Introduction to the Book of Exodus Index
Research Material

TITLE:

  • Like each of the other four books of the Pentateuch, Exodus is designated by the Jews according to the first phrase of the Hebrew text, We'eleh shemoth, "And these are the names." The name Exodus is a compound of tow Greek words meaning "the way out" or "the going out" (of the Israelites from Egypt), and was adopted by English translators from the Vulgate, which in turn took it from the LXX. This term refers, of course, to the central theme of the book. The words, "The Second Book of Moses," do not appear in the Hebrew test but were added at a later time. (1BC 491)

AUTHORSHIP:

  • The question of the authorship of the book of Exodus is closely related to that of all the books of the Pentateuch, and Genesis in particular, of which it is the continuation. The book of Exodus plays an important role in the problem of identifying the author of the Pentateuch, since certain of its statements designate Moses as the author of specific parts of it. Moses, for instance, was to record the battle against the Amalekites "in a book" (Exodus 17:14). This, together with (Numbers 33:2), points to the fact that Moses kept a diary. It is evident from (Exodus 24:4) that he wrote down the ordinances contained in (Exodus 20:21 thru Exodus 23:33), the "book of the covenant" (Exodus 24:7). According to (Exodus 34:27) he is the author of the revelation recorded in (Exodus 34:11-26). The evidence preserved in the book of Exodus itself thus points specifically to Moses as the author of historical and other reports found in it. Except for Moses, no individual is mentioned in the Pentateuch as having written any part of it. (1BC 491)
  • The use of many Egyptian words and the accurate description of the Egyptian life and customs appearing in the first part of the book strongly suggest that the author had been educated in Egypt and was intimately acquainted with the country and its culture. No other known Hebrew after the time of Joseph was qualified to write the story of the Exodus. Moses alone seems to have been "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). The strongest proof of Mosaic authorship, however, is found in the New Testament. In Mark 12:26 Christ quotes Exodus 3:6, and refers to His source as "the book of Moses" (GC 434). These three considerations - the direct witness of the book itself, the indirect evidence that the author was educated in Egypt, and the testimony of Christ - all guarantee the accuracy of the Jewish tradition that Moses wrote the book of Exodus. (1BC 491-492)

HISTORICAL SETTING:

  • Moses' first book, Genesis, presents a brief outline of the history of God's chosen ones from the creation of the world to the close of the patriarchal age, a period of many centuries. In its first two chapters, however, Exodus, the continuation of Genesis, covers only about 80 years, and in the remainder of the book but a year or so. (1BC 492)
  • Though the absence of archeological evidence prevents our dogmatizing on various points of the history of the Israelites in Egypt, there seems to be sufficient evidence to justify the conclusion that Joseph and Jacob entered Egypt during the time of the Hyksos. These Semitic rulers were friendly toward their racial relatives, the Hebrews, and under them Joseph rose to honor and fame. As foreign invaders and rulers, however, the Hyksos would be hated by native Egyptians even though they might rule with a light hand and work in the interests of their subjects. (1BC 492)