EXODUS 1 - 18




1.         The Name of the Book.


a.         Hebrew Name:  The Hebrew name is taken from the first two words of the book ("And these are the Names").


b.         Greek Name:     Exodus.


The word means "departure."  It signifies the departure of the Israelites from Egypt.  Our title Exodus is taken from this title.  This same word is used in Luke 9:31 where Christ speaks of His “exodus” that was going to take place from this world when He died upon the cross.


2.         Theme of Exodus.


The theme of Exodus is Redemption.  The Exodus from Egypt was THE redemptive event of the Old Testament.  It is not stating the matter too strongly to say that what the cross is to the New Testament, the Exodus Event was to the Old Testament.


Old Testament



New Testament



This redemption theme involved three parts:


a.         The deliverance from Egypt.

b.         The establishing of the Covenant of Law.

c.         The regulations for worship as the means for approaching God.


3.         Place of Writing.


There is evidence to indicate that the Mosaic History was not a single unified work.   Genesis ends with the death of Joseph.  But then Exodus recaps the Joseph story in Exodus 1:1-7.  The fact of this transition shows that there is something of a break between these two books.  Therefore we are to consider them as two separate books and not merely the next chapter in an ongoing book.


A further example is seen in the period of time which is covered in Exodus.


            And the sons of Israel ate the manna FORTY YEARS, until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. (Exodus 16:35).


Either Moses is writing this at the end of their Wilderness Wanderings or else Joshua takes up the prophetic mantle (under the direction of the Holy Spirit) and edits this book following the death of his mentor.


On the other hand, there is a certain continuity between Genesis and Exodus.  This is why Exodus starts with a conjunction  ("and").


4.         Outline and Structure of the Book.




Preparation of the Deliverer

Pharaoh & The Plagues

Through the Red Sea

Provision in the Wilderness

The Giving of the Law

Regulations for the Tabernacle

Israel in


Enroute to

the Sinai

Israel at

the Sinai

Bondage and Oppression

Deliverance & Provision

Law & Pattern for Worship

1  -  6

7  -  12

13  -  15

15  -  18

19  -  24

25  -  40


There is a movement within this book as God takes His people from their slavery and brings them to the place where they can worship Him in freedom.


The Israelites are enslaved in Egypt

The Covenant People worshiping their God in Sinai


5.         The Purposes of the Book.


a.         To Fulfill the Covenant Promise.


God had given some very specific promises to Abraham with regard to his descendants coming out of Egypt.  The book of Exodus provides the fulfillment of those promises.


b.         Authenticate the ministry of Moses.


One purpose of this book will be to authenticate the ministry of Moses.  It will demonstrate that...


(1)       Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt under the direction of the Lord.


(2)       The Mosaic Law was from God Himself and must be strictly observed.


(3)       The regulations regarding the Tabernacle and worship rest of Divine authority.


c.         The spiritual heritage of Israel.


This book will be the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of Israel all rolled up into one.  It is here that we find out how God FEELS about His covenant people.


d.         To instruct in worship and obedience.  Exodus contains regulations, both for moral living as well as for worship.


e.         For our benefit.


The Apostle Paul said that the things written in the book of Exodus are written for OUR benefit (1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 15:4).





Perhaps the key chronological question of the Old Testament is the dating of the Exodus.  Two major views have been set forth.


1.         The Early Date:  1440 B.C.


This date is taken from 1 Kings 6:1 which designates a span of 480 years from the Exodus to the dedication of Solomon's Temple, an occurrence which has been established around 960 B.C.


2.         The Late Date:  About 1270 B.C.


This date is based upon the Septuagint reading of Exodus 12:40.  The Massoretic text reads:


            Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. (Exodus 12:40).


When we read the Greek Septuagint, we find the addition of the words                 :


            Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in the land of Egypt AND IN THE LAND OF CANAAN was four hundred and thirty years. (Exodus 12:40 LXX).


This view sees the period from Abraham's entrance into the land of Canaan to the Exodus as being a period of 400 years.  A number of evidences have been set forth for each of these two chronologies:






The reigning Pharaoh would have been Amenhotep II of the 18th Dynasty.

The Pharaoh of the Exodus would have been either Rameses II or Merenptah.

1 Kings 6:1 designates 480 from the Exodus to the dedication of Solomon's Temple (966 B.C.).

The 480 years is 12 generations (12x40=480).  In reality a generation was only about 25 years.

In Judges 11:26 Jephthah says that 300 years had passed from his day since the entrance into Canaan.

Jephthah's remark was a generalization and was not meant to be taken literally.


There are a number of historical and archaeological factors to be considered in the establishing of the date:


    •       In Exodus 1:11 the Israelites are said to have been involved in the building of the city of Rameses.


There are several possibilities here:


(a)       The name Rameses was used prior to the 13th century and could have been given to this city at that time.


(b)       Even according to this account, the city was being built PRIOR to the birth of Moses and therefore 80 years before the Exodus as well as before the reign of Rameses II.


(c)       It is possible that this city was later named after Rameses II and that our Biblical Text was "modernized" by later scribes.


    •       The Merenptah Stela (dated at about 1220 B.C.) mentions Israel by name as one of the recognized people-groups in Canaan.


    •       The Amarna Tablets contain letters written from cities in Canaan to the pharaoh of Egypt.  They tell of an upheaval caused by invading "Habiru."





The first chapter of Exodus sets the stage, telling of the oppression of the Israelites in the land of Egypt.  It gets us ready to hear the story of the coming of Moses, the deliverer.  There is an interesting comparison to be seen between Moses and Joseph.


    •       Both were forced from their home to go into a foreign land.

    •       Each was the object of jealousy.

    •       Each married the daughter of a Gentile priest.

    •       Each resulted in leading God's people to a new land.


As Joseph was the rescuer of his fellow Israelites by bringing the people into Egypt to escape the famine, so also Moses will be the deliverer of his people by taking them out of Egypt.


The name "Moses" comes from the Hebrew root mashah, meaning "to draw out" (Exodus 2:10).  However, there is a similar Egyptian word which signifies one who is a son (Thutmose, Rameses).

1.         His Preservation.


Moses was born amidst a murderous persecution of the people of Israel.  The Pharaoh of Egypt had issued a decree that all male Hebrew children should be cast into the Nile and killed.


There is a bit or irony in the story as the mother of Moses placed him upon the Nile in accordance with the letter of the law of the Pharaoh, but did so in a basket designed to protect him.


When the Pharaoh's daughter found the basket, she recognized the child as a Hebrew, but decided to raise him anyway.


2.         His Education.


In his sermon before the Sanhedrin, Stephen made reference to the education of Moses.


            "And Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds." (Acts 7:22).


From childhood, Moses was raised in the courts of Pharaoh as the son of Pharaoh's daughter.  If we are correct in assigning the Exodus to the 18th dynasty of Egypt, then this daughter may well have been Hatshepsut, who later reigned for a time as the pharaoh of Egypt.


3.         His Early Career.


Josephus tells a story of how the Ethiopians invaded Egypt during the time when Moses was a young man in the courts of Pharaoh.  According to the story, it was Moses who gathered up the demoralized armies of Egypt and drove off the invaders from the south.




"By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to endure the passing pleasures of sin; 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward." (Hebrews 11:24-26).


1.         Flight From Egypt.


When Moses was about forty years old an incident took place which was to dramatically change the course of his life.  He came upon an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and he intervened, murdering the Egyptian and hiding his body in the sand.


The next day, he intervened again, this time between two Hebrews and in the verbal altercation, it became apparent that news of the murder had spread.  Moses fled from Egypt and sought refuge in the land of Midian where he became a shepherd for the next 40 years.


2.         The Land of Midian.


The Midianites were descendants of Abraham through a second wife named Keturah (Genesis 25:1-2).  Along with his other sons through Keturah, Abraham sent Midian to live on the east side of the Jordan (Genesis 25:5).


The boundaries on their land were both indefinite and subject to change.  For the most part, they lived to the east of the Gulf of Aqaba.  They were a nomadic race of tent-dwellers.


3.         Moses Commissioned.


After spending 40 years as a shepherd, the Lord appears to Moses in a burning bush.  The scene takes place amidst the craggy peaks of the mountains of the rugged Sinai Peninsula.  A Hebrew shepherd is standing barefoot before a burning bush.  The God of his ancestors speaks to him from the flames.  In the midst of this conversation between Creator and creation, the question is asked of the name of God.


This was a significant question.  In the ancient world, the name of a person or a city or a deity was not without meaning.  The name of a person would often describe an attribute of that person.  Likewise, the name of a deity would usually indicate some specific attribute of that deity.


For example, the name "Jesus" is a Greek rendition of the Hebrew name "Joshua" and means "Yahweh saves."  Thus, to believe in the name of Jesus is to believe in the saving work which His name implies (John 1:12; Acts 3:16).  As Moses confronts God, he asks for a name.  There are two answers given.


a.         "I AM WHO I AM".


This first answer is the repetition of the verb "I AM."  This is the Qal imperfect of the phrase "to be".  The fact that the imperfect is used means that we could translate this as "I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE."  The name indicates the attribute of continuing existence.  He describes Himself as the Continuing God.


b.         "THE LORD" or "YAHWEH".


It appears that the yodh is preformative to the root word hawah, which would make it a 3rd masculine singular Qal imperfect ("HE WILL BE").  This would be a reference to the previous phrase "I AM WHO I AM."

Dr. Barton Payne suggests that this is to be taken as a paranomasia, a play on words rather than an etymology.


A problem arises in that Yahweh is said to be the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, even though in Exodus 6:3 the Lord says that He was not known to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the name     .


            God spake further to Moses, and said to him, "I am the LORD; 3 and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them." (Exodus 6:2-3).


As early as Genesis 4:26 we read that "men began to call upon the name of Yahweh."  There also seem to be references where the name Yahweh was spoken to Abraham (Genesis 18:14; 22:14).  We can surmise one of two possibilities:


            This statement indicates that the Patriarchs had an incomplete understanding of the name and its relation to the verb hayah which had just recently been revealed in Exodus 3:14.


            The name was not emphasized in the days of the Patriarchs.  In favor of this latter premise, it is noted that, although Yahweh is used often in Genesis, it USUALLY appears in the midst of a narrative rather than in a place where one of the Patriarchs is either speaking or is being addressed.  On the other hand, Laban is pictured as using the term Yahweh as he enters into a covenant with Jacob (Genesis 31:49).  Indeed, even the mother of Moses has a name which consists of a compound with Yahweh in its abbreviated form Ya (Jokhebed).


The name Yahweh is further described in Exodus 3:14-15 as the name of the Lord "forever" and as His "memorial name to all generations" (Exodus 3:15).  The Hebrew text presents this as more of a parallel:


This is My name...


This way I am to be remembered...


To generation after generation.


Over a thousand years after Moses, a Galilean rabbi stood in the temple in Jerusalem and boldly proclaimed, "Before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58), echoing the same eimi of the Septuagint (the LXX adds the present participle of eimi to say in effect, "I am the Existing One").  The use of the Greek present tense accords with the Hebrew imperfect of Exodus 3:14, both indicating a continuing state of existence.  As a result of this interview, Moses returns to Egypt to be God's spokesman in the courts of Pharaoh.





            And afterward Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, `Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.'" (Exodus 5:1).


Why was the request put this way?  God had already told Moses that it was His intention to release the Israelites in a more permanent way.  Was this an intentional untruth?


No.  God knew what the end result would be.  But there was also an intermediate plan.  It was that the Israelites might worship the Lord apart from the sovereignty of Pharaoh.  You see, the Pharaoh was considered to be one of the gods of Egypt.  He was the incarnation of the pagan gods.  The Lord calls for him to submit to the God of the universe by permitting the Israelites to be removed to a place where they will not longer be under the rule and control of the god of Egypt.  Pharaoh will have to suspend his sovereignty over the Hebrews for this time of sacrifice.  Pharaoh is going to try to compromise.  He will settle for partial sovereignty as long as God also settles for partial sovereignty.


This was echoed in the early church when the Roman emperors insisted that Christians worship the emperor in addition to Christ.  They were content to allow Christians to worship as they wished as long as they also worshiped the emperor.  But God does not share His sovereignty.  He is the only God.





The plagues were God's judging hand against those who had enslaved and were persecuting His people.  It has been suggested that many (if not all) of these plagues were directed against the false gods of Egypt.


            The Nile was worshiped.

            Heqt, the god of resurrection, took the form of a frog.

            Hathor, the mother-goddess, took the form of a cow.  Bulls were also held sacred.

            Nut was the sky goddess.

            Isis was the goddess of life.

            Seth was the protector of crops.

            The sun was worshiped as the symbol of several different gods.

            The pharaoh was worshiped as a god.







Inflicted by hand of Aaron using the rod.



Inflicted by the hand of the Lord.


Destructive beyond anything ever before experienced in Egypt.

Inflicted by the hand of Moses.


The first three plagues were suffered by both Egyptian and Israelite alike.  But plagues 4-9 were only upon the Egyptians.





The climactic plague was the death of the firstborn.  Every firstborn in Egypt, whether Egyptian, Israelite, man, or animal, was placed under the sentence of death.  The only way in which this sentence could be commuted would be by the application of the blood of a slain lamb to the doorposts and lintel of the house.


            "For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments - I am the Lord.

            "And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will PASS OVER you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt." (Exodus 12:12-13).


It is no mistake that the crucifixion of Christ took place on the Passover.  He is the fulfillment of the Passover Lamb that was taken and its blood applied for our redemption (1 Corinthians 5:7).





1.         The Place of the Crossing.


            Now it came about when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, "Lest the people change their minds when they see war, and they return to Egypt."

            Hence God led the people around by the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt. (Exodus 13:17-18).


The words "Red Sea" in verse 18 are translated from the Hebrew Yam Suph and should be literally "Sea or Reeds."  Some have argued that this refers to the marshy lakes while lie along the present path of the Suez Canal.  It is thought that these lakes were very shallow and the Israelites were able to wade through them while the heavier armor of the Egyptians became mired in the mud.


Another view identified the Yam Suph as the Gulf of Elath, located to the northeast of the Nile Delta.  The problem with this view is that the Bible expressly says that Israel did not take the route known as "the way of the Philistines" (Exodus 13:17).


The Bible continues to speak of the Yam Suph in a way that is an obvious reference to the Red Sea.  In 1 Kings 9:26 Solomon is said to have built a fleet of ships on the shore of the Yam Suph.  It is unlikely that these ships would have been built on the shores of some small lake in Egypt.  It is noteworthy that the northern arm of the Red Sea is relatively shallow, averaging about 18 feet in depth.


2.         The Parting of the Waters.


            Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided.

            And the sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them, on their right hand and on their left. (Exodus 14:21-22).


Notice that the parting of the waters was directly caused by the "strong east wind."  The prevailing winds in that area are normally from the west.  An east wind coming off the desert brings dry dust.  In this case, it must have been a very localized wind to drive back the waters at the precise place that Israel could cross.


Although the waters were parted on the "right hand and on their left," we must not infer that the path through the sea was a narrow hall as has been portrayed in the modern cinema.  The indication is that the entire tribe of Israel numbering many hundreds of thousands passed through in the space of a single night.  If this is so, then the parting of the sea might well have been up to a mile wide so that all could make the crossing.


3.         The Destruction of Pharaoh's Army.


The major arm of the army of Egypt was made up in their chariot corps.  When they attempted to pursue the Israelites through the Red Sea, they ran into problems.


            And it came about at the morning watch, that the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion.

            And He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from Israel, for the Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians." (Exodus 14:24-25).


A traffic jam seems to have taken place on the sea bottom.  Before it could be untangled, the waters came together, covering soldiers and chariots alike so that all were lost.


4.         Baptized through the Sea.


There is an intriguing reference to this crossing in the New Testament in terms of a BAPTISM.


            For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were BAPTIZED into Moses in the cloud and in the sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-2).


Those who departed from Egypt and who went through the cloud and through the sea were said to be BAPTIZED.  This was a baptism "into Moses."


Baptism always refers to a process of identification.  Those who left Egypt and went through the sea were identified with Moses.  Moses led the way through a place that meant death to the enemies of God.  But for the people of God, it was a way of salvation.  In the same way, Christ led the way through death to life.





As the Children of Israel move into the Wilderness, they are confronted with a series of tests, all involving food and water.






Exodus 15:22-26


Bitter waters

Waters turned sweet

Exodus 16:1-36

Wilderness of Sin

No food

Quail & Manna

Exodus 17:1


No water

Strike rock


1.         Bitter Waters at Marah.


            And when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter, therefore it was named Marah. (Exodus 15:23).


It was through the tree of Christ that the bitter waters of sin were turned to sweet waters of salvation.

This first problem facing the Israelites in the wilderness was one of bitter waters.  I have been in the desert and can attest that there is no greater need there than that of water.


Moses was given instructions to take a certain tree and throw it into the waters.  The result was that the water became sweet.


On the heels of this event, the Lord gave a promise which would later be repeated.  It was a promise concerning diseases.


            And He said, "If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have  put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer." (Exodus 15:26).


God had smitten the Egyptians with various plagues and diseases during the period leading up to the Exodus Event.  The Israelites had seen the mighty hand of God at work and it scared them.  If you ever really see God at work, it will scare you, too.  And so, this promise was given to comfort them.


2.         Manna.


The next problem which the Israelites faced was a lack of food.  When the people grumbled about this lack, the Lord responded by sending two different types of food.


(a)       Quail (16:13).

(b)       Manna (16:14-15).


            So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.

            When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground.

            When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?"  For they did not know what it was.  And Moses said to them, "It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat." (Exodus 16:13-15).


When the people first saw the manna, they asked the question, "What is it?" (literally "Who is he?" - there is no neuter in Hebrew).  Apparently, this is where the name for manna came from.  It was called “the whatever-you-call-it.”


            And the house of Israel named in MANNA, and it was like coriander seed, white; and its taste was like wafers with honey. (Exodus 16:31).


Our English word "manna" is transliterated from the Hebrew word meaning, "What."  Manna was "bread from heaven."  It gave life to the Israelites in the wilderness.  Jesus is THE BREAD from heaven.  And to partake of Him is to partake of life.


3.         The Test as Rephidim.


Once again, the Israelites faced a test of no water.  Again they grumble at Moses.  And this time, Moses is told to take his staff and strike a rock so that water would come out of it.


Jesus is our Rock.  But it was not until He was stricken on our behalf that we received the life-giving water.


4.         Moses and Jethro.


As Moses and the Israelites arrive at Sinai, he is met by his father-in-law, Jethro.  This man was an interesting character who gave Moses advice.


a.         Jethro was the priest of Midian (Exodus 3:1).


b.         Jethro comes to recognize that the Lord is greater than all of the other gods of the ancient world (Exodus 18:10-11).


c.         Jethro comes and offers a sacrifice to the Lord in the presence of all Israel (Exodus 18:12).


As Jethro watches the ministry of Moses, he shows him that he has spread himself to thin.  Moses takes the advice of Jethro and delegates much of the work of judging among the people to a series of judges.


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