Exodus, the Book Of, 1



1. Name

2. Contents in General

3. Connection with the Other Books of the Pentateuch

4. Significance of These Events for Israel

5. Connecting Links for Christianity


1. In General

2. In the Separate Pericopes


1. General Consideration

2. The Miraculous Character

3. The Legislative Portions

4. Chronology

5. Unjustifiable Attacks


1. Connection with Moses

2. Examination of Objections


(NOTE: For the signs J (Jahwist), E (Elohist), P or Priestly Code (Priest Codex), R (Redactor) compare the article on GENESIS.)

I. In General.

1. Name:

The second book of the Pentateuch bears in the Septuagint the name of Exodos, in the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) accordingly Exodus, on the basis of the chief contents of the first half, dealing with the departure of the children of Israel out of Egypt. The Jews named the book after the first words: we-'elleh shemoth ("and these are the names"), or sometimes after the first noun shemoth ("names") a designation already known to Origen in the form of Oualesmoth.

2. Contents in General:

In seven parts, after the Introduction (Ex 1:1-7), which furnishes the connection of the contents with Genesis, the book treats of (1) the sufferings of Israel in Egypt, for which mere human help is insufficient (Ex 1:8 through Ex 7:7), while Divine help through human mediatorship is promised; (2) the power of Yahweh, which, after a preparatory miracle, is glorified through the ten plagues inflicted on Pharaoh and which thus forces the exodus (Ex 7:8 through Ex 13:16); (3) the love of Yahweh for Israel, which exhibits itself in a most brilliant manner, in the guidance of the Israelites to Mt. Sinai, even when the people murmur (Ex 13:17 through Ex 18:27); (4) making the Covenant at Mt. Sinai together with the revelation of the Ten Words (Ex 20:1 ff) and of the legal ordinances (Ex 21:1 ff) as the condition of making the Covenant (Ex 19:1 through Ex 24:18); (5) the directions for the building of the Tabernacle, in which Yahweh is to dwell in the midst of His people (Ex 24:18 through Ex 31:18); (6) the renewal of the Covenant on the basis of new demands after Israel's great apostasy in the worship of the Golden Calf, which seemed for the time being to make doubtful the realization of the promises mentioned in (5) above

(Ex 32:1 through Ex 35:3); (7) the building and erection of the Tabernacle of Revelation (or Tent of Meeting) and its dedication by the entrance of Yahweh (Ex 35:4 through Ex 40:38). As clearly as these seven parts are separated from one another, so clearly again are they most closely connected and constitute a certain progressive whole.

In the case of the last four, the separation is almost self-evident. The first three as separate parts are justified by the ten plagues standing between them, which naturally belong together and cause a division between that which precedes and that which follows. Thus in the first part we already find predicted the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh, the miracles of Yahweh and the demonstrations of His power down to the slaying of the firstborn, found in the 2nd part (compare Ex 2:23 through Ex 7:7).

In part 3, the infatuation of Pharaoh and the demonstration of the power of Yahweh are further unfolded in the narrative of the catastrophe in the Red Sea (Ex 14:4,17). Further the directions given with reference to the Tabernacle (Ex 25:1-40 through Ex 31:1-18 taken from P) presuppose the Decalogue (from E); compare e.g. Ex 25:16,21; 31:18; as again the Ex 6:1-30th section (Ex 32:1-35 ff) presupposes the 5th part, which had promised the continuous presence of God (compare Ex 32:34 J; Ex 33:3,5,7 ff JE; Ex 33:12,14-17 J; Ex 34:9 J, with Ex 25:8; 29:45 f P; compare also the forty days in Ex 34:28 J with those in Ex 24:18 P) as in Ex 34:1,28 J and Ex 34:11-27 J refers back to the Ex 4:1-31th part, namely, Ex 20:1 ff E; Ex 21:1 ff E; Ex 24:7 JE (Decalogue; Books of the Covenant; Making the Covenant). In the same way the last section presupposes the third, since the cloud in Ex 40:34 ff P is regarded as something well known (compare Ex 13:21 f JE; Ex 14:19 E and J, Ex 14:24 J) . The entire contents of the Book of Exodus are summarized in an excellent way in the word of God to Israel spoken through Moses concerning the making of the covenant: "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be mine own possession from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation" (Ex 19:4-6). Here reference is made to the powerful deeds of God done to the Egyptians, to His deeds of lovingkindness done to Israel in the history of how He led them to Sinai, to the selection of Israel, and to the conditions attached to the making of the covenant, to God's love, which condescended to meet the people, and to His holiness, which demands the observance of His commandments; but there is also pointed out here the punishment for their transgression. The whole book is built on one word in the preface to the ten commandments: "I am Yahweh thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Ex 20:2 E; compare Ex 29:45 f P).

3. Connection with the Other Books of the Pentateuch:

The events which are described in the Book of Exodus show a certain contrast to those in Genesis. In the first eleven chapters of this latter book we have the history of mankind; then beginning with 11:27, a history of families, those of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In Exodus we have following this the beginning of the history of the chosen people. Then there is also a long period of time intervening between the two books. If Israel was 430 years in Egypt (compare 12:40 f P; also Ge 15:13 J; see III , 4 below), and if the oppression began during the long reign of the predecessors of the Pharaoh, during whose reign Israel left the country (Ex 2:23; 1:8), then, too, several centuries must have elapsed between the real beginning of the book (x Ex 1:8 ff), and the conclusion of Genesis. Notwithstanding these differences, there yet exists the closest connection between the two books. Ex 1:1-7 connects the history of the people as found in Exodus with the family history of Genesis, by narrating how the seventy descendants of Jacob that had migrated to Egypt (compare Ex 1:5; Ge 46:27) had come to be the people of Israel, and that God, who offers Himself as a liberator to Moses and the people, is also the God of those fathers, of whom Genesis spoke (compare Ex 3:6 JE; Ex 3:13 E; Ex 3:15 f R; Ex 4:5 J; Ex 6:3 P). Indeed, His covenant with the fathers and His promises to them are the reasons why He at all cares for Israel (Ex 2:24 P; Ex 6:8 P; Ex 33:1 JE), and when Moses intercedes for the sinful people, his most effective motive over against God is found in the promises made to the patriarchs (Ex 32:13 JE).

As is the case with Genesis, Exodus stands in the closest connection also with the succeeding books of the Pentateuch. Israel is certainly not to remain at Sinai, but is to come into the promised land (3:17 JE; 6:8 P; 23:20 ff JE; 32:34 J; 33:1 ff JE; 33:12 ff J; 34:9 ff J and D; compare also the many ordinances of the Books of the Covenant, 21:1 ff E; 34:11 ffD and J). In this way the narratives of the following books, which begin again in Nu 10:11 ff P and JE with the story of the departure from Sinai, continue the history in Exodus. But the legislation in Leviticus also is a necessary continuation and supplement of the Book of Exodus, and is prepared for and pointed to in the latter. The erection of the burnt-offering altar (Nu 27:1 ff; 38:1 ff), as well as the mention made of the different kinds of sacrifices, such as the burnt sacrifices and the sin offering (Nu 29:18,14) and of the heave offering (Nu 29:28), point to the promulgation of a law of sacrifices such as we find in Le 1:1-17 through Le 7:1-38. The directions given in regard to the consecration of the priests (Ex 29:1-46) are carried out in Le 8:1-36 f. The indefinite commands of Ex 30:10 in reference to the atonement on the horn of the incense altar once every year renders necessary the special ritual of the Day of Atonement in Le 16:1-34 as its supplement. The more complete enlargement in reference to the shewbread mentioned in Ex 25:30 is found in Le 24:5-9; and even the repetitions in references to the candlesticks (Ex 25:31 ff; Le 24:1-4; Nu 8:1-4), as also the tamidh ("continuous") sacrifices (compare Nu 28:3-8 with Ex 29:38-42), point to a certain connection between Exodus and the following books. How close the connection between Deuteronomy and Exodus is, both in regard to the historical narratives and also to their legal portions (compare the Decalogue and the Books of the Covenant), can only be mentioned at this place.

4. Significance of These Events for Israel:

When we remember the importance which the exodus out of Egypt and the making of the covenant had for the people of Israel, and that these events signalized the birth of the chosen people and the establishment of theocracy, then we shall understand why the echo of the events recorded in Exodus is found throughout later literature, namely, in the historical books, in the preaching of the prophets and in the Psalms, as the greatest events in the history of the people, and at the same time as the promising type of future and greater deliverances. But as in the beginning of the family history the importance of this family for the whole earth is clearly announced (Ge 12:1-3), the same is the case here too at the beginning of the history of the nation, perhaps already in the expression "kingdom of priests" (Ex 19:6), since the idea of a priesthood includes that of the transmission of salvation to others; and certainly in the conception `first-born son of Yahweh' (Ex 4:22), since this presupposes other nations as children born later.

The passages quoted above are already links connecting this book with Christianity, in the ideas of a general priesthood, of election and of sonship of God. We here make mention of a few specially significant features from among the mass of such relationships to Christianity.

5. Connecting Links for Christianity:

How great a significance the Decalogue, in which the law is not so intimately connected with what is specifically Jewish and national, as e.g. in the injunctions of the Priest Codex, according to the interpretation of Christ in Mt 5:1-48, has attained in the history of mankind! But in Mt 5:17 ff Jesus has vindicated for the law in all its parts an everlasting authority and significance and has emphasized the eternal kernel, which accordingly is to be assigned to each of these legal behests; while Paul, on the other hand, especially in Romans, Galatians and Colossians, emphasizes the transitory character of the law, and discusses in detail the relation of the Mosaic period to that of the patriarchs and of the works of the law to faith, while in 2Co 3:1-18 he lauds the glory of the service in the spirit over that of the letter (compare Ex 34:1-35)--an idea which in reference to the individual legal institutions is also carried out in the Ep. to the Hebrews. Compare on this subject also the articlesLEVITICUS and DAY OF ATONEMENT. Then too the Passover lamb was a type of Jesus Christ (compare e.g. 1Co 5:7; Joh 19:36; 1Pe 1:19). In Ex 12:1-51 the Passover rite and the establishment of the covenant (Ex 24:3-8) arc found most closely connected also with the Lord's Supper and the establishment of the New Covenant. In the permanent dwelling of God in the midst of His people in the pillar of fire and in the Tabernacle there is typified His dwelling among mankind in Christ Jesus (Joh 1:14) and also the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the Christian congregation (1Pe 2:5; Eph 4:12) and in the individual Christian (1Co 3:16; 6:19; 2Co 6:16; Joh 14:23). The Apocalypse particularly is rich in thought suggested by the exodus out of Egypt. Unique thoughts in reference to the Old Testament are found in the conceptions that the law was given through angels (Ac 7:53; Ga 3:19; Heb 2:2); further that the rock mentioned in Ex 17:6 followed, and was Christ (1Co 10:4); and that in Heb 9:4 the real connection of the altar of incense with the Holy of Holies appears as changed into a local connection (Ex 40:26-27), while the idea found in Heb 9:4 that the manna was originally in the Ark of the Covenant, is perhaps not altogether excluded by Ex 16:33; and the number 430 years, found in Ga 3:17, probably agrees with Ex 12:40-41, in so far as the whole of the patriarchal period could be regarded as a unit (compare on the reading of the Septuagint in Ex 12:40-41, III, 4 below).

Continued in EXODUS, THE BOOK OF, 2.

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