Date: c. 1400 B.C. or c. 1200 B.C.
The Book of Exodus continues the theme of redemption. We see redemption displayed in the nature of history itself and epitomized in Israel’s particular history. The great drama shows God’s people cruelly oppressed in a foreign territory, without benefit of a land or a human protector. God hears the cries of his people and sends a deliverer, Moses, to be the agent of his divine redemptive power.
The redemption pictured in the Book of Exodus is not just escape from oppression. God leads his people through a wilderness, providing for all of their needs. Then at Mt. Sinai he renews the covenant he had made with Abraham in Genesis, binding himself to all the people of Israel. Here laws are given, summarized in the Ten Commandments, which are a further evidence of God’s love and concern for his people. Rules are given for all of life, and a religious structure (tabernacle, priesthood, regulations) is established.
The Book of Exodus therefore describes a “going on” as well as a “going out.” After the Israelites went out of Egypt, they went on as a people in the wilderness, trusting the promises God gave at Sinai.
Theological Themes in the Book of Exodus
The first significant theme in Exodus is the power of God. Nations, people, the sea, the natural elements, the wilderness–all are subject to his control. Second is the benevolence of God. He cares for his people, hears their cries, and rescues them. Third is the mystery of evil. It is present, both in Egypt and in Israel, but God’s will is still being accomplished.
There is also a mystery in the relation between human and divine action. Pharaoh hardened his heart against God, but it is equally true to say that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
Finally, there is the importance of our human existence as part of God’s plan. He makes divine provision for all our needs in the form of guidelines (or laws). These laws relate to every aspect of our existence, showing us that God is concerned about all we do and are.
Outline for the Book of Exodus
- Bondage in Egypt and a deliverer sent Exodus 1:1-11:10
- The Passover and exodus from Egypt Exodus 2:1-14:31
- Conflict and guidance in the wilderness Exodus 15:1-18:27
- The laws of God given and accepted Exodus 19:1-34:35
- The presence of God in tabernacle and priesthood Exodus 35:1-40:38