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ATS Bible Dictionary

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Greek - exodus
EXODUS

Going out, the name of the second book of Moses and of the Bible; so called because it narrates the departure of the Israelites from Egypt. It comprises a period of about one hundred and forty-five years, from the death of Joseph to the erection of the tabernacle in the desert. The various topics of the book may be thus presented: (1.) The oppression of the Israelites, under the change of dynasty which sprung up after the death of Joseph: "There arose up another king, who knew not Joseph," Exodus 1:8. The reference many believe is to the invasion of Egypt by the Hyksos, who are spoken of in secular history as having invaded Egypt probably about this period, and who held it in subjection for many years. The are termed shepherd-kings, and represented as coming from the east. (2.) The youth, education, patriotism, and flight of Moses, Exodus 2:1- 6:30. (3.) The commission of Moses, the perversity of Pharaoh, and the infliction of the ten plagues in succession, Exodus 7:1-11:10. (4.) The institution of the Passover, the sudden departure of the Israelites, the passage of the Red Sea, and the thanksgiving of Moses and the people on the opposite shore, after the destruction of Pharaoh and his host, Exodus 12:1-15:27. (5.) The narration of various miracles wrought in behalf of the people during their journeyings towards Sinai, Exodus 15:1-17:16. (6.) The promulgation of the law on mount Sinai. This includes the preparation of the people by Moses, and the promulgation, first of the moral law, then of the judicial law, and subsequently of the ceremonial law, including the instructions for the erection of the tabernacle and the completion of that house of God, Exodus 19:1-40:38.

The scope of the book is not only to preserve the memorial of the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, but to present to view the church of God in her afflictions and triumphs; to point out the providential care of God over her, and the judgments inflicted on her enemies. It clearly shows the accomplishment of the divine promises and prophecies delivered to Abraham: that his posterity would be numerous, Genesis 15:5 17:4-6 46:27 Numbers 1:1-3,46; and that they should be afflicted in a land not their own, whence they should depart in the fourth generation with great substance,

Genesis 15:13-16 Exodus 12:40-41. Their exodus in many particulars well illustrates the state of Christ’s church in the wilderness of this world, until her arrival in the heavenly Canaan. See 1 Corinthians 10:1-33 Hebrews 1:1-13:25. The book of Exodus brings before us many and singular types of Christ: Moses, Deuteronomy 18:15; Aaron, Hebrews 4:14-16; the paschal lamb, Exodus 12:46 John 19:36 1 Corinthians 5:7-8; the manna, Exodus 1:1-40:38 16:15 1 Corinthians 10:3; the rock in Horeb, Exodus 17:6 1 Corinthians 10:4; the mercy seat, Exodus 37:6 Romans 3:25 Hebrews 4:16; the tabernacle, Exodus 40:1- 38, "The Word tabernacled among us," John 1:14.

This departure from Egypt, and the subsequent wanderings of the children of Israel in the desert, form one of the great epochs in their history. They were constantly led by Jehovah, and the whole series of events is a constant succession of miracles. From their breaking up at Rameses, to their arrival on the confines of the promised land, there was an interval of forty years, during which one whole generation passed away, and the whole Mosaic law was given, and sanctioned by the thunders and lightnings of Sinai. There is no portion of history extant which so displays the interposition of an overruling Providence in the affairs both of nations and of individuals, as that which recounts these wanderings of Israel.

The four hundred and thirty years referred to in Exodus 12:40, date, according to the received chronology, from the time when the promise was made to Abraham, Genesis 15:13. From the arrival of Jacob in Egypt to the exodus of his posterity, was about two hundred and thirty years. The threescore and fifteen souls had now become 600,000, besides children. They took with them great numbers of cattle, and much Egyptian spoil. It was only by the mighty hand of God that their deliverance was effected; and there seems to have been a special vindication of his glory in the fact that the Nile, the flies, the frogs, fishes, cattle, etc., which were made the means or the subjects of the plagues of Egypt, were there regarded with idolatrous veneration.

After the tenth and decisive plague had been sent, the Israelites were dismissed from Egypt in haste. They are supposed to have been assembled at Rameses, or Heroopolis, in the land of Goshen, about thirty-five miles northwest of Suez, on the ancient canal, which united the Nile with the Red Sea. They set off on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover, that is, about the middle of April. Their course was southeast as far as Etham; but then, instead of keeping on directly to Sinai, they turned to the south, Exodus 14:2, on the west side of the Red Sea, which they reached three days after starting, probably near Suez. Here, by means of a strong east wind, God miraculously divided the waters of the sea in such a way that the Israelites passed over the bed of it on dry ground; while the Egyptians, who attempted to follow them, were drowned by the returning waters. The arm of the sea at Suez is now only three or four miles wide, and at low water may be forded. It is known to have been formerly wider and deeper; but the drifting sands of ages have greatly filled and altered. The miracle here wrought was an amazing one, and revealed the hand of God more signally than any of the ten plagues had done. According to the Bible, God caused a "strong east wind" to blow; the deep waters were sundered, and "gathered together;" "the floods stood upright as a heap;" "the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left." These effects continued all night till the morning watch, and without obstructing the progress of the Hebrews; whereas in the morning the pursuing Egyptians were covered by the sea, and "sank like lead in the mighty waters." These were wonders towards the effecting of which any wind must have been as insufficient as Naaman’s mere washing in Jordan would have been to the healing of his leprosy. It should here be stated also, that some geographers think this miracle took place below Mount Atakah, ten or twelve miles south of Suez, where the sea is about twelve miles wide. This opinion is liable to several objections, though it cannot be proved to be false. At this late day the precise locality may be undiscoverable, like the point of a soul’s transition from the bondage of Satan into the kingdom of God; but in both cases the work is of God, and the glory of it is his alone.

Having offered thanksgiving to God for their wonderful deliverance, the Israelites advanced along the eastern shore of the Red Sea and through the valleys and desert to Mount Sinai. This part of their route may be readily traced, and Marah, Elim, and the desert of Sin have been with much probability identified. They arrived at Mount Sinai in the third month, or June, probably about the middle of it, having been two months on their journey. Here the law was given, and here they abode during all the transactions recorded in Exodus 21:1-Nu 9:23, that is, until the twentieth day of the second month (May) in the following year, a period of about eleven months.

Breaking up at this time from Sinai, they marched northwards through the desert of Paran, or perhaps along the eastern arm of the Red Sea and north through El-Arabah, to Kadesh-barnea, near the southeast border of Canaan. Rephidim near Mount Sinai, and Taberah, Kibroth-hattaaveh, and Hazerorh, on their journey north, were the scenes of incidents, which may be found, described under their several heads. From Kadesh-barnea, spies were sent out to view the promised land, and brought back an evil report, probably in August of the same year. The people murmured, and were directed by Jehovah to turn back and wander in the desert, until the carcasses of that generation should all fall in the wilderness, Numbers 14:25. This they did, wandering from one station to another in the great desert of Paran, lying south of Palestine, and also in the great sandy valley called El-Ghor and chiefly El-Arabah, which extends from the Dead Sea to the gulf of Akaba, the eastern arm of the Red Sea. See JORDAN. Where and how these long years were spent we are not informed, nor by what routes they traversed the desert, nor how they were furnished with food except manna. Moses says they "compassed mount Seir many days," always under the guidance of the pillar of fire and cloud, Numbers 9:22; he also gives a list of seventeen stations, mostly unknown, where thy rested or dwelt before reaching Ezion-gaber, Numbers 33:19-35; and then mentions their return to Kadesh, Numbers 33:36-37, in the first month, Numbers 20:1, after an interval of almost thirty-eight years. While thus a second time encamped at Kadesh, Moses sent to the king of Idumaea, to ask liberty to pass through his dominions, that is, through the chain of mountains (mount Seir) lying along the eastern side of the great valley El-Arabah. See IDUMAEA. This was refused; and Israel, feeling too weak to penetrate into Palestine from the south, in face of the powerful tribes of Canaanites dwelling there, was compelled to take the southern passage around Edom, Numbers 21:4. Soon after turning, they came to mount Hor, where Aaron died and was buried, Numbers 20:20-28. Proceeding southward along the valley El-Arabah to Ezion-gaber, at the head of the eastern gulf of the Red Sea, they here passed through the eastern mountains, and then turned north along the eastern desert, by the route which the great Syrian caravan of Mohammedan pilgrims now passes in going to Mecca. They arrived at the brook Zered, on the southern border of Moab, just forty years after their departure from Egypt.


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'EXODUS'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".
<http://classic.studylight.org/dic/ats/view.cgi?number=T763>. 1859.

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