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Exodus

Exodus
ExodusThree facts support the Jewish tradition that Moses wrote Exodus:
1) The book says so itself, more clearly than do any of the other books of the Pentateuch;

2) Moses grew up and received his education in Egypt and therefore knew Egyptian culture well;

3) Jesus quoted from the book, calling it “the book of Moses.”
Exodus comes from two Greek words meaning “the way out” or “the going out.” The Jews know the book as We’eleh shemoth, from the first words of the Hebrew text, “And these are the names.” Whereas Genesis summarizes many centuries, Exodus covers only about 80 years, the last that Israel spent in Egypt.

Archaeologists have discovered little or no evidence of the Israelites’ presence in or flight from Egypt, probably because the Egyptians recorded only events that showed them in a positive light. According to chronological renderings, Joseph and Jacob would have arrived in Egypt during the time of the Hyksos, a Semitic people who ruled Egypt for about 150 years. Native Egyptians hated the Hyksos despite the fact they ruled justly and worked for the peoples’ best interests. The Egyptian prince Sekenenre and his sons Kamose and Ahomse led several rebellions beginning in 1580 B.C. which eventually led to the expulsion of the Hyksos.

Amenhotep

Thus began the 18th Dynasty, kings who “knew not Joseph” and viewed the Hebrews with suspicion. Following Ahomse, Amenhotep I reigned from 1542 to 1525 B.C. and Thutmose I (the first to use Asiatic slaves for construction) from 1525 to 1508 B.C. Quite possibly Thutmose I’s daughter Hatshepsut (1504-1482 B.C.) was Moses’ foster mother. Hatshepsut’s nephew Thutmose III (1482-1450 B.C.) ruled as co-regent until Hatshepsut disappeared inexplicably about the same time Moses fled to Midian.

AmenhotepThutmose III’s ruthless son Amenhotep II (1450-1425 B.C.) fits the description of the Pharaoh in Exodus. Perhaps Amenhotep II’s firstborn died in the tenth plague because the son who succeeded him, Thutmose IV (1425-1412 B.C.), was not his firstborn.

In the 15th century B.C., Egypt stretched from Africa to Asia. Mesopotamia heavily influenced Egyptian culture, though the Egyptians developed their own unique writing style. Science flourished. Egypt’s medical knowledge was so advanced that it was not improved upon for many centuries, and even the Greeks modeled their god of medicine after an ancient Egyptian physician. The gold produced in Nubia spread Pharaoh’s fame the world over. Egypt received so much tribute from other nations and had so many foreign slaves that the king no longer employed Egyptian men in public works, building projects, or even military service; this fueled their reluctance to let the Hebrews go. These slaves probably lived better, more comfortable lives than in their home countries, for Egypt was not only the most powerful nation of the time but also the most civilized. These were the cultural and intellectual comforts the Hebrews left behind when they headed out into the wilderness.

As its name suggests, the theme of Exodus is the Israelites’ movement from slavery in Egypt to independence in the wilderness, and the establishment of their religion and culture. The book tells how God begins to fulfill His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by leading their descendants to the Promised Land.

Today, Exodus reminds us that God will lead us if we follow Him. Just as He led the Israelites out of slavery, so He frees us from our bondage to sin. Sometimes a lesson to be learned requires that we experience the wilderness before settling in the Promised Land. In Exodus God presents His eternal Law, which we cannot keep of our own volition. But as we let God change our hearts, “Thou shalt not” becomes not so much a command as a promise.

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