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The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Pentateuch, the five books which are attributed to Moses. The Book of Exodus deals with the deliverance of Israel from their servitude in Egypt by the powerful hands of Yahweh, Israel’s God: “I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you lived as slaves” (Exodus 20:2 NIV).

The name of the book, “Exodus,” is derived from the Latin version of the Bible, the Vulgate, exodo. The name of the book in the Hebrew Bible is taken from the first words of the book, we’ellê šemôt, “these are the names” or only šemôt, “names.”

The book of Genesis closed with the death of Joseph and with “a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:26). The book of Exodus continues the story of Israel in Egypt and the beginning of the oppression by a Pharaoh “who did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8).

The book of Exodus introduces two crucial acts of God that had significant impact in the history of Israel. The first of these mighty acts of God was the deliverance of the people from their bondage in Egypt. This act of redemption served as a motivator to Israel to be attentive to the needs of the oppressed and to be faithful to the commandments God had imposed on Israel, “Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Deuteronomy 5:15).

The second divine act was the establishment of the covenant on Mount Sinai. The Hebrew word for covenant is berith. The covenant was a formal, solemn, and binding agreement between Yahweh and the people of Israel. The covenant between Yahweh and Israel contains obligations to do certain acts or to refrain from doing them. The covenant also contains promises of blessings if the people obey the demands of the covenant, and threats or curses upon the people if they fail to follow the demands of the covenant.

The Book of Exodus may be outlined as follows:

1. The Oppression and the Deliverance of Israel, Exodus 1:1–15:21

2. Israel in the Wilderness, Exodus 16:1–18:27

3. The Covenant Between Yahweh and Israel, Exodus 19:1–24:18

4. Instructions about Building the Tabernacle, Exodus 25:1–31:18

5. Israel’s Apostasy: The Golden Calf, Exodus 32:1–33:23

6. The Renewal of the Covenant, Exodus 34:1–35

7. The Building of the Tabernacle, Exodus 35:1–40:38

Although Yahweh had told Abraham that his people would be aliens in a land that was not theirs, that they would be slaves there, and that they would be oppressed for four hundred years (Genesis 15:13), the future of the promise God made to Abraham, that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3), Israel’s bondage in Egypt placed the promise in jeopardy.

God used the actions of several women to give Israel a hope for the future. Shiphrah and Puah, Pharaoh’s daughter, Miriam, and Jochebed thwarted Pharaoh’s mandate that all the baby boys born to Hebrew women should be killed (Exodus 1:16). By their actions, Moses’ life was spared. After Moses fled Egypt and went to live in Midian, he was called by God on Mount Sinai to become the deliverer of Israel.

One crucial aspect of the redemption of Israel was the revelation of God’s name to Moses. When God revealed himself to Moses, he said to him, “I am Yahweh. To Abraham, Isaac and Jacob I appeared as El Shaddai, but I did not make my name Yahweh known to them” (Exodus 6:2–3 NIV).

Carol Meyers explains why God’s revelation of his name to Moses was necessary. She writes, “Identifying God as the one who appeared to the ancestors is apparently sufficient for Moses but not for the people. In a polytheistic world, gods are individuated by their names; and the god of Israel is no exception. Moses anticipates that the people will insist on knowing the name of this god who is sending Moses to free them” (Meyers 2005:56).

When God revealed his name to Moses, he said to him, “‘I AM WHO I AM.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14). Then God told Moses, “You are to tell the Israelites, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name for all time, and thus I am to be invoked for all generations to come” (Exodus 3:15 NIV).

In several posts listed below, I study the name of God and the implication of God’s words to Moses, “This is my name for all time, and thus I am to be invoked for all generations to come.”

Israel’s journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai was not easy. During their journey, the people lacked food and water. They bitterly complained to Moses and expressed their desire to return to Egypt. Yahweh provided for the needs of the people by miraculously giving them water and food. God also delivered the people when they were threatened by the Amalekites.

The culmination of Israel’s redemption from “the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2) was the promulgation of the covenant at Mount Sinai. At Sinai, Israel understood the implications of becoming the people of God.

Before the people established a covenant with Yahweh, he told the people what was required to become God’s covenant partners and a people with a mission to all nations, “You have seen for yourselves what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you away on eagle’s wings and brought you to me. So now, if you are really prepared to obey me and keep my covenant, you, out of all peoples, shall be my personal possession, for the whole world is mine. For me you shall be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation” (Exodus 19:4–6 NIV).

Once the people accepted becoming God’s covenant partners, Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the tablets of the covenant.

The covenant God established with Israel on Mount Sinai was a conditional covenant. It was a covenant based on the obedience of Israel to the demands God had imposed on Israel. These demands are expressed in the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments. The covenant God established with Israel was a suzerain covenant, a covenant similar to other covenants in the Ancient Near East.

God, as the sovereign king, reminded his subjects, the people of Israel, of their obligation to be obedient to the demands of the covenant, “if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples” (Exodus 19:5). The people agreed to the demands of the covenant, “the people all replied with one accord, ‘Whatever Yahweh has said, we will do’” (Exodus 19:8 NIV). Once Israel became bound to God by covenant, Israel became the nation through whom God would bless all the nations of the world, thus fulfilling the promise he made to Abraham.

While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the tablets of the covenant, Israel violated the demands of the covenant by worshiping the golden calf. The worship of the golden calf was a violation of the demands of the covenant and an act of supreme apostasy.

Exodus 32 relates how the people asked Aaron to make the image of a god who would go before them because they believed that after forty days away from them, Moses was dead. When Moses came back from the mountain with the tablets of the Law, he saw the people worshiping the golden calf. Moses broke the tablets of the covenant. Moses’ act of breaking the tablets of the covenant symbolized Israel’s breaking the covenant relationship with God.

Below is a list of posts dealing with several issues mentioned in the book of Exodus. These include studies on the oppression of Israel, the revelation of the divine name, Israel’s journey in the wilderness, Israel at Sinai, and a series of studies on the Golden Calf. In the near future, I will include a series of studies on the Ark of the Covenant.


Studies on Moses

Studies on Moses

Moses as a Leader of the People

Exodus: The Oppression of Israel

Exodus: The Birth of Moses

Exodus: Moses Among His People

The Ordination of the Priest

Standing Stones: Reconciling With God

Moses’ Two Mothers

Mount Nebo

Moses on Mount Nebo

Who Was the Moses of the Bible?

Did Moses Have a Cleft Lip?

Was Moses Left-handed?

The Five Books of Moses

Moses and the Exodus

The Exodus from Egypt: A New Explanation

Moses and Divine Providence

Moses’ Cushite Wife

Was Moses a Bigamist?

Moses and Pharaoh

Moses and His Crocodile

Were the Israelites in Egypt?

“Leave Me Alone”

Moses’ Prayer for Rebellious Israel

The God Who Answers Prayer

Did Moses Invent the Alphabet?

Moses and American History

Moses and Jesus Are Buried in India

A Modern-day Descendant of Moses

Moses: A Concert for Piano and Orchestra

Did Moses Exist?

Moses Goes to Hollywood

Defending the Bible

Israel in the Wilderness of Sinai

Israel’s Journey to Mount Sinai

Israel in the Wilderness of Sinai

The Geographical Challenges of the Sinai

God’s Covenant with Israel

The Diversity of God’s Covenants

The Mission of Israel

The Colors of the Tabernacle

Studies on the God of the Old Testament

The Character of God

The Character of God as Seen Through the Liturgical Credo of Exodus 34:6-7

The Character of God as Seen Through the Liturgical Credo of Exodus 34:6-7 – Part 2

The Character of God as Seen Through the Liturgical Credo of Exodus 34:6-7 – Part 3

The Character of God as Seen Through the Liturgical Credo of Exodus 34:6-7 – Part 4

The Character of God as Seen Through the Liturgical Credo of Exodus 34:6-7 – Part 5

“The Mysterious God: The Voice from the Fire in Exodus 3.”

Translating the Bible: Does God Inhabit Eternity?

Greg Boyd and the Character of God – Part 1: Introduction

Greg Boyd and the Character of God – Part 2: A Merciful and Gracious God

Greg Boyd and the Character of God – Part 3: Exodus 20:5 – The Second Commandment

Greg Boyd and the Character of God – Part 4: The Intergenerational Punishment Statement

Greg Boyd and the Character of God – Part 5 – Exodus 34:7 – “Leave Me Alone”

Greg Boyd and the Character of God – Part 6 – Exodus 34:7 – “The Day I Settle Accounts”

Studies on the Golden Calf

1. The Golden Calf

2. The Golden Calf: The Background of Israel’s Idolatry

3. The Making of the Golden Calf

4. The Golden Calf: Moses’ First Prayer

5. The Golden Calf: “Leave Me Alone”

6. The Golden Calf: Moses’ Second Prayer (forthcoming)


The Ordination of the Priest

Aaron the Priest and His Modern Day Descendants


Miriam the Prophetess

The Leadership of Miriam

The Ark of the Covenant (forthcoming)

Other Studies on Exodus

Pharaoh and His Army

Honor Your Mother

“You Shall Not Steal,” Exodus 20:15.

Augustine on Abortion

Was King Tut the Pharaoh of the Exodus?

Witches and Witchcraft in the Bible

Republished with permission from, featuring inspiring Bible verses about Introduction to the Book of Exodus.

Republished with permission from

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