Exodus

Exodus 1

Q1: Who was the new king who did not know about Joseph, and enslaved the Israelites?

Throughout the Exodus narrative, the pharaoh either implies or asks “Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go” (Ex. 5:2). The irony, perhaps intentional, is that we don’t know pharaoh’s name, but we do know the Lord’s name (Yahweh – “I AM”).  The book of Exodus, was not written to exalt the Egyptian pharaoh (who was considered  “the divine god-king”), but rather the God of Israel. Cross Examined place Amenhotep II (1450 - 1425 B.C.) as the Pharaoh of the famous Biblical Exodus.

Cross Examined

Q2: What/Where are Ramesses and Pithom, the store cities the Israelites built?

Pithom also called Per-Atum or Heroöpolis or Heroonopolis was an ancient city of Egypt. Multiple references in ancient Greek, Roman and Hebrew sources exist for this city. The exact location of this city remains somewhat uncertain. A number of scholars identified it as the modern archaeological site of Tell El Maskhuta.
Exodus mentions "Ramesses" as one of the cities on whose construction the Israelites were forced to labour and from where they departed on their Exodus journey. Understandably, this Ramesses was identified by biblical archaeologists of the nineteenth century with the Pi-Ramesses of Ramesses II.

Q3: Who were the midwives Siphrah and Puah, and what is a midwife?

A midwife is a trained health professional who helps healthy women during labor, delivery, and after the birth of their babies. Midwives may deliver babies at birthing centers or at home, but most can also deliver babies at a hospital.
It is unclear whether Shiphrah and Puah were Hebrew or Egyptian and if they were "Hebrew midwives" or "midwives to the Hebrews." Most likely they were Hebrew because their names are Semitic, not Egyptian. But either way, one gets the idea from the scriptures that they attended both Hebrew and Egyptian births because they were able to give the Pharaoh a comparison ( Exodus 1:19) and tell him that the "...Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them." Also, the fact that Pharaoh called for them shows that they were held in high respect (as most midwives were) among the Egyptians and the Hebrews, probably as a result of their great skill and experience.

Women in the Scriptures

Exodus 2

Q4: Did God forget his covenant with Abraham, for we read that only after Israel cried out did God 'remember' his covenant?

The word remembered is not merely a matter of recall. The Hebrew word carries with it the additional idea of acting upon the remembrance. Therefore, the point here is that God not only remembered His covenant promises to the patriarchs, but He was ready to act and fulfill those promises. God had promised their forefathers that the Israelites would become a great nation (Genesis 12:2), and He had formalized that promise by making a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18, 17:17), with Isaac (Genesis 17:19) and with Jacob (Genesis 35:11-12). God was about to demonstrate that He never forgets His covenant promises.

Jay Mack

Exodus 3

Q5: What does LORD in all four capital letters mean?

LORD (all caps or small caps) reflects the original term YHWH (found 6,823 times), while Lord (standard capitalization) is the English rendition of the Hebrew Adonai (used some 300 times). “Yahweh” or YHWH dramatically depicts one of the prime attributes of the Creator: his eternal existence. In addition, it stresses his enduring presence with Israel in their redemptive history. The Hebrew term YHWH is believed to derive from the root HWY, meaning “to be.” The name suggests that God simply is, he possesses an underived existence, he is the eternal “I AM”.

Christian Courier

Q6: What does "I AM WHO I AM" mean?

John Piper lists at least seven meanings of this name:

  • God exists.
  • No reality exists beyond God.
  • God does not change.
  • God is an inexhaustible source of energy.
  • Objectivity is crucial.
  • We must conform to God, not He to us.
  • This God has drawn near to us in Jesus Christ.
Desiring God

Exodus 4

Q7: Do the three miracles God tells Moses to do carry any other meaning other than them just being miracles?

If you take all three of the signs God gave to Moses, it is reasonable to see them as God showing His control over Egypt compared to Pharaoh’s false claim to be a god.

  • The snake shows God is sovereign over Pharaoh, as in Egypt the snake (or Uraeus) was a symbol of “Wadjet” – an early Egyptian goddess who was said to control and protect the land. The imagery came to symbolise Pharaoh’s sovereignty, royalty, deity, and divine authority in ancient Egypt. It was used in the headdress of the king of Egypt.
  • The leprosy of Moses hand. Leprosy was often a punishment for pride when individuals acted as if they were God; (see Numbers 12:1–12; 2 Kings 5:22–27; 2 Chronicles 26:16–21). So the second sign shows that God intends to punish Pharaoh.
  • The water turning to blood. God is in control even over the physical land/water of Egypt. So the third sign shows that the goddess Wadjet is not even able to protect Egypt’s water from Moses’ God. It is a sign of God’s deity over Egypt.
Word at Work

Q8: How can Moses have a brother Aaron when all the infant boys were killed?

According to JewFaq, Aaron was Moses' older brother. He was born in 2365, three years before Moses, before the Pharaoh's edict requiring the death of male Hebrew children.

Jew FAQ

Q9: Why does God say He will harden Pharaoh's heart when Moses will perform the miracles in front of him? What is the point of the miracles then?

These ten plagues had to come in order for God to show his majesty to the Egyptians, one by one showing them that He is more powerful than all their false gods. A later question will address this. Interestingly we clearly read an effect of these miracles later in Exodus, an effect which could not have occurred (in addition to God showing His power) had God not hardened Pharaoh's heart:

Take a look at Exodus 18:

Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt... He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God. - Exodus 18:1,10-12

Clearly by hardening Pharaoh's heart, God was able to reach people and undoubtedly show them that He is in fact the one and only God. This led Moses’ father-in-law to believe in the one true God: Something that otherwise would not have happened. We will further see that these events also caused Rahab to convert and hence gives God a just reason for destroying Jericho, for they had more than enough time to repent like Rahab did.

Q10: Why did God want to kill Moses directly after sending him to Egypt? Doesn't this make God sound ruthless and irrational?

God was going to kill Moses because of sin. The sin of Moses in Exodus 4:24-26 is not stated explicitly, but the surrounding events give substantial clues as to the nature of Moses’ transgression. God had instructed his messenger to warn pharaoh to free Israel or pharaoh would lose his firstborn son. Moses had been specially groomed by God for eighty years for this mission, and now the time for action had come. Accordingly, Moses’ personal life had to be in order before he could direct the spiritual lives of the Hebrew people.

Whatever the cause, Moses’ outstanding sin made him unfit to serve as a spiritual leader, and the situation had to be rectified before he could carry out his mission effectively. Indeed, as soon as Zipporah performed the act, the Lord “let him go.” In summary, God was going to kill Moses because Moses was supposed to teach the Israelites God's Law, yet Moses was not obeying God's Law himself.

Got Questions

Exodus 7 and 8

Q11: How were Pharaoh's sorcerers and wise men able to recreate the staff turning into a snake, the Nike turning into blood?

The Bible clearly indicates that angels (both good and bad) are able to perform miracles and signs. Presumably, the demons (fallen angels) or Satan himself (another fallen angel) performed the miracle for the Egyptians. So, it would seem likely that the miracles of the Egyptians were real, not performed by the power of God, but by the power of demons. The demons would not want the Israelites to leave Egypt, since this was one of God's continuing prophecies, which would eventually culminate in the coming of Messiah. By encouraging Pharaoh to oppose the Israelites, the demons thought they could possibly thwart God's plans. It would not be the last time the demons would attempt to block God's plans. Satan himself (the ruler of the demons) entered Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus to the Sanhedrin (the ruling Jewish leaders), eventually resulting in His crucifixion.

God and Science

Exodus 9

Q12: Why does the Pharaoh not listen? Why does God keep hardening his heart?

See Question 9. Also let’s read Exodus 9:15-16

“For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.”

Exodus 11

Q13: Isn't the plague of the first born a bit harsh?

Evidence Unseen lists a number of responses, but in essence it boils down to the fact that God is sovereign over all life on Earth, and that the Egyptians were far from innocent. Also note that we do read in Exodus of some Egyptians who escape the plagues. We don’t read of God hardening the hearts of all Egypt, only the Pharaoh. The Egyptians themselves who were struck with the plague, had 9 times repent before it happened.

Evidence Unseen

Q14: Can you give a recap of all the plagues and their symbolic meaning?

The 10 Plagues were Symbol that the one True God is greater than all other manmade gods and goddesses. Thus we know that God displayed his power to the Egyptians by breaking down their gods one by one.

  1. Water Turned to Blood: God’s power of water and hence the Egyptian god Hapi (god of the Nile).
  2. Frogs: God’s power over Heket, the Egyptian goddess of fertility which had the head of a frog.
  3. Lice from the Dust of Earth: God’s power over Geb, the Egyptian god of the Earth.
  4. Swarms of Flies: God’s power over the gods Kephri and Uatgit, the god of flies.
  5. Death of Cattle and Livestock: God’s power over Ptha, Hator, Mnevis and Amon, gods of cattle and livestock.
  6. Sores: God’s power over Isis and Sekmet, gods of medicine, illness and healing.
  7. Hail: God’s power over Nut and Sjoe, gods of the air and Isis and Set, gods of agriculture.
  8. Locusts: God’s power over Serapia, protector against locusts.
  9. Three days dark: God’s power of Ra, god of the sun.
  10. Death of the Firstborn: God’s power of Pharaoh himself, the ultimate power over Egypt.

Exodus 12

Q15: What is the passover?

Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is a Jewish festival celebrating the exodus from Egypt and the Israelites’ freedom from slavery to the Egyptians. The Feast of Passover, along with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, was the first of the festivals to be commanded by God for Israel to observe.

Interestingly, the exodus out of Egypt points us toward Jesus. The salvation from Egypt is a prophetic metaphor for what Jesus would come and do in the future. Take a look at the following table:

Passover Holy Communion
Jesus initiates the holy communion during passover.
Israel remembers the salvation the received from slavery in Egypt. We remember the salvation we received from our slavery to sin.
The lamb that is to be slaughtered should be without disorder. Jesus was without spiritual corruption, he was sinless.
Unleavened bread. We break the bread to remember that Jesus’ body was broken for us.
Blood painted on doors rescues the firstborns of the Israelites. Jesus’ blood rescues us from the eternal death.
Israel moves out of Egypt under guidance of God. We begin a new life under guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Passover initiated a day before the exodus. Holy communion initiated a day before our salvation from sin. (Jesus’ crucifixion)
Got Questions

Q16: If the Israelites were just 430 years in Egypt, how did they increase from the original 70, to about 600,000 men?

Simple math. Assuming 70 Israelites in the beginning, half male and half female, and that each male and female pair (initially) conceived 10 children (commonly more in ancient times), then in 430 years assuming in 430 years we had 5 generations (extremely prudent assumptions) there would be over 2 million Israelites (taking deaths into account). It is therefore not hard to conceive 600,000 men at the end of 430 years.

Exodus 14

Q17: Is there evidence for the Exodus out of Egypt?

Regarding this question, Patterns of Evidence provides more than satisfactory answers. Follow this link to watch the trailer of a film they made tackling the question. In short, there is evidence.

Patterns of Evidence

Exodus 15

Q18 Where is the place in the desert called Marah?

The exact location of Marah is uncertain, as are the positions of Etham, Shur, and Elim; the identification of these locations is heavily dependent on the identification of the Biblical Mount Sinai.

Exodus 16

Q19: Why did the Israelites not listen to the LORD's instructions? Who would be foolish enough not to listen to God?

Even though the Israelites are God’s chosen people, they are still fallen humans who are in an active rebellion against God. They disobeyed God for the same reason Adam and Eve disobeyed God.

Exodus 17

Q20: Where is Massah, the second place Israel quarreled with Moses over water?

Bible Atlas

Q21: Who are the Amalekites, where did they come from and why did they attack Israel?

We read in Genesis 36 that the Amalekites are the descendants of Amalek, the son of Eliphaz and the grandson of Esau. Thus the Amalekites were related to, but separate from the Edomites. Like many desert tribes, the Amalekites were nomadic. Numbers 13:29 places them as native to the Negev, the desert between Egypt and Canaan. The Babylonians called them the Sute, Egyptians the Sittiu, and the Amarna tablets refer to them as the Khabbati, or “plunderers.”
Their extreme hostility toward Israel was most probably part of a larger plan by Satan to exterminate the genealogy of Jesus, preventing Him from ever being born and thus preventing the salvation of God’s children.

Got Questions

Exodus 19

Q22: Where is Mount Sinai?

Unknown. The modern Mount Sinai is only called as such because 300 AD, Helena, the mother of Constantine I, decreed it as such.

Exodus 21-23

Q23: What are the laws we find from Exodus 21 to 23?

The laws given to Moses by God are a set of comprehensive guidelines to ensure that Israel behaves in accordance to their status as God’s chosen people. These laws can be divided into three parts:

  • The Moral Law (Still applicable today)
  • Ceremonial Law (Not applicable anymore since the coming of Jesus)
  • Judicial/Civil Law (Not applicable, as it were laws designed for the ancient people of Israel and their government)

Note that the laws God instated against acts such as homosexuality fall under the moral law, and is thus still applicable today. We also see a continuation of the moral law in the New Testament, but not of the other two categories.

Exodus 21

Q24: Does the Bible condone slavery? Why does God say a master may hit his slaves as they are his property?

A common question, with a simple answer. No, and it never has. The key issue is that the slavery the Bible allowed for in no way resembled the racial slavery that plagued our world in the past few centuries. In addition, both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of “man-stealing,” which is what happened in Africa in the 16th to 19th centuries. In Bible times, slavery was based more on economics, it was a matter of social status.

Got Questions

Exodus 23

Q25: What does it mean when God says His Name is in the angel leading Israel?

In his book Exodus: Question by Question, author William T. Miller writes that the key to figuring out the angel's identity is his name: "The angel is not identified. ... The one thing we are sure of is that in 23:21, God says 'my name is in him.' ... He is represented by his proper name, Yahweh."

Who was the angel? Some say it was the Angel of the Lord: God himself showing up in the form of an angel. And some say it was Metatron, a powerful archangel who is associated with God's name. Apologetics Central does not have a stance on the issue.

Thought Co

Exodus 25

Q26: What did the ark look like?

Exodus 26

Q27: What did the Tabernacle look like?

Exodus 28

Q28: What did the Priestly garments look like?

Exodus 31

Q29: What is the Sabbath?

The Sabbath was meant as a day of rest as outlined in the Mosaic law. It is in remembrance that God created the heavens and the earth in six days*, resting on the seventh. The Sabbath is not commanded to be a day of worship however, Christian worship is supposed to be a continual process. It has only become a habit to worship in Church on Sundays due to no work being done on the Sabbath. A Church can meet on any day it chooses. The Sabbath however is day of rest, taking place on the final day of the week.

Exodus 32

Q30: How did Israel so quickly drift from God by building and worshipping a golden calf and why did Aaron oblige to make them one?

It is unlikely that Aaron intended the calf to represent another deity, since he proclaimed a festival in honor of God when he finished making it. At first glance the people’s declaration, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt”, seems to imply that they took it as a depiction of God.
But in their request to Aaron to make them a god, they explained that they wanted a god to lead them because they did not know what had become of Moses, who led them out of Egypt. This seems to imply that they wanted the calf to replace Moses, apparently in his role as mediator of God’s presence to the people. In other words, they did not intend the calf to depict God but to function as the conduit of His presence among them, as Moses had functioned previously.

My Jewish Learning

Q31: Did Moses change God's mind on ‘destroying Israel and making only him into a great nation’ after the Israelites started to worship the calf?

The King James Version translates God’s response to Moses’ prayer. “And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” The NIV translates it, “The Lord relented”, the NASB puts it, “The Lord changed His mind.”
There is a great difference, of course, between man’s repentance and God’s repentance. Man’s repentance involves turning away from sin to God. But when the Bible speaks of God repenting, there is no thought of sin. Neither is there any hint of vacillation, as if God wavers in His purpose or changes His plans in response to man’s doings. God is unchanging or immutable. 
We must thus be very careful to view this in light of our human understanding of repenting. When God does something, He does so to make more of Himself known. God announces the rightful punishment that Israel deserves due to their rebellion, but then also makes his grace known by not going through with the punishment. In this passage we also learn that God listens to the prayers of His children. Our prayers do not bounce back down from the ceiling.

Q32: Why did Moses command the Levites to go through the camp and kill brother, friend and neighbor? Why did God also strike them with a plague on top of this bloodbath?

Firstly the Levites were the only ones to respond to Moses’ call for all who are on the side of the Lord to come to him. The rest, although Moses did return, still did not repent from their sins. It may also be worthwhile to notice that a very small minority of the Israelites were killed, as we learn well over a million had to leave Egypt, and only three thousand were killed on that day.
Also remember that God is sovereign over all life, and can take it as he pleases. Seeing that the wages of sin is death, God is fully just for taking the lives of all sinners. Take a look at the following passage:
Rom 9:15 and 16: For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Exodus 33

Q33: Where is the land God had promised Abraham, the land flowing with milk and honey?

A rough estimate of the promised land as God intended it, is the borders of current day Israel.

Exodus 34

Q34: What does it mean when God says he is a jealous God?

Again we must be careful to apply our human understanding of jealousy to God in the context. We use the word jealous to mean that we are envious of of someone who has something that we do not. Thus we are jealous of something that is not ours. God in this context, is jealous if someone gives to another (idol) something that rightfully belongs to Him. Only God is worthy of worship. Thus what God is jealous of, belongs to him, meaning God is righteously jealous.