Name of Book: Exodus
Number of Book: OT 2
Chapters in Book: 40
Themes & Imagery: The inheritance owed by God to the children of Israel on account of the covenant. The difficulty of convincing the pharaoh, whose heart God hardens, and the suffering which must be endured for the sake of freedom. Divine powers of destruction. People of Israel as servants of God (rather than of Pharaoh) who are saved and protected because they are chosen. Moses as a god, and Aaron as his prophet (especially to start with); therefore, the role of intermediaries. Blood; gold and riches; sacrifice. Proof of divinity, for the sake of divine honour; lack of faith.
Synopsis: “Exodus” tells the story of Moses from his discovery among the bullrushes, to the Ten Commandments and construction of the Tabernacle. The first part imcludes the message of the burning bush; the struggle to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave, including the plagues of Egypt and the origins of passover; the parting of the sea and the subsequent wanderings in the wilderness. The book then turns to the commandments decreed on Mount Sinai, but also various other rulings, on slavery and on the crimes deserving of capital or lesser punishment; the rules for sacrifice; the false worship of the molten calf, and the slaughter of its worshippers by the Levites; and the detailed construction of the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant.
Personal Response: The simple and straightforward repetitive formula for the plagues of Egypt is surprisingly effective, almost like a cautionary fairytale; in contrast, I didn’t enjoy the intense repetition in the lengthy description of the construction of the Tabernacle, etc. Personally I also think it would have been fairer to present the Israelites with the full terms and conditions of their covenant before sending down plagues and destroying the life they had in Egypt, so that they could make a more informed decision, but that’s just me. God as presented here is, I think, more demanding than in “Genesis”, and there is an emphasis on making it difficult to convince Pharaoh, presumably so that the power of God will be stronger in contrast, even if this also makes life difficult for the people of Israel.
Favourite Part: Song of chapter 15, after the parting of the sea.
My Top Five Lines and Passages:
God remembers his covenant, chapter 2 verses 23-25:
23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up to God by reason of the bondage.
24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.
God in the form of the burning bush gives his name to Moses, chapter 3 verses 13-15:
13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
God warns about the plague against the firstborn of Egypt, chapter 12 verses 12-14:
12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgement: I am the Lord.
13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
Israelites complain to Moses for bringing them to the wilderness forr no good reason, chapter 14 verses 11-12:
11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?
12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.
Gods gives the first of his commandments, chapter 20 verses 1-6:
And God spake all these words, saying,
2 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.