וּל מִצְרָ֑יִם כָּבֵ֣ד מְאֹ֔ד לְ֠פָנָ֠יו לֹא־הָ֨יָה כֵ֤ן אַרְבֶּה֙ כָּמֹ֔הוּ וְאַחֲרָ֖יו לֹ֥א יִֽהְיֶה־כֵּֽן׃ טו וַיְכַ֞ס אֶת־עֵ֣ין כׇּל־הָאָ֘רֶץ֮ וַתֶּחְשַׁ֣ךְ הָאָ֒רֶץ֒ וַיֹּ֜אכַל אֶת־כׇּל־עֵ֣שֶׂב הָאָ֗רֶץ וְאֵת֙ כׇּל־פְּרִ֣י הָעֵ֔ץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר הוֹתִ֖יר הַבָּרָ֑ד וְלֹא־נוֹתַ֨ר כׇּל־יֶ֧רֶק בָּעֵ֛ץ וּבְעֵ֥שֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה בְּכׇל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃
12 YHVH said to Mosheh: “Stretch out your hand over the land of Mitsrayim for the locust-horde, and it will ascend over the land of Mitsrayim, consuming all the plants of the land, all that the hail allowed to remain.”[2]Note the narrative progression within J. Pharaoh and his servants already know what’s about to happen and recommend that he negotiate before the plague actually occurs. 13 Mosheh stretched out his staff over the land of Mitsrayim,[3]As in the case of Hail, note the tension between Moses’ role and the divine role, once again Moses performs (without an audience) but the Lord actually commands Moses and causes the plague to happen. It seems likely that the divine command and causation were inserted by J in order to emphasize the Lord’s role. and YHVH led in an east wind against the land all that day and all night;[4]See the above comment. when it was morning, the east wind had borne in the locust-horde. 14 The locust-horde ascended over all the land of Mitsrayim, it came to rest upon all the territory of Mitsrayim, exceedingly heavy; before it there was no such locust-horde as it, and after it will be no such again. 15 It covered the aspect of all the ground, and the ground became dark, it consumed all the plants of the land, and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left; nothing at all green was left of the trees and of the plants of the field, throughout all the land of Mitsrayim.[5]The locust finishes up what was left from the hail.

טז וַיְמַהֵ֣ר פַּרְעֹ֔ה לִקְרֹ֖א לְמֹשֶׁ֣ה וּֽלְאַהֲרֹ֑ן וַיֹּ֗אמֶר חָטָ֛אתִי לַיהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֖ם וְלָכֶֽם׃ יז וְעַתָּ֗ה שָׂ֣א נָ֤א חַטָּאתִי֙ אַ֣ךְ הַפַּ֔עַם וְהַעְתִּ֖ירוּ לַיהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֑ם וְיָסֵר֙ מֵֽעָלַ֔י רַ֖ק אֶת־הַמָּ֥וֶת הַזֶּֽה׃ יח וַיֵּצֵ֖א מֵעִ֣ם פַּרְעֹ֑ה וַיֶּעְתַּ֖ר אֶל־יְהֹוָֽה׃ יט וַיַּהֲפֹ֨ךְ יְהֹוָ֤ה רֽוּחַ־יָם֙ חָזָ֣ק מְאֹ֔ד וַיִּשָּׂא֙ אֶת־הָ֣אַרְבֶּ֔ה וַיִּתְקָעֵ֖הוּ יָ֣מָּה סּ֑וּף לֹ֤א נִשְׁאַר֙ אַרְבֶּ֣ה אֶחָ֔ד בְּכֹ֖ל גְּב֥וּל מִצְרָֽיִם׃ כ וַיְחַזֵּ֥ק יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶת־לֵ֣ב פַּרְעֹ֑ה וְלֹ֥א שִׁלַּ֖ח אֶת־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
16 Quickly Pharaoh had Mosheh and Aharon called and said: “I have sinned against YHVH your elo’ah, and against you! 17 So now, pray bear my sin just this one time! And plead with YHVH your elo’ah, that he may only remove this death from me!” 18 He went out from Pharaoh and pleaded with YHVH. 19 YHVH reversed an exceedingly strong sea wind which bore the locusts away and dashed them into the Sea of Reeds, not one locust remained throughout all the territory of Mitsrayim.[6]The Lord caused the plague (vs. 13), The Lord takes it away (vs. 19). Since he didn’t promise to let the people go after this plague, no hardening of the heart is mentioned in J. 20 But YHVH made Pharaoh’s heart strong-willed, and he did not send the Children of Yisrael free.[7]P adds his formulaic hardening of the heart, even when Pharaoh didn’t explicitly promise to let the Israelites go – perhaps Pharaoh’s confession of vs. 17, is perceived by P as Pharaoh’s softening.

כא וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה נְטֵ֤ה יָֽדְךָ֙ עַל־הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וִ֥יהִי חֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם וְיָמֵ֖שׁ חֹֽשֶׁךְ׃ כב וַיֵּ֥ט מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶת־יָד֖וֹ עַל־הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם וַיְהִ֧י חֹֽשֶׁךְ־אֲפֵלָ֛ה בְּכׇל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם שְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת יָמִֽים׃ כג לֹֽא־רָא֞וּ אִ֣ישׁ אֶת־אָחִ֗יו וְלֹא־קָ֛מוּ אִ֥ישׁ מִתַּחְתָּ֖יו שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֑ים וּֽלְכׇל־בְּנֵ֧י יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל הָ֥יָה א֖וֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבֹתָֽם׃
21 YHVH said to Mosheh: “Stretch out your hand over the heavens, and let there be darkness over the land of Mitsrayim; they will feel darkness!”[8]Contrary to the other J plagues, darkness descends without warning upon Egypt, simply because it is very easy to prepare for darkness (by lighting a fire).
Note J’s insertion of command prior to Moses’ performance of the plague just as was the case for Hail and Locusts.
22 Mosheh stretched out his hand over the heavens, and there was gloomy darkness throughout all the land of Mitsrayim, for three days, 23 a man could not see his brother, and a man could not arise from his spot, for three days.[9]In E, the darkness is the catalyst for the Israelites flight for Egypt, as is narrated by this source in Chapters 12 and 14. But for all the Children of Yisrael, there was light in their settlements.

שלישי כד וַיִּקְרָ֨א פַרְעֹ֜ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לְכוּ֙ עִבְד֣וּ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֔ה רַ֛ק צֹאנְכֶ֥ם וּבְקַרְכֶ֖ם יֻצָּ֑ג גַּֽם־טַפְּכֶ֖ם יֵלֵ֥ךְ עִמָּכֶֽם׃ כה וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֔ה גַּם־אַתָּ֛ה תִּתֵּ֥ן בְּיָדֵ֖נוּ זְבָחִ֣ים וְעֹלֹ֑ת וְעָשִׂ֖ינוּ לַיהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ׃ כו וְגַם־מִקְנֵ֜נוּ יֵלֵ֣ךְ עִמָּ֗נוּ לֹ֤א תִשָּׁאֵר֙ פַּרְסָ֔ה כִּ֚י מִמֶּ֣נּוּ נִקַּ֔ח לַעֲבֹ֖ד אֶת־יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵ֑ינוּ וַאֲנַ֣חְנוּ לֹֽא־נֵדַ֗ע מַֽה־נַּעֲבֹד֙ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֔ה עַד־בֹּאֵ֖נוּ שָֽׁמָּה׃ כז וַיְחַזֵּ֥ק יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶת־לֵ֣ב פַּרְעֹ֑ה וְלֹ֥א אָבָ֖ה לְשַׁלְּחָֽם׃ כח וַיֹּֽאמֶר־ל֥וֹ פַרְעֹ֖ה לֵ֣ךְ מֵעָלָ֑י הִשָּׁ֣מֶר לְךָ֗ אַל־תֹּ֙סֶף֙ רְא֣וֹת פָּנַ֔י כִּ֗י בְּי֛וֹם רְאֹתְךָ֥ פָנַ֖י תָּמֽוּת׃ כט וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֖ה כֵּ֣ן דִּבַּ֑רְתָּ לֹא־אֹסִ֥ף ע֖וֹד רְא֥וֹת פָּנֶֽיךָ׃
24 Pharaoh had Mosheh called and said: “Go, serve YHVH, only your sheep and your oxen shall be kept back, even your little-ones may go with you!” 25 Mosheh said: “You must also give slaughter-offerings and offerings-up into our hand, so that we may sacrifice them for YHVH our elo’ah! 26 Even our livestock must go with us, not a hoof may remain behind: for some of them we must take to serve YHVH our elo’ah; we – we do not know how we are to serve YHVH until we come there.”[10]The final (failed) negotiation. Pharaoh allows the people to leave without the flocks, Moses disagrees, and Pharaoh sends him away threatening to kill him if he ever shows his face again. The irony in J is that Pharaoh then summons Moses in 12:31. 27 But YHVH made Pharaoh’s heart strong-willed, so that he would not consent to send them free.[11]The implied hardening in J (Pharaoh banishes him from his sight) is made explicit by P. 28 Pharaoh said to him: “Go from me! Be on your watch: You are not to see my face again, for on the day that you see my face, you shall die!”[12]See penultimate comment. 29 Mosheh said: “You have spoken well, I will not henceforth see your face again.”[13]This final verse is somewhat difficult, since Moses promise not to see Pharaoh’s face is then broken in 12:31 (J). P may be indicating that Moses himself could not predict what would happen, only God – and God’s will only becomes known in Chapter 11. Another possibility is that Moses indeed did not see Pharaoh, since their last interaction occurred during the darkness of midnight.

יא א וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה ע֣וֹד נֶ֤גַע אֶחָד֙ אָבִ֤יא עַל־פַּרְעֹה֙ וְעַל־מִצְרַ֔יִם אַֽחֲרֵי־כֵ֕ן יְשַׁלַּ֥ח אֶתְכֶ֖ם מִזֶּ֑ה כְּשַׁ֨לְּח֔וֹ כָּלָ֕ה גָּרֵ֛שׁ יְגָרֵ֥שׁ אֶתְכֶ֖ם מִזֶּֽה׃ ב דַּבֶּר־נָ֖א בְּאׇזְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וְיִשְׁאֲל֞וּ אִ֣ישׁ ׀ מֵאֵ֣ת רֵעֵ֗הוּ וְאִשָּׁה֙ מֵאֵ֣ת רְעוּתָ֔הּ כְּלֵי־כֶ֖סֶף וּכְלֵ֥י זָהָֽב׃ ג וַיִּתֵּ֧ן יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶת־חֵ֥ן הָעָ֖ם בְּעֵינֵ֣י מִצְרָ֑יִם גַּ֣ם ׀ הָאִ֣ישׁ מֹשֶׁ֗ה גָּד֤וֹל מְאֹד֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם בְּעֵינֵ֥י עַבְדֵֽי־פַרְעֹ֖ה וּבְעֵינֵ֥י הָעָֽם׃
11 1 YHVH said to Mosheh: “I will cause one more blow to come upon Pharaoh and upon Mitsrayim; afterward he will send you free from here. When he sends you free, it is finished – he will drive, yes, drive you out from here. 2 Pray speak in the ears of the people: They shall ask, each man of his neighbor, each woman of her neighbor, objects of silver and objects of gold.” 3 And YHVH gave the people favor in the eyes of Mitsrayim, while the man Mosheh was (considered) exceedingly great in the land of Mitsrayim, in the eyes of Pharaoh’s servants and in the eyes of the people.[14]Note the narrative discontinuity between the final verses of Chapter 10, and the first verses of this chapter. At the end of Chapter 10, Pharaoh dismisses Moses, then the Lord appears to Moses promising him that the Israelites shall leave Egypt with gold and silver, then Moses speaks to Pharaoh once more as if he’d never left. We attribute this promise of great wealth to the late Bridger based on its appearance at the end of Genesis 15 (B) – [and compare Exodus 3:22].

רביעי ד וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֔ה כֹּ֖ה אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֑ה כַּחֲצֹ֣ת הַלַּ֔יְלָה אֲנִ֥י יוֹצֵ֖א בְּת֥וֹךְ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ ה וּמֵ֣ת כׇּל־בְּכוֹר֮ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֒יִם֒ מִבְּכ֤וֹר פַּרְעֹה֙ הַיֹּשֵׁ֣ב עַל־כִּסְא֔וֹ עַ֚ד בְּכ֣וֹר הַשִּׁפְחָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר אַחַ֣ר הָרֵחָ֑יִם וְכֹ֖ל בְּכ֥וֹר בְּהֵמָֽה׃ ו וְהָ֥יְתָ֛ה צְעָקָ֥ה גְדֹלָ֖ה בְּכׇל־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲשֶׁ֤ר כָּמֹ֙הוּ֙ לֹ֣א נִהְיָ֔תָה וְכָמֹ֖הוּ לֹ֥א תֹסִֽף׃ ז וּלְכֹ֣ל ׀ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל לֹ֤א יֶֽחֱרַץ־כֶּ֙לֶב֙ לְשֹׁנ֔וֹ לְמֵאִ֖ישׁ וְעַד־בְּהֵמָ֑ה לְמַ֙עַן֙ תֵּֽדְע֔וּן אֲשֶׁר֙ יַפְלֶ֣ה יְהֹוָ֔ה בֵּ֥ין מִצְרַ֖יִם וּבֵ֥ין יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ ח וְיָרְד֣וּ כׇל־עֲבָדֶ֩יךָ֩ אֵ֨לֶּה אֵלַ֜י וְהִשְׁתַּֽחֲווּ־לִ֣י לֵאמֹ֗ר צֵ֤א אַתָּה֙ וְכׇל־הָעָ֣ם אֲשֶׁר־בְּרַגְלֶ֔יךָ וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵ֖ן אֵצֵ֑א וַיֵּצֵ֥א מֵֽעִם־פַּרְעֹ֖ה בׇּחֳרִי־אָֽף׃
4 Mosheh said: “Thus says YHVH: ‘In the middle of the night I will go forth throughout the midst of Mitsrayim, 5 and every firstborn shall die throughout the land of Mitsrayim, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the maid who is behind the handmill, and every firstborn of beast. 6 Then shall there be a cry throughout all the land of Mitsrayim, the like of which has never been, the like of which will never be again. 7 But against all the Children of Yisrael, no dog shall even sharpen its tongue, against either man or beast, in order that you may know that YHVH makes a distinction between Mitsrayim and Yisrael. 8 Then all these your servants shall go down to me, they shall bow to me, saying: Go out, you and all the people who walk in your footsteps! And afterward I will go out.'” He went out from Pharaoh in flaming anger.[15]This short oration is Moses’ response to Pharaoh’s threat to kill him next time he sees him at the end of Exodus 10 – Moses will no longer come begging, Pharaoh will come to him. Note the differentiation between Israelite and Egyptian, emphasized by J since the plague of pestilence. The slaughter of the firstborns is not part of J’s seven’s plagues and functions rather as a prelude to the Exodus. It is the only overtly lethal demonstration of the Lord’s power.

ט וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה לֹא־יִשְׁמַ֥ע אֲלֵיכֶ֖ם פַּרְעֹ֑ה לְמַ֛עַן רְב֥וֹת מוֹפְתַ֖י בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ י וּמֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאַהֲרֹ֗ן עָשׂ֛וּ אֶת־כׇּל־הַמֹּפְתִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה לִפְנֵ֣י פַרְעֹ֑ה וַיְחַזֵּ֤ק יְהֹוָה֙ אֶת־לֵ֣ב פַּרְעֹ֔ה וְלֹֽא־שִׁלַּ֥ח אֶת־בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מֵאַרְצֽוֹ׃
9 YHVH said to Mosheh: “Pharaoh will not hearken to you, in order that my portents may be many in the land of Mitsrayim.” 10 Now Mosheh and Aharon had done all the portents in Pharaoh’s presence, but YHVH had made Pharaoh’s heart strong-willed, and he had not sent the Children of Yisrael free from his land.[16]The second part of the Priestly frame to the plague narrative – the opening is in Exodus 4:21-23.

יב א וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֔ן בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם לֵאמֹֽר׃ ב הַחֹ֧דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֛ה לָכֶ֖ם רֹ֣אשׁ חֳדָשִׁ֑ים רִאשׁ֥וֹן הוּא֙ לָכֶ֔ם לְחׇדְשֵׁ֖י הַשָּׁנָֽה׃ ג דַּבְּר֗וּ אֶֽל־כׇּל־עֲדַ֤ת יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר בֶּעָשֹׂ֖ר לַחֹ֣דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֑ה וְיִקְח֣וּ לָהֶ֗ם אִ֛ישׁ שֶׂ֥ה לְבֵית־אָבֹ֖ת שֶׂ֥ה לַבָּֽיִת׃ ד וְאִם־יִמְעַ֣ט הַבַּ֘יִת֮ מִהְי֣וֹת מִשֶּׂה֒ וְלָקַ֣ח ה֗וּא וּשְׁכֵנ֛וֹ הַקָּרֹ֥ב אֶל־בֵּית֖וֹ בְּמִכְסַ֣ת נְפָשֹׁ֑ת אִ֚ישׁ לְפִ֣י אׇכְל֔וֹ תָּכֹ֖סּוּ עַל־הַשֶּֽׂה׃ ה שֶׂ֥ה תָמִ֛ים זָכָ֥ר בֶּן־שָׁנָ֖ה יִהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֑ם מִן־הַכְּבָשִׂ֥ים וּמִן־הָעִזִּ֖ים תִּקָּֽחוּ׃ ו וְהָיָ֤ה לָכֶם֙ לְמִשְׁמֶ֔רֶת עַ֣ד אַרְבָּעָ֥ה עָשָׂ֛ר י֖וֹם לַחֹ֣דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֑ה וְשָׁחֲט֣וּ אֹת֗וֹ כֹּ֛ל קְהַ֥ל עֲדַֽת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בֵּ֥ין הָעַרְבָּֽיִם׃ ז וְלָֽקְחוּ֙ מִן־הַדָּ֔ם וְנָ֥תְנ֛וּ עַל־שְׁתֵּ֥י הַמְּזוּזֹ֖ת וְעַל־הַמַּשְׁק֑וֹף עַ֚ל הַבָּ֣תִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁר־יֹאכְל֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ בָּהֶֽם׃ ח וְאָכְל֥וּ אֶת־הַבָּשָׂ֖ר בַּלַּ֣יְלָה הַזֶּ֑ה צְלִי־אֵ֣שׁ וּמַצּ֔וֹת עַל־מְרֹרִ֖ים יֹאכְלֻֽהוּ׃ ט אַל־תֹּאכְל֤וּ מִמֶּ֙נּוּ֙ נָ֔א וּבָשֵׁ֥ל מְבֻשָּׁ֖ל בַּמָּ֑יִם כִּ֣י אִם־צְלִי־אֵ֔שׁ רֹאשׁ֥וֹ עַל־כְּרָעָ֖יו וְעַל־קִרְבּֽוֹ׃ י וְלֹא־תוֹתִ֥ירוּ מִמֶּ֖נּוּ עַד־בֹּ֑קֶר וְהַנֹּתָ֥ר מִמֶּ֛נּוּ עַד־בֹּ֖קֶר בָּאֵ֥שׁ תִּשְׂרֹֽפוּ׃ יא וְכָ֘כָה֮ תֹּאכְל֣וּ אֹתוֹ֒ מׇתְנֵיכֶ֣ם חֲגֻרִ֔ים נַֽעֲלֵיכֶם֙ בְּרַגְלֵיכֶ֔ם וּמַקֶּלְכֶ֖ם בְּיֶדְכֶ֑ם וַאֲכַלְתֶּ֤ם אֹתוֹ֙ בְּחִפָּז֔וֹן פֶּ֥סַח ה֖וּא לַיהֹוָֽה׃ יב וְעָבַרְתִּ֣י בְאֶֽרֶץ־מִצְרַ֘יִם֮ בַּלַּ֣יְלָה הַזֶּה֒ וְהִכֵּיתִ֤י כׇל־בְּכוֹר֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם מֵאָדָ֖ם וְעַד־בְּהֵמָ֑ה וּבְכׇל־אֱלֹהֵ֥י מִצְרַ֛יִם אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֥ה שְׁפָטִ֖ים אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָֽה׃ יג וְהָיָה֩ הַדָּ֨ם לָכֶ֜ם לְאֹ֗ת עַ֤ל הַבָּתִּים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אַתֶּ֣ם שָׁ֔ם וְרָאִ֙יתִי֙ אֶת־הַדָּ֔ם וּפָסַחְתִּ֖י עֲלֵכֶ֑ם וְלֹֽא־יִֽהְיֶ֨ה בָכֶ֥ם נֶ֙גֶף֙ לְמַשְׁחִ֔ית בְּהַכֹּתִ֖י בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ יד וְהָיָה֩ הַיּ֨וֹם הַזֶּ֤ה לָכֶם֙ לְזִכָּר֔וֹן וְחַגֹּתֶ֥ם אֹת֖וֹ חַ֣ג לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה לְדֹרֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם חֻקַּ֥ת עוֹלָ֖ם תְּחׇגֻּֽהוּ׃ טו שִׁבְעַ֤ת יָמִים֙ מַצּ֣וֹת תֹּאכֵ֔לוּ אַ֚ךְ בַּיּ֣וֹם הָרִאשׁ֔וֹן תַּשְׁבִּ֥יתוּ שְּׂאֹ֖ר מִבָּתֵּיכֶ֑ם כִּ֣י ׀ כׇּל־אֹכֵ֣ל חָמֵ֗ץ וְנִכְרְתָ֞ה הַנֶּ֤פֶשׁ הַהִוא֙ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מִיּ֥וֹם הָרִאשֹׁ֖ן עַד־י֥וֹם הַשְּׁבִעִֽי׃ טז וּבַיּ֤וֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן֙ מִקְרָא־קֹ֔דֶשׁ וּבַיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מִקְרָא־קֹ֖דֶשׁ יִהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֑ם כׇּל־מְלָאכָה֙ לֹא־יֵעָשֶׂ֣ה בָהֶ֔ם אַ֚ךְ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יֵאָכֵ֣ל לְכׇל־נֶ֔פֶשׁ ה֥וּא לְבַדּ֖וֹ יֵעָשֶׂ֥ה לָכֶֽם׃ יז וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם֮ אֶת־הַמַּצּוֹת֒ כִּ֗י בְּעֶ֙צֶם֙ הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה הוֹצֵ֥אתִי אֶת־צִבְאוֹתֵיכֶ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֞ם אֶת־הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּ֛ה לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶ֖ם חֻקַּ֥ת עוֹלָֽם׃ יח בָּרִאשֹׁ֡ן בְּאַרְבָּעָה֩ עָשָׂ֨ר י֤וֹם לַחֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ בָּעֶ֔רֶב תֹּאכְל֖וּ מַצֹּ֑ת עַ֠ד י֣וֹם הָאֶחָ֧ד וְעֶשְׂרִ֛ים לַחֹ֖דֶשׁ בָּעָֽרֶב׃ יט שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֔ים שְׂאֹ֕ר לֹ֥א יִמָּצֵ֖א בְּבָתֵּיכֶ֑ם כִּ֣י ׀ כׇּל־אֹכֵ֣ל מַחְמֶ֗צֶת וְנִכְרְתָ֞ה הַנֶּ֤פֶשׁ הַהִוא֙ מֵעֲדַ֣ת יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בַּגֵּ֖ר וּבְאֶזְרַ֥ח הָאָֽרֶץ׃ כ כׇּל־מַחְמֶ֖צֶת לֹ֣א תֹאכֵ֑לוּ בְּכֹל֙ מוֹשְׁבֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם תֹּאכְל֖וּ מַצּֽוֹת׃
12 1 YHVH said to Mosheh and to Aharon in the land of Mitsrayim, saying: 2 “Let this New-moon be for you the beginning of New-moons, the beginning-one let it be for you of the New-moons of the year. 3 Speak to the entire community of Yisrael, saying: ‘On the tenth day after this New-moon they are to take them, each-man, a lamb, according to their Fathers’ House, a lamb per household. 4 Now if there be too few in the house for a lamb, he is to take (it), he and his neighbor who is near his house, by the computation according to the (total number of) persons; each-man according to what he can eat you are to compute for the lamb. 5 A wholly-sound male, year-old lamb shall be yours, from the sheep and from the goats are you to take it. 6 It shall be for you in safekeeping, until the fourteenth day after this New-moon, and they are to slay it – the entire assembly of the community of Yisrael – between the setting-times. 7 They are to take some of the blood and put it onto the two posts and onto the lintel, onto the houses in which they eat it. 8 They are to eat the flesh on that night, roasted in fire, and matsot, with bitter-herbs they are to eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw, or boiled, boiled in water, but rather roasted in fire, its head along with its legs, along with its innards. 10 You are not to leave any of it until morning; what is left of it until morning, with fire you are to burn. 11 And thus you are to eat it: your hips girded, your sandals on your feet, your sticks in your hand; you are to eat it in trepidation – it is a Passover-meal to YHVH. 12 I will proceed through the land of Mitsrayim on this night and strike down every firstborn in the land of Mitsrayim, from man to beast, and on all the elo’ah of Mitsrayim I will render judgment, I, YHVH. 13 Now the blood will be a sign for you upon the houses where you are: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, the blow will not become a bringer-of-ruin to you, when I strike down the land of Mitsrayim. 14 This day shall be for you a memorial, you are to celebrate it as a pilgrimage-celebration for YHVH, throughout your generations, as a law for the ages you are to celebrate it! 15 For seven days, matsot you are to eat, already on the first day you are to get rid of leaven from your houses, for anyone who eats what is fermented – from the first day until the seventh day –: that person shall be cut off from Yisrael! 16 And on the first day, a proclamation of holiness, and on the seventh day, a proclamation of holiness shall there be for you, no kind of work is to be made on them, only what belongs to every person to eat, that alone may be made-ready by you. 17 And keep the (Festival of) matsot! For on this same day I have brought out your forces from the land of Mitsrayim. Keep this day throughout your generations as a law for the ages. 18 In the first (month), on the fourteenth day after the New-moon, at sunset, you are to eat matsot, until the twenty-first day of the month, at sunset. 19 For seven days, no leaven is to be found in your houses, for whoever eats what ferments, that person shall be cut off from the community of Yisrael, whether sojourner or native of the land. 20 Anything that ferments you are not to eat; in all your settlements, you are to eat matsot.'”[17]One of the first things a careful reader of Exodus 12 will notice is that there two separate sections at the beginning of the chapter detailing the proper observation of the Passover, one quite short and one quite long. As Bar-On noticed in a ZAW article, there is a definite relationship of dependency between the two. Though he doesn’t argue that they should necessarily be attributed to H and P, in my mind the evidence certainly suggests it. This first section is quite a bit more specific when it comes dates and particulars of the holiday, and uses the common H idea of perpetual ordinance (vs. 14), as opposed to P’s one time ordinance. In other words, P is legislating a Passover specific to Egypt, and H expands it to include all subsequent generations, and adds additional laws such as a prohibition against leavened bread. The H section is added before the P section so as to trump it. See the following comment, for a more specific analysis.

חמישי כא וַיִּקְרָ֥א מֹשֶׁ֛ה לְכׇל־זִקְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֑ם מִֽשְׁכ֗וּ וּקְח֨וּ לָכֶ֥ם צֹ֛אן לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתֵיכֶ֖ם וְשַׁחֲט֥וּ הַפָּֽסַח׃ כב וּלְקַחְתֶּ֞ם אֲגֻדַּ֣ת אֵז֗וֹב וּטְבַלְתֶּם֮ בַּדָּ֣ם אֲשֶׁר־בַּסַּף֒ וְהִגַּעְתֶּ֤ם אֶל־הַמַּשְׁקוֹף֙ וְאֶל־שְׁתֵּ֣י הַמְּזוּזֹ֔ת מִן־הַדָּ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֣ר בַּסָּ֑ף וְאַתֶּ֗ם לֹ֥א תֵצְא֛וּ אִ֥ישׁ מִפֶּֽתַח־בֵּית֖וֹ עַד־בֹּֽקֶר׃ כג וְעָבַ֣ר יְהֹוָה֮ לִנְגֹּ֣ף אֶת־מִצְרַ֒יִם֒ וְרָאָ֤ה אֶת־הַדָּם֙ עַל־הַמַּשְׁק֔וֹף וְעַ֖ל שְׁתֵּ֣י הַמְּזוּזֹ֑ת וּפָסַ֤ח יְהֹוָה֙ עַל־הַפֶּ֔תַח וְלֹ֤א יִתֵּן֙ הַמַּשְׁחִ֔ית לָבֹ֥א אֶל־בָּתֵּיכֶ֖ם לִנְגֹּֽף׃ כד וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֑ה לְחׇק־לְךָ֥ וּלְבָנֶ֖יךָ עַד־עוֹלָֽם׃ כה וְהָיָ֞ה כִּֽי־תָבֹ֣אוּ אֶל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִתֵּ֧ן יְהֹוָ֛ה לָכֶ֖ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר דִּבֵּ֑ר וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־הָעֲבֹדָ֥ה הַזֹּֽאת׃ כו וְהָיָ֕ה כִּֽי־יֹאמְר֥וּ אֲלֵיכֶ֖ם בְּנֵיכֶ֑ם מָ֛ה הָעֲבֹדָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את לָכֶֽם׃ כז וַאֲמַרְתֶּ֡ם זֶֽבַח־פֶּ֨סַח ה֜וּא לַֽיהֹוָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר פָּ֠סַ֠ח עַל־בָּתֵּ֤י בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ בְּמִצְרַ֔יִם בְּנׇגְפּ֥וֹ אֶת־מִצְרַ֖יִם וְאֶת־בָּתֵּ֣ינוּ הִצִּ֑יל
21 Mosheh had all the elders of Yisrael called and said to them: “Pick out, take yourselves a sheep for your clans, and slay the Passover-animal. 22 Then take a band of hyssop, dip (it) in the blood which is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two posts with some of the blood which is in the basin. Now you – you are not to go out, any man from the entrance to his house, until daybreak. 23 YHVH will proceed to deal-blows to Mitsrayim, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two posts, YHVH will pass over the entrance, and will not give the bringer-of-ruin (leave) to come into your houses to deal-the-blow. 24 You are to keep this word as a law for you and for your children, into the ages! 25 Now it will be, when you come to the land which YHVH will give you, as he has spoken, you are to keep this service! 26 And it will be, when your children say to you: ‘What does this service (mean) to you?’ 27 then say: ‘It is the slaughter-meal of Passover to YHVH, who passed over the houses of the Children of Yisrael in Mitsrayim, when he dealt-the-blow to Mitsrayim and our houses he rescued.'”

וַיִּקֹּ֥ד הָעָ֖ם וַיִּֽשְׁתַּחֲוֽוּ׃ כח וַיֵּלְכ֥וּ וַיַּֽעֲשׂ֖וּ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֧ה יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֥ה וְאַהֲרֹ֖ן כֵּ֥ן עָשֽׂוּ׃
The people did homage and bowed low. 28 And the Children of Yisrael went and did as YHVH had commanded Mosheh and Aharon, thus they did.[18]I shall now enumerate how each detail in the P section is made more specific in the H section:
When should Passover be observed: 12:21 (P): “Draw out, and take lambs according to your families, and kill the Passover.” – VERSUS – 12:3,6 (H): On the tenth day of this month, they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses… and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month

Which animal is to be sacrificed: 12:21(P) “take lambs according to your families” VERSUS 12:3-6(H): they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household; 12:4 and if the household is too little for a lamb, then he and his neighbor next to his house shall take one according to the number of the souls; according to what everyone can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats

How should the sacrifice should be eaten: 12:21 (P) “Kill the Passover;” VERSUS 12:8-10 (H) 12:8 They shall eat the flesh in that night, roasted with fire, and unleavened bread. They shall eat it with bitter herbs. 12:9 Don’t eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted with fire; with its head, its legs and its inner parts. 12:10 You shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; but that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire.

Where does the blood come from: 12:22(P) “Dip it in the blood that is in the basin” VERSUS 12:7 They shall take some of its blood (the lambs blood),

Who inflicts the plague on the Egyptians: 12:23 (P) For Yahweh will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood on the lintel, and on the two doorposts, Yahweh will pass over the door, and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to strike you. VERSUS 12:12 For I will go through the land of Egypt in that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and animal. Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Yahweh. 12:13 The blood shall be to you for a token on the houses where you are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and there shall no plague be on you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.


ששי כט וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּחֲצִ֣י הַלַּ֗יְלָה וַֽיהֹוָה֮ הִכָּ֣ה כׇל־בְּכוֹר֮ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֒יִם֒ מִבְּכֹ֤ר פַּרְעֹה֙ הַיֹּשֵׁ֣ב עַל־כִּסְא֔וֹ עַ֚ד בְּכ֣וֹר הַשְּׁבִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּבֵ֣ית הַבּ֑וֹר וְכֹ֖ל בְּכ֥וֹר בְּהֵמָֽה׃ ל וַיָּ֨קׇם פַּרְעֹ֜ה לַ֗יְלָה ה֤וּא וְכׇל־עֲבָדָיו֙ וְכׇל־מִצְרַ֔יִם וַתְּהִ֛י צְעָקָ֥ה גְדֹלָ֖ה בְּמִצְרָ֑יִם כִּֽי־אֵ֣ין בַּ֔יִת אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֵֽין־שָׁ֖ם מֵֽת׃ לא וַיִּקְרָא֩ לְמֹשֶׁ֨ה וּֽלְאַהֲרֹ֜ן לַ֗יְלָה וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ ק֤וּמוּ צְּאוּ֙ מִתּ֣וֹךְ עַמִּ֔י גַּם־אַתֶּ֖ם גַּם־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וּלְכ֛וּ עִבְד֥וּ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֖ה כְּדַבֶּרְכֶֽם׃ לב גַּם־צֹאנְכֶ֨ם גַּם־בְּקַרְכֶ֥ם קְח֛וּ כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבַּרְתֶּ֖ם וָלֵ֑כוּ וּבֵֽרַכְתֶּ֖ם גַּם־אֹתִֽי׃
29 Now it was in the middle of the night: YHVH struck down every firstborn in the land of Mitsrayim, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the captive in the dungeon, and every firstborn of beast. 30 Pharaoh arose at night, he and all his servants and all Mitsrayim, and there was a great cry in Mitsrayim; for there is not a house in which there is not a dead man. 31 He had Mosheh and Aharon called in the night and said: “Arise, go out from amidst my people, even you, even the Children of Yisrael! Go, serve YHVH according to your words, 32 even your sheep, even your oxen, take, as you have spoken, and go! And bring-a-blessing even on me!”[19]The death of the firstborns takes place immediately after Moses’ warning in Chapter 11 – the intervening legal sections were added on by P and H. Note that the death of the firstborns is not one of J’s seven plagues, its comprehensive lethality and exactitude (as opposed to the other plagues) mark it as part of the exodus.

לג וַתֶּחֱזַ֤ק מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ עַל־הָעָ֔ם לְמַהֵ֖ר לְשַׁלְּחָ֣ם מִן־הָאָ֑רֶץ כִּ֥י אָמְר֖וּ כֻּלָּ֥נוּ מֵתִֽים׃ לד וַיִּשָּׂ֥א הָעָ֛ם אֶת־בְּצֵק֖וֹ טֶ֣רֶם יֶחְמָ֑ץ מִשְׁאֲרֹתָ֛ם צְרֻרֹ֥ת בְּשִׂמְלֹתָ֖ם עַל־שִׁכְמָֽם׃
33 Mitsrayim pressed the people strongly, to send them out quickly from the land, for they said: “We are all dead-men!” 34 So the people loaded their dough before it had fermented, their kneading-troughs bound in their clothing, upon their shoulders.

לה וּבְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֥ל עָשׂ֖וּ כִּדְבַ֣ר מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַֽיִּשְׁאֲלוּ֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם כְּלֵי־כֶ֛סֶף וּכְלֵ֥י זָהָ֖ב וּשְׂמָלֹֽת׃ לו וַֽיהֹוָ֞ה נָתַ֨ן אֶת־חֵ֥ן הָעָ֛ם בְּעֵינֵ֥י מִצְרַ֖יִם וַיַּשְׁאִל֑וּם וַֽיְנַצְּל֖וּ אֶת־מִצְרָֽיִם׃
35 Now the Children of Yisrael had done according to Mosheh’s words: they had asked of the Mitsrim objects of silver and objects of gold, and clothing; 36 YHVH had given the people favor in the eyes of the Mitsrim, and they let themselves be asked of. So did they strip Mitsrayim.[20]E’s Moses cycle began with the King of Egypt’s suggestion to his people that they use guile in their confrontation with the Israelites (1:8-10), after the King’s suggestion fails and the Egyptians are smitten with three plagues, the Egyptians rebel against their monarch and send the Israelites off.

לז וַיִּסְע֧וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל מֵרַעְמְסֵ֖ס סֻכֹּ֑תָה כְּשֵׁשׁ־מֵא֨וֹת אֶ֧לֶף רַגְלִ֛י הַגְּבָרִ֖ים לְבַ֥ד מִטָּֽף׃ לח וְגַם־עֵ֥רֶב רַ֖ב עָלָ֣ה אִתָּ֑ם וְצֹ֣אן וּבָקָ֔ר מִקְנֶ֖ה כָּבֵ֥ד מְאֹֽד׃ לט וַיֹּאפ֨וּ אֶת־הַבָּצֵ֜ק אֲשֶׁ֨ר הוֹצִ֧יאוּ מִמִּצְרַ֛יִם עֻגֹ֥ת מַצּ֖וֹת כִּ֣י לֹ֣א חָמֵ֑ץ כִּֽי־גֹרְשׁ֣וּ מִמִּצְרַ֗יִם וְלֹ֤א יָֽכְלוּ֙ לְהִתְמַהְמֵ֔הַּ וְגַם־צֵדָ֖ה לֹא־עָשׂ֥וּ לָהֶֽם׃
37 The Children of Yisrael moved on from Ra’amses to Sukkot, about six hundred thousand on foot, menfolk apart from little-ones, 38 and also am erev-rav/mixed-multitude went up with them, along with sheep and oxen, an exceedingly heavy (amount of) livestock. 39 Now they baked the dough which they had brought out of Mitsrayim into matsot cakes, for it had not fermented, for they had been driven out of Mitsrayim, and were not able to linger, neither had they made provisions for themselves.

מ וּמוֹשַׁב֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר יָשְׁב֖וּ בְּמִצְרָ֑יִם שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים שָׁנָ֔ה וְאַרְבַּ֥ע מֵא֖וֹת שָׁנָֽה׃ מא וַיְהִ֗י מִקֵּץ֙ שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים שָׁנָ֔ה וְאַרְבַּ֥ע מֵא֖וֹת שָׁנָ֑ה וַיְהִ֗י בְּעֶ֙צֶם֙ הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה יָ֥צְא֛וּ כׇּל־צִבְא֥וֹת יְהֹוָ֖ה מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ מב לֵ֣יל שִׁמֻּרִ֥ים הוּא֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֔ה לְהוֹצִיאָ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם הֽוּא־הַלַּ֤יְלָה הַזֶּה֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֔ה שִׁמֻּרִ֛ים לְכׇל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לְדֹרֹתָֽם׃
40 And the settlement of the Children of Yisrael which they had settled in Mitsrayim was thirty years and four hundred years. 41 It was at the end of thirty years and four hundred years, it was on that same day: All of YHVH’s forces went out from the land of Mitsrayim. 42 It is a night of keeping-watch for YHVH, to bring them out of the land of Mitsrayim; that is this night for YHVH, a keeping-watch of all the Children of Yisrael, throughout their generations.

מג וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאַהֲרֹ֔ן זֹ֖את חֻקַּ֣ת הַפָּ֑סַח כׇּל־בֶּן־נֵכָ֖ר לֹא־יֹ֥אכַל בּֽוֹ׃ מד וְכׇל־עֶ֥בֶד אִ֖ישׁ מִקְנַת־כָּ֑סֶף וּמַלְתָּ֣ה אֹת֔וֹ אָ֖ז יֹ֥אכַל בּֽוֹ׃ מה תּוֹשָׁ֥ב וְשָׂכִ֖יר לֹא־יֹ֥אכַל בּֽוֹ׃ מו בְּבַ֤יִת אֶחָד֙ יֵאָכֵ֔ל לֹא־תוֹצִ֧יא מִן־הַבַּ֛יִת מִן־הַבָּשָׂ֖ר ח֑וּצָה וְעֶ֖צֶם לֹ֥א תִשְׁבְּרוּ־בֽוֹ׃ מז כׇּל־עֲדַ֥ת יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל יַעֲשׂ֥וּ אֹתֽוֹ׃ מח וְכִֽי־יָג֨וּר אִתְּךָ֜ גֵּ֗ר וְעָ֣שָׂה פֶ֘סַח֮ לַיהֹוָה֒ הִמּ֧וֹל ל֣וֹ כׇל־זָכָ֗ר וְאָז֙ יִקְרַ֣ב לַעֲשֹׂת֔וֹ וְהָיָ֖ה כְּאֶזְרַ֣ח הָאָ֑רֶץ וְכׇל־עָרֵ֖ל לֹֽא־יֹ֥אכַל בּֽוֹ׃ מט תּוֹרָ֣ה אַחַ֔ת יִהְיֶ֖ה לָֽאֶזְרָ֑ח וְלַגֵּ֖ר הַגָּ֥ר בְּתוֹכְכֶֽם׃
43 YHVH said to Mosheh and Aharon: “This is the law of the Passover-meal: Any foreign son is not to eat of it. 44 But any man’s serf who is acquired by money – if you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it. 45 Settler and hired-hand are not to eat of it. 46 In one house it is to be eaten, you are not to bring out of the house any of the flesh, outside. And you are not to break a bone of it. 47 The entire community of Yisrael is to do it. 48 Now when a sojourner sojourns with you, and would make the Passover-meal to YHVH, every male with him must be circumcised, then he may come-near to make it, and will be (regarded) as a native of the land. But any foreskinned-man is not to eat of it. 49 One Instruction shall there be for the native and for the sojourner that sojourns in your midst.”

נ וַיַּֽעֲשׂ֖וּ כׇּל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֧ה יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֥ה וְאֶֽת־אַהֲרֹ֖ן כֵּ֥ן עָשֽׂוּ׃ נא וַיְהִ֕י בְּעֶ֖צֶם הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה הוֹצִ֨יא יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶת־בְּנֵ֧י יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם עַל־צִבְאֹתָֽם׃
50 All the Children of Yisrael did as YHVH commanded Mosheh and Aharon, thus they did. 51 It was on that same day, (when) YHVH brought the Children of Yisrael out of the land of Mitsrayim by their forces.[21]Note all the characteristic markers of Priestly narrative: The number inflation of the Israelites (vs. 37) coupled together with the long sojourn in Egypt (vss. 40-41) and compare Exodus 1:7 (P) and the final verses of Exodus 2, which imply a very long duration and great proliferation; the ties between this narrative and the observance of the yearly Passover as implied in 43-50 and at the beginning of the chapter; the command compliance dynamic in vss. 50-51.

שביעי יג א וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ ב קַדֶּשׁ־לִ֨י כׇל־בְּכ֜וֹר פֶּ֤טֶר כׇּל־רֶ֙חֶם֙ בִּבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בָּאָדָ֖ם וּבַבְּהֵמָ֑ה לִ֖י הֽוּא׃
13 1 YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying: 2 “Hallow to me every firstborn, breacher of every womb among the Children of Yisrael, of man or of herd-animal, it is mine.”

ג וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶל־הָעָ֗ם זָכ֞וֹר אֶת־הַיּ֤וֹם הַזֶּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְצָאתֶ֤ם מִמִּצְרַ֙יִם֙ מִבֵּ֣ית עֲבָדִ֔ים כִּ֚י בְּחֹ֣זֶק יָ֔ד הוֹצִ֧יא יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶתְכֶ֖ם מִזֶּ֑ה וְלֹ֥א יֵאָכֵ֖ל חָמֵֽץ׃ ד הַיּ֖וֹם אַתֶּ֣ם יֹצְאִ֑ים בְּחֹ֖דֶשׁ הָאָבִֽיב׃ ה וְהָיָ֣ה כִֽי־יְבִיאֲךָ֣ יְהֹוָ֡ה אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ הַֽ֠כְּנַעֲנִ֠י וְהַחִתִּ֨י וְהָאֱמֹרִ֜י וְהַחִוִּ֣י וְהַיְבוּסִ֗י אֲשֶׁ֨ר נִשְׁבַּ֤ע לַאֲבֹתֶ֙יךָ֙ לָ֣תֶת לָ֔ךְ אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָ֖ב וּדְבָ֑שׁ וְעָבַדְתָּ֛ אֶת־הָעֲבֹדָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את בַּחֹ֥דֶשׁ הַזֶּֽה׃ ו שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִ֖ים תֹּאכַ֣ל מַצֹּ֑ת וּבַיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י חַ֖ג לַיהֹוָֽה׃ ז מַצּוֹת֙ יֵֽאָכֵ֔ל אֵ֖ת שִׁבְעַ֣ת הַיָּמִ֑ים וְלֹֽא־יֵרָאֶ֨ה לְךָ֜ חָמֵ֗ץ וְלֹֽא־יֵרָאֶ֥ה לְךָ֛ שְׂאֹ֖ר בְּכׇל־גְּבֻלֶֽךָ׃ ח וְהִגַּדְתָּ֣ לְבִנְךָ֔ בַּיּ֥וֹם הַה֖וּא לֵאמֹ֑ר בַּעֲב֣וּר זֶ֗ה עָשָׂ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ לִ֔י בְּצֵאתִ֖י מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃ ט וְהָיָה֩ לְךָ֨ לְא֜וֹת עַל־יָדְךָ֗ וּלְזִכָּרוֹן֙ בֵּ֣ין עֵינֶ֔יךָ לְמַ֗עַן תִּהְיֶ֛ה תּוֹרַ֥ת יְהֹוָ֖ה בְּפִ֑יךָ כִּ֚י בְּיָ֣ד חֲזָקָ֔ה הוֹצִֽאֲךָ֥ יְהֹוָ֖ה מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃ י וְשָׁמַרְתָּ֛ אֶת־הַחֻקָּ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את לְמוֹעֲדָ֑הּ מִיָּמִ֖ים יָמִֽימָה׃ יא וְהָיָ֞ה כִּֽי־יְבִאֲךָ֤ יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֔י כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר נִשְׁבַּ֥ע לְךָ֖ וְלַֽאֲבֹתֶ֑יךָ וּנְתָנָ֖הּ לָֽךְ׃ יב וְהַעֲבַרְתָּ֥ כׇל־פֶּֽטֶר־רֶ֖חֶם לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה וְכׇל־פֶּ֣טֶר ׀ שֶׁ֣גֶר בְּהֵמָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִהְיֶ֥ה לְךָ֛ הַזְּכָרִ֖ים לַיהֹוָֽה׃ יג וְכׇל־פֶּ֤טֶר חֲמֹר֙ תִּפְדֶּ֣ה בְשֶׂ֔ה וְאִם־לֹ֥א תִפְדֶּ֖ה וַעֲרַפְתּ֑וֹ וְכֹ֨ל בְּכ֥וֹר אָדָ֛ם בְּבָנֶ֖יךָ תִּפְדֶּֽה׃ מפטיר יד וְהָיָ֞ה כִּֽי־יִשְׁאׇלְךָ֥ בִנְךָ֛ מָחָ֖ר לֵאמֹ֣ר מַה־זֹּ֑את וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֵלָ֔יו בְּחֹ֣זֶק יָ֗ד הוֹצִיאָ֧נוּ יְהֹוָ֛ה מִמִּצְרַ֖יִם מִבֵּ֥ית עֲבָדִֽים׃ טו וַיְהִ֗י כִּֽי־הִקְשָׁ֣ה פַרְעֹה֮ לְשַׁלְּחֵ֒נוּ֒ וַיַּהֲרֹ֨ג יְהֹוָ֤ה כׇּל־בְּכוֹר֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם מִבְּכֹ֥ר אָדָ֖ם וְעַד־בְּכ֣וֹר בְּהֵמָ֑ה עַל־כֵּן֩ אֲנִ֨י זֹבֵ֜חַ לַֽיהֹוָ֗ה כׇּל־פֶּ֤טֶר רֶ֙חֶם֙ הַזְּכָרִ֔ים וְכׇל־בְּכ֥וֹר בָּנַ֖י אֶפְדֶּֽה׃ טז וְהָיָ֤ה לְאוֹת֙ עַל־יָ֣דְכָ֔ה וּלְטוֹטָפֹ֖ת בֵּ֣ין עֵינֶ֑יךָ כִּ֚י בְּחֹ֣זֶק יָ֔ד הוֹצִיאָ֥נוּ יְהֹוָ֖ה מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃
3 Mosheh said to the people: “Remember this day, on which you went out from Mitsrayim, from a house of serfs, for by strength of hand YHVH brought you out from here: no fermentation is to be eaten. 4 Today you are going out, in the New-moon of Ripe-grain. 5 And it shall be, when YHVH brings you to the land of the K’naani, of the Ḥitti, of the Emori, of the Ḥivvite and of the Yevusi, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you are to serve this service, in this New-moon: 6 For seven days you are to eat matsot, and on the seventh day (there is): a pilgrimage-festival to YHVH. 7 Matsot are to be eaten for the seven days, nothing fermented is to be seen with you, no leaven is to be seen with you, throughout all your territory. 8 And you are to tell your child on that day, saying: ‘It is because of what YHVH did for me, when I went out of Mitsrayim.’ 9 It shall be for you for a sign on your hand and for a reminder between your eyes, in order that YHVH’s Instruction may be in your mouth, that by a strong hand did YHVH bring you out of Mitsrayim. 10 You are to keep this law at its appointed-time from year-day to year-day! 11 It shall be, when YHVH brings you to the land of the K’naani, as he swore to you and to your fathers, and gives it to you, 12 you are to transfer every breacher of a womb to YHVH, every breacher, offspring of a beast that belongs to you, the males (are) for YHVH. 13 Every breacher of a donkey you are to redeem with a lamb; if you do not redeem (it), you are to break-its-neck. And every firstborn of men, among your sons, you are to redeem. 14 It shall be when your child asks you on the morrow, saying: ‘What does this mean?’ You are to say to him: ‘By strength of hand YHVH brought us out of Mitsrayim, out of a house of serfs. 15 And it was when Pharaoh hardened (his heart) against sending us free, that YHVH killed every firstborn throughout the land of Mitsrayim, from the firstborn of man to the firstborn of beast. Therefore I myself slaughter-offer to YHVH every breacher of a womb, the males, and every firstborn among my sons I redeem.’ 16 It shall be for a sign on your hand and for totafot between your eyes, for by strength of hand YHVH brought us out of Mitsrayim.”

The Masoretic text presented here is from Rabbi Dr. Seth (Avi) Kadish’s Miqra al pi ha-Mesorah. For the translation in English, I have adapted the translation of Everett Fox in the Schocken Bible (1997), mostly to re-Hebraize divine names, place names, and personal names. For the translation of “adamah,” I have chosen “fertile-ground” over Fox’s “soil.” For the translation of “behemah,” I have chosen “herd-animal” over Fox’s “beast” to emphasize the distinction between behemot (domesticated animals or animals depending on humankind for their welfare) and ḥayot (wild animals or animals that make their own living). This choice also offers consistency with the translation for behemah in the parashot of Genesis. Aside from these, I have made minor punctuation changes.

Notes   [ + ]

  1. The purpose of the plagues according to P is the aggrandizement of the Lord’s name for future generations, and compare Exodus 12:14 and Joshua 4:20-24. Note also the use of “signs” in vs. 1, rather than the strong hand of the other sources, as well as the formula, “I am the Lord”, which appears in Exodus 6:2. The only anomalous feature here is the use of כבד for the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart otherwise found in J – The second to final verse of the previous chapter (J) mentions the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart employing כבד, there it says that Pharaoh hardened his heart, here it explains that it was the Lord who caused this hardening.
  2. Note the narrative progression within J. Pharaoh and his servants already know what’s about to happen and recommend that he negotiate before the plague actually occurs.
  3. As in the case of Hail, note the tension between Moses’ role and the divine role, once again Moses performs (without an audience) but the Lord actually commands Moses and causes the plague to happen. It seems likely that the divine command and causation were inserted by J in order to emphasize the Lord’s role.
  4. See the above comment.
  5. The locust finishes up what was left from the hail.
  6. The Lord caused the plague (vs. 13), The Lord takes it away (vs. 19). Since he didn’t promise to let the people go after this plague, no hardening of the heart is mentioned in J.
  7. P adds his formulaic hardening of the heart, even when Pharaoh didn’t explicitly promise to let the Israelites go – perhaps Pharaoh’s confession of vs. 17, is perceived by P as Pharaoh’s softening.
  8. Contrary to the other J plagues, darkness descends without warning upon Egypt, simply because it is very easy to prepare for darkness (by lighting a fire).
Note J’s insertion of command prior to Moses’ performance of the plague just as was the case for Hail and Locusts.
  9. In E, the darkness is the catalyst for the Israelites flight for Egypt, as is narrated by this source in Chapters 12 and 14.
  10. The final (failed) negotiation. Pharaoh allows the people to leave without the flocks, Moses disagrees, and Pharaoh sends him away threatening to kill him if he ever shows his face again. The irony in J is that Pharaoh then summons Moses in 12:31.
  11. The implied hardening in J (Pharaoh banishes him from his sight) is made explicit by P.
  12. See penultimate comment.
  13. This final verse is somewhat difficult, since Moses promise not to see Pharaoh’s face is then broken in 12:31 (J). P may be indicating that Moses himself could not predict what would happen, only God – and God’s will only becomes known in Chapter 11. Another possibility is that Moses indeed did not see Pharaoh, since their last interaction occurred during the darkness of midnight.
  14. Note the narrative discontinuity between the final verses of Chapter 10, and the first verses of this chapter. At the end of Chapter 10, Pharaoh dismisses Moses, then the Lord appears to Moses promising him that the Israelites shall leave Egypt with gold and silver, then Moses speaks to Pharaoh once more as if he’d never left. We attribute this promise of great wealth to the late Bridger based on its appearance at the end of Genesis 15 (B) – [and compare Exodus 3:22].
  15. This short oration is Moses’ response to Pharaoh’s threat to kill him next time he sees him at the end of Exodus 10 – Moses will no longer come begging, Pharaoh will come to him. Note the differentiation between Israelite and Egyptian, emphasized by J since the plague of pestilence. The slaughter of the firstborns is not part of J’s seven’s plagues and functions rather as a prelude to the Exodus. It is the only overtly lethal demonstration of the Lord’s power.
  16. The second part of the Priestly frame to the plague narrative – the opening is in Exodus 4:21-23.
  17. One of the first things a careful reader of Exodus 12 will notice is that there two separate sections at the beginning of the chapter detailing the proper observation of the Passover, one quite short and one quite long. As Bar-On noticed in a ZAW article, there is a definite relationship of dependency between the two. Though he doesn’t argue that they should necessarily be attributed to H and P, in my mind the evidence certainly suggests it. This first section is quite a bit more specific when it comes dates and particulars of the holiday, and uses the common H idea of perpetual ordinance (vs. 14), as opposed to P’s one time ordinance. In other words, P is legislating a Passover specific to Egypt, and H expands it to include all subsequent generations, and adds additional laws such as a prohibition against leavened bread. The H section is added before the P section so as to trump it. See the following comment, for a more specific analysis.
  18. I shall now enumerate how each detail in the P section is made more specific in the H section:
When should Passover be observed: 12:21 (P): “Draw out, and take lambs according to your families, and kill the Passover.” – VERSUS – 12:3,6 (H): On the tenth day of this month, they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses… and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month

Which animal is to be sacrificed: 12:21(P) “take lambs according to your families” VERSUS 12:3-6(H): they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household; 12:4 and if the household is too little for a lamb, then he and his neighbor next to his house shall take one according to the number of the souls; according to what everyone can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats

How should the sacrifice should be eaten: 12:21 (P) “Kill the Passover;” VERSUS 12:8-10 (H) 12:8 They shall eat the flesh in that night, roasted with fire, and unleavened bread. They shall eat it with bitter herbs. 12:9 Don’t eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted with fire; with its head, its legs and its inner parts. 12:10 You shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; but that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire.

Where does the blood come from: 12:22(P) “Dip it in the blood that is in the basin” VERSUS 12:7 They shall take some of its blood (the lambs blood),

Who inflicts the plague on the Egyptians: 12:23 (P) For Yahweh will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood on the lintel, and on the two doorposts, Yahweh will pass over the door, and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to strike you. VERSUS 12:12 For I will go through the land of Egypt in that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and animal. Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Yahweh. 12:13 The blood shall be to you for a token on the houses where you are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and there shall no plague be on you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

  19. The death of the firstborns takes place immediately after Moses’ warning in Chapter 11 – the intervening legal sections were added on by P and H. Note that the death of the firstborns is not one of J’s seven plagues, its comprehensive lethality and exactitude (as opposed to the other plagues) mark it as part of the exodus.
  20. E’s Moses cycle began with the King of Egypt’s suggestion to his people that they use guile in their confrontation with the Israelites (1:8-10), after the King’s suggestion fails and the Egyptians are smitten with three plagues, the Egyptians rebel against their monarch and send the Israelites off.
  21. Note all the characteristic markers of Priestly narrative: The number inflation of the Israelites (vs. 37) coupled together with the long sojourn in Egypt (vss. 40-41) and compare Exodus 1:7 (P) and the final verses of Exodus 2, which imply a very long duration and great proliferation; the ties between this narrative and the observance of the yearly Passover as implied in 43-50 and at the beginning of the chapter; the command compliance dynamic in vss. 50-51.

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