Exodus is the second book of the bible and is well known known for the story of the ten plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea. Those who went to church growing up probably remember Sunday School lessons on these stories.
The word “Exodus” is Greek in origin, derived from “Exodos“, which means departure or exit. In Hebrew, the book is named after it’s first two words, we’elleh shemonth, which means “And these are the names of.” This phrase also occurs in Genesis where the names of the Israelites who went to Egypt with Jacob are listed. Exodus is considered to be a continuation of the narrative that began in Genesis and is completed in the next three books of the bible: Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These first five books of the bible are known as the Pentateuch.
Evidence strongly suggests that Moses wrote the Book of Exodus. Sections 17:14; 24:4; 34:27 tell of how the Lord told Moses to write down these things on a scroll. Mark 7:10, 12:26 and Luke 2:22-23 also claim Mosaic authorship of Exodus.
The exodus is generally accepted to have taken place in c. 1446 BC. We know this because 1 Kings 6:1 tells us that it happened 480 years before Solomon’s fourth year as King of Israel, which was c. 966 BC.
As for the route the Israelites took out of Egypt, there are three possibilities that have been proposed. First is the northern route through the land of the Philistines, the second is the middle route eastward through Sinai to Beersheba, the third is the southern route through to the west coast of Sinai and beyond. The exact place where they crossed the Red Sea is unknown.
Exodus contains important foundations of the relationship between God and Israel. God reveals his name, Yaweh, as well as his attributes, his redemption, his law, and how he should be worshiped. The book also contains the appointment of Moses as the mediator of the Sinaitic covenant, also known as the Mosaic covenant. This covenant was an agreement between God and Israel, where God reminded His people of their obligation to obey His law. This covenant would serve to set Israel apart from all other nations as God’s chosen people.
Exodus lays out important theology. God has an intimate presence with his people, which is signified when he reveals His true name to Moses in 3:15, “I am who I am;” the Lord, which in Hebrew is “Yaweh.” Yaweh means “He is” or “He will be”, and is the name by which God wished to be known and worshiped as. Exodus also reveals certain things about God’s nature, including his justice, truthfulness, mercy, faithfulness, and holiness (3:13-15).
Exodus reveals God’s magnificent power. The affliction of Israel and the plagues of Egypt were never outside of His control. The pharaoh, the Egyptians, and all of Israel saw the power of God and knew there is no one like him: “when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” (14:31 NIV).
Additional themes and messages expressed in Exodus include God’s concern for His people (2:24), His promise of redemption (6:6, 15:13), His grace and mercy even though Israel broke their covenant (34:1-14), and the foundation for Biblical ethics and morality as laid out in the Ten Commandments (20:1-17).
Exodus concludes with a discussion of theology and worship via establishment of the tabernacle (chapters 25-31). Through the tabernacle, the omnipotent and unchanging God came to dwell with his people, an example of his nearness and presence with them.