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2. Exodus
While Genesis explains the origins of the world and of humanity, Exodus is the theological foundation of the Bible. Exodus explains the origins of the Torah—the law of the Jewish people and the tradition surrounding that law. Torah is not merely a list of laws, but, rather, the notion of law as a way of life. Indeed, the law exists as a way of life for Moses and his people. Although portions of Exodus are devoted to legal matters, the declaration of law in Exodus always comes in the form of a story, relayed by discussions between God and Moses, and between Moses and the people.

It gives a story and history of Israel's departure from Egypt, the liberation of the people of Israel from slavery, under the leadership of Moses. Moses led the Jews out of slavery in Egypt and led them to the Holy Land that God had promised them. The escape of the Jews from Egypt is remembered by Jews every year in the festival of Passover. The Jews were helped on their journey by God; the same God who'd promised Abraham that he would look after the Jews.
In this book, the giving of the law; and the tabernacle details also provided. These laws and traditions are filled with symbols of God’s promise to the Israelites. In Genesis, God uses symbols such as the rainbow and gives people new names, like Abraham, as signs of his covenant. Such personalized signs are useful when communicating a promise to a single person or family. In Exodus, however, God attempts to communicate his promise to an entire nation of people. Social laws about how the Israelites should treat their slaves and annual festivals such as Passover are signs that a community of people can easily recognize and share. In this sense, obedience to God’s laws is less a means of achieving a level of goodness than it is a way for the people to denote their commitment to God’s covenant.

The Hebrew word for “Exodus” originally means “names,” and Exodus is often called the Book of Names. The book discusses the different names God takes and the various ways God manifests Himself to the Israelites. When God tells Moses that his name is “I AM that I AM” (3:14), God defines himself as a verb (in Hebrew, ahyh) rather than a noun. This cryptic statement suggests that God is a being who is not subject to the limits of people’s expectations or definitions. This phrase is translated from the word hȃyȃh (Strong's,#1961). The word is a powerful verb-of-being and means to be or to exist.
Only Yahuwah [God] can justly use verbs-of-being as a name because of only He who is the "Alpha and the Omega, the beginning, and the ending," can truthfully say, "I AM He which is, which was, and which is to come." (See Revelation 1:8.) The name YAHUWAH perfectly encapsulates this meaning.
Hayah: (#1961) to be, to become or come to pass, to exist, was/were/shall be/being/shall have been, etc.
Huw: (#1931) he, which (is), who, this, that, are
Hayah: (#1961) to be, to become or come to pass, to exist, was/were/shall be/being/shall have been, etc.
In Hebrew, [w] and [y] can be used interchangeably. An example of this is found in II Chronicles 20:37: "Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat . . . ." The name Dodavah means "love of Yah" (#1735, Strong's New Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words). The part of the name that is "Yah" is the "vah" or, more accurately "wah" as the name more correctly reads Dodawah. Another such name given in Nehemiah 7:43 is Hodevah/Hodewah (Hôwdevȃh) which means "Majesty of Yah" (#1937, Strong's New Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words.) Again, the [w] of wah and the [y] of yah can be interchanged with no meaning changed or lost.
In the divine name, Yah and Wah both appear, both meaning I AM in keeping with the repetition of the word BE! in Exodus 3:14.

Most often, however, God reveals Himself to the people through theophany: extraordinary natural phenomena that signal God’s arrival or presence. Theophanic events in Exodus include the pillars of cloud and fire, the thunder at Mount Sinai, and the miraculous daily supply of manna. Such spectacles demonstrate God’s attempts to prove his existence to a nation of doubting people from whom he has been decidedly absent for more than four hundred years. The unwillingness of the people to accept God’s existence is never more apparent than when the Israelites worship a golden calf in the shadow of the thunderous Mount Sinai. As a result, God’s final manifestation of himself is the tabernacle—specifically, the Ark of the Covenant, a golden vessel in which God’s presence, or spirit, will reside. Like the law, the Ark is an effective symbol of God, for it is an object that the people not only build as a community according to God’s specifications but also as a religious vessel that can be picked up and carried wherever Israel goes.

Moses is the first true hero we encounter in the Hebrew Bible. He manifests all the traits of a traditional hero. He overcomes timidity and inner strife. He challenges Pharaoh, leading Israel to great feats. And he wields his own weapon, the miraculous staff. These elements give Moses traditional heroic status, but Moses also presents us with a new type of hero—the religious priest. All of Moses’s political and military dealings serve the one end of delivering the Israelites to God, physically moving them from Egypt to Mount Sinai and interceding to God for them when they disobey. As God declares early on, Moses is God’s representative to the people, and Moses makes God’s relationship with Israel a personal one. Instead of a series of incendiary explosions, Moses presents God’s instructions to the people through conversation and conveys God’s desire to destroy the Israelites by breaking the stone tablets in front of them. Most importantly, Moses’s dialogue with God enables the author to portray God in softer, human terms—as someone who listens, grieves, long-suffering, patience, loving-kindness, merciful and is actually capable of changing his mind.

If we were to synthesize the myriad of topics found in the book of Exodus, we could conclude that the two most important messages that we get out of the book are the following: The Israelites are the chosen people of God: The God of the Israelites are the god of Moses, as well as the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Yacob [Israel].

Chronology by Chapter
Children of Israel multiply in Egypt. They are dreaded by a new Pharaoh of Egypt and made slaves. The Pharaoh unsuccessfully tries to get the midwives to kill new-born Israelites males. He then orders all new-born males to be cast into the river.

Moses born to a Levite family. He is cast onto the river in an ark of bulrushes. He is discovered by the Pharaoh’s daughter, and raised in the Pharaoh’s household. Moses kills an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. He flees to Midian, is married to the daughter of a priest called Jethro, and bears a son called Gershom. God hears Israel’s cry.

On Mount Horeb, God calls Moses from a burning bush to ask the Pharaoh to let Israel go. God will deliver the Israelites into Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses is to say that ‘I AM’ has sent him. God predicts the Pharaoh’s obstinacy.

Moses is anxious that he will not be listened to, so God demonstrates signs that he can use: his staff is transformed into a snake and then back to staff, and his made is made leprous then restored. God says that Moses will also be able to turn water from the river into blood. Moses is anxious about his eloquence, but God reassures him, saying He will help, and so will Aaron. God meets Moses and seeks to kill him. Moses’ son is circumcised, and his wife accuses him of being a husband of blood. Moses and Aaron gives signs to the Israelites, who believe.

Moses asks Pharaoh to let Israel go. Pharaoh refuses, increasing the work of Israel and making them gather their own straw to make bricks. Israelites blame Moses. Moses asks God why this has happened.

God tells Moses He will deliver Israel, and keep His covenant. The Israelites do not heed Moses, however. God asks Moses to speak with Pharaoh. The descendants of Israel are listed. Moses fears that he has uncircumcised lips.

Aaron’s place in the ministry of Moses reaffirmed. God speaks with Moses; the Pharaoh’s heart will be hardened so the Lord can multiply his wonders. Moses and Aaron see Pharaoh; Aaron’s rod becomes a serpent when it is cast down. The Pharaoh’s magicians perform the same trick, but Aaron’s serpent devours all the other serpents. The Nile is turned to blood and polluted. The Pharaoh’s heart is hardened.

‘Let me people go, that they may serve me.’ Plague of frogs, plague of lice and plague of flies come on Egypt. Pharaoh says Israel can go, but changes his mind and hardens his heart.

God instructs Moses; plague of livestock (though the livestock of the Israelites are unaffected), plague of boils, plague of hail (everywhere but in Goshen, where the Israelites were). Pharaoh admits sin but later hardens his heart.

Moses talks with Pharaoh. There is a plague of locusts. Pharaoh repents, then hardens his heart when the wind has blown the locusts away. There is a further plague of darkness. Pharaoh offers to let the Israelites go without their livestock, but Moses rejects the offer, and the Pharaoh’s heart is hardened once more.

God speaks with Moses and tells him to collect gold and silver from the Egyptians. Moses tells Pharaoh that the firstborn Egyptians will die, and Israel will go free. Pharaoh hardens his heart.

Passover: lamb without blemish killed at twilight, and its blood smeared on the door. It will be eaten as if in a hurry, with staff in hand, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, with none of it left to the next day. Passover instituted as a remembrance – seven days of eating unleavened bread. Firstborn of Egypt die; Pharaoh tells Israel to go. God delivers Israel out of Egypt. They take unleavened bread with them to eat. They had been in Egypt for 430 years. No foreigner or uncircumcised person to eat Passover.

Consecration of firstborn of Israel to the Lord. If the firstborn was unacceptable to sacrifice (an unclean animal or a human) a substitute was offered to redeem the firstborn from God. If the firstborn was an animal the substitute was a clean animal. If the firstborn was a human, the substitute was money.The Feast of Unleavened Bread in remembrance of the Lord’s deliverance. Israel is led via the Red Sea. Moses takes the bones of Joesph with him. The Lord leads them in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of cloud by night.

Israel camps by the Red Sea. The Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, and he pursues the Israelites. The Israelites are frightened and complain. The pillar of cloud is positioned between the Israelites and the Egyptians, giving light to the former, and darkness to the latter. Lord parts the Red sea; the Israelites cross and the Egyptians are drowned.

Israel sings victory song: ‘The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.’ Miriam, Moses’ sister, leads the women in dance and praise. At Marah, bitter water is made sweet when Moses is instructed by the Lord to cast a tree in the water. The Lord promises health; Israel comes to Elim.

Israel comes to Wilderness of Sin, and complain about lack of food. God sends quails and manna (wafers mixed with honey) from heaven. (‘Manna’ means ‘What is that?’ and comes from what the Israelites say when they first see it.) Some Israelites ignore that the rule they should only gather one omer per person. It also had to be consumed that day – if it was left to the next day, it bred worms and stank. A double portion falls on the day before the Sabbath, so the Israelites can rest. Moses and Aaron save a portion of manna as a testimony of God’s provision.

Israel comes to Rephidim, complains about no water. Moses strikes rock, water comes out. Israel wins a battle against Amalek, with the aid of Joshua. Moses supports the battle through prayer, lifting up his hands. When his hands become tired, they are supported in their elevated position by a stone propped underneath. God promises to utterly blot out the name of Amalek.

Jethro brings Moses' family back to him, and visits Moses. Jethro advises Moses to delegate judgment and leadership to deputies of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.

Israelites camp at Mount Sinai. Moses meets God on Sinai, carries the message that God will make them a privileged nation. In three days’ time, God will descend on Mount Sinai, which is declared to be holy, and therefore out-of-bounds. The Israelites must be ceremonially pure for this occasion, having abstained from contact with their wives, and with washed clothes. When the day comes, there is thunder and lightning, as the Lord descends on Sinai in fire. Moses and Aaron ascend Sinai, while everyone else must stay on the ground.

God speaks Ten Commandments to Israel: No other gods, no graven images, no taking the name of the Lord in vain, keep the Sabbath, honor parents, don’t murder, don't commit adultery, don't steal, don't lie and do not covet anything that belongs to our neighbors. The people are afraid of the Lord, and are glad they have Moses as their mediator. Moses draws near the thick darkness where God is. Altars are not to be made of hewn stone – altars are defiled if tools are used on it.

God reveals laws to Moses. A Hebrew slave will be freed in the seventh year of service. Any children or wife a slave has will belong to the master. If the slave wishes to continue serving after seven years, he will be permitted to do so, and his ear pierced with an awl. A female slave who is bought cannot be sold to a foreigner. If a master infringes on the rights of a female slave, then she shall go free without having to pay anything. Premeditated murder is punishable by death. It is an unpremeditated murder (eg a crime of passion) then there will be a place appointed for him to flee. Death for murdering or cursing parents, or kidnap. If, because of a conflict, a man is unable to work because of an injury received at the hand of another, the one who injured him must pay compensation to the man and his family. A man will be punished for beating a slave to death, but not if he lives for a couple of days. Where a pregnant woman is injured, the punishment is to be assessed according to whether there is lasting damage. An ox who has gored someone will be killed – its owner will also be killed if the animal has had a history of violent behavior. Compensation must be paid if an animal falls into the pit of another man. An eye for an eye – this is actually a means of limiting retribution.

Restitution in case of theft – five oxen for one ox stolen. Homeowner not allowed to use lethal force on a thief in daylight. Restitution for damage caused by animals or fire. Further laws concerning animals and restitution. A man must marry or provide for someone he has had pre-marital sex with. Sorcery, bestiality and sacrificing to other gods are punishable by death. Compassionate treatment of the poor enjoined – no interest to be demanded on loans. If you take your poor neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you must return it before sundown so he can sleep in it. You must give first fruit of ripe produce, first sons, and first livestock to the Lord. No eating on an animal that has died in the field.

You shall not circulate a false report, or be a false witness. Kindness and righteous civil conduct enjoined. No oppressing of a stranger. Sabbath year – every seventh year, the fields shall lie fallow. Man shall rest on the seventh day. Three annual feasts – Unleavened Bread, Harvest, and Ingathering (see in Leviticus for further details). Sacrifices not to be offered with unleavened bread. A young goat not to be boiled in its mother’s milk. An angel is sent to guide and judge. The angel will help them overcome their enemies if they are obedient. No covenant to be made with alien nations who serve other gods.

Moses builds an altar at the base of the mountain. He makes a sacrifice, and sprinkles the blood on the people, telling them that it is the blood of the covenant. Moses and the elders (Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu) see God on the mount – under His feet, there is a paved work of sapphire stone. Moses alone ascends into the mountain to God, concealed by the cloud, to receive the Ten Commandments.

God speaks to Moses: Israel to bring offerings. Instructions for building the Ark of the Covenant. Wooden, overlaid with gold. Four rings, through which poles can be inserted for carrying. The lid of the ark is the mercy seat – it is made of pure gold. There are two cherubims at either end, outstretching their wings. God will speak to Moses from between the wings of the cherubims.
The Ark of the covenant
The Tabernacle
God describes to Moses the design of the bronze altar of sacrifice, along with shovels, basins and other utensils. Describes curtains for the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle, and the pillars. God commands the lamp to be tended by Aaron and his sons so it burns continually.

God describes to Moses the design of the bronze altar of sacrifice, along with shovels, basins and other utensils. Describes curtains for the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle, and the pillars. God commands the lamp to be tended by Aaron and his sons so it burns continually.

28Aaron and sons to be consecrated as priests. God describes to Moses the priests’ garments: breastplate (four rows of three gemstones, each with a name of a tribe on it), gemstones (on the shoulder straps, each engraved with the names of six tribes), ephod (apron), blue robe with bells on its hem, tunic, turban (with ‘Holiness to the Lord’ engraved on gold on it) and sash.

God describes to Moses the consecration and anointing of Aaron and sons as priests, including offerings (which is carried out in Leviticus 8). Blood of bull on the horns on the altar, and on the base; entrail fat, lobe attached to liver and kidneys burnt on the altar; the flesh, skin, and offal are burnt outside the camp, as a sin offering. Also, a whole ram is burnt on the altar. Another ram is sacrificed, and its blood sprinkled on the priest being consecrated. Part of this second ram - the best parts - was put together with the bread, cake, and the wafer and was first waved before God in an act of presentation. Then these portions were burnt on the altar. Consecration process to last seven days – daily sacrifices. Morning and evening sacrifices are described.

God tells Moses description, design, and usage of altar of incense (located in the Holy Place). Aaron will make a blood atonement on the altar once a year. Ransom offering when a census is carried out, to be paid by every man. (Census implied ownership, so the ransom money is an acknowledgment that Israel belongs to God.) Bronze laver; how to make the holy oil and incense.

God tells Moses who He chose as artisans for the tabernacle. God explains Sabbath, a sign of the covenant – whoever does work on the Sabbath will be put to death. God gives two stone tablets of the Testimony to Moses – written with the finger of God.

When Moses in delayed up the mountain, Aaron leads Israel in making golden calf from earrings and other jewelry. They falsely worship it, and God is displeased with his ‘stiff-necked’ people. Moses pleads for Israel, reminding Him of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Moses descends from the mountain – Joshua thinks the sound of worship is actually a war. Moses smashes the stone tablets, grounds the golden calf to powder, scatters it on the water and makes the Israelites drink it. Moses tells all those who choose the Lord to come to him. The sons of Levi choose Moses’ side, and kill 3000 idolaters. At Moses’ further intercession, God blots the names of the sinners of His book (ie forgives them). Nonetheless, punishments are promised, and plagues ensue.

God commands Israel to depart to Canaan but calls Israel stiff-necked. The Israelites strip themselves of their ornaments in penance. Moses meets God in tabernacle, where the pillar of cloud descends. Moses finds grace in God’s sight – the Israelites will be separate (ie holy) from all other peoples. Moses asks to see God’s glory. God says he cannot see his face, because he will die. Moses is placed in the cleft of a rock; God covers Moses’ eyes with His hand as He passes by, then allows Moses to see his back.

God instructs Moses to cut two more tablets of stone, and come up Sinai again, so the Testimony can be rewritten. The Lord’s name is proclaimed – He will visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations. God reaffirms His covenant with Israel, but warns Israel that they must be separated from the Canaanites in worship, politics, fellowship and marriage. Three festivals stipulated (Unleavened Bread, Weeks, Ingathering) – all men shall appear before the Lord for these festivals. Moses is with the Lord forty days and forty nights. New stone tablets are created. Moses’ face shines when he comes down, so he veils himself. Whenever he speaks to the Lord, he takes off the veil and his face shines again. He replaces the veil when he has finished talking.

Moses tells Israel about the Sabbath – no fire to be kindled on a Sabbath day. Moses asks for offerings to help build the Tabernacle. Offerings are made; Bezaleel and Aholiab are designated as the artistic coordinators of the Tabernacle.

Children of Israel bring more than enough offerings for the sanctuary. Construction of outer parts of sanctuary begins, as prescribed in chapter 26.

Bezalel makes ark, mercy seat, cherubim, table, the lampstand, incense altar and holy oil, as prescribed in chapter 25. Design of inside furniture described.

Bezalel makes an altar of burnt offering and utensils, laver, courtyard curtains and gate; tabernacle materials and amounts listed of gold, silver, and bronze.

Garments of ministry, an ephod, breastplate, robe, tunic, and crown made; the tabernacle and materials completed, and brought to Moses, who blesses all involved.

God tells Moses how to arrange furniture and other items in the tabernacle, and in the courtyard (see image above). Priests are anointed. God fills the tabernacle, and a cloud rests on it. God's glory abides with Israel in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The pillar determines where they go – the Israelites do not move without it leading the way.