EXODUS (Gr. ex hodos, a going out). The event that ended the sojourn of Israel in Egypt. The family of Jacob (Israel) voluntarily entered Egypt during a time of severe famine in Canaan. Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by jealous brothers, was then vizier of Egypt and his Israelite brothers were assigned suitable land in the NE section of Egypt known as Goshen (Gen.42.1-Gen.42.38-Gen.46.1-Gen.46.34). When a new dynasty arose “who did not know about Joseph” (Exod.1.8), i.e., forgot what he had done for Egypt, the Israelites were reduced to the status of slaves. Afraid that they might prove sympathetic with foreign invaders, Pharaoh ordered the male children destroyed. The infant Moses, however, was placed in an ark of bulrushes where he was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter (Exod.2.1-Exod.2.10). Raised in the royal court, Moses chose to turn his back on the possibilities of advancement in Egypt in order to lead his oppressed people into freedom.

I. Date of the Exodus. There has been a lack of unanimity among Bible students concerning the date of the Exodus, as well as the identity of the pharaohs who took part in the oppression of Israel. Later pharaohs are sometimes mentioned by name (e.g., Pharaoh Hophra, Pharaoh Neco), but only the title “Pharaoh” is given in the Exodus account. Some biblical scholars consider that 1Kgs.6.1 is decisive in furnishing the date of the Exodus. That verse states that Solomon began to build the temple “in the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites had come out of Egypt.” Since we know the approximate dates of Solomon’s reign, this information can be used in calculating the date of the Exodus. The date suggested by this method of computation, about 1441 b.c., falls within the reign of Amenhotep II, son of Thutmose III, one of the great empire builders of New Kingdom Egypt. Paintings from the tomb of Rekhmire, vizier of Thutmose III, depict Semites working as slave laborers on building projects.

Adherents of the “early date” of the Exodus (1441 b.c.) also find support for their position from the Amarna Letters (1400-1366). These cuneiform tablets discovered at the site of Akhnaton’s capital contain correspondence from the kings of the city-states in Canaan, asking the help of the Pharaoh against a people known as Habiru. This, it is suggested, is a description of the battles fought after the Exodus by the armies of Israel when seeking to conquer Canaan.

There are, however, serious difficulties in accepting the early date. During the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egyptian history (when the early date would fall), the capital of Egypt was at Thebes, south of the delta, and the building operations of Thutmose III seem to have been centered there. Later, however (during the time of the Rameses), the pharaohs resided in the delta, where they engaged in extensive building activity. It is specifically in the delta region, adjacent to Goshen, that Moses met with Pharaoh, and it was in the city of Rameses (also known as Avaris and Tanis) in the eastern delta that the Israelites are reported to have labored (Exod.1.11). Advocates of the early date suggest that the name Rameses is a modernization of an older name.

Because of these problems in dating the Exodus as early as 1441 b.c., a number of biblical scholars have come to accept a date in the thirteenth century. Explorations in Transjordan by the archaeologist Nelson Glueck indicate a gap in the sedentary population of that region from about 1900 to 1300. The Bible, however, indicates that Israel met formidable opposition from Sihon and Og, kings in the East Jordan country, and that the Moabite king sought to bring a curse on Israel to prevent their progress into Canaan. The earlier suggestion of evidence that Jericho fell about 1400 has been questioned by recent expeditions there under the direction of Kathleen Kenyon. The excavations at Hazor by Yigael Yadin also tend to point toward a thirteenth-century date for the Exodus, as did earlier excavations at Lachish and Debir. The Stele of Merneptah (c. 1229) provides the first reference to Israel in the Egyptian monuments. Merneptah claims a decisive victory over the Israelite people. It may be significant that the ideogram for “nation” is not used. In any event, we know that Israelites were fighting in Canaan during the reign of Merneptah. Merneptah’s predecessor was Rameses II, who reigned for sixty-seven years from his capital at Tanis (or Rameses) in the delta.

Some biblical scholars suggest that Seti I, father of Rameses, began the oppression, which was continued under Rameses, and that the Exodus took place during the reign of Rameses. Those who hold to this thirteenth-century date for the Exodus suggest that the 480 years of 1Kgs.6.1 be taken as a round number signifying twelve forty-year generations. Since generations are often much less than forty years apart, there may be a smaller time span between the Exodus and the building of Solomon’s temple. This view is accepted by many who hold to the full inspiration of the scriptural text. In view of the fact that the non-Israelite characters in the account of the Exodus are not identified in Scripture, it is wise to avoid a dogmatic approach to the question. The evidence for the historicity of the Exodus account is decisive, but the evidence for specific dates is still inconclusive.

II. Route. The biblical record (Exod.13.17) states that Israel did not take the direct route through the Philistine country to Canaan. Had they done so, Israel would have had to pass the Egyptian wall (biblical Shur) that protected the NE highways out of Egypt. This wall was guarded and could be passed only with great difficulty. If they successfully crossed the border, further opposition could be anticipated from the Philistines. The discipline of the wilderness was a part of God’s preparation for his people before they were to come into open conflict with formidable foes. Leaving Rameses (Exod.12.37) in the eastern delta, the Israelites journeyed SE to Succoth (Tell el-Mashkutah).

They then moved on to Etham “on the edge of the desert” where they were conscious of God’s guidance in the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire (Exod.13.21-Exod.13.22). The word etham is derived from an Egyptian word meaning “wall” and was probably part of the series of fortifications built by the Egyptians to keep out the Asiatic nomads. From Etham they turned back and camped near Pi Hahiroth, described as “between Migdol and the sea” and near Baal Zephon. The location of these sites is not known with certainty. It is possible that Pi Hahiroth is Egyptian for “house of the marshes.” Baal Zephon is the name of a Semitic deity who was worshiped in Egypt, doubtless at a shrine located at the town that bore his name.

After passing Pi Hahiroth, Israel arrived at the body of water designated in the English versions as the Red Sea, the Yam Suph of the Hebrew text. The geography of the Exodus suggests that Yam Suph, or Sea of Reeds, formed a natural barrier between Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, the ultimate destination of the Israelites. The topography of this region has been altered since the construction of the Suez Canal, but the Yam Suph was probably north of Lake Timsah. An Egyptian document from the thirteenth century b.c. mentions a Papyrus Lake not far from Tanis—whose suggested location is the southern extension of the present Lake Menzaleh. The Exodus from Egypt through the Yam Suph was made possible by the direct intervention of God who “drove the sea back with a strong east wind” (Exod.14.21). Israel was thus able to cross from Egypt to the Sinai Peninsula. When the armies of Pharaoh attempted to pursue the Israelites, the Egyptians were destroyed by the waters that returned to their normal course.

III. Number of Israelites. The Bible states that 600,000 men took part in the Exodus (Exod.12.37). A year later the number of male Israelites over the age of twenty was 603,550 (Num.1.46). During the years of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt, the population multiplied to the point where Pharaoh was alarmed that Israel might side with an enemy during war (Exod.1.7-Exod.1.10). It was this very fear that brought about the oppression.

IV. Miracles. The Exodus period was one of the great epochs of biblical miracles. The first nine plagues may have been related to the natural phenomena of Egypt, but their timing and intensification were clearly supernatural. The last plague—the death of the first-born—signaled the beginning of the Exodus. Israel ate the Passover meal in haste, ready to depart from Egypt. The opening of the Red Sea by the “strong east wind” was the means by which God brought his people out of Egypt into the wilderness where, for a period of forty years, they were miraculously sustained.

Bibliography: C. de Wit, The Date and Route of the Exodus, 1960; D. Daube, The Exodus Pattern in the Bible, 1963; K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament, 1966, pp. 57-75; J. J. Bimson, Redating the Exodus and Conquest, 1978.——CFP

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)




1. Name 2. Contents in General 3. Connection with the Other Books of the Pentateuch 4. Significance of These Events for Israel 5. Connecting Links for Christianity


1. In General 2. In the Separate Pericopes


1. General Consideration 2. The Miraculous Character 3. The Legislative Portions 4. Chronology 5. Unjustifiable Attacks


1. Connection with Moses 2. Examination of Objections


(NOTE: For the signs J (Jahwist), E (Elohist), P or Priestly Code (Priest Codex), R (Redactor) compare the article on GENESIS.)

I. In General.

1. Name:

The second book of the Pentateuch bears in the Septuagint the name of Exodos, in the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 AD.) accordingly Exodus, on the basis of the chief contents of the first half, dealing with the departure of the children of Israel out of Egypt. The Jews named the book after the first words: we-’elleh shemoth ("and these are the names"), or sometimes after the first noun shemoth ("names") a designation already known to Origen in the form of Oualesmoth.

2. Contents in General:

In seven parts, after the Introduction (Ex 1:1-7), which furnishes the connection of the contents with Genesis, the book treats of

(1) the sufferings of Israel in Egypt, for which mere human help is insufficient (Ex 1:8-7:7), while Divine help through human mediatorship is promised;

(2) the power of Yahweh, which, after a preparatory miracle, is glorified through the ten plagues inflicted on Pharaoh and which thus forces the exodus (Ex 7:8-13:16);

(3) the love of Yahweh for Israel, which exhibits itself in a most brilliant manner, in the guidance of the Israelites to Mt. Sinai, even when the people murmur (Ex 13:17-18:27);

(4) making the Covenant at Mt. Sinai together with the revelation of the Ten Words (Ex 20:1 ff) and of the legal ordinances (Ex 21:1 ff) as the condition of making the Covenant (Ex 19:1-24:18);

(5) the directions for the building of the Tabernacle, in which Yahweh is to dwell in the midst of His people (Ex 24:18-31:18);

(6) the renewal of the Covenant on the basis of new demands after Israel’s great apostasy in the worship of the Golden Calf, which seemed for the time being to make doubtful the realization of the promises mentioned in (5) above (Ex 32:1-35:3);

(7) the building and erection of the Tabernacle of Revelation (or Tent of Meeting) and its dedication by the entrance of Yahweh (Ex 35:4-40:38).

As clearly as these seven parts are separated from one another, so clearly again are they most closely connected and constitute a certain progressive whole.

In the case of the last four, the separation is almost self-evident. The first three as separate parts are justified by the ten plagues standing between them, which naturally belong together and cause a division between that which precedes and that which follows. Thus in the first part we already find predicted the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh, the miracles of Yahweh and the demonstrations of His power down to the slaying of the firstborn, found in the 2nd part (compare Ex 2:23-7:7).

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be mine own possession from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation (Ex 19:4-6). Here reference is made to the powerful deeds of God done to the Egyptians, to His deeds of lovingkindness done to Israel in the history of how He led them to Sinai, to the selection of Israel, and to the conditions attached to the making of the covenant, to God’s love, which condescended to meet the people, and to His holiness, which demands the observance of His commandments; but there is also pointed out here the punishment for their transgression. The whole book is built on one word in the preface to the ten commandments: I am Yahweh thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage (Ex 20:2 E; compare 29:45 f P).

3. Connection with the Other Books of the Pentateuch:

4. Significance of These Events for Israel:

When we remember the importance which the exodus out of Egypt and the making of the covenant had for the people of Israel, and that these events signalized the birth of the chosen people and the establishment of theocracy, then we shall understand why the echo of the events recorded in Exodus is found throughout later literature, namely, in the historical books, in the preaching of the prophets and in the Psalms, as the greatest events in the history of the people, and at the same time as the promising type of future and greater deliverances. But as in the beginning of the family history the importance of this family for the whole earth is clearly announced (Ge 12:1-3), the same is the case here too at the beginning of the history of the nation, perhaps already in the expression "kingdom of priests" (Ex 19:6), since the idea of a priesthood includes that of the transmission of salvation to others; and certainly in the conception `first-born son of Yahweh’ (Ex 4:22), since this presupposes other nations as children born later.

The passages quoted above are already links connecting this book with Christianity, in the ideas of a general priesthood, of election and of sonship of God. We here make mention of a few specially significant features from among the mass of such relationships to Christianity.

5. Connecting Links for Christianity:

II. Structure of the Book According to the Scriptures and According to Modern Analyses.

In the following section (a) serves for the understanding of the Biblical text; (b) is devoted to the discussion and criticism of the separation into sources.

1. In General:

(a) The conviction must have been awakened already by the general account of the contents given in I, 2 above, that in the Book of Exodus we are dealing with a rounded-off structure, since in seven mutually separated yet intimately connected sections, one uniform fundamental thought is progressively carried through. This conviction will only be confirmed when the details of these sections are studied, the sections being themselves again organically connected by one leading thought. Since, in addition, the Book of Genesis is clearly divided into ten parts by the ten toledhoth ("generations") (compare also the division made by typical numbers in articles LEVITICUS and DAY OF ATONEMENT), thus too the number seven, as itself dividing the Book of Exodus into seven parts, is probably not accidental; and this all the less, as in the subordinate parts too, a division is to be found according to typical numbers, this in many cases appearing as a matter of course, and in other cases traced without difficulty, and sometimes lying on the surface (compare 10 plagues, 10 commandments). Yet in all of the following investigations, as is the case in the articles GENESIS, LEVITICUS and DAY OF ATONEMENT, the demonstration of the fundamental thought must be the main thing for us. The division according to typical numbers is to be regarded merely as an additional confirmation of the literary unity of the book. We refer here first of all to a number of cases, where certain numbers independently of the separate chief parts combine the Biblical text into a unity. In Nu 14:22 R, Yahweh states that Israel had now tempted Him and been disobedient to Him ten times: compare Ex 14:11 ff JE(?) (Red Sea); 15:23 f JE (Marah); 16:2,3 P; 16:20 JE; 16:27,28 R (Manna); 17:1 ff JE (Massah and Meribah); 32:1 ff JE (Golden Calf); Nu 11:1 ff JE (Tuberah); 11:4 ff JE (Graves of Lust); 14:2 ff P and JE (Spies). Most of these cases are accordingly reported in the Book of Exodus, but in such manner that in this particular a clearly marked progress can be noticed, as Yahweh does not begin to punish until Ex 32; but from here on He does so with constantly increasing severity, while down to Ex 32 grace alone prevails, and in this particular, previous to Ex 32, there is found nothing but a warning (16:27). Ten times it is further stated of Pharaoh, in a great variety of forms of expression, that he hardened his own heart (7:13 P; 7:14 JE; 7:22 P; 8:15 P; 8:32 JE; 9:7,34,35 JE; 13:15 D); ten times the hardening is ascribed to God (4:21 JE; 7:3 P; 9:12 P; 10:1 R; 10:20 JE; 10:27 E; 11:10 R; 14:4,8 P; 17 P ?). Here already we must note that within the narrative of the miracles and the plagues at first there is mention made only of the hardening by Pharaoh himself (7:13 P; 7:14 JE; 7:22 P; 8:11 ff; 8:15 P; 8:28 JE; 9:7 JE, i.e. seven times) before a single word is said that God begins the hardening; and this latter kind of hardening thereupon alone concludes the whole tragedy (14:4,8 P; 17 P?). Ten months cover the time from the arrival at Sinai (19:1 P) to the erection of the sacred dwelling-place of God (40:17 P). Since, further, exactly three months of this time are employed in 19:10,16 JE; 24:3 ff JE; 24:16 P (ten days); 24:18 P (40 days); 34:28 J (40 days), there remain for the building of the tabernacle exactly seven months.

2. In the Separate Pericopes:

(1) Exodus 1:8-7:7:

(a) Everything that is narrated in this section, which in so worthy a manner introduces the whole book, is written from a standpoint of the Egyptian oppression, from which human help could give no deliverance, but from which the mighty power of Yahweh, working through human agency, offered this deliverance. It is a situation which demands faith (4:31). This section naturally falls into ten pericopes, of which in each instance two are still more closely connected. Numbers 1 and 2 (1:8- 14,15-22), namely, the oppression through forced labor and the threat to take the life of the newly born males of the Israelites; and in contrast to this, the Divine blessing in the increase of the people in general and of the midwives in particular; numbers 3 and 4 (Ex 2:1-10,11-22), namely, the birth and youth of Moses stand in contrast. The child seems to be doomed, but God provides for its deliverance. Moses, when grown to manhood, tries to render vigorous assistance to his people through his own strength, but he is compelled to flee into a far-off country. Numbers 5 and 6 (Ex 2:23-4:17; 4:18-31) report the fact that also in the reign of a new Pharaoh the oppression does not cease, and that this causes God to interfere, which in Ex 2:23-25 is expressed in strong terms and repeatedly, and this again leads to the revelation in the burning bush (3:1 ff). And at the same time the narrative shows how little self-confidence Moses still had (three signs, a heavy tongue, direct refusal). The sixth pericope and also the beginning of the last four, describe, from an external viewpoint, the return of Moses to Midian, and his journey from there to Egypt. Here, too, mention is made of the troubles caused by Pharaoh, which God must remove through His power. This deliverance is not at all deserved by Israel, since not even any son in a family had up to this time been circumcised. On the other hand, everything here is what can be expected. Those who sought the life of Moses had died; the meeting with Aaron at the Mount of the Lord; in Egypt the faith of the people. In an effective way the conclusion (4:31) returns to the point where the two companion narratives (2:24 f) begin. After this point, constituting the center and the chief point in the introductory section, numbers 7 and 8 (Ex 5:1-6:1; 6:2-12), everything seems to have become doubtful. Pharaoh refuses to receive Moses and Aaron; the oppression increases; dissatisfaction in Israel appears; Moses despairs; even the new revelations of God, with fair emphasis on fidelity to the Covenant which is to unfold Yahweh’s name in full, are not able to overcome the lack of courage on the part of the people and of Moses. Numbers 9 and 10, introduced by Ex 6:13 (6:14-27 and 6:28-7:7), show that after Moses and Aaron have already been mentioned together in 4:14,27 ff; 5:1 ff, and after it has become clear how little they are able of themselves to accomplish anything, they are now here, as it were, for the first time, before the curtain is raised, introduced as those who in the following drama are to be the mediators of God’s will (compare the concluding verses of both pericopes, 6:27; 7:7), and they receive directions for their common mission, just at that moment when, humanly speaking, everything is as unfavorable as possible.

(b) The unity of thought here demonstrated is in this case too the protecting wall against the flood-tide of the documentary theory. For this theory involves many difficulties. In Ex 1:13 f there would be an account of the oppression by the Priestly Code (P), but the motive for this can be found only in the preceding verses, which are ascribed to JE; 2:24 speaks of the Covenant of God With Isaac, concerning which P is said to have reported nothing in the Book of Gen, as in the latter book a reference to this matter is found only in Ge 26:2-5 R; 26:24 J. In Ex 6:2 ff Moses and Aaron are mentioned; but as the text of P reads we know absolutely nothing from this source as to who these men are. According to 7:1 ff Aaron is to be the speaker for Moses before Pharaoh. But according to P neither Moses nor Aaron speaks a single word. The omissions that are found by critics in documents J and E--which, if they are separated, have lines of demarcation claimed for the separation that are very unsettled--we here pass over in silence.

One difficulty, which is also not made clear by the proposed division of sources, is found in the name of the father-in-law of Moses; since according to Ex 2:18 J, this name is Reuel, and according to 3:1; 18:1 JE, it is Jethro (4:18 E in the form "Jether"); in Nu 10:29 JE is called Hobab and a son of Reuel (the King James Version "Raguel") for all of these passages are ascribed to J or E. It is probable that the name Jethro is a title ("Excellency"); and as for the rest, in Nu 10:29 chothen probably does not mean father-in-law but brother-in-law (Jud 1:16; 4:11); or in Ex 2:18 we find father and in 2:21 daughter in the place of grandfather and granddaughter; otherwise we should be compelled to accept different traditions, by which view, however, the Mosaic authorship of Exodus would be made impossible (compare IV, below).

(2) Exodus 7:8-13:16:

(a) This section is separated as a matter of course from the rest by the typical number of ten plagues. It is introduced by the transformation of the rod into a serpent in the presence of Pharaoh (7:8-13). To explain the fact that there were ten plagues on the ground of the accidental combination of sources, is from the very outset a precarious undertaking. To this must be added the following reasons that indicate a literary editing of the material. All of the plagues are introduced by the same formula (7:12 JE; 8:1 J; 8:12 P; 8:16 JE; 8:20 JE; 9:1 JE; 9:8 P; 9:13 JE; 10:1,12 JE; 10:21 E; 11:1 E), and in connection with each plague the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh is mentioned (compare (1a) above); compare 7:22 P; 8:11 J; 8:15 P; 8:28 JE; 9:7 JE; 9:12 P; 9:34 JE; 9:35 JE; 10:1 R; 10:20 JE; 10:27 E; 11:10 R; 13:15 D. As is the case in the first section, we find here too in each instance two plagues more closely connected, namely, numbers 1 and 2 already externally united by the double address of Yahweh (compare 7:14 JE; 7:19 P and 7:26 J; 8:1 P), but also by the methods of punishment that are related to each other (water changed to blood and frogs); and, finally, by the extension of the plague (the Nile and beyond the river). In 3 and 4 we have to deal with insects (stinging flies and dung flies); in 5 and 6 with a kind of pest (pest among cattle, and boils); 7 and 8 are again formally joined by the repeated command of Yahweh to Moses in 9:13,12 JE and 10:1,12 JE, as also by the fullness of the account the two show and their similarity, in both also use being made of the staff (9:23 f JE; 10:13 f JE), in the repetition of the emphasis put on the remarkable character of the plague (9:18,24; 10:6,14 JE). By both plagues vegetation is destroyed; and in the plague of locusts special reference is made also to the hail (compare 10:5,12,15). In the case of 9 and 10, the darkness constitutes a connecting link (compare 10:21 E; 11:4 J; 12:12 P; 12:30,31 JE). By the side of the occasional rhythm formed of two members there is also one formed of three members (after the manner of a triole in a measure of two beats). In the case of each group of three plagues, two are announced beforehand (thus 1 JEP and 2 JP; 4 JE and 5 JE; 7 JE and 8 JE; 10 EJ over against 3 the Priestly Code (P), 6 P and 9 E); the first of each group of three plagues, as 1, 4 and 7, is to be announced by Moses on the following morning to Pharaoh (7:15; 8:20; 9:13 JE). Also in regard to the impression caused by the plagues a distinct progress can be noticed, in this too, that the Egyptian sorcerers are active only down to the third plague. Naturally, too, over against these facts, further peculiarities can be pointed out in the separate plagues, e.g. the fact that Goshen, or rather that Israel, is spared in the 4th, 5th, 7th through 10th plagues (8:22; 9:6,26 JE; 10:23 E; 11:7 J); and in the mention made of the intercession in the 2nd, 4th, 7th, 8th (8:8 J; 8:12; 9:28,33; 10:17 f JE) without thereby destroying the artistic construction of the whole that has been described above, or that in each such case of individuality of presenting the matter there is to be found a reason for claiming a separate source.

Only the 1st plague (Ex 7:14 ff) furnishes an apparent reason for the acceptance of two sources. In this case mention is made at times of the waters of the Nile only, and then of all other waters being changed into blood; and a separation from this point of view at least could be carried through. But this possibility disappears at once in the case of the 2nd plague (frogs), where the passage Ex 8:1-3, ascribed to the Priestly Code (P), which verses contain the consummation of the plague announced in 7:26-29 J (Hebrew), is altogether necessary for this connection; as otherwise the impression made upon Pharaoh by this plague, which is not mentioned in P at all, would be a torso. The similarity in the construction of the 2nd and the 1st plague, however (compare under (a) above), and the same difference in the mention made of the Nile and of the other waters in the 2nd plague, make it possible and even advisable in the case of the first plague, too, to discard the hypothesis of a difference in sources, because in the 2nd plague this difference cannot be carried out. Then, too, there would be other omissions found in P. According to the customary separation of sources, P would not contain the fulfillment of the threatened tenth plague announced in 12:12 at all. In the same way the statement in 12:28 refers to the carrying out of a command, the announcement of which to Israel in 12:21 ff would be found in another source. Further in 12:37a we would have the Priestly Code (P), as when the parts belonging to P have been eliminated, the other sources too would contain omissions in 12:21 ff, mostly JE; 12:37b E; 13:3 ff D. In the same way the announcement of a large number of miracles (7:3 P; 11:9 R) is too comprehensive, if these verses refer only to the narratives found in P. In addition, there is a remarkable similarity found in all of the narratives of P with those parts which are ascribed to JE; compare the first miracle in 7:8 ff with 4:2 ff J; 4:17 E. In the Priestly Code (P), too, as is the case with JE, it is stated that the purpose of the miracle is, that Pharaoh, or the Egyptians, or Israel, are to recognize that Yahweh is God and the Lord of the earth, or something to this effect (7:5 P; 7:17 JE; 8:10 R; 8:22; 9:14,29,30 JE; 10:2 R; 11:7 J; compare from the next section, 14:4 P; 14:18 the Priestly Code (P), which at the same time is also the fundamental thought that forms the connecting link of the whole section). The position of Ex 11:1-3 E between 10:28,29 E and 11:8 J constitutes a difficulty, because in the last-mentioned passages Moses is represented as standing continuously before Pharaoh. The announcement made by Yahweh to Moses, that one more plague is to come, and that the Israelites should borrow articles of value from the Egyptians, must in reality have been made before, but for good reasons it is mentioned for the first time at this place, in order to explain the confident utterance of Moses, that he would not again appear before Pharaoh (10:29). But the fact that according to 12:31 JE Pharaoh does in reality once more cause Moses and Aaron to be called, can readily be explained on the ground of the events that happened in the meantime.

The structure of Exodus 12 f contains nothing that could not have been written by one and the same author. Only Moses naturally did not at once communicate (12:21 ff) to the leading men of Israel the command given in 12:15 ff concerning the unleavened bread, which command had been given for later generations; and not until 13:3 ff is this command mentioned in connection with the order given to the people in the meantime concerning the firstborn (13:1 f) . The further fact, that the story of the exodus reaches a preliminary conclusion in 12:42 before the details of the Passover (verses 3 ff) have been given, is in itself justifiable. As far as contents are concerned, everything in chapters 12 f, namely, the exodus, the festival of unleavened bread, the firstborn, and orders pertaining thereto, that the month of the exodus is to be regarded as the first month, etc., are closely connected with the Passover and the 10th plague. Because the latter had to be described more fully than the other plagues, we find already in 11:9,10, after the announcement of this plague and its results, a comprehensive notice concerning all the miracles through which Yahweh demonstrated how He, amid great manifestations of power (7:4 P) and with a mighty hand (6:1 JE), has led His people forth.

(3) Exodus 13:17-18:27:

(b) Over against the analysis into different sources the following data in detail can also be advanced. In P the last demonstration of the power of Yahweh over Pharaoh would be indeed endangered in Ex 14:4,15 ff,21a, but afterward would not be related. In Ex 16:1 we cannot find in the Priestly Code (P), unless we bring in also 15:27 from JE, how Israel came to be in Elim. On the other hand, in 16:4 ff (JE?) the promise of bread from heaven is groundless without the preceding verses, which are attributed to P; and without 17:1 the Priestly Code (P), we do not know to what the word "there" in 17:3 belonging to JE refers, and how in 17:8 JE the Israelites had come to Rephidim. How entirely data taken from the language utterly fail here in establishing the separation of sources we see from the fact that in Exodus the distribution of the different portions and verses between P and E becomes a matter of doubt, and also in Ex 16 a harmony of view has not been gained as to whether only the Priestly Code (P), or in addition also J, E or JE have contributed to the text. The hymn found in Ex 15:1 ff, which certainly is an old composition, presupposes passages which are assigned to different sources, and in this way speaks for the unity of the text. Compare 15:2 with 14:30 J; 14:13 JE (?); 15:3 with 14:14 JE (?); 14:25 J; 14:4a with 14:9 P; 14:4b with 14:7 JE; 14:8 with 14:22 EP; 14:29 P; with 14:9. On the other hand, Ex 14:19 a and b cannot be utilized in favor of a division of sources E and J; but rather the analogous structure of this passage presupposes the same author, and there is only indicated what elsewhere is always a presupposition, namely, that God Himself has taken His abode somewhere in the cloud of fire (13:21,22 JE; 14:24 J; compare 40:34 ff P) Just as little are the two commands found in 14:16 to be divided between P and E and J, one stating what Moses does, and the other what Yahweh does, since both rather belong together (compare 9:22 f with 9:33; 10:13). At first glance 16:6 ff does not appear to be in its proper place, as Moses and Aaron in 16:6,7 have already told Israel what only in 16:9 ff is revealed through the appearance of Yahweh and His injunction to Moses. But these very verses are in harmony with the character of the whole section (compare under a above), since it is here stated that under all circumstances Israel is to be convinced of this, that Yahweh has proven Himself to be Yahweh, and has heard their murmuring. In addition, the appearance of Yahweh in 16:10 is clearly announced by 16:7. Accordingly, 16:9 ff serve only to confirm and strengthen what is found in 16:6 ff. The fact that not until in 18:2 JE Jethro brings the wife and the sons of Moses, while the latter himself according to 4:20 J had taken them along when he joined Israel, finds a satisfactory explanation in 18:2b. He sent them back doubtless because of the conduct of Zipporah on the occasion of the circumcision of her son (4:25 J). The fact that Jethro comes to Moses at the Mount of God (18:5 JE), while the latter does not arrive at Mt. Sinai until 19:1 ff according to P and J, is no contradiction; for by the Mount of God is meant the whole chain of Horeb, which Moses has already reached according to 17:6 JE; but Mt. Sinai is a single mountain. The special legal ordinances and decisions mentioned in 18:20 JE before the giving of the law (19 ff E and JE) are in perfect harmony with 15:25 D; 16:4 JE (?); 16:28 R.

(4) Exodus 19:1-24:18a:

(b) In this section, too, Ex 19:1-24:18 a, there is no real occasion for a division into sources. It is claimed that P is found only in 19:1,2a; 24:15-18; but 19:1,2a is indispensable for 19:2b on account of the word "there"; and before 24:15 ff there is an omission, if the preceding verses are to be ascribed to a different source. The duplicates 19:8,9; 19:18,20 are best explained by the assumption of a new beginning in 19:9 at 19:20 (compare above); 24:1,2, which at the same time introduces 24:9 ff, is placed before 24:3, because in point of time it belongs here. According to the original text, the translation at this place must read: "To Moses he spoke," in contrast to the ordinances which, in 21:1 ff, are addressed to the congregation of Israel. Certainly 24:3-8 is purposely formulated to show in almost the same words that 24:3 reports the Violation and 24:4 ff the writing of the decision to obey on the part of Israel (24:3b and 24:7b). It is not perfectly clear to the reader where Moses was during the promulgation of the Decalogue, whether upon the mountain or at the foot of the mountain (compare 19:24 f; 20:18 ff; but also De 5:5). In view of the importance of the matter itself and the vividness of the narrative and the continual change in the place where Moses abode, it is psychologically easily understood that the clearness of the account has suffered somewhat.

(5) Exodus 24:18b through 31:18:

(a) During the forty days which Moses tarries with God on the mountain, and at the conclusion of which he receives the two tables of the law (31:18), God converses with him seven times (25:1; 30:11,17,22,34; 31:1,12). Number 1 (25:1-30:10) contains directions in reference to the building of the Tabernacle, and laws for the priests serving in it. Numbers 2-6 bring a number of directions supplementing number 1, namely, number 2 (Ex 30:11-16), individual tax; number 3 (Ex 30:17-21), copper washing vessels; number 4 (Ex 30:22-33), oil for anointing; number 5 (Ex 30:34-38), incense; number 6 (Ex 31:1-11), the calling of Bezalel and Aholiab to be the master builders; additionally and in conclusion, number 7 (Ex 31:12-17), the Sabbath command. It is probably not accidental that the Sabbath idea is touched upon 7 times, namely, in addition to the present passage, also in (a) Ex 16:5 JE (?); 16:23-29 P and R; (b) 20:8-11 E; (c) 23:10-12 E; (d) 24:16 P; (e) 34:21 J; (f) 35:1-3 the Priestly Code (P), and that as is the case in this present passage, other passages too, such as 24:16 P; 35:1-3 P conclude a main section, and 22:10-22 a subordinate section, with this reference.

The first more complete pericope itself in Exodus (25:1-30:10) is, however, divided into 12 pieces (we cannot at this place enter into details in reference to the typical numbers found so often in the measurements of the Tabernacle, but can refer only to the cubical form of the Holy of Holies on the basis of 10 cubits), namely,

(1) contributions for the sanctuary (25:1-9);

(2) the holy ark (25:10-22);

(3) table of shewbread (25:23-30);

(4) golden candlesticks (25:31-40);

(5) tabernacle (26:1-37) in which at the same time the articles mentioned from 2 to 4 are placed (compare 26:33 ff);

(6) altar for burnt sacrifices (27:1-8);

(7) court (27:9-19) in which this altar stood (compare 40:29,33);

(8) oil for the lights (27:20,21);

(9) sacred garments for the priests (28:1-43);

(10) consecration of priests (29:1-37);

(11) the burnt sacrifices (29:38-46);

(12) incense altar (30:1-10).

The five articles included in 8 to 12 are combined into a contrast to the five in 1 to 7 by their express reference to the priests (compare in addition to 9 and 10 also 27:21; 29:44; 30:7 f,10). With the incense altar, which was of great importance, and of equal importance with the great altar on the Day of Atonement (30:10), this section closes (compare (b)).

Thus it will under all circumstances be better to search for an explanation for putting oil in the place of the candlesticks and of the incense altar, which at first seems surprising, than in the case of every difficulty to appeal to a redactor’s working without system or order. However, the entire portion Ex 24:18 b through 31:18 finds its explanation in the promise of 25:8 that Yahweh will dwell in the midst of Israel (compare 29:45 f). He is enthroned on the ark, in which the accusing law as the expression of the Divine will is deposited (for this reason called ha-`edhuth; 25:16,21; 26:33,14), but above the atonement lid, the kapporeth, at which on the Day of Atonement, the atonement ceremony is carried out (compare 25:17-22; Le 16); see Day of Atonement.

(b) This whole section, with the exception of Ex 31:18 E (?) is ascribed to the Priestly Code (P), although at this place, though without good reasons, different strata are distinguished. In regard to the contradiction claimed to exist in the different persons to be anointed (high priest, or all the priests; compare 29:7 over against 28:41; 29:21), see Leviticus. Also the duplicates of the tamidh sacrifice and of the candlesticks (compare I, 3, above) are not at all the decisive factor in proof of a difference of sources within the parts treating of the priests, providing it can be shown that each passage stands where it belongs. With regard to the candlesticks, see nodetitle. In addition compare passages like Mt 10:39 and 16:25; 10:22 and 24,13; 6:14 ff and 18:35; 5:29 f and 18:8 ff; 19:30 and 20:16. But as far as attributing certain passages to P in general is concerned, it is self-evident that ordinances referring to the cults make use of technical terms pertaining to the cults, without this fact justifying any conclusion as to a particular author or group of authors. On the other hand, it could not at all be understood how P could so often call the Decalogue ha-`edhuth, without having contained this all-important law itself (compare Ex 25:16,21 f; 26:33 f; 34:29; 38:21, etc.). On the other hand, as is well known, the fourth commandment (Ex 20:8-11) expressly refers back to Ge 2:2,3, that is, to P; also Ex 23:15 to 12:20.

(6) Exodus 32:1-35:3:

(7) Exodus 35:4-40:38:

(a) The construction of the Tabernacle. This section is divided into four pericopes, each with four subdivisions (compare Structure of Leviticus 16 in DAY OF ATONEMENT). The same principle of division is found also in the history of Abraham and in De 12-26. Number I (Ex 35:4-36:7) describes the preparation for the construction:

(1) Ex 35:4-19 appeals for contributions for this purpose;

(2) 35:20-29, contributions;

(3) 35:30-36:1, characterization of the builders;

(4) 36:2-7, delivering the contributions to the builders.

Numbers II and III (Ex 36:8-38:31; 39:1-31) report the construction of the Tabernacle and the preparation of the priests garments (compare Ex 39:32,1);

Number II:

(1) Ex 36:8-38, dwelling-place;

(2) 37:1-38:9, utensils;

(3) 38:10-20, court;

(4) 38:24-31, cost of 38:1-3;

Number III

(1) 39:2-7, shoulder garment;

(2) 39:8-21, pocket;

(3) 39:22-26, outer garment;

(4) 39:27-31, summary account concerning coats, miter, bonnets, breeches, girdle, diadem.

Number IV (39:32-40:38) reports the completion:

(1) 39:32-43, consecration of these objects;

(2) 40:1-15, command to erect;

(3) 40:16-33, carrying out this command;

(4) 40:34-38, entrance of the glory of Yahweh.

In this way the dwelling of Yahweh, which had been promised in 25:8 the Priestly Code (P), and in Ex 32-34 JE had been uncertain, has become a reality. The whole section is closely connected with Ex 25-31, yet is independent in character. The full details found in both groups are completely justified by the importance of the object. It is self- evident that at this place, too, the language of the cults is demanded by the object itself.

(b) The attempts to distribute this section among different authors are a total failure in view of the unity of the structure, which is independent also over against Ex 25-31. Since the numbers given in 38:26 agree entirely with the numbers gathered later in Nu 2:32, it is evident that for the latter the lists for the contributions were used, which in itself is very probable because it was practical. In case this section is ascribed to P it is inexplicable how the writer can in Ex 40:34 ff speak of the pillar of fire as of something well known, since this has not yet been mentioned in the parts ascribed to the Priestly Code (P), but has been in 13:21 f JE; 14:19,24 J.

III. Historical Character.

1. General Consideration:

The fact that extra-Israelitish and especially Egyptian sources that can lay claim to historical value have reported nothing authentic concerning the exodus of Israel need not surprise us when we remember how meager these documents are and how one-sided Egyptian history writing is. Whether the expulsion of the lepers and the unclean, who before this had desolated the country and acquired supremacy over it as reported by Manetho and other historians, is an Egyptian version of the exodus of Israel, cannot be investigated at this place, but is to the highest degree improbable. If Israel was oppressed by the Egyptians for a long period, then surely the latter would not have invented the fable of a supremacy on the part of Israel; and, on the other hand, it would be incomprehensible that the Israelites should have changed an era of prosperity in their history into a period of servitude. Over against this the remembrance of the exodus out of Egypt not only is re-echoed through the entire literature of Israel (compare I, 4, above), but the very existence of the people of God forces us imperatively to accept some satisfactory ground for its origin, such as is found in the story of the exodus and only here. In addition, the Book compare Exodus shows a good acquaintance with the localities and the conditions of Egypt, as also of the desert. It is indeed true that we are still in doubt on a number of local details. But other statements in the book have in such a surprising manner been confirmed by discoveries and geographical researches, that we can have the greatest confidence in regard to the other difficulties: compare eg. Naville’s The Store-city of Pithom (Ex 1:11). In general, the opening chapters of Ex, especially the narratives of the different plagues, contain so much Egyptian coloring, that this could scarcely have resulted from a mere theoretical study of Egypt, especially since in the narrative everything makes the impression of resulting from recent experience. The fact that Israel from its very origin received ordinances in regard to religion, morality, law and cults, is explained from the very conditions surrounding this origin and is indispensable for the explanation of the later development of the nation. None of the later books or times claim to offer anything essentially new in this respect; even the prophets appear only as reformers; they know of the election of Israel, and, on the other hand, everywhere presuppose as something self-evident the knowledge of a righteous, well-pleasing relation with God and chide the violation of this relation as apostasy. Ethical monotheism as the normal religion of Israel is reflected in the same way in all the sources of Israel’s history, as has been proven in my work ("Die Entwicklung der alttestamentlichen Gottesidee in vorexilischer Zeit," in the May, 1903, issue of Beitrage zur Forderung christlicher Theologie). And the idea that an oriental people, especially if they came out of Egypt, should have had no religious cult, is in itself unthinkable. If all of these norms, also the direction for the cults in the Books of Covenant, of the Priestly Code, or D, at least in the kernel, do not go back to the Mosaic times, then we have to deal with an insoluble problem (compare my work, Are the Critics Right?).

2. The Miraculous Character:

The Book of Exodus is as a matter of fact from its first to its last page filled with miraculous stories; but in this characteristic these contents agree perfectly with the whole history of redemption. In this immediate and harmonious activity of God, for the purpose of establishing a chosen people, all these miracles find their purpose and explanation, and this again is only in harmony with other periods of sacred history. The reason is self-explanatory when these miracles are found grouped at the turning-points in this history, as is the case also in the critical age of Elijah and Elisha, and in the experiences and achievements of "Jonah," so significant for the universality of the Biblical religion. Above all is this true in the ministry of Jesus Christ; and also again in His return to judgment. And in the same way, too, we find this at the beginning of Israel as a nation (see my article in Murray’s Dictionary). Compare in this respect the rapid numerical growth of the nation, the miracles, the plagues, in the presence of Pharaoh, the passage through the Red Sea, the miraculous preservation of the people in the desert, the many appearances of God to Moses, to the people, to the elders, the protection afforded by the cloud, the providential direction of the people of Israel and of the Egyptians, and of individual persons (Moses and Pharaoh). The fact that the author himself knows that Israel without the special care and protection of God could not have survived in the desert is in complete harmony with his knowledge of the geographical situation already mentioned.

3. The Legislative Portions:

As the Paschal sacrifice, according to Ex 12:3 ff; 12:43 ff P; 12:21 ff JE (?) was to be killed in the houses, and this on the 14th of Nisan in the evening (12:6), and as P directs that a festival assembly shall be held on the next day at the sanctuary (compare Le 23:6 ff; Nu 28:17 ff), these are conditions which can be understood only in case Israel is regarded as being in the wilderness. For this reason De 16:5 ff changes this direction, so that from now on the Passover is no longer to be celebrated in the houses but at the central sanctuary. In the same way the direction Ex 22:29, which ordered that the firstborn of animals should be given to Yahweh already on the 8th day, could be carried out only during the wanderings in the desert, and is for this reason changed by De 14:23 ff; 15:19 ff to meet the conditions of the people definitely settled after this wandering. Compare my work, Are the Critics Right? 188-89, 194- 95.

4. Chronology:

5. Unjustifiable Attacks:

That particularly in the post-exilic period it would have been impossible to center the Day of Atonement on the covering of the ark of the covenant, since the restoration of this ark was not expected according to Jer 3:16, has already been emphasized in DAY OF ATONEMENT. If God had really determined to give to His people a pledge of the constant presence of His grace, then there can be absolutely no reason for doubting the erection of the Tabernacle, since the necessary artistic ability and the possession of the materials needed for the structure are sufficiently given in the text (compare also Ex 25:9,40; 26:30; 27:8-31:2 ff; 35:30 ff through 12:35; 3:21,22; 11:2 f; Ge 15:14; Ex 33:4 ff). The examination of the separate passages in Ex, such as the relation of 20:24 (see above) to Deuteronomy, or the ordinances concerning the Passover and the firstborn (Ex 12 f), and other laws in the different codices, goes beyond the purpose of this article (compare however under 3 above, at the close).

IV. Authorship.

1. Connection with Moses:

2. Examination of Objections:

Against the Mosaic authorship of Exodus the use of the third person should no longer be urged, since Caesar and Xenophon also wrote their works in the third person, and the use of this provision is eminently adapted to the purpose and significance of Exodus for all future times. In Isa 20:1 ff Eze 24:24, we have analogies of this in prophetic literature. The statement (Ex 11:3) that Moses was so highly regarded by the Egyptians is entirely unobjectionable in the connection in which it is found. That the book was not written for the self-glorification of Moses appears clearly in 4:10-16; 6:12. In itself it is possible that some individual passages point to a later date, without thereby overthrowing the Mosaic authorship of the whole (compare also under (1)). In this case we are probably dealing with supplementary material. Ex 16:35 declares that Israel received manna down to the time when the people came to the borders of Canaan. Whether it was given to them after this time, too, cannot be decided on the basis of this passage (compare however Jos 5:12). If the entire Book of Exodus was composed by Moses, then Ex 16:35 would be a proof that at least the final editing of the book had been undertaken only a short time before his death. This is suggested also by 16:34b, since at the time when the manna was first given the ark of the covenant did not yet exist; and the statement in 32:35 takes into consideration the later development as found in Nu 13 f. In the same way Ex 16:36 could be a later explanation, but is not necessarily so, if the `omer was not a fixed measure, of which nothing further is known, and which probably was not to be found in every Israelite household, but a customary measure, the average content of which is given in 16:36. If we take Exodus alone there is nothing that compels us to go later than the Mosaic period (concerning the father-in-law of Moses, see under II, 2, 1 (1:8-7:7) at the close). The question as to whether there are contradictions or differences between the different legal ordinances in Exodus and in later books cannot be investigated at this place, nor the question whether the connection of Exodus with other books in any way modifies the conclusion reached under (1).


Books that in some way cover the ground discussed in the article: Against the separation into different sources: Eerdmans, Alttestamentliche Studien, III ("Das Buch Exodus"); Orr, Problem of the Old Testament; Moller, Wider den Bann der Quellenscheidung. In favor of the construction of Ex 21 ff: Merx, Die Bucher Moses und Josua ("Religionsgeschichtliche Volksbucher," II, Series, number 3). For Ex 21 ff in its relation to the Code of Hammurabi: A. Jeremias, Das Alte Testament im Lichte des alten Orients; J. Jeremias, Moses und Hammurabi (with fuller literature); Histories of Israel by Kittel, Konig, Oettli, Kohler, Klostermann, Hengstenberg; Commentaries of Ryssel, Lange, Keil, Strack; Introductions to the Old Testament by Strack, Baudissin, Driver, Sellin. Against the Wellhausen hypothesis: Moller, Are the Critics Right? (with fuller literature); Orr (see above). Against the evolutionary theory: Orr (see above); Moller, Die Entwicklung der alttestamentlichen Gottesidee in vorexilischer Zeit (with fuller literature). Representatives of other schools: The Introductions of Kuenen and Cornill; the Commentaries of Holzinger and Baentsch; the Histories of Israel by Wellhausen and Stade.

Wilhelm Moller