Exodus—the second book of the Bible—tells us about the Israelites serving as slaves to the Egyptians, God and Moses leading them out of slavery and out of Egypt, and part of the Israelites’ time in the wilderness near Mount Sinai, during which they received the Ten Commandments and other instructions from God.
Here are 7 interesting things about Exodus that came up in relation to my Old Testament Interpretation class at Wake Divinity:
1. As Moses traveled to Egypt to talk with Pharaoh for the first time about setting the Israelites free, Moses stopped to camp. That night, “the Lord encountered him and sought to kill him. So Zipporah [Moses’s wife] took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched his legs with it, saying ‘You are truly a bridegroom of blood to me!’ And when [God] left him alone, she added ‘A bridegroom of blood because of the circumcision.’”
What does this mean? Why did God seek to kill Moses?
2. God sent plagues to help convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. After the ninth one, Pharaoh told Moses that all the Israelite people could go free, but they would have to leave their animals. Moses rejected the offer, explaining that they need sacrifices for God.
How confident was Moses? Pharaoh offers to free all of your people from slavery, and you turn it down?
3. Moses asked Pharaoh multiple times to let the Israelites leave Egypt. After Pharaoh told Moses no again, God “stiffened Pharaoh’s heart” and Pharaoh “would not let the Israelites go.” Afterwards, God sent the “10th plague,” which killed every first-born child in Egypt, prompting Pharaoh to let the Israelites (and their animals) go.
God stiffened Pharaoh’s heart? Why didn’t God soften Pharaoh’s heart instead so that Pharaoh would let the Israelites go before the 10th plague?
4. God tells us why he stiffened Pharaoh’s heart: “[I]n order that I may display these My signs among them, and that you may recount in the hearing of your sons and of your sons’ sons how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I displayed My signs among them—in order that you may know that I am the Lord.”
Was there another way to let the Israelites know that God is God? Would a sign that did not involve killing all the first-born children have sufficed?
5. The night before the Israelites departed Egypt, they instituted a new sacred meal, called Passover. God explained: “[i]f a stranger who dwells with you would offer the passover to the Lord, all his males must be circumcised; then he shall be admitted to offer it; he shall then be as a citizen of the country. … There shall be one law for the citizen and for the stranger who dwells among you.”
A non-Israelite can become part of the Israelite nation—and become one of God’s treasured people—by following this procedure?
6. God explained to Moses that God is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving inequity, transgression, and sin; yet He does not remit all punishment ….”
Why do some say that God is all loving when God himself says God does not remit all punishment?
7. Most Bibles translate Exodus 20:3 as ““Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (KJV) or as something similar. Young’s Literal Translation explains that Exodus 20:3 says “Thou hast no other gods before Me.”
There are other gods? Who or what are these other gods that we cannot have before God?
Many mysteries to solve.
(Picture: A picture I took while at Wake Forest this past Wednesday.)
The Jewish Study Bible 2d ed. 2014. Oxford: University Press (Tanakh Translation).
“… sought to kill him …”: Exodus 4:21-26
… rejected the offer …: Exodus 10:24-29
“… stiffened …”: Exodus 10:1-2
why: Exodus 10:1-2
a stranger …: Exodus 12:43-49
… compassionate … : Exodus 34:6
other gods: Exodus 20:3