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A HASTY DEPARTURE: Why Study the Book of Exodus


It has captured the world’s imagination: ten dramatic plagues meant to chasten a recalcitrant Pharaoh, the parting of the Red Sea as on dry land, manna descending from heaven, fire and shaking that hits the holy mount. It was even the subject of a block-buster movie called The Ten Commandments.

Those who want to be ‘future-ready’ need a solid grounding in God’s Word. Understanding Exodus is fundamental for such grounding. May this article be a resource for further Bible study.

Hebrew Name

All these things - and more - are part of the great Bible book called Exodus. The name in the original Hebrew is we’elleh shemoth, ‘And these are the names …’ which happen to be the very first words of the book. The name ‘Exodus’ comes from Greek, meaning

Pentateuch Introduced

Exodus is one of the five books of Moses, known as the Pentateuch (Greek for five volumes) or Torah in Hebrew. These include Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Originally, the Pentateuch was written as one volume and Moses was the universally recognised author throughout the ages. While some scholars and higher critics question Mosaic authorship of the Torah, ancient Israel and the early church did not. Indeed, Jesus Christ Himself attested to Mosaic authorship without hesitation (Matthew 8:4; 19:8; Mark 1:44; 7:10; 10:3; 12:19, 26; Luke 5:14; 16:29, 31; 20:28, 37; 24:27, 44; John 1:17, 45; 3:14; 5:45, 46; 7:19, 22, 23). If Mosaic authorship is good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us, too. The Torah/Pentateuch is also known by other Biblical phrases, like ‘The Law of God,’ ‘Book of Moses,’ Book of the Law,’ etc.

Genesis Summary

Genesis tells us of creation, the origin of all things, and the the holy family - the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God made a covenant with these men, known as the Abrahamic covenant, which promised to use them and their seed to bring blessing to the world, especially redemption. The book ends with the sons of Jacob living in Egypt because of the great famine. It was prophesied that their descendants would be there for 400 years.

Exodus Summary

Exodus begins with that 400 year period drawing to an end. The sons of Jacob, who started off as 76 persons from Canaan, had grown during this period to a great nation. The census: 600,000 men of military age, not counting women and children, thus possibly exceeding 2 million people.

The Egyptians, who felt threatened by the size and prosperity of the children of Israel, oppressed them. All this was allowed by God to prepare them to return to the land of promise, Canaan.

The Lord raised up Moses to challenge Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go. He stubbornly refused and thus began the 10 sensational plagues that punished Egypt. The final plague was the death of the first-born. Israel was authorised to sacrifice a lamb, put the blood on the doors and window lintels. When the death angel came to the house and saw the blood, he ‘passed over’ that house and it was not visited with death. This sacrifice, and the feast that follows, became known as ‘Passover,’ one of the Jewish people’s great holy days.

After Israel departed Egypt, Pharaoh got ‘buyer’s remorse,’ regretted letting Israel go, and sent his military forces to bring them back. This was where the great miracle of the parting of the Red Sea occurred. Israel walked through the sea as on dry land but once they went past, the closed in on the pursuing Egyptian troops. On the way to Canaan, they stopped at Mount Sinai and Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. The remainder of the book speaks of sundry laws, case studies, and the design of the tabernacle, the tent of meeting.

Exodus: This is a Greek word which means ‘to go our, depart, exist.

Author: Moses

Theme: Salvation by blood

Key verse (6:6): Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:

Portrait of Christ & Biblical Typology

Though there are no direct messianic prophecies, Exodus is rich with typology that teaches us more about Christ and His ministry.

    Moses was the prophet, priest, and king, so is Christ;
    Both were threatened with destruction at birth;
    Like Boaz in the Book of Ruth, Moses is a type of kinsman-redeemer. So is Christ, who comes from the tribe of Judah and offers salvation to Israel and the Gentiles;
    Both Moses and Christ forsook worldly ambitions in order to serve a higher purpose and receive a greater reward;
    The passover lamb prevented the death angel from destroying anyone who was under the blood; Christ saves us from the death of eternal condemnation;
    Christ is our passover lamb (I Corinthians 5:7; John 1:29; Isaiah 53:6) and
    His shed blood causes us to pass from death to life; blood spread by hyssop (faith) and is applied for our salvation (Exodus 12:22; John 1:12; Hebrews 9:22);
    Lamb is to be eaten. This reminds us of holy communion, take eat, this is my body, take and drink for this is My blood (John 6:54-48);
    Remove all leaven, which represents pride and sin. See Psalm 139:23-24; I Corinthians 5:7; leaven of Pharisees (Matthew 16:6);
    Bitter herbs: represents suffering in this life (Hebrews 12:11);
    Quick departure from Egypt: Christians are to promptly depart from the world spiritually and in the rapture (I Thessalonians 4);
    Exodus from Egypt, where the latter represents the fallen world system (Kosmos), is like the believer forsaking the world in order to follow Christ;
    Seven feasts of Exodus all teach an aspect of Christ;
    High priest in Exodus is a type of Christ, our faithful priest (Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25; 9:11,12, 24-28);
    The exodus and crossing the Red Sea are a type of water baptism (Romans 6:2,3; I Corinthians 10:1, 2);
    Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting:
    3 courts;
    Outer court has laver (washing) and altar of sacrifice. Type of Christ’s sacrifice, which happened outside the city walls;
    Holy Place: altar of incense, shewbread, candlestick. Incense a type of Christ’s intercession (Hebrews 7:25), bread and candle is Christ the bread of life and light of the world;
    Most holy place: Ark of the covenant (God’s throne, containing the 10 Commandments), represents God’s presence;
    Conclusion: Though there are no direct messianic prophecies, Exodus is rich with typology that teaches us more about Christ and His ministry;
    Exodus and the New Testament: This book is quoted 44 times in the New Testament by every author except Jude, who himself alludes to the exodus. Only Psalms, Isaiah and Deuteronomy are quoted in the New Testament more than Exodus.

Special Features

10 Plagues

    1      waters turned to blood (7:14-24)
    2      frogs (7:25-8:12)
    3      Lice (magicians said: “This is the finger of God.” (8:16-19)
    4      Flies (8:20-32)
    5      Diseases in livestock (9:1-7)
    6      boils (9:8-12)
    7      hail (9:13-35)
    8      locusts (10:1-20)
    9      darkness (10:21-29)
    10    firstborn (11, 12:1-30)

10 Commandments

    1      You shall have no other gods (heart – 20:3)
    2      You shall not make any graven images (hands – 20:4-6)
    3      You shall not take the name of the LORD in vain (mouth – 20:7)
    4      Remember the Sabbath day (mind – 20:8-11)
    5      Honour your parents (hold them up – 20:12)
    6      You shall not murder (dont place them down – 20:13)
    7      You shall not commit adultery (heart – 20:14)
    8      You shall not steal (hands – 20:15)
    9      You shall not bear false witness (mouth – 20:16)
    10    You shall not covet (mind – 20:17)

Outline of Exodus

I.         Israel in Egypt (1:1-12:36)
A.     Israel oppressed by Egypt (1:1-22)
B.      Moses’ early life (2:1-2:25)
C.      Moses called by God (3:1-4:31)
D.     Moses Meets Pharaoh the 1st time: remove straw (5:1-23)
E.      God reminds of covenant (6:1-13)
F.       Genealogies of Moses & Aaron (6:14-30)
G.     Moses Meet Pharaoh 2nd time: rod turns to serpent (7:1-13)
H.     Ten Plagues (7:13-12:36) Passover instituted (12:1-28)

II.      Exodus from Egypt (12:37-18:27)
C.      Journey from Egypt to Red Sea (12:37-14:20)
D.     Journey through the Red Sea ((14:21-31)
E.      Songs of Moses and Miriam (15:1-21)
F.       From Red Sea to wilderness of Shur (15:22-26)
G.     From Elim oasis to wilderness of Sin (15:27-16:36)
H.     From Sin to Rephidim (17:1-7)

III. Israel at Sinai (19:1-40:38)
A. Rephidim to wilderness of Sinai (19:1-2)
B. The Law given (19:3-25)
C. Ten Commandments given (20:1-26)
D. Judgements and feasts given (21:1-23:33)
E. People agree to the Word of the Lord (24:1-18)
F. Tabernacle of Moses in detail (25:1-31:11)
G. Specification and Building of Tabernacle (31:12-35:3): in this period we have the giving of the two tablets of stone, golden calf incident, veiling of Moses’ face because it shined with glory)
H. Building of Tabernacle (35:4-39:43)
I.      Tabernacle finished (40:1-38)


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