Survey of Exodus

Book Type: Book of Law (or Book of Moses); second book of the Old Testament; second book of the Bible; second book of the five-part Jewish collection known as the Torah.

Author: Moses is the traditional author of this book; Exodus is part of the “Law of Moses.”

Audience: Moses wrote Exodus to the Jewish people during their 40-year wilderness journey in the Sinai Peninsula. Exodus records the history of Israel from the generation immediately following Joseph, until the time the Jews received the law of God in the wilderness. The word Exodus emphasizes the escape of the Jews under Egyptian slavery toward life as a people in a new land.

Date: Written during the 40 years in the wilderness, approximately 1440–1400 BC.

Overview: This book consists of 40 chapters. The historical details begin where Genesis ends, following the death of Joseph and his generation. Exodus 1 describes the growth of the Jewish people in Egypt and Pharaoh’s plan to eliminate newborn Jewish sons. In chapter 2, Moses is born, and protected, yet flees from Egypt as an adult. Chapters 3—4 mark the calling of Moses to lead the Jews out of Egypt, with the Lord appearing in a burning bush.

Chapters 5—15 describe events which took place leading up to liberation of the nation of Israel from Egypt. This includes the 10 plagues, the institution of the Passover, as well as the Jews crossing the Red Sea on dry land and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army in the sea.

Chapters 16—19 chronicle the early wilderness journey, leading to Mount Sinai. There, the Lord appears to the people, with Moses entering His presence on the mountain to speak with the Lord.

Chapters 20—31 include the giving of Ten Commandments, as well as other laws for the Jewish people and instructions for building the tabernacle. These explanations were delivered over a 40-day period where Moses met on the mountain with God.

In chapter 32, Moses returns to find the Jews worshiping a golden calf and living in sin. Judgment occurs, though Moses prays for the people. By chapter 34, God meets with Moses again and provides a new set of tablets with His laws. When Moses returns, his face shines with God’s glory and he must wear a veil.

Chapter 35 includes regulations for the Jewish Sabbath as well as a call for contributions for construction of the tabernacle. The end of chapter 35 through chapter 39 describes construction of the tabernacle, its furnishings, and priestly garments. In chapter 40, the tabernacle God commanded the Jews to build is set up and consecrated for service. Aaron and his sons are set apart to lead the priestly duties and God’s presence covers the tabernacle to end the book.

Key Verses (ESV):

Exodus 1:8: “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.”

Exodus 2:24–25: “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.”

Exodus 12:27: “You shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’ And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.”

Exodus 20:2–3: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”


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