Observation Exodus

I. NAME OF THE BOOK

A. In Hebrew (MT) it is the first word of the book, "and these are the words (names)."

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 is "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 three types of literary genre.

A. Historical narrative, Exod. 1-19; 32-34

B. Poetry, Exodus 15

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

 

IV. AUTHORSHIP

A. The Torah is one unified account. Exodus starts with the conjunction "and." See lengthy discussion in Genesis outline.

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

1. 17:14

2. 24:4, 12

3. 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.

 

V. DATE OF THE EXODUS

A. There have been two scholarly opinions on the date of the Exodus:

1. from I Kings 6:1, which says, "480 years from the Exodus to the building of Solomon's Temple":

a. Solomon began to reign in 970 b.c. This is figured by using the battle of Qarqar (853 b.c.) as a certain starting date.

b. The Temple was built in his fourth year (965 b.c.), and the Exodus occurred about 1445/6 b.c.

2. This would make it occur in the 18th Egyptian Dynasty.

a. The Pharaoh of the oppression would be Thutmose III (1490-1436 b.c.).

b. The Pharaoh of the Exodus would be Amenhotep II (1436-1407 b.c.).

(1) Some believe evidence from Jericho based on the fact that no diplomatic correspondence occurred between Jericho and Egypt during the reign of Amenhotep III (1413-1377 b.c.).

(2) The Amarna texts record diplomatic correspondence written on ostraca about the Habiru over-running the land of Canaan in the reign of Amenhotep III. Therefore, the Exodus occurred in the reign of Amenhotep II.

(3) The period of the Judges is not long enough if the 13th century is the date of Exodus.

3. The possible problems with these dates are:

a. The Septuagint (LXX) has 440 years not 480.

b. It is possible that 480 years is representative of 12 generations of 40 years each, therefore, a figurative number.

c. There are 12 generations of priests from Aaron to Solomon (cf. I Chronicles 6), then 12 from Solomon to the Second Temple. The Jews, like the Greeks, reckoned a generation as forty years. So, there is a 480 year period back and forward (symbolic use of numbers, cf. Bimson's Redating the Exodus and Conquest).

4. There are three other texts that mention dates:

a. Genesis 15:13,16 (cf. Acts 7:6), 400 years of bondage

b. Exodus 12:40-41 (cf. Gal. 3:17)

(1) MT – 430 years of sojourn in Egypt

(2) LXX – 215 years of sojourn in Egypt

c. Judges 11:26 – 300 years between Jephthah's day and the conquest (supports 1445 date)

d. Acts 13:19, exodus, wanderings, and conquest – 450 years

5. The author of Kings used specific historical references and did not round numbers (Edwin Thiele, A Chronology of the Hebrew Kings, pp. 83-85

B. The tentative evidence from archaeology seems to point toward a date of 1290 b.c., or the 19th Egyptian Dynasty.

1. Joseph was able to visit his father and Pharaoh in this same day. The first native Pharaoh who began to move the capital of Egypt from Thebes back to the Nile Delta, to a place called Avaris/Zoan/Tanis which was the old Hyksos capital, was Seti I (1309-1290). He would be the Pharaoh of the oppression.

a. This seems to fit two pieces of information about the Hyksos reign of Egypt.

(1) A stele has been found from the time of Rameses II that commemorates the founding of Avaris four hundred years earlier (1700's b.c. by the Hyksos)

(2) The prophecy of Genesis 15:13 speaks of a 400 year oppression

b. This implies that Joseph's rise to power was under a Hyksos (Semitic) Pharaoh. The new Egyptian dynasty is referred to in Exod. 1:8.

2. The Hyksos, an Egyptian word meaning "rulers of foreign lands," who were a goup of non-Egyptian Semitic rulers, controlled Egypt during the 15th and 16th Dynasties (1720-1570b.c.). Some want to relate them to Joseph's rise to power. If we subtract the 430 years of Exod. 12:40 from 1720 b.c., we get a date of about 1290 b.c.

3. Seti I's son was Rameses II (1290-1224). This name is mentioned as one of the store cities built by the Hebrew slaves, Exod. 1:11. Also this same district in Egypt near Goshen is called Rameses, Gen. 47:11. Avaris/Zoan/Tanis was known as "House of Rameses" from 1300-1100 b.c.

4. Thutmoses III was known as a great builder, as was Rameses II.

5. Rameses II had 47 daughters living in separate palaces.

6. Archaeology has shown that most of the large walled cities of Canaan (Hazor, Debir, Lachish) were destroyed and rapidly rebuilt around 1250 b.c. In allowing for a 38 year wilderness wandering period this fits a date of 1290 b.c.

7. Archaeology has found a reference to the Israelis being in southern Canaan on a memorial stele of Rameses' successor Merneptah (1224-1214 b.c. [cf. The Stele of Merneptah, dated 1220 b.c.]).

8. Edom and Moab seem to have attained strong national identity in the late 1300's b.c. These countries were not organized in the 15th century (Glueck).

9. The book entitled Redating the Exodus and Conquest by John J. Bimson, published by the University of Sheffield, 1978, argues against all of the archaeological evidence for an early date.

C. There is a new possible date even earlier than 1445 b.c. See the History Channel, "The Exodus Decoded," which asserts a northern route in the Hyksos period.

 

VI. OTHER UNCERTAINTIES RELATED TO THE EXODUS

A. The number of people to leave in the Exodus is in doubt

1. Numbers 1:46; 26:51 report that there were 600,000 men of fighting age (20-50 yrs. of age, cf. Exod. 38:26). Therefore, if one estimates women, children, and old men, a number of 1.5 to 2.5 million is possible.

2. However, the Hebrew term for thousand, Eleph, can mean:

a. a family or clan unit, Josh. 22:14; Jdgs. 6:15; I Sam. 23:23, Zech. 9:7

b. a military unit, Exod. 18:21,25; Deut. 1:15

c. a literal thousand, Gen. 20:16; Exod. 32:28

d. used symbolically, Gen. 24:60; Exod. 20:6 (Deut. 7:9); 34:7; Jer. 32:18

e. from the Ugaritic (a cognate of Semitic language), the same consonants is alluph which means "chieftain" (cf. Gen. 36:15). This would mean that for Num. 1:39 there were 60 chieftains and 2700 men from Dan. The problem comes when there are obviously too many chieftains for the number of men in some tribes.

f. There is a good discussion in the NIV Study Bible, p. 186.

3. Archaeology has estimated the size of the armies of Egypt and Assyria during this period in the tens of thousands. Some passages in Joshua seem to imply that Israel had an army of about 40,000, (cf. Josh. 4:13; 7:3; 8:3,11,12).

B. The route of the Exodus is in doubt

1. The location of:

a. the Egyptian cities

b. bodies of water

c. early Hebrew camp sites

are all uncertain

2. The term "Red Sea" is literally Yam Suph (see Special Topic: Red Sea), which:

a. means, "sea of weeds" or "sea of reeds." It can refer to salt water, Jonah 2:5; I Kgs. 9:26 or fresh water, Exod. 2:3; Isa. 19:26. The LXX first translated it as "Red Sea," followed by the Vulgate and then the King James Version.

b. referred to the "sea to the south" or "sea at the end (of the earth)." It could have referred to the modern Red Sea, Indian Ocean, or Persian Gulf.

c. had several usages in the OT (cf. Num. 33:8,10).

3. There are three possible routes involving three different bodies of water:

a. A northern route – this was along the Mediterranean coast, following the commercial highway known as "the way of the Philistines." This would have been the shortest way to the Promised Land. The body of water that they would have encountered would have been one of the shallow, marshy areas called: Lake Sirbonis or Lake Menzalch. However, one must take into account Exod. 13:17 which seems to negate this option. Also the presence of Egyptian fortresses along this route militates against this option.

b. A middle route – this would involve the central lakes called:

(1) "The Bitter Lakes"

(2) "Lake Balah"

(3) "Lake Timsah"

This would also have been following a caravan route through the wilderness of Shur.

c. A southern route – this would involve the large body of salt water we call the Red Sea today. There was also a caravan route from this area that linked up with the "King's Highway" (the Trans-Jordan road to Damascus) at Ezion-Geber.

(1) Mitigating against this is the absence of reeds in this body of water.

(2) Pointing toward this is that I Kgs. 9:26 says Ezion-Geber is on the Yam-Suph. This would be the Gulf of Aqaba or part of the Red Sea (cf. Num. 21:4; Deut. 27; Jdgs. 11:16; Jer. 49:12).

d. Numbers 33 clearly shows the problem. In v. 8a they "pass through the sea," then in v. 10 they camped by the "Red Sea," a different body of water.

e. Whichever body of water was crossed, it was a miracle of God. Israel was provided weaponry from the dead Egyptian soldiers who floated to their side of the body of water, another miracle, Exod. 14:30; 15:4-5.

f. It is possible from other literature that "the yam suph" was the uncharted, mysterious body of water to the south. In some literature the Indian Ocean or the bay of Bengeli is called "yam suph."

4. The location of Mt. Sinai is also in doubt

a. If Moses was speaking literally and not figuratively of the three day journey he requested of Pharaoh (3:18; 5:3; 8:27), that was not a long enough time to get to the traditional site in the southern Sinai peninsula. Therefore, some scholars place the mountain near the oasis of Kadesh-Barnea.

b. The traditional site called "Jebel Musa," in the Wilderness of Sin, has several things in its favor:

(1) a large plain before the mountain

(2) Deut. 1:2 says it was an eleven day journey from Mt. Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea

(3) The term "Sinai" is a non-Hebrew term. It may be linked to the Wilderness of Sin, which refers to a small desert bush. The Hebrew name for the mountain is Horeb (wilderness).

(4) Mt. Sinai has been the traditional site since the 4th century a.d. It is in the "land of Midian," which included a large area of the Sinai peninsula and Arabia.

(5) it seems that archaeology has confirmed the location of some of the cities mentioned in the Exodus account (Elim, Dophkah, Rephidim) as being on the western side of the Sinai Peninsula.

c. The traditional site of Mt. Sinai was not established until Pilgrimage of Silvia, written about a.d. 385-8 (cf. F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the Book of the Acts, p. 151).

d. History Channel, "Decoding the Exodus," makes it on the northern caravan route to Canaan (i.e., the shortest route to the Promised Land).

 

VII. 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 Decalog:

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 Babylon) 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 and relate to individual, specific cases

(2) Lev. 18:7-17 and Exodus 20/Deuteronomy 5 use the second person and are 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.

 

VIII. LITERARY UNITS (CONTEXT)

A. Brief Outline

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

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

3. Israel at Mt. Sinai, 19-40

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

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

(1) Tabernacle design, 25-31

(2) Rebellion and covenant renewal, 32-34

(3) Tabernacle built, 35-40

B. The Plagues

1. They show God's judgement 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 10 plagues

a. Nile turned to blood, 7:14-25 f. boils, 9:8-12

b. frogs, 8:1-15 g. hail, 9:13-35

c. lice, gnats, 8:16-19 h. locusts, 10:1-20

d. flies, 8:20-32 i. darkness, 10:21-29

e. disease of cattle, 9:1-7 j. death angel, death of first born, 11:1-8

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

1. weekly Sabbath, 23:3

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Feast of Booths (15th Tishri), 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

 

IX. 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 (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:16).

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

1. How should we live! (Decalog 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. 15:16.

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. 7:3, 13 d. 11:10

b. 9:12 e. 14:4, 8

c. 10:1, 20, 27

2. Pharaoh hardened his own heart

a. 8:15, 32

b. 9:34

 

X. TERMS AND/OR PHRASES AND PERSONS TO BRIEFLY DEFINE

A. Terms and Phrases

1. birthstool, 1:16 (NIV, delivery stool)

2. remove your sandals, 3:5 (NASB & NIV)

3. "a three day journey," 3:18; 5:3; 8:27 (NASB & NIV)

4. "I will harden his heart," 4:21; 7:3, 13; 9:12, 35; 10:1, 20, 27 (NASB & NIV)

5. magicians, 7:11, 22 (NASB & NIV)

6. unblemished, 12:5 (NIV, without defect)

7. pillar of cloud, 13:21-22 (NASB & NIV)

8. prophetess, 15:20 (NASB & NIV)

9. bread (manna), 16:4, 8, 14-15, 31 (NASB & NIV)

10. kingdom of priests, 19:4-6 (NASB & NIV)

11. utterly destroy (herem), 22:20 (NIV, destroyed)

12. sacred pillars, 23:24 (NIV, sacred stones)

13. ephod, 25:7 (NASB & NIV)

14. mercy seat, 25:17 (NIV, atonement cover)

15. Urim and Thummin, 28:30 (NASB & NIV)

16. the book, 32:32-33 (NASB & NIV)

17. bread of the Presence, 35:13 (NASB & NIV)

B. Persons to briefly identify

1. Hyksos, 1:8

2. angel of the Lord, 3:1,4

3. I Am (YHWH), 3:14; 6:3 (NIV, I Am Who I Am)

4. Reuel, 2:18; Jethro, 3:1; 18:11-12  

5. Phinehas, 6:25

6. the destroyer, 12:23

7. Nadab & Abihu, 24:1

8. Amalek, 17:8-16

9. Cherub, 25:19

 

XI. MAP LOCATIONS (by number)

1. Pithom, 1:11

2. Rameses, 1:11

3. Midian, 2:15

4. Mt. Horeb, 3:1

5. Goshen, 8:22

6. Yam Suph, 10:19 (NIV, Red Sea)

7. Wilderness of Shur

8. Wilderness of Sin

9. Wilderness of Paran

10. The Way of the Sea (Philistines), 13:17

11. Gulf of Agaba

 

XII. STUDENT CONTENT QUESTIONS

1. Why was Pharaoh afraid of the Hebrews? 1:7-10

2. Why were the male children to be cast into the Nile? Why did Pharaoh's family bathe in the Nile? Why was the Nile's turning to blood so significant?

3. Why did Moses flee to Midian?

4. Why was God revealing His name to Moses so important? (3:13-16) 

5. What does 3:22 say about the conflict between YHWH and the gods of Egypt?

6. How do we explain Exod. 6:3 in light of YHWH's appearing in Genesis 4:26?

7. How do the plagues impact the religion of Egypt?

8. Does God's hardening Pharaoh's heart take away his free choice?

9. What is the significance of the death of the first-born?

10. Where did the Hebrews get their military weapons?

11. In what ways does Moses' action toward Jethro in chap. 18 imply he is a believer in YHWH?

12. What is the implication of Israel's being a kingdom of priests?

13. List the Ten Words.

14. List the feast days of chapter 23.

15. Draw a picture of the Tabernacle and its furniture.

16. What did the Golden Calf of chapter 32 symbolize?

 

XIII. EXTRA STUDY

A. For another possible date for the Exodus see History Channel's "Exodus Decoded" (i.e., northern route)