Exodus Book In The Bible

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1514.png

This summary of the book of Exodus provides information about the title, author(s), date of writing, chronology, theme, theology, outline, a brief overview, and the chapters of the Book of Exodus.

Title

“Exodus” is a Latin word derived from Greek Exodos, the name given to the book by those who translated it into Greek. The word means “exit,” “departure” (see Lk 9:31Heb 11:22). The name was retained by the Latin Vulgate, by the Jewish author Philo (a contemporary of Christ) and by the Syriac version. In Hebrew the book is named after its first two words, we’elleh shemoth (“These are the names of”). The same phrase occurs in Ge 46:8, where it likewise introduces a list of the names of those Israelites “who went to Egypt with Jacob” (1:1). Thus Exodus was not intended to exist separately, but was thought of as a continuation of a narrative that began in Genesis and was completed in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The first five books of the Bible are together known as the Pentateuch (see Introduction to Genesis: Author and Date of Writing).

Author and Date of Writing

Several statements in Exodus indicate that Moses wrote certain sections of the book (see 17:1424:434:27). In addition, Jos 8:31 refers to the command of Ex 20:25 as having been “written in the Book of the Law of Moses.” The NT also claims Mosaic authorship for various passages in Exodus (see, e.g., Mk 7:1012:26 and NIV text notes; see also Lk 2:22-23). Taken together, these references strongly suggest that Moses was largely responsible for writing the book of Exodus — a traditional view not convincingly challenged by the commonly held notion that the Pentateuch as a whole contains four underlying sources (see Introduction to Genesis: Author and Date of Writing).

Chronology

According to 1Ki 6:1 (see note there), the exodus took place 480 years before “the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel.” Since that year was c. 966 b.c., it has been traditionally held that the exodus occurred c. 1446. The “three hundred years” of Jdg 11:26 fits comfortably within this time span (see Introduction to Judges: Background). In addition, although Egyptian chronology relating to the 18th dynasty remains somewhat uncertain, some recent research tends to support the traditional view that two of this dynasty’s pharaohs, Thutmose III and his son Amunhotep II, were the pharaohs of the oppression and the exodus respectively (see notes on 2:15,233:10).

On the other hand, the appearance of the name Rameses in 1:11 has led many to the conclusion that the 19th-dynasty pharaoh Seti I and his son Rameses II were the pharaohs of the oppression and the exodus respectively. Furthermore, archaeological evidence of the destruction of numerous Canaanite cities in the 13th century b.c. has been interpreted as proof that Joshua’s troops invaded the promised land in that century. These and similar lines of argument lead to a date for the exodus of c. 1290 (see Introduction to Joshua: Historical Setting).

The identity of the cities’ attackers, however, cannot be positively ascertained. The raids may have been initiated by later Israelite armies, or by Philistines or other outsiders. In addition, the archaeological evidence itself has become increasingly ambiguous, and recent evaluations have tended to redate some of it to the 18th dynasty. Also, the name Rameses in 1:11 could very well be the result of an editorial updating by someone who lived centuries after Moses — a procedure that probably accounts for the appearance of the same word in Ge 47:11 (see note there).

In short, there are no compelling reasons to modify in any substantial way the traditional 1446 b.c. date for the exodus of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.

The Route of the Exodus

At least three routes of escape from Pithom and Rameses (1:11) have been proposed: (1) a northern route through the land of the Philistines (but see 13:17); (2) a middle route leading eastward across Sinai to Beersheba; and (3) a southern route along the west coast of Sinai to the southeastern extremities of the peninsula. The southern route seems most likely, since several of the sites in Israel’s desert itinerary have been tentatively identified along it. See map No. 2 at the end of the Study Bible. The exact place where Israel crossed the “Red Sea” is uncertain, however (see notes on 13:1814:2).

Themes and Theology

Exodus lays a foundational theology in which God reveals his name, his attributes, his redemption, his law and how he is to be worshiped. It also reports the appointment and work of Moses as the mediator of the Sinaitic covenant, describes the beginnings of the priesthood in Israel, defines the role of the prophet and relates how the ancient covenant relationship between God and his people (see note on Ge 17:2) came under a new administration (the covenant given at Mount Sinai).

Profound insights into the nature of God are found in chs. 3633-34. The focus of these texts is on the fact and importance of his presence with his people (as signified by his name Yahweh — see notes on 3:14-15 — and by his glory among them). But emphasis is also placed on his attributes of justice, truthfulness, mercy, faithfulness and holiness. Thus to know God’s “name” is to know him and to know his character (see 3:13-156:3).

God is also the Lord of history. Neither the affliction of Israel nor the plagues in Egypt were outside his control. The pharaoh, the Egyptians and all Israel saw the power of God. There was no one like him, “majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders” (15:11; see note there).

It is reassuring to know that God remembers and is concerned about his people (see 2:24). What he had promised centuries earlier to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he now begins to bring to fruition as Israel is freed from Egyptian bondage and sets out for the land of promise. The covenant at Sinai is but another step in God’s fulfillment of his promise to the patriarchs (3:15-176:2-819:3-8).

The Biblical message of salvation is likewise powerfully set forth in this book. The verb “redeem” is used, e.g., in 6:615:13. But the heart of redemption theology is best seen in the Passover narrative of ch. 12, the sealing of the covenant in ch. 24, and the account of God’s gracious renewal of that covenant after Israel’s blatant unfaithfulness to it in their worship of the golden calf (see 34:1-14 and notes). The apostle Paul viewed the death of the Passover lamb as fulfilled in Christ (1Co 5:7). Indeed, John the Baptist called Jesus the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29).

The foundation of Biblical ethics and morality is laid out first in the gracious character of God as revealed in the exodus itself and then in the Ten Commandments (20:1-17) and the ordinances of the Book of the Covenant (20:22 — 23:33), which taught Israel how to apply in a practical way the principles of the commandments.

The book concludes with an elaborate discussion of the theology of worship. Though costly in time, effort and monetary value, the tabernacle, in meaning and function, points to the “chief end of man,” namely, “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism). By means of the tabernacle, the omnipotent, unchanging and transcendent God of the universe came to “dwell” or “tabernacle” with his people, thereby revealing his gracious nearness as well. God is not only mighty in Israel’s behalf; he is also present in the nation’s midst.

However, these theological elements do not merely sit side by side in the Exodus narrative. They receive their fullest and richest significance from the fact that they are embedded in the account of God’s raising up his servant Moses (1) to liberate his people from Egyptian bondage, (2) to inaugurate his earthly kingdom among them by bringing them into a special national covenant with him, and (3) to erect within Israel God’s royal tent. And this account of redemption from bondage leading to consecration in covenant and the pitching of God’s royal tent in the earth, all through the ministry of a chosen mediator, discloses God’s purpose in history — the purpose he would fulfill through Israel, and ultimately through Jesus Christ the supreme Mediator.

Exodus Book In The Bible

Studying the Bible as a new Christian is similar to the feeling you get at an all-you-can-eat buffet: It’s fun to pile food onto your plate, but when you sit down, you realize that you might not want to eat it all. Spiritual indigestion is a very real threat.

For me, it didn’t take long before I began to think the Bible might not be big enough. During my college years, the Bible guided me through many moral choices, like alcohol consumption. But it seemed to fall short in other areas, like which career path was right for me.

This became a problem when I was offered a job. I felt called to do the work, but the job required me to move away from friends and family—and the pay was barely enough to make ends meet. While the Bible could not confirm that this job was God’s call for me, the difficult circumstances seemed to indicate that this could not possibly be God’s will.

While the Bible holds no information about specific job offers, it does give insight into judging our circumstances.

Two passages in Matthew and five loaves of bread changed my perspective.

In Matthew 4, Jesus was tempted by Satan after fasting for 40 days: “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (4:3). Jesus refused, but the temptation itself is remarkable. Satan did not ask Jesus to do something impossible (the man who changed water into wine would have no problem changing stones into bread). Rather he tempted Jesus with something that He could easily do.

Contrast that with Matthew 14. Here, the disciples tell Jesus, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food” (14:15).

Instead of taking their advice, Jesus tells His disciples to feed a crowd of 5,000 with just five loaves of bread. He does not ask them to do something easy—He asks them to do the impossible.

I realized that there were plenty of differences between these two passages and the way I was judging God’s will for my life. The ease of the path no longer seemed to be an indicator of God’s call, as it did before. The more I studied God’s Word, the more I realized He was orchestrating my circumstances—not for comfort, but to encourage my dependence on Him. If I passed on a job opportunity simply because of how difficult it seemed, I might be missing the whole point of why God was calling me to it in the first place.

In the end, taking that job was the right move for me, not because it was the difficult path, but because it was the path God desired. Studying the Bible confirmed that when the circumstances seemed to indicate otherwise.

While the Bible does not always give us the direct answer we are looking for, we have the promise that God will renew our minds through it so we can “test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom 12:2).

Exodus Book In The Bible

“The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work.”

2 Timothy 3:17 (PHILLIPS)Having the right equipment is often the difference between success and failure. To insert a screw, a carpenter doesn’t use a knife. When you’re under anesthesia, you don’t want your surgeon using a chainsaw. A climber on Mount Everest won’t use dollar store equipment.

Professionals are picky about using the right equipment as they know it can be dangerous if they aren’t.

Life can be dangerous, too, so it’s essential that you use the right equipment.

One of those pieces of equipment is the Bible. It’s like God’s owner’s manual for your life. Like any good owner’s manual, the Bible gives you instructions and you can consult it when you need help.

Second Timothy 3:17 says, “The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work” (PHILLIPS).

There are four simple reasons you need the Bible:

  1. To help you know God. Nature shows us how God is powerful, creative, and organized, and how he likes variety. But God reveals many other things about himself through the Bible. To know what God is like, we need the Bible.
  2. To teach you the truth. In this age of truth decay, who are you going to trust? Politicians? Twitter? The media? Jesus says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 TLB). When God speaks through the Bible, he offers eternal truth that you can count on.
  3. To show you how to live. The Bible is God’s big instruction book. It includes the guidance you need to make life work.
  4. To give you spiritual strength. God will always give you the power to do what he asks. You’ll find that power in the spiritual truth of his Word.

You never know what the day will bring you. But whatever it is, make sure you’re equipped with the Bible, God’s owner’s manual for life.

Talk It Over

  • Make a list of different ways you can get to know God. What do you learn about God in the Bible that you can’t learn anywhere else?
  • The Bible was written thousands of years ago. Even so, how is it a more reliable manual for life than current sources like news media or your social media feed?
  • The Bible gives you instructions, and you can consult it when you need help. Think of a problem or question you’re facing. Spend some time reading through the Bible with that situation in mind. See what God teaches you there.

Leave a Reply