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BOOK : Exodus

Description : 2nd book of the Pentateuch, the Law of Moses

Author: probably Moses

Date written : somewhere about 1400 BC (Latter part of Moses' life)

Chapters : 40


Brief Synopsis:

•  Gets its name from the miraculous exodus or departure of the nation of Israel from Egypt
•  Sets the context of Israel in Egypt
•  Moses, a Hebrew, is born and taken into the royal family and grows up as a prince of Egypt
•  He rashly and unwisely acts to help his own people who are slaves and has to flee the nation
•  He spends the next forty years as a shepherd in the wilderness of Sinai
•  Eventually he is called by God to deliver Israel from Egypt
•  To accomplish this, God has to employ ten plagues of increasing severity to break the will of the king, Pharaoh, who resists God. •  Eventually Israel are released and Pharaoh and his army are destroyed.

•  Israel trek to Mount Sinai where they encounter God and are inaugurated as the people of God

•  There God gives them His Law for them.



Outline :

Ch.1-2    Moses background and first forty years
Ch.3-4    Moses meets God in the wilderness and is called to deliver Israel
Ch.4-12   Deliverance from Egypt
Ch.13-15 Escape
Ch.16-18 Journey to Sinai
Ch.19      First encounter with the Lord on Mount Sinai
Ch.20-24 The Covenant (the Law)
Ch.25-40 The Tabernacle & Worship
Ch.32-34 Inset: Failure & Renewal



Key Verses :


2:10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, "I drew him out of the water."
3:2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.  Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.
3:7,8 The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery  of my people in Egypt . I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.  So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey --the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites
3:13-15 Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?'  Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers --the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob --has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation
3:19,20   But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him.  So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.



5:1,2   Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel , says: 'Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.' " Pharaoh said, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go."
6:2-6   God also said to Moses, "I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land  of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. "Therefore, say to the Israelites: 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.  I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm  and with mighty acts of judgment.
10:1,2 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart   and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs   of mine among them  that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly  with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the LORD."
11:4,5 So Moses said, "This is what the LORD says: 'About midnight I will go throughout Egypt . Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill,   and all the firstborn of the cattle as well.


Establishing Passover

12:3,5,11 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household….The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect,…. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD's Passover


Mount Sinai

19:1-6 In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt --on the very day--they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai , and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God,   and the LORD called   to him from the mountain and said, "This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 'You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself.  Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth   is mine,    you   will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.'
20:1-6   And God spoke   all these words: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before   me. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation   of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand [ generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Start of the Ten Commandments)
33:1,2 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants.'  I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.
33:7-11   Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the "tent of meeting."  Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp.   And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent.   As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua   son of Nun did not leave the tent.
33:18,19   Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory." And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass   in front of you, and I will proclaim my name,   the LORD, in your presence.


The Tabernacle

40:33-38 Then Moses set up the courtyard   around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain   at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work. Then the cloud  covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory  of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out--until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.




•  Difficulty of God using a sinner

•  Moses was clearly God's choice of leader to deliver Israel . For forty years he was a prince of Egypt, for forty years a shepherd in the desert, and for forty years a shepherd leading Israel.

•  In the first forty years no doubt pride existed, in the send forty years all pride went and in the third forty years he was described as the meekest man in the earth.

•  He was clearly a transformed man, who repented and was able to be used by God. However, the truth is that every one of us is a sinner and every person in the Bible, except Jesus Christ, is a sinner. It is a fact that it is God's mercy that allows us to live and even be able to enter into a relationship with Him.


•  Difficulty of God hardening Pharaoh's heart

•  A number of times we are told God hardened Pharaoh's heart but the truth is that he already had a hard heart and every time he was challenged it merely hardened his resolve even more.

•  Difficulty of the Ten Plagues

•  How can a God of love use plagues to kill people?

•  The reality was that with each plague came a clear warning and thus could be avoided.

•  The final plague – death of the firstborn – only came after a series of plagues that gradually increased in intensity. Before that last plague, therefore, there had been nine opportunities to learn that God's power cannot be resisted. Resistance after such experiences shows the crass stupidity of pride.

•  The plagues corresponded to much of the worship in that land and each plague was thus a judgment on a particular object of false worship.

•  The truth is that God can judge whoever He chooses but He only does so when there is a clear and obvious reason.



Concluding Comments:

•  Exodus reveals God as an all-powerful opponent who has chosen Israel through whom to reveal Himself to His world.

•  Pharaoh shows us the complete folly of pride and arrogance.

•  When we observe the plagues we marvel at the slowness and only gradual severity that suggests the grace of God that allows such time for this foolish king and his superstitious people to learn and come to their senses. One might suggest that it is almost as if God has run out of ideas of how to deal with Pharaoh (apart from killing him outright) and no one can ever say God did not give him the chance to repent of his pride and arrogance.

•  The story of Moses is engaging: a baby rescued in the midst of a wave of infanticide, a child brought up as a prince of Egypt, a man who squandered and lost that position, a shepherd who probably gave up hope of live in his forty years minding sheep in the wilderness, and finally as a leader of a nation who fearfully goes about the business of being God's messenger boy while God did the business.

•  Moses ‘conversations' with God near the beginning (Ex 3 & 4) and end (Ex 32-34) of the book, show us a man who has been transformed from a fearful man with questions to a faithful man with questions, and both deserve studying.

•  In the narrative sections, Exodus is a very graphic and dynamic book (the laws and instructions of Ex 20-31 being less graphic), that reveal incredible and wonderful things about God.

•  It also reveals awful and terrible things about the people who He chose as a nation, of whom it might be said that failure was their primary characteristic, from their conception in these pages to the end of the Old Testament. If we have any doubt about the reality of Sin in the human race, watch these people and the people in whose land they dwelt before God delivered them.


Bible Studies on this site:


Ex 1-12 - “Pharaoh's Fall” 
Ex 13-20,32-34    “Release and Relationship” 

Ex 20-24 – “The Law in Exodus” 


Additional Reading Material on this site:


Chapters 15 & 16 – “God versus a Tyrant (1 & 2)” in the book “God's Love in the Old Testament”