In our third tour, we'll be visiting the book of Exodus chapters 1-18. We'll get an overview of the central historical event contained in the book, the redemption of God's people from the bondage of Egypt. The setting for our journey is the nation of Egypt and Israel's wanderings through the wilderness. For this flight the key chapters to review in advance are: Exodus: 1, 2, 3, 5, 11, 12 and 14.
The Hebrews refer to the book of Exodus as "We'elleh Shemoth," from the opening phrase, "Now these are the names." The Septuagint translators called it "Exodus" because this book describes the central historical event for the Israelites - their salvation from slavery in Egypt. It is possible that Exodus was written by Moses during the forty-year wilderness journey.
The book of Exodus chronicles the history of the Israelites, but it's important to note that the story of Moses and the Israelites occurs during the reign of several Pharaohs. Pharaoh was the ruler of Egypt and was worshipped as a god. They include:
The XVII Dynasty: The Middle Kingdom (c. 2000 - 1780 B.C.)
The Hyksos Period (c. 1730 - 1570 B.C.)
XVIII Dynasty (c. 1539 - 1447 B.C.)
Thutmose I (c. 1539 - 1514 B.C.)
Thutmose II (c. 1514 - 1501 B.C.)
Queen Hatshepsut (c. 1501 - 1482 B.C.)
Thutmose III (c. 1482 - 1447 B.C.)
Amenhotep II (c. 1447 - 1421 B.C.)
Thutmose IV (c. 1421 - 1410 B.C.)
Amenhotep III (c. 1410 - 1376 B.C.)
c. 1915 B.C.
Joseph is born to Jacob and Rachel
c. 1898 B.C.
Joseph is sold into slavery
c. 1876 B.C.
Jacob and his family move to Egypt
c. 1730 - 1570 B.C.
The Israelites are enslaved in Egypt
c. 1527 B.C.
Moses is born
c. 1482 - 1447 B.C.
Moses flees to Midian
c. 1446 B.C.
Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt
c. 1446 - 1406 B.C.
Israel wanders in the wilderness
Exodus is divided into two major sections. The first section from Exodus 1:1-18:27 focuses on the redemption of God's people from the bondage of Egypt. The setting for our journey is the nation of Egypt and Israel's wanderings through the wilderness.
1. The Bondage Of Egypt: 1:1-12:36
a) Moses: 1:1-7:13
b) The Ten Plagues: 7:14-11:10
c) Passover: 12:1-13:16
2. The Barrenness of the Wilderness: 13:1-18:27
a) The Red Sea: 13:17-15:21
b) God In The Wilderness: 15:22-18:27
PLACES OF INTEREST
Egypt - Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea on the north, the Sinai Peninsula and the Gulf of Suez on the east and the Libyan Desert on the west, Egypt is a land with a rich and well-recorded history.
Midian - Midian was the desert wilderness where Moses spent 40 years. Midian is located in the territory east of the Jordan River, east of the Dead Sea and southward through the desert wilderness of the Arabah. Today it is known as the southern part of the modern country of Jordan. It was at Midian that God appeared to Moses in the burning bush.
Mount Sinai - Mountain in the south central part of the Sinai Peninsula in the northwestern end of Arabia. God made many significant revelations of Himself and His purposes to Israel there. The Bible uses the term Sinai for both the mountain and the entire wilderness area (Lev. 7:38). Sometimes Sinai is called "the mount" (Ex. 19:2); sometimes "the mountain of God" (Ex. 3:1); sometimes "the mount of the Lord" (Num. 10:33).
The Nile River - The life blood of Egypt - Honored as a sacred river - The Nile is the basis of Egypt's wealth. It is the only river to flow northwards across the Sahara. Egypt was unique as an agricultural community in that it was not dependent on rainfall. The secret was the black silt deposited on the fields by the annual flood caused when the Blue Nile was swollen by the run-off from the winter rains in Ethiopia. If the winter rains failed, the consequent small nonexistent inundation resulted in disastrous famine: some are recorded as lasting over a number of years (compare Gen. 41).
The Red Sea - No one knows the exact location of the place where Israel crossed the "Red Sea" on their way out of Egypt. Four primary theories have been suggested as to the place of the actual crossing of the isthmus of Suez: (1) the northern edge of the Gulf of Suez; (2) a site in the center of the isthmus near Lake Timsah; (3) a site at the northern edge of the isthmus and the southern edge of Lake Menzaleh; and (4) across a narrow stretch of sandy land which separates Lake Sirbonis from the Mediterranean Sea.
Sinai Peninsula - The wilderness region in the Sinai Peninsula through which for forty years the Hebrews wanderings are generally called "the wilderness of the wanderings." This entire region is in the form of a triangle, having its base toward the north and its apex toward the south. Its extent from north to south is about 250 miles, and at its widest point it is about 150 miles broad. Throughout this vast region of some 1,500 square miles there is not a single river. The northern part of this triangular peninsula is properly the "wilderness of the wanderings" (et-Tih). The western portion of it is called the "wilderness of Shur" (Ex. 15:22), and the eastern, the "wilderness of Paran."
PEOPLE OF INTEREST
Aaron - Brother of Moses - When Moses fled from Egypt, Aaron remained to share the hardships of his people, and possibly to render them some service; for we are told that Moses pleaded with God for his bother's cooperation in his mission to Pharaoh and to Israel, and that Aaron went out to meet his brother, as the time of deliverance drew near (Ex. 4:27). While Moses, whose great gifts lay along other lines, was slow of speech (Ex. 4:10), Aaron was a ready spokesman, and became his brother's representative, being called his "mouth" (Ex. 4:16) and his "prophet" (Ex. 7:1).
Moses - A man chosen by God to lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt and to the promise land. Moses spent 40 years in the house of Pharaoh, 40 years living in the wilderness and 40 years leading God's people. He is the author of the Pentateuch, the first 5 books of the Bible - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
Pharaoh's daughter - The princess who rescued Moses (Ex. 2:5-10; Heb. 11:24). Probably not only one of the daughters of a Pharaoh, but also someone with a very distinguished rank. Some thought that it could have been Queen Hatshepsut.
Pharaoh - The story of Moses spans the reign of several Egyptian rulers. The Pharaoh of Exodus 1 was probably one of the Hyksos kings who descended from foreign invaders. During the childhood years of Moses the two rulers were Thutmose I and Thutmose II. Queen Hatshepsut was also in power. When Moses fled to Midian the ruler in control was Thutmose III. The Pharaoh who faced the plagues of Egypt was Amenhotep II.
God reveals Himself in Exodus
1. The "I Am" at the burning bush A covenant keeping God (Ex. 3)
2. The plagues A God of Judgment (Ex. 8-12)
3. The Passover A God of Redemption (Ex. 12)
4. The Red Sea crossing A God of Power (Ex. 14)
5. The journey to Sinai A God of Provision (Ex. 16-17)
MEANING OF THE PLAGUES
The plagues symbolized God's judgment against the false gods of Egypt.
*Water to blood: Hapi, the father of gods, was "god" of the Nile. He was the god who brought water to all Egypt for life.
*Frog: Heka, the toad goddess, wife of Knepfh who was "goddess" of the land. She was also the goddess of the resurrection and procreative power.
*Lice: Geb, "the great cackler," who was "god" of the earth or vegetation. He was the father of Osiris and husband of Nut.
*Flies: Khepfi, scarab, who was the "god" of insects. The plague of beetle, a scarab, was an emblem of Ra, the sun god.
*Diseased livestock: Apis, who was the bull "god." His counterpart was Hathor, the cow goddess. This was their chief god as the soul of their god Osiris was believed to reside in the body of the bull. Mnevis, the bull god, was symbolic of fertility.
*Boils: Thoth, "god" of medicine and intelligence or wisdom. Human sacrifices were made and the ashes were thrown into the air to bring blessing upon the people. Moses took ashes from the furnace and threw it in the air and it brought boils on the people, thus shaming Thoth.
*Hail: Nut, the sky "goddess." The hail came from the sky and destroyed all the crops of Egypt. This also shamed Seth, the Egyptian god who protected the crops.
*Locusts: Anubis, "god" of the fields. This plague finishes up the work that was started by the hail.
*Darkness: Ra was Egypt's sun god. Darkness symbolized that the sun god was dead.
*Death Of First Born: Pharaoh's first-born son, there would be no one to succeed him on the throne. Pharaoh was considered an incarnation of Ra and the death of his son symbolized the death of the gods of Egypt.
Ancient Near East in the time of the Patriarchs
Wandering Through The Wilderness
Figure 1: Ancient Near East In The Time Of The Patriarchs
Figure 2: Wandering Through The Wilderness