The Book of Exodus in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

The history of Israel (1) enslaved, (2) redeemed, (3) consecrated religiously and politically to God. There are two distinct parts: (1) Exodus 1-19, the history of Israel's deliverance from the beginning of their Egyptian bondage to their arrival at Sinai; (2) Exodus 20-40, the giving of the law and Israel's organization as "a kingdom of priests and an holy nation." The two parts, though differing in style as in subject matter, are closely intertwined, the institutions of the law in the second part resting on the historical facts recorded in the former part. The term Exodus, "the going forth," is drawn from the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Alexandrian Jews settled in the same country from whence Israel had "gone forth." The Palestinian Jews called the book from its first two Hebrew words, 'elleh shemot; "these are the names." Its separation from Genesis is marked by the different circumstances under which it presents Israel at its commencement as compared with the close of Genesis. The first seven verses are the introduction briefly recapitulating previous events and stating the existing condition of affairs. Its close is marked by the completion of the tabernacle. Its several sections were probably written on separate papyri or parchments (according to an inscription of Thothmes III his campaigns were written on parchment and hung up in the temple of Ammon). The breaks in the narrative, and the repetitions, accord with the theory that there were distinct sections, composed separately by Moses as the events transpired, and read publicly at successive times. All would be united in one work toward the close of his life, with but a few additions and explanations. The feature which is inexplicable if anyone else were the author is this, the writer's evident unconsciousness of the personal greatness of the chief actor. The Egyptians recognized his greatness (Exodus 11:3); but the writer, while recognizing the greatness of Moses' mission, dwells especially on his want of natural gifts, his deficiencies of character and the hindrances thereby caused to his mission, and the penalties he incurred; his hasty intervention between the Israelite and Egyptian, the manslaughter, and the Israelites' rejection of him as a ruler, and his exile for the prime 40 years of his manhood. Then his unbelieving hesitancy at the divine call and pertinacious allegation of personal incapacity in spite of the miracles which might have convinced him of God's power to qualify him (Exodus 3:10-13). Then the Lord's visitation on him (probably sudden and dangerous sickness) for neglecting to circumcise his son (Exodus 4:24-26). (See CIRCUMCISION.) Then his passionate reproach of Jehovah for the failure of his first appeal to Pharaoh, which only brought more bitter hardship on Israel (Exodus 5:20-23)...

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