The Book of Exodus

The Book of Genesis showed how God kept alive the promise given to Adam and Eve that one of their descendents would crush the evil of this world and how Abraham's family would be a blessing to all families. That hope now moved on to the prophet Moses. Sometime after the death of Joseph, the Israelites, who had been guests in the land of Egypt because of famine, were forced into slavery. After more than 400 years, God heard their cry for help.


1-18 Israel Is Delivered from Slavery
19-40 Israel Is Formed Into a Holy Nation


Repetition is one of the things you'll notice about Exodus. God will explain how He wants things done, then Moses will explain the same thing to the people. This repetition helped to reinforce the importance of God's instructions.

Many Details

As you get into the second half of Exodus, you might wonder why there are so many details in God's instructions about Israel's worship. First, these detailed instructions show us that this is history not mythology. Second, the details caused the people of Israel to concentrate carefully on God's redemption. In the same way, the New Testament concentrates very carefully on the redemptive work of Jesus. God wants us to be thinking constantly about our sin and salvation, our lack of holiness and His gift of holiness. This is how He keeps us close to Him. Exodus 34.6-7 is a key verse:

And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation.”

Chapter Summaries

01 - Israelites Afflicted in Egypt
Seventy persons migrated to Egypt. The Israelites multiplied mightily. A new king arose and worried that they might turn against them. The Egyptians afflicted them, but they continued to multiply. The midwives were told to kill newborn boys. They disobeyed. God blessed the midwives. Pharaoh commanded the boys be thrown into the river.

02 - Birth of Moses
Moses’ mother puts him in a basket and floats him down the river. Pharaoh’s daughter retrieves him and adopts him. When Moses had grown, he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. The crime is seen, and Moses flees to Midian. Moses protected the daughters of the priest of  Midian.  He married Zipporah and had a son named Gershom. God heard the cries of the Israelites. 

03 - The Burning Bush
The Angel of the LORD appears to Moses in burning bush. He chose Moses to lead them. Moses asks for His name.  I AM WHO I AM. He is to lead them out of Egypt to the land of Canaan. The LORD will strike Egypt, and they will be let go. 

04 - The LORD Prepares Moses to Confront Pharaoh
The LORD gives Moses signs to show that he is speaking for Him: Sign of the rod/snake, sign of the leprous hand, sign of water to blood.  Moses complains of speech problems. Aaron, his brother, will help. Israel worshipped after hearing Aaron.

Note: Moses had neglected to circumcise his sons, a sign of God’s promises since the time of Abraham. Zipporah does what Moses should have done to save him from God’s displeasure. Moses learns that he must follow God’s word carefully. 

05 - First Confrontation with Pharaoh
Pharaoh stops giving straw but requires same quota of bricks. Pharaoh accuses Israel of idleness. Israel saw they were in trouble. They turn against Moses. Moses complains to God

06 - God Encourages Moses
The LORD assures Moses again that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and of His will to lead Israel out of Egypt. The families of Moses and Aaron are noted. Israel doesn’t listen to Moses. Moses complains that he has “uncircumcised lips,” or that he is unprepared or unable to be a prophet.

07 - First Plague - Water Turned to Blood
God makes Moses like God to Pharaoh and Aaron his prophet. The LORD will harden Pharaoh’s heart to save Israel. Moses 80 yrs, Aaron 83 yrs.  Aaron’s rod turns to a serpent, sorcerers rods do the same, Aaron’s rod swallows them. First Plague - Water turned to blood. Pharaoh’s heart hardened.

Note: God gives every person blessings which should cause them to believe in Him. Pharaoh choose to believe in the idols of Egypt instead of the Creator. In his particular case, judgment day came early. The LORD hardened his heart by letting him go in his unbelief.  As we will see in chapter nine, Pharaoh also hardened his own heart. 

08 - Second Plague - Frogs; Third Plague Lice; Fourth Plague Flies
Moses caused frogs to come up, but the magicians did the same. Moses struck the dust and brought lice, and the magicians were unable to do this. They said this was the finger of God. Moses causes flies, Pharaoh lets the people go. Pharaoh reneges.

09 - Fifth Plague-Livestock Die; Sixth Plague-Boils; Seventh Plague-Hail; 
Egyptian animals die but not Israel's. Moses throws dust and causes boils. Pharaoh's heart hardened. Hail destroys every plant and tree of Egypt but not land of Goshen. Pharaoh repents then changes his mind.

10 - Eighth Plague-Locusts; Ninth Plague-Darkness
Locusts ate what the hail didn’t destroy (The wheat had not yet matured). Pharaoh allows men but not children to go. Pharaoh repented. Plague of darkness that could be felt. Pharaoh agrees to let men and children go but not livestock. Pharaoh says he will never see Moses again. Moses agrees. 

11 - Final, Tenth Plague Threatened
Israel asks for silver and gold from neighbors. First born of man and animal will be destroyed. God will make a distinction between Egypt and Israel. Pharaoh’s heart hardened.

12 - The Passover
This is the first month. Take lamb or kid and kill at twilight. Blood of doorposts and lintel. Eat in haste.  Death angel will pass through the land of Egypt and strike firstborn. Judgments on the gods of Egypt.  Israel was to eat this as a memorial. Unleavened bread for seven days. Use hyssop to mark doors with blood. Do not go outside. Later explain to the children. Pharaoh sends Israel away and asks for a blessing. 6,000 men besides women and children. Israel lived in Egypt 430 years.  Foreigners cannot eat the Passover. Circumcised slaves can. Don’t break bones of lambs. 

13 - Consecration of the Firstborn
First born of man and beast belong to God... One week of unleavened bread to remember the Passover... First born animals are sacrificed. Firstborn males are redeemed to remember that God destroyed the firstborn of Egypt... The LORD leads through the wilderness of the Red Sea rather than through the Canaanites... He leads with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

14 - Crossing the Red Sea
Camp between Migdol & the sea. Hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh pursues. People fear. Moses lifts rod, sea parts, people cross over. Pillar of fire moves behind them. Darkness to one and light to the other. Moses stretched hand over the sea and it returned. People feared the LORD and believed Moses

15 -Song of Moses and Song of Miriam 
The LORD triumphed. Pharaoh and his army were drowned. Waters stood upright. The enemy pursued and was destroyed. Who is a God like You? Philistines, Edom, Moab and Canaan will be afraid.. You will bring Your people into the land. Miriam the women in praise.. Three days journey, no water. Bitter water of Marah made sweet. Heed the voice of the LORD for healing. Camped at Elim. 12 wells, 70 palm trees

Exodus 16. Quail, Mana, Sabbath
Between Elim and Sinai. Quail and Mana provided for six days to test their obedience. Gather according to need, one omer per man. Prepare extra food for the Sabbath. An omer was kept before the “testimony.” They mana 40 years until they came to Canaan.

Exodus 17. No Water, Battle with Amalek
At Rephidim no water. People complain against Moses. They are ready to stone me. Moses struck the rock at the place he called Massah and Meribah because they doubted the LORD. Amalekites fight. Aaron and Hur hold up Moses arms withe rod. Moses built and altar.. The LORD Is My Banner.

Exodus 18. Jethro’s Advice
Jethro, priest of Midian took Moses’ wife Zipporah and their two sons to Moses.  Jethro gets report from Moses and offers a sacrifice.  Jethro recommends setting up leaders of 1,000s, 100s, 50s & 10s to help judge Israel.  

Note: The second half of Exodus explains the way God maintains His presence with the people of Israel. Because of His holiness and their sinfulnes, God established an important system of sacrifices that brought them forgiveness and led them in a holy life. Some of this may seem tedious to us, but this was God’s way of keeping His people thinking about Him and His grace. Paul said that these things were a shadow of Jesus, who is the substance of God’s grace and forgiveness. Colossians 2.16-17. As Israel gave careful attention to sacrifices, forgiveness and holiness; so we give very careful attention to Jesus, His sacrifice, His forgiveness, and the life of holiness we are called to live by faith. 

Exodus 19. Israel at Mount Sinai
3 months to Wilderness of Sinai.  God calls Moses to tell Israel they are a kingdom of priests.  Israel agrees to the covenant.  The people are not to touch the mountain. 

Exodus 20.  The Ten Commandments
Moses receives the Ten Commandments. People are afraid of God. They are to make altars or earth or stone. 

Exodus 21. Rules and Violence
Rules for servants (serve only six years) and bond servants (permanent but only voluntary).  Rules for female servants. Rules for violence, murder or manslaughter. Rules for a goring ox. Penalties  for irresponsibility. 

Note:  Verse 24 gives us the Law Of Retaliation (lex taliones). This law was never imposed literally. It was a principle to insure that all punishments were appropriate, not too harsh and not too lenient. These punishments were not inflicted by the injured but by the judges of Israel. They were a guide for justice, not personal revenge. 

Note: Verse 21 should be translated “But if the slave is able to stand after a day or two, the owner should not be punished because he (the slave) is his property.” The last phrase could also be translated, “because it is his money.” That is to say, if the owner over disciplines his slave and hurts him so that he can’t work, the loss of work is the punishment to the owner.  In the Bible all slaves had to be released after seven years of service unless they voluntarily remained.

Exodus 22. Rules
Rules for thieves. Rules for responsibility. Rules for premarital sex. Sorcery, beastiality, idolatry receive death penalty. Rules for strangers, widows and orphans.  No interest to the poor. First fruits and firstborn belong to God.

Exodus 23. Sabbaths and Feasts
No partiality. Don’t oppress strangers. Sabbath years and Sabbath days. Three feasts for all males: Unleavened Bread, Harvest (New Testament Calls this Pentecost), Ingathering (New Testament calls this Tabernacles). Shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. Obey the voice of the angel that goes before. The LORD will drive out the inhabitants of the land. Other gods will be a snare. 

Exodus 24. Moses on the Mountain
Moses is on the mountain with God for 40 days and nights. He is given the tablets of stone and the law and commandments that he may teach. 

Exodus 25  Ark, Showbread, Lampstand
He describes the ark of the testimony. Table for Showbread. Lamp stand. 

Exodus 26. Tabernacle Roof, Curtains
Tabernacle curtains. Tabernacle covering. Veil to divide the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.  Door of the Tabernacle.

Exodus 27. Altar, Outer Wall
The bronze altar 5x5x3 with horns. Altar utensils. Poles for the altar. Fabric walls around the Tabernacle, south and north sides 100, East and west sides 50, Height 5. Olive oil for the lamp stand.  Aaron & sons tend it from evening to morning, a statute forever.

Exodus 28. Priestly Garments
Aaron and his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar & Ithamar were priests. Garments for glory and beauty. Gifted artisans filled with spirit of wisdom. Breastplate, ephod, robe, tunic, turban, & sash. Two onyx stones engraved with names of sons of Israel on shoulders. Breastplate with four rows of stones (sardius, topaz, emerald; turquoise, sapphire, diamond; jacinth, agate, and amethyst; beryl, onyx, jasper.) Names of sons of Israel on each stone. Breastplate bound to the ephod. Urim & Thummim over Aaron’s heart. Aaron bears the judgment of the sons of Israel before the LORD. Robe of blue for the ephod with pomegranates & bells so that he can be heard ministering. Plate of gold engraved with HOLINESS TO THE LORD hangs on turban. Robes and trousers for Aaron & sons.  A statute forever.

Exodus 29. Sanctifying the Priests
Sanctifying the priests, a sin offering and a whole burnt offering. Blood on the right ear, thumb and toe. Aaron and sons eat the consecration offerings. Daily offerings: Two lambs, morning and night. The LORD speaks with His people at the door of the Tabernacle. 

Exodus 30 Altar Of Incense, Laver, Anointing Oil
Altar of Incense. Stands before the veil. Aaron burns incense at morning and evening. A half shekel offering for each man to maintain the Tabernacle. Bronze Laver between the Tabernacle and the Altar. Priests must wash or die. Holy Anointing Oil. Anoint the Tabernacle and all its parts and utensils and the priests. Incense and oil only for worship.

Exodus 31. The Craftsmen, Commandments
Bezalel and Oholiab given the Spirit and skill to construct the Tabernacle and all its components. Sabbath to be kept or punished with death. Sign of creation and covenant. Moses given tablets of stone written with the finger of God.

Exodus 32. Golden Calf
Aaron builds the golden calf. Moses intercedes for the people. Moses smashes the Tablets. Levites kill three thousand. Moses pleads for blotting out the sin. The LORD smites the people. 

Exodus 33 Moses Prays
The people were obstinate, and the LORD would not go with them to the promised land. Moses set up a tent outside the camp, and the LORD met with him. The people worshipped. Moses prays, “Let me know Your ways.” The LORD lets Moses see His back in the cleft of the rock. 

Exodus 34 Covenant Renewed On Sinai
The LORD says He is gracious but does not overlook sin. Moses makes new Tablets and meets with the LORD on Sinai 40 days and night, no food or water. The LORD renews the covenant with a summary. Moses’ face glowed. He put a veil on it except when he spoke with the LORD. 

Exodus 35 Sabbath and Offerings
Sabbath rest. No work, no fire. Willing heart offerings for the Tabernacle. Everyone came whose heart was stirred. Bezalel and Aholiab filled with the Spirit for artistic workmanship and the ability to teach. 

Exodus 36 Construction Begins
People bring too much. They made the curtains, 28x4 with loops and clasps. Roof covering of animal skins. Boards for the walls. Veil and four pillars. 

Exodus 37  Ark and Other Parts Made
Bezalel made the Ark of Testimony, Table Of Showbread, Golden Lampstand, Altar Of Incense, and the Anointing Oil and Incense. 

Exodus 38 Laver and Curtains, Inventory
Altar 5x5x3, Bronx Laver from bronze mirrors. Curtains south and north sides 100 east and west sides 50, Curtains for each side of gate 15. Screen for the gate of blue, purple and scarlet linen. Inventory of materials, gold, silver, bronze, a half shekel for every man 20 yrs and older 603,750. 

Exodus 39 Garments
The priestly garments. The ephod, breastpiece, robes and engraved headband. Moses inspected everything and blesses their work. 

Exodus 40 Tabernacle Assembled, Inspected, Blessed, Glory of the LORD
All is assembled and anointed. The glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle. When the pillar of cloud lifted they would move. When it stayed they would stay. It was a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. All Israel could see it.




Israelites in Egypt by John Poynter



Moses Retrieved by Pharaoh's Daughter



Moses and the Burning Bush