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INTRODUCTION TO EXODUS

I. NAME OF THE BOOK


A. In Hebrew (MT) it is the first phrase of the book, "and these are the words (names)," which links the book of Exodus to Genesis, where the very same words appear in Gen. 46:8.


B. In the LXX translation it is ek 'odos which means "a way out" or "a road out."


C. In the Latin Vulgate of Jerome it becomes "exodus."


II. CANONIZATION


A. It is part of the first section of the Hebrew Canon called "The Torah" or "teachings" or "Law."


B. The section is known as the Pentateuch (five scrolls) in the LXX.


C. It is sometimes called "The Five Books of Moses" in English.


D. It includes a continuous historical account by Moses, from creation through Moses' life, Genesis - Deuteronomy.


III. GENRE - The book of Exodus includes four literary genres.


A. Historical narrative, Exodus 1-19; 24; 32-34


B. Poetry, Exodus 15


C. Law, Exodus 20-23


D. Specifications for the Tabernacle, Exodus 25-31, and its construction, Exodus 35-40


IV. AUTHORSHIP


A. The Torah is one unified account. Exodus starts with the CONJUNCTION "and."
See lengthy discussion in Genesis online (www.freebiblecommentary.org).


B. There are several places in Exodus where it says that Moses wrote:

1. Exod. 17:14

2. Exod. 24:4, 12

3. Exod. 34:27, 28


C. Joshua 8:31 quotes Exodus 20:25 and attributes it to Moses. Jesus quotes Exod. 20:12,17 and attributes it to Moses, Mark 7:10.


D. I have been so impressed by a new book that presents the orality of the ANE culture. I think it will solve many of the issues related to authorship and manuscript variants. It is by John H. Walton and D. Brent Sandy, The Lost World of Scripture.


V. THE EXODUS (uncertainties)

See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE EXODUS (uncertainties)


VI. SOURCES CORROBORATING THE HISTORICAL SETTING:


A. There is no written evidence from Egypt at all about the exodus. This is not unusual in light of

1. YHWH's total defeat of the Egyptian gods

2. the literary nature of Egyptian writings (i.e., royal propaganda)


B. There are some cultural examples of laws similar to the decalogue:

1. The Laws of Lipit-Ishtar (Sumerian), from the king of Isin (1934-1924 B.C.)

2. The Laws of Eshnunna (old Babylonian), dating about 1800 B.C. from the reign of Dadusha, king of Ashnunna

3. The Code of Hammurabi (old Babylonian) from the king of Babylon, Hammurabi (1728-1686 B.C.)

4. The law codes of the Hittite kings, Mupsilis I or Hattusilis I, from about 1650 B.C.

5. The Mesopotamian law codes focus primarily on civil laws, while the biblical laws focus primarily on religious/cultic laws. ". . .we might suggest a civil bias in all cuneiform law and a cultic bias in Israelite law. . ., in Mesopotamia, offense is ultimately viewed in relation to society; while in Israel, all offense is ultimately against God," (Walton, p. 80).

6. Albrect Alt, in Essays on Old Testament History and Religion, Oxford, 1966, pp. 81-132, has identified two types of laws:

a. casuistic, which uses conditional clauses. It is characterized by an "if. . .then" structure. It does not appeal to religious or societal norms but states a prohibition and consequence.

b. apodictic, which does not use conditional clauses.

(1) Exodus 21 and Deut. 27:15-26 use the THIRD PERSON which relates to individual, specific cases

(2) Lev. 18:7-17 and Exodus 20/Deuteronomy 5 use the SECOND PERSON which is more general in scope.

c. Mesopotamian law is primarily casuistic, while Israelite law is primarily apodictic.


C. As to the old liberal argument that Moses could not have known how to write, archaeology has confirmed the existence of an early Canaanite alphabet which was used in Egypt in Moses' day.

1. Correspondence from 1400 B.C. has been found concerning the Semitic slaves in the Egyptian mines of Sinai (cf. Albright, BASOR, #110 [1948], p 12-13).

2. The ostracon (broken pottery used to receive writing) from the Valley of Queens has been found at Thebes (Albright, BASOR, #110 [1948], p 12).


VII. LITERARY UNITS (CONTEXT)


A. Brief Outline

1. Israel in Egypt (the ten plagues), Exodus 1-11

2. Israel leaves Egypt (the Exodus), Exodus 12-18

3. Israel at Mt. Sinai, Exodus 19-40

a. Laws of covenant at Mt. Sinai, Exodus 19-24

b. Laws of worship at Mt. Sinai, Exodus 25-40

(1) tabernacle design, Exodus 25-31

(2) rebellion and covenant renewal, Exodus 32-34

(3) tabernacle built, Exodus 35-40


B. The Plagues

1. They show God's judgment on the gods of Egypt (as Genesis 1 shows the depreciation of Mesopotamian gods). They seem to have occurred over an 18 month period. They involve natural events, yet with:

a. supernatural timing

b. supernatural intensity

c. supernatural location

2. Brief outline of the ten plagues

a. Nile turned to blood, Exod. 7:14-25

b. frogs, Exod. 8:1-15

c. lice, gnats, Exod. 8:16-19

d. flies, Exod. 8:20-32

e. disease of cattle, Exod. 9:1-7

f. boils, Exod. 9:8-12

g. hail, Exod. 9:13-35

h. locusts, Exod. 10:1-20

i. darkness, Exod. 10:21-29

j. death angel, death of firstborn, Exod. 11:1-8


C. List of feast/fast days of Exodus 23:

1. weekly Sabbath, Exod. 23:3

2. Passover (14th of Nisan), Exod. 23:5; Exodus 12

3. Unleavened Bread (15th-21st of Nisan), Exod. 23:6-8; Deut. 16:1-8

4. First Fruits (22nd of Nisan), Exod. 23:9-14

5. Pentecost or Feast of Weeks (50 days after 21st of Nisan, 6th Sivan), Exod. 23:15-21; Deut. 16:9-12

6. Blowing of Trumpets (1st Tishri), Exod. 23:23-25; Num. 29:1-6

7. Day of Atonement (10th Tishri), Exod. 23:26-32; Num. 29:7-11

8. Feast of Booths (15th Tishri), Exod. 23:33-44; Num. 29:12-40; Deut. 16:13-17


D. Detailed outline

  1. see R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the OT, p. 560-562
  2. see E. J. Young, An Introduction to the OT, p. 63-72
  3. see NIV Study Bible, p 85-87

VIII. MAIN TRUTHS


A. It continues the history begun in Genesis. It documents the development of the chosen family into a chosen nation. Though they are enslaved in Egypt, they will possess the Promised Land by divine decree (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:12-21).


B. It records the covenant laws given at Mt. Sinai (Horeb)

1. How should we live? (Decalogue and supplements)

2. How should we worship? (Tabernacle, priests, procedures, time, and rituals)

3. It is a "how to" manual for the Tabernacle (Leviticus)


C. It documents God's great acts of love and mercy toward Israel which were prophesied to Abraham, Gen. 15:12-21.


D. God's dealing with Pharaoh shows the balance between God's sovereignty and mankind's free will:

1. God hardened Pharaoh's heart

a. Exod. 7:3, 13

b. Exod. 9:12,34-35

c. Exod. 10:1, 20, 27

d. Exod. 11:10

e. Exod. 14:4, 8

2. Pharaoh hardened his own heart

a. Exod. 8:15, 32

b. Exod. 9:34


READING CYCLE ONE ( Guide to Good Bible Reading)

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the entire biblical book at one sitting. State the central theme of the entire book in your own words.

1. Theme of entire book

2. Type of literature (genre)


READING CYCLE TWO

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the entire biblical book a second time at one sitting. Outline the main subjects and express the subject in a single sentence.

1. Subject of first literary unit

2. Subject of second literary unit

3. Subject of third literary unit

4. Subject of fourth literary unit

5. Etc.


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