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Book of Exodus


Author and Date
Several statements in Exodus indicate that Moses wrote certain sections ofthe book (see ). In addition, refers to the command of as having been "written in the Book of the Law of Moses." The NT also claims Mosaic authorship for various passages in Exodus (see, e.g., and NIV text notes; see also ). Taken together, thesereferences strongly suggest that Moses was largely responsible for writing the book of Exodus -- a traditional view not convincingly challenged by the commonly held notion that the Pentateuch as a whole contains four underlying sources(see Introduction to Genesis: Author and Date of Writing).

Themes and Theology Exodus lays a foundational theology in which God reveals his name, his attributes,his redemption, his law and how he is to be worshiped. It also reports theappointment and work of Moses as the mediator of the Sinaitic covenant, describesthe beginnings of the priesthood in Israel, defines the role of the prophetand relates how the ancient covenant relationship between God and his people(see note on ) came under a new administration (the covenant given atMount Sinai).

Profound insights into the nature of God are found in chs. 3; 6; 33-34. The focus of these texts is on the fact and importance of his presence with hispeople (as signified by his name Yahweh -- see notes on -- and by his glory among them). But emphasis is also placed on his attributes of justice, truthfulness,mercy, faithfulness and holiness. Thus to know God's "name" is to know himand to know his character (see ).

God is also the Lord of history. Neither the affliction of Israel nor the plagues in Egypt were outside his control. The pharaoh, the Egyptians and allIsrael saw the power of God. There was no one like him, "majestic in holiness,awesome in glory, working wonders" (; see note there). It is reassuring to know that God remembers and is concerned about his people(see ). What he had promised centuries earlier to Abraham, Isaac and Jacobhe now begins to bring to fruition as Israel is freed from Egyptian bondageand sets out for the land of promise. The covenant at Sinai is but anotherstep in God's fulfillment of his promise to the patriarchs ().

The Biblical message of salvation is likewise powerfully set forth in thisbook. The verb "redeem" is used, e.g., in . But the heart of redemptiontheology is best seen in the Passover narrative of ch. 12, the sealing of thecovenant in ch. 24, and the account of God's gracious renewal of that covenantafter Israel's blatant unfaithfulness to it in their worship of the goldencalf (see and notes). The apostle Paul viewed the death of the Passover lamb as fulfilled in Christ (). Indeed, John the Baptist called Jesus the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" ().

The foundation of Biblical ethics and morality is laid out first in the gracious character of God as revealed in the exodus itself and then in the Ten Commandments() and the ordinances of the Book of the Covenant (-- ), which taught Israel how to apply in a practical way the principles of the commandments.

The book concludes with an elaborate discussion of the theology of worship.Though costly in time, effort and monetary value, the tabernacle, in meaning and function, points to the "chief end of man," namely, "to glorify God andto enjoy him forever" (Westminster Shorter Catechism). By means of the tabernacle,the omnipotent, unchanging and transcendent God of the universe came to "dwell"or "tabernacle" with his people, thereby revealing his gracious nearness aswell. God is not only mighty in Israel's behalf; he is also present in the nation's midst. However, these theological elements do not merely sit side by side in the Exodus narrative. They receive their fullest and richest significance fromthe fact that they are embedded in the account of God's raising up his servant Moses:

  • (1) to liberate his people from Egyptian bondage,
  • (2) to inaugurate hise arthly kingdom among them by bringing them into a special national covenant with him,
  • (3) to erect within Israel God's royal tent.

And this account of redemption from bondage leading to consecration in covenant and the pitching of God's royal tent in the earth, all through the ministry of a chosen mediator,discloses God's purpose in history -- the purpose he would fulfill through Israel,and ultimately through Jesus Christ the supreme Mediator.