Exodus Definition

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Exodus is the Bible's second book as well as the name given to Israel leaving Egyptian bondage under Moses. Surprisingly, the word itself is not recorded in either the Old or New Testaments! Exodus comes from a Greek word, Exodos, which means a going or marching out.

By the numbers

The book of Exodus, in the King James Bible, contains 40 chapters (the seventh biggest in Scripture) and 1,213 verses. Its longest chapter is 12 with its 51 verses while the shortest, chapter 11, has only 10 verses. It was written by Moses, the second of five books considered the Pentateuch, from 1445 to 1405 B.C. The book of Exodus was penned while Israel wandered the wilderness for forty years.

The book opens with recording that Jacob and his entire family migrated to Egypt in 1670 B.C. It closes with the Israelites, at Mount Sinai, in the second year after they left Egypt (Exodus 40:17) or 1444 B.C. The timespan covered is approximately 226 years.

Moses, the central human figure of the book, was born in 1525 B.C. He was eighty years old and his brother Aaron, who would become Israel's first High Priest, was 83 when the people left Egypt.

The Pharaoh who confronted both Moses and Aaron in the book of Exodus was likely Thutmose III. He ruled Egypt from 1479 to 1425 B.C.

The event

The Exodus event occurs in 1445 B.C. when the Israelites gather in Rameses and then leave Egypt. The event itself is delineated from Ex. 12:29 to 13:18. The children of Israel are only released after ten miraculous plagues decimate Egypt and her people.

Pharaoh, after the death of Egypt's firstborn, orders Moses and Aaron to lead the Israelites out of the country. Before leaving, the children of Israel spoil the Egyptians of their silver, gold and clothing (Exodus 12:35 - 36). The people then gather at Rameses before leaving, en masse, Egypt and travelling to Succoth (Exodus 12:37). While leaving they take the bones of the patriarch Joseph with them.

The Bible states that 603,550 fighting men left Egyptian slavery (Numbers 1:46). Biblical commentaries, using this number, project that roughly two to three million people men, women and children were freed. These figures might even be a bit low, as they do not take in account an unknown number of non-Israelite males who also left (Exodus 12:38). It is also unknown how many people were in the tribe of Levi since God forbid counting them (Numbers 1:47).


Synopsis of book chapters

Exodus 1 - The number of Israelites, in Egypt, surpasses the Egyptians. Pharaoh, fearing their size, makes them slaves.

Chpt. 2 - Moses is born and miraculously saved from death. When he is about 40 years old, he kills a man and flees to Midian where he marries. He will spend the next 40 years in the land.

Chpt. 3 - Moses sees burning bush and talks with God. He is commissioned to go back to Egypt and free the Israelites.

Chpt. 7 to 10 - God brings nine plagues upon Egypt.

Chpts. 11 to 13 - A tenth plague, the death of the firstborn, finally causes the Exodus or leaving of Egypt by the Israelites. They gather is Rameses before leaving the country.

Chpt. 14 - Pharaoh decides to pursue the Israelites and put them back under bondage. God miraculously parts the Red Sea, allowing his people to escape, while those who pursued them are drowned.

Chpt. 16 - God provides manna and quail for his people.

Chpt. 17 - Amalekites attack Israel in the wilderness.

Chpt. 19 - Israel arrives at and camps near Mount Sinai.

Chpt. 20 - In Exodus 20, the center of the entire book, God gives his people the Ten Commandments.

Chpt. 24 - The Israelites agree to follow the Old Covenant. God hosts a covenant meal with Moses, Aaron, Aaron's sons and 70 elders.

Chpts. 25 to 30 - God gives Moses detailed instructions to building a wilderness tabernacle and all it furnishings. He is also commanded to build the Ark of the Covenant.

Chpt. 31 - Moses receives Ten Commandments on two tablets of stone that were inscribed by the hand of God.

Chpt. 32 - The Israelites rebel against God by worshipping a golden calf. The people are ultimately punished but spared total annihilation due to Moses' intervention.

Chpt. 33 - God shows Moses his glory.

Chpt. 34 - God gives Moses another set of the Ten Commandments, as the first set was broken when Israel sinned.

The book of Exodus closes with God's glory, meaning his personal presence, filling the wilderness tabernacle (Exodus 40:34 - 35).

List of terms in
Dictionary of Biblical Words

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