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Book of Exodus

Book of Exodus
by Timothy Kenney, PhD

The second book of the Pentateuch is called Exodus from the Greek word "departure," because the central event narrated in it is the departure of the Israelites from Egypt. It continues the history of the chosen people from the point where the Book of Genesis leaves off. In 40 chapters written by Moses, it recounts the oppression by the Egyptians of the ever-increasing descendants of Jacob and their miraculous deliverance by God through Moses, who led them across the Red Sea and entered into a special covenant with the Lord.

The principal divisions of the Book of Exodus are:

  1. The Israelites in Egypt
  2. The Exodus from Egypt and the Journey to Sinai
  3. The Covenant of Mount Sinai
  4. The Dwelling and Its Furnishings

A basic outline of the Book of Exodus is as follows.

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I. The Israelites in Egypt - Exodus 1-6.

The Book of Exodus begins by recounting the life of Israelistes and the early life of Moses. The descendants of Joseph who had migrated to Egypt are enslaved by the Egyptians. It is deemed that their male children should be killed, but Moses is placed in a basket in the Nile River. Pharaoh's daughter finds him and raises him in the royal house. Later Moses flees after slaying an Egyptian, but God sends him to demand that Pharaoh let the people go.

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II. The Exodus from Egypt and the Journey to Sinai - Exodus 7-15.

When Pharaoh refuses to release Israel, God sends ten plagues upon the Egyptians. First, Moses turns the Nile to blood, but Pharaoh's magicians did the same. Other plagues follow. For the last plague, the firstborn in every Egyptian home perished, although the Israelites who put lamb's blood around their doors were spared. Finally, Pharaoh lets the people go and God's presence before them is a pillar of cloud and fire. Suddenly, Pharaoh changes his mind and sends his army in pursuit. As the Israelites come to the sea, God parts the waters and allows them to escape, but the waters surge back over Pharaoh's chariots and the people are saved.

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III. The Covenant of Mount Sinai - Exodus 16-24.

After the Exodus, the Israelites travel through a desert, complaining for a lack of food. God gives them manna to eat each day. Some try to hoard the manna and it spoils. The people complain about thirst, and God provides water from a rock. At Mount Sinai, God gives them the Law and Covenant.

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IV. The Dwelling and Its Furnishings - Exodus 25-40

Moses establishes the covenant by spattering sacrificial blood on the people and the altar. When Moses returns to the mountain, the people make a golden calf to worship. God is angry and Moses shatters the tablets on which the Laws are written. hen Moses intervenes and God renews the covenant. Afterward, a sanctuary -- known as the Tent of Meeting or Tabernacle -- is built so that the people can worship rightly.

Our next article will provide us with an outline to the Book of Leviticus.

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