Introduction to Exodus
The title “Exodus” is an anglicized version of a Greek word that means “departure” in recognition of one of the book’s major events—the departure of God’s people from Egypt. Exodus could be considered the central book in the Old Testament because it records God’s act of saving the Israelites and establishing them as a covenant community, a nation chosen to serve and represent him. Exodus describes the enslavement and oppression of the Israelites; the preparation and call of Moses; the conflict between Yahweh the God of Israel and the gods of Egypt (represented by Pharaoh); the exodus of the Israelites; their establishment as a nation in covenant with the Lord; their rebellion; and the Lord’s provision for their ongoing relationship, symbolized by his presence at the tabernacle they built for him.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF WRITING
AUTHOR: The book of Exodus does not state who its author was. It does refer to occasions when Moses made a written record of events that took place and what God had said (17:14; 24:4,7; 34:27-28). The book also contains references to preserving and passing on information. Along with the other four books of the Pentateuch, it has long been considered to be primarily the work of Moses. Moses could have written Exodus at any time during a forty-year time span: after the Israelites finished constructing and dedicating the tabernacle at Mount Sinai, at the start of their second year after leaving Egypt (1445 BC), and before his death in the land of Moab (about 1406 BC).
The date of the exodus is disputed, but biblical evidence favors 1446 bc. First Kings 6:1 states that the exodus occurred 480 years before Solomon’s fourth year as king, established by biblical data combined with Assyrian chronology to be 966 bc. In Judges 11:26, Jephthah said that Israel had been living in regions of Palestine for three hundred years. Jephthah lived around 1100 bc, thus dating the end of the wilderness journey to around 1400 bc.
MESSAGE AND PURPOSE
The book of Exodus shows God at work with the goal of having such close fellowship with people that he is described as dwelling among them. He rescued the Israelites in order to make himself known, not only by the exercise of his power but also through an ongoing covenant relationship based on his capacity for patience, grace, and forgiveness. The record of what the Lord did for the Israelites provided grounds for them to recognize him as their God who deserved their complete loyalty and obedience. This record would make clear to the Israelites their identity as God’s people and would continue the display of his glorious identity.
4. Tabernacle: God gave specific instructions on how the tabernacle was to be built, but its significance is in what it represented—God dwelling among his people. He was specifically understood to dwell in the holy of holies, inaccessible to the average Israelite. The tabernacle points ahead to the moment when Christ removed the veil of separation, giving all believers access to God. In the NT, believers become the tabernacle, for God doesn’t just dwell among his people; he dwells in them.
CONTRIBUTION TO THE BIBLE
Exodus provides the high point of redemptive history in the OT. Many patterns and concepts from Exodus receive attention, further development, and fulfillment elsewhere in Scripture, especially in the past, present, and future work of the Lord Jesus. These include rescue from oppression, provision of sustenance, God’s faithfulness to his promises, the self-revelation of God, knowledge of God resulting from his actions, the presence of God, his glory, efforts required to preserve the knowledge of God, a new identity for people that is based on God’s actions, provision for worship, provision for life in community, connection between the reputation of God and his relationship with a group of people, obedience and rebellion, intercession, and gracious forgiveness.
Exodus is considered a part of the Law, but it is more historical narrative than law. The book is structured around the life and travels of Moses. Sandwiched between the narratives of chapters 1-18 and 32-40 are the establishment of the covenant (chaps. 19-24) and the laws related to the tabernacle and priesthood.
I.Oppression of God’s People in Egypt (1:1-11:10)
A.Egyptian slavery (1:1-22)
B.Preparation of the deliverer (2:1-4:31)
C.Struggles with the oppressor (5:1-11:10)
II.Deliverance of God’s People from Egypt (12:1-14:31)
A.Redemption by blood (12:1-51)
B.Redemption by divine miracles (13:1-14:31)
III.Education of God’s People in the Wilderness (15:1-18:27)
A.Israel’s song of victory (15:1-21)
B.Testing and trials (15:22-17:16)
C.Shared leadership under Moses (18:1-27)
IV.Consecration of God’s People at Sinai (19:1-34:35)
A.Acceptance of the law (19:1-31:18)
B.Breaking of the law (32:1-35)
C.Restoration of the law (33:1-34:35)
V.Worship of God’s People in the Tabernacle (35:1-40:38)
A.Gifts and workmen for the tabernacle (35:1-35)
B.Construction and furnishings of the tabernacle (36:1-39:43)
C.Filling of the tabernacle with God’s glory (40:1-38)
Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus dating to 1550 is the earliest known surgical treatise; it is a copy of a much older Egyptian document attributed to Imhotep, architect, high priest, and physician of the Old Kingdom. 3000-2500
Jacob’s family settles in Egypt. 1876
Jacob dies. 1859
Joseph dies. 1805
Hammurabi develops the first legal code in Mesopotamia. 1792-1750
Body armor is used in China. 1700
Minoans develop a system for running water. 1700
Underground ice houses, Kingdom of Mari, northwest Iraq 1700
Cookbook, Mesopotamia 1700
Linear A script comes into use on Crete. 1700
Egyptians show proficiency in geometry including a formula for calculating the volume of a truncated pyramid. Sources: The Moscow Papyrus and the Rhind Papyrus. 1700
Hyksos rule Egypt. 1630-1543
Volcanic island of Thera (Santorini) erupts with massive environmental consequences felt as far as the British Isles and North America. 1600
Chocolate originates in northern Honduras. 1600
Children’s swings invented, Crete 1600
Linear B script comes into use on Crete. 1600
War chariots are used in Egypt. 1600
|Moses 1526-1406||Joshua 1490?-1380?|
Egyptians develop effective pharmaceutical compounds. 1500
Moses flees to Midian. 1487
Moses is commissioned. 1447
The ten plagues begin. 1446
The Passover instituted. 1446
Exodus and defeat of Pharaoh at the Red Sea 1446
God’s covenant with Israel at Sinai 1446
Tabernacle is built and dedicated. 1445