Summary of The Book of Exodus

The second book of the Pentateuch bears its name because of the subject matter of the first half of the book - the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. The word, "exodus" is derived from a Greek word meaning "going out." Hundreds of years elapsed between the time of the events described in the closing chapters of Genesis and those of the beginning of Exodus. The exact number of years between the migration of Jacob into Egypt until the exodus is given as 430 (12:40-41). At the close of Genesis, Israel was living in the fertile land of Goshen and was being fed from the granaries of the Pharaoh. In Exodus, the Hebrews are seen as slaves of the Egyptians, without national consciousness or apparent religious purpose. Exodus shows the development of Israel into a real nation, as God began the first stages of fulfillment of His promise to Abraham. After the first seven verses of the book, noting the increase and prosperity of Israel, Exodus is seen to fall into seven rather distinct sections : 1 ) The sufferings of Israel (1:8-7:7). This section includes the birth, education and flight of Moses; his call to be deliverer of his people and his consequent return from Midian to Egypt; and his first ineffectual attempts to prevail upon Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, which resulted only in an increase in their burdens. 2 ) A manifestation of God's providential guidance of Israel, illustrated by the ten plagues (7:8-13:16). This section also includes the account of the observance of the first Passover (ch. 12). 3) The guiding of the people of Sinai (13:17-18:27), which tells of the departure and the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. This section also contains a narrative of the principal events on the journey from the Red Sea to Sinai, including the coming of the manna, the observance of the Sabbath, the supply of water from the rock at Rephidim and the advice of Jethro concerning the civil government of the great mass of people. 4) The making of the covenant at Sinai, together with the reception of the Ten Commandments (19:1-24:18). The laws recorded in this section regulated the religious, civil, and social life of the Israelites. 5 ) Directions for the building of the tabernacle (24:18-31:18). 6 ) The renewing of the covenant after the sinful actions of the Israelites in connection with the making of the golden calf (32:1-35:3). 7 ) The actual building and dedication of the tabernacle of the Lord (35:4-40:38 ), under the supervision of the two master craftsmen, Bezalel and Oholiab. Exodus is a book of redemption in which God delivers His people out of bondage and brings them into a special relationship with Himself.