Exodus—at least the first portion of it—is one of the most well known books of the Bible. It covers the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt, God’s miraculous deliverance, the covenant between God and Israel, as well as their time in the wilderness. The book was written by Moses, likely between 1446 and 1406 BC.
And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
- Interesting Facts
- Date of Authorship
- In Popular Culture
- Chapter by Chapter Breakdown
- Important People
- Lessons Learned from Exodus
- God vs. Pharaoh
- Reflections on Sin
- Other Posts on Exodus
- References and Footnotes
Exodus takes place well after Joseph's death, 400 years after the Israelites arrival to Egypt (just as God told Abraham in Genesis). Based on dates given in the Bible, the Israelites were probably held captive until 1446 BC. This would have been during the 18th Dynasty of Egypt, thus the Pharaohs of Moses' time would have been Amenhotep I (1514—1493 BC), Thutmose I (1493 — 1482 BC), Thutmose II (1482 — 1479 BC), and Thutmose III (1479 — 1426BC).
There are four key points in Exodus:
- God reveals His name to Moses
- God answers the Israelites prayers to be liberated
- God gives us laws to live by
- God specifies how the temple is to be constructed
The word Exodus is an anglicized version of the Greek word meaning "departure."
In Hebrew, the name of the book is Sh’mot, which means “names.”
Being one of the 5 books included in the Pentateuch, Exodus is generally considered to be written by Moses. This assumption is confirmed many places in scripture (see the post on
Date of Authorship
Scholars agree that Moses wrote the Exodus during the last 40 years of his life, while searching for the promised land with the Israelites—a logical conclusion since the events in the book cover the exodus and subsequent wandering. Since Moses is estimated to have live between 1526 and 1406 BC, we can assume Exodus was written between 1445 and 1406 BC.
In Popular Culture
The Ten Commandments staring Charlton Heston, as well as, Exodus: Gods & Kings are two of Hollywood’s versions of the events. I haven’t seen the latter but I do plan to review and compare each to the Biblical account. There is also an animated movie, The Prince of Egypt, based on the first few chapters of the book. The theme from this movie—”When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey—is one of my favorite songs!
Chapter by Chapter Breakdown
Lessons Learned from Exodus
Exodus the book is synonymous with the exodus (the journey), and rarely do people remember anything else. Both movies, The Ten Commandments and The Prince of Egypt, end after Moses is given the Ten Commandments (the former shows the ordeal with the golden calf, while the latter does not). Neither discuss the priesthood or tabernacle, which are also discussed heavily in Exodus. Also, in addition to Ten Commandments, we see other laws which are rarely discussed. Many overlook these portions of the book in favor of the action-packed showdown between God and the pharaoh or because they feel information on the old covenant doesn't pertain to them any more. Yet, the connections between Moses' day and now are so numerous I couldn't keep track of them all.
God vs. Pharaoh
God's conversation with Pharaoh, through Moses, shows us a lot about today's society. Moses performs a miracle by God's hand, then Pharaoh has his magicians imitate God's miracle, to which point Pharaoh denies God. This leads Pharaoh's heart to harden to the point than when the magicians can no longer imitate God, Pharaoh is delusional and unwilling to admit that God is all powerful and in charge. This happens all around us with science today. Scientists replicate God's majesty in theories and laws, but they can't recreate His actions. People think they are being smart by following the scientists, just as Pharaoh thought he was being smart. However, there will come a time when it is too late to turn back (after the mark of the beast is issued) and many will be victim to falling for these false substitutions for God. I believe this is part of the reason God gives us this full story with so much detail. Not just to remind the Israelites what He did for them but to warn us of our future.
Today, we have churches, none of which can compare to the splendor of the Tabernacle. In fact, Churches are not like the Tabernacle at all, even though some churches put the word tabernacle in their name. For starters, only the clean and holy were allowed on the premises and only the priests were allowed beyond the vail where God dwelled. While modern churches have pulpits where only the preacher is allowed to stand, the choir often stands behind the preacher and there is no vail that separates this area. Similarly, while priests were responsible for knowing and maintaining the law, nowhere in Exodus does it say that the priest was to give sermons and especially not from the Tabernacle. Teaching was a duty ascribed to the disciples and apostles in the New Testament. In Exodus, we see the priest's duty was to atone for the people's sins—a duty Christ took over after His resurrection from the crucifixion. Exodus' description of the priesthood explains why we need Jesus. Before He took over the office of High Priest, one would have had to consult the priest at the temple in Jerusalem which is now gone and previously could have been quite a distance to travel. The priest had to atone for your sins because only the priest was worthy to speak with God. However, the priest had to atone for his on sins as well, and if a priest was corrupt (like Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu—see Leviticus 10) the whole community was doomed. We don't have this problem with Jesus, as He is perfect; He is always available where ever we are, and He is never defiled. We have no use for priests under the new covenant, but Exodus reminds us of why the new covenant is special.
Reflections on Sin
Since most churches teach that the law was abolished on the cross (see The Law for more details), only the Ten Commandments are used as a basis for sin—remember sin is disobedience of the law. It is easy (for me at least) to step down the Ten Commandments and think I have committed no sins. It is much harder to look at the other laws listed in Exodus (and Leviticus) and maintain that I have not committed sins. It is a great reminder of all the wrong Jesus took upon himself at the cross.
Reading about the Israelites' journey to and from Egypt made me curious about the history of Egypt. Some of the information I have researched is presented in the posts on Exodus as they apply, more research is likely to appear as I continue on.
Other Posts on Exodus
References and Footnotes
- Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg 97. 2014
- "Amenhotep I". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2015
- "Thutmose I". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2015
- "Thutmose II". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2015
- "Thutmose III". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2015
- 1 Kings 6:1
- “The Biblical Date for the Exodus is 1446”. Associates for Biblical Research; visited August 2022
- Rabbi Mendy Lewis. “Sh’mot: What is your Jewish name?”. Jewish Standard. December 31, 2015; visited August 2022
- Romans 4:15
- 1 John 3:4