The revelation of Yahweh as the God of the covenant: The Book of Exodus also reveals Yahweh as the covenant making and covenant keeping God. It was Yahweh's proposal to Israel to enter into covenant-relationship, and it was Yahweh who stipulated the covenant requirements and conditions. Further, after Israel had violated the most fundamental stipulation of the covenant, Yahweh demonstrated His faithfulness to the covenant by responding to the intercession of Moses and continuing with His people chapters The Book of Exodus presents the mighty acts of God by which He effects the redemption of Israel from bondage in Egypt.
While the first nine judgments on Egypt "softened Pharaoh's and Egypt's hardened heart" toward letting Israel go, it was the last judgment, the judgment on the firstborn that broke their stubborn resistance to Yahweh's command. There is no question that through the death of Egypt's firstborn and the redeeming of Israel's firstborn through the Passover, God effected Israel's physical redemption from Egypt The question is, did He also effect their spiritual redemption? It is the contention of this analysis that the Passover redemption effected by Yahweh was efficacious not only for Israel's redemption from physical bondage, but also from sin, and that the Passover redemption provided by Yahweh was a type of the true redemption that He would one day effect through Christ for redeeming all mankind from sin.
The basis upon which this conclusion is founded rests upon the supposition that the nature of God's purpose in delivering Israel from Egypt mandated the nature of the redemption that He effected through the Passover.
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The nature of Yahweh's purpose in redeeming Israel from Egypt is seen to be in making Israel:. All these factors imply that the nature, or type of meaning, of the Exodus redemption must necessarily be redeemed from sin. Although the Passover passage does not explicitly state that redemption from sin is being effected, it becomes clear that the type of meaning expressed in the text has this as a necessary implication. In particular, it is found in the implications of three fundamental redemptive concepts that are later developed in Scripture but used in Exodus to convey the Passover stipulations; they are, 1 lamb as a substitute sacrifice, 2 blood as an atonement for sin, and 3 faith as a necessary response.
The demonstration that the type of meaning for the Passover event is redemption from sin is found in a correspondence between these redemptive concepts and the essential meaning of atonement for sin as found in the Book of Leviticus which dictates the need for a substitute sacrifice Lev , the application of the blood which was given by Yahweh to effect atonement Lev.
There are three factors necessary for the formation of a nation: a common people, a common homeland, and a common government or constitution holding the people together. Exodus records the creation of the people, the Book of Joshua records the acquisition of the land, and Exodus 19 through the Book of Leviticus presents the details of the constitution adopted and entered into at Sinai. This constitution is a covenant binding the people of Israel to Yahweh as their Suzerain King, and binding the tribes of Israel to one another as co-vassals of the King.
In effect, when the process is complete—acquisition of a people, constituting of a people, and acquisition of the land—a theocratic state will have been created with all Israelites equal under Yahweh their God see Johnson There are two aspects to the covenant ratified at Sinai; its form and its function which is defined by its stipulations.
The form of the covenant is discussed in the Introduction to the Pentateuch where the covenant-treaty presented by Moses was shown to be structured similar to the Hittite suzerainty-vassal treaty form characteristic of that age. The second aspect of the covenant is its function which is discussed here. The basis for the covenant-relationship proposed by Yahweh and accepted by Israel's Exodus generation and later renewed by the Conquest generation, Deut 27 is founded in the concept of a suzerainty-vassal relationship.
Yahweh is proposing to enter into a relationship with Israel whereby Israel promises obedience to Yahweh as their King and He in turn promises to treat them benevolently as His own possession among all the peoples of the earth But there is another dimension to the covenant proposal that has no relationship to the suzerainty-vassal treaty agreements of that day. The relationship God proposed to Israel made them to be His own possession literally, a special treasure , and a kingdom of priests and a holy nation The kingdom relationship God was proposing to Israel was one in which the subjects of the kingdom were all priests with immediate access to Him, and one in which the nation of Israelites were to be a holy nation.
While the concept of "holy" includes the idea of being separated, and indeed, Israel was to be separated from all other nations and devoted only to Yahweh , that separateness was to be defined as the Book of Leviticus does in terms that reveal the holiness of God in His separation from all that is evil, profane, and defiling. It is in this sense that Israel was called to be holy, as it says in Leviticus , "You shall be holy, for I Yahweh your God am holy.
The requirement for Israel to be a holy nation separated to Yahweh is basic to the whole covenant-relationship and a recurring theme in the Book of Exodus and more so in the Book of Leviticus. The reason Yahweh separated Israel from Egypt and redeemed them was to take them to be His people—they would be His people and He would be their God It is for this reason that He separated them and brought them to Sinai where He would enter into covenant relationship with them That separation is a basic issue in the Book of Exodus is seen in the demands Yahweh made to Pharaoh that he let His people go that they may serve H im cf.
This is also seen in Yahweh's distinction between Israel and Egypt in bringing judgment upon the land and the people. Israel was protected, while Egypt was judged see, for example, ; , 26; ; Nowhere is there any clearer evidence of this than in the judgment on the first-born where only Israel was given the opportunity to be protected from the destroyer by exercising faith in the blood of the Passover lamb chapter The stipulations of the covenant take the form of Ten somewhat general Commandments that form a foundational framework within which the covenant relationships are to be worked out, and a set of specific commands that deal with practical situations in the course of daily living chapters The covenant-relationship is characterized by obedience and benevolence; Israel promises obedience to Yahweh, and Yahweh promises to be benevolent to Israel.
But there is another dimension to the covenant-relationship that finds its expression in worship. Israel is commanded to worship Yahweh and Him alone by having no other gods before Him to worship and serve In order that worship of Yahweh may be expressed properly, and not according to pagan practices, God institutes a system of worship that is centered in the Tabernacle, the place where Yahweh localizes His presence on earth ; chapters ; ; , that is administered by a priest-hood invested in Aaron and his descendants chapters , and incorporates the weekly observance of the Sabbath and the annual observances of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Harvest, and the Feast of In-gathering , as well as the yearly observance of the Passover chapter The literary characteristics of Exodus are considered in terms of its literary structure.
The literary structure of the Book of Exodus has been shown in the Introduction to the Pentateuch to be somewhat dependent upon the form of a suzerainty-vassal treaty. While it is important to recognize the components of this treaty in the text of Exodus in order to understand the theological message that Moses is developing, the form of the treaty does not dictate the structure of the message. To see this, it is helpful to have in mind an overview of the book.
In the Book of Exodus, Moses instructs the sons of Israel as to their national origins by narrating the formative events in the beginnings of their national history, namely, their redemption from bondage in Egypt to a people free to serve Yahweh, and their covenant-relationship with Yahweh which is the constitutive basis for their national political and religious origins, and by stipulating the terms of the covenant-relationship in the bilateral form of a suzerainty-vassal treaty, and in legislative language which details the social and religious responsibilities of the people within that covenant-relationship.
Further, Moses specifies the plan and construction of the Tabernacle which is to be the seat of Yahweh's enthronement among His covenant people and the place where they are to present themselves before Him in worship. From this perspective it can be observed that a more complete development of the book is structured around:. The analyses discussed above have been used, implicitly and explicitly, to obtain an understanding of Exodus as a unified and coherent whole.
This understanding is expressed here in the form the statement of its message, its synthetic structure, and the synthesis of the text which follows from that message and structure. The Book of Genesis provides the historical context and basis for Israel's Exodus from Egypt, while the Book of Leviticus completes the Sinai covenant stipulations introduced in the Book of Exodus, particularly with respect to the form and function of the Levitical system of worship that was to be carried out in the Tabernacle, and with respect to a more complete definition of the holiness to which Israel was called.
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The Book of Exodus recounts the story of God's work in separating Israel from bondage in Egypt and of His redeeming them to bring them into covenant-relationship with Himself. This act of God irrupts to break or burst into in history as Yahweh takes action to fulfill His promises to Abraham.
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The covenant-relationship, defined by the terms of the covenant treaty, is primarily a national relationship involving redemption which is both personal and national. The national dimension is not dependent upon individual appropriation, while the personal dimension is, of necessity, dependent upon such appropriation through faith in God's revelation of the Passover which takes on a more definitive meaning in the Book of Leviticus where the idea of atonement from sin is presented in terms of substitutionary sacrifice and blood used to effect atonement that bring spiritual meaning to the original Passover.
By necessity, Yahweh's covenant-relationship with Israel demands Israel's redemption from sin, as well as from Egypt, in order that the holy God might dwell, or tabernacle, among His covenant people. The Book of Exodus reveals Yahweh who constitutes a people separated to Himself by redemption, by covenant treaty, and by His own enthronement in the midst of their camp as King.
Further, the book reveals Yahweh administering His purpose through Moses according to His word of promise to Abraham, and then according to His word of Law introduced to Israel through Moses at Sinai.
In this sense the Book of Exodus is transitional with respect to the administration of God as it records the transition from promise to law. While God's word of promise to Abraham is ever and always the basis for God's working in and through Israel, His word of law becomes the immediate basis for blessing or cursing a particular generation as they respond to Him in obedience or disobedience to His law.
It is not surprising that there is an element of obedience involved in receiving the blessings promised to Abraham, for God has declared that He chose Abraham in order that Abraham may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of Yahweh by doing righteousness and justice so that He, Yahweh, may fulfill all that He promised to Abraham Gen While the fulfillment of God's word of promise to Abraham stands completely upon God's unilateral commitment to it, a response of faith, demonstrated in obedience to Yahweh, is required for the realization of the promised blessings.
The message of the Book of Exodus may be determined on the basis of the previous considerations discussed up to this point. The analysis of the text of Exodus suggests that a possible subject for this book is the constituting of Israel as a nation separated to Yahweh. This understanding of Exodus leads to the following synthetic structure and synthesis of its text as a unified and coherent whole. The synthetic structure of Exodus is presented first in broad form and then in detail. The deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage as a redeemed people separated to Yahweh chs.
The separation of Israel from Egypt through Yahweh's revelation of Himself in character and in judgment against Egypt chs. The redemption of Israel from Egyptian bondage by blood through the Passover The redemption of Israel from Egyptian domination by water through the Red Sea The redemption of Israel from Egyptian dependency through Yahweh's provisions and testing in the wilderness The constituting of Israel as a redeemed people to be a nation separated to Yahweh by covenant-relationship chs.
The proposal and acceptance of the covenant through the mediation of Moses ch. The enthronement of Yahweh in the Tabernacle as Israel's God-King dwelling tabernacling among His redeemed and separated covenant people chs. Israel's breaking of the covenant, and its renewal through the mediation of Moses chs.
Index: By Author – Jewish Bible Quarterly
The construction and consecration of the Tabernacle and the Aaronic priesthood Yahweh's enthronement in the Tabernacle as Israel's God and King dwelling tabernacling in the midst of His covenant people The deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage as a redeemed people separated to Yahweh The separation of Israel from Egypt through Yahweh's revelation of Himself in character and in judgment against Egypt The cause of the afflictions: The great multiplication of the sons of Israel The nature of the afflictions: Forced hard labor which made their lives bitter The added degree of affliction: Pharaoh's command to the midwives to slay all newborn males The separation of Moses to Yahweh to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage The separation of Israel from Egypt through Yahweh's great judgments Moses' confronting of Pharaoh with the command of Yahweh to let Israel go Moses' confronting of Pharaoh with a sign to effect Israel's deliverance Moses' confronting of Pharaoh with Yahweh's devastating plagues of judgment upon Egypt to effect Israel's deliverance The redemption of Israel through the redeeming of the first-born by blood: The institution of the Passover The redemption of Israel from Egyptian bondage as a result of obedience to the Passover Institution of the ordinance for the consecration of the first-born to Yahweh with provision for redeeming the first-born son Israel's redemption by water through the Red Sea The constituting of Israel as a redeemed people to be a nation separated to Yahweh by covenant-relationship The proposal and acceptance of the covenant through the mediation of Moses Laws concerning societal and religious obligations Israel's pledge to obey all the ordinances of the covenant as enumerated by Moses Israel's offering of sacrifices to Yahweh through the mediation of Moses Israel's pledge to obey all the ordinances of the covenant as read by Moses from the book of the covenant The binding of Israel's pledge through the sprinkling of the blood of the covenant Yahweh's acceptance manifested through His appearing on Mount Sinai to Moses and the elders of Israel Yahweh's acceptance manifested through His giving Moses a copy of the covenant law written on stone tablets The enthronement of Yahweh in the Tabernacle as Israel's God-King dwelling Tabernacling among His redeemed and separated covenant people Specifications for the Tabernacle and Aaronic Priesthood The specifications for the bronze altar, court of the Tabernacle, and the oil for the lamps The specifications for the Aaronic priesthood The appointment of Aaron and his sons to minister as priests, and the specifications for their garments The ordination and consecration service for the installation of the Aaronic priesthood Israel's breaking of the covenant and its renewal through the mediation of Moses The renewal of the covenant through the mediation of Moses The mediation of Moses to turn Yahweh away from withdrawing His presence from Israel The preparations for building the Tabernacle Moses' exhortation to the people to give freewill offerings to Yahweh for constructing the Tabernacle The appointment of the craftsman having the responsibility to construct the Tabernacle The fabrication of the altar of incense, the anointing oil, and the incense Summary of the material used to fabrication the components of the Tabernacle The erection and consecration of the Tabernacle, and the installation and consecration of the Aaronic priesthood Based on the message statement and synthetic structure developed above a synthesis of the text of Exodus may be constructed as follows:.
The deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt irrupts as Yahweh redeems the sons of Israel and separates them to Himself in fulfillment of His promise to Abraham. The separation of Israel from Egypt irrupts as Yahweh calls Moses to serve Him and reveals Himself in character and in judgment against Egypt. The multiplication of the sons of Israel into a great number brings about severe affliction as the Egyptians, fearing the potential for the Israelites to turn against them, make their lives bitter through hard forced labor.
The separation of Moses to Yahweh as Israel's deliverer irrupts as Yahweh remembers His covenant with Abraham and reveals His intention to deliver Israel from bondage in Egypt through Moses. Moses' preparation as Israel's deliverer begins with his protection in birth and early childhood, continues with his failed attempt to effect deliverance for two of his brethren, and culminates in his flight to, and resettlement in Midian as a lowly shepherd.
Yahweh remembers His covenant with Abraham as Israel's cries for help cause Him to take notice of their bondage in Egypt. The separation of Moses to Yahweh, in spite of Moses' strong objections, irrupts as Yahweh reveals Himself to Moses and reveals His plan to send him back to Egypt to deliver His people from bondage. The separation of Israel from Egypt irrupts as Yahweh, in response to Pharaoh's defiance of His demand to let Israel go, reveals Himself in judgment against Egypt demonstrating His sovereignty over men, nations, nature and idols. Moses' first attempt to obtain Israel's release ends in apparent failure as Pharaoh defiantly rejects Yahweh's demand and imposes harsher demands on Israel's labor causing both Moses and the sons of Israel to question Yahweh's intent, but Yahweh reassures His chosen deliverer that He will deliver Israel from their bondage and redeem them with great judgments and bring them into the land He promised to give Abraham, all in fulfillment of the covenant He made with Abraham.
Moses' second attempt to obtain Israel's release manifests Pharaoh's hardened heart, as the sign Moses performed is duplicated by Pharaoh's magicians leading him not to listen to Moses.
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The redemption of Israel from Egyptian bondage irrupts as Yahweh executes judgment on the first-born of every man and animal in the land of the Egyptians, while the first-born of Israel is redeemed from death through the blood of a lamb slain in obedience to Yahweh's command to observe the Passover. The institution of the Passover reveals Yahweh's plan to effect Israel's redemption from Egyptian bondage by redeeming Israel's first-born through the application of the blood of an unblemished lamb to be sacrificed and then eaten in haste in anticipation of being suddenly thrust out of Egypt in response to His judgment of death against all the first-born of Egypt.
The redemption of Israel from Egyptian bondage occurs, exactly years after the sons of Israel went into Egypt, as Yahweh strikes all the first-born of Egypt with death, while the first-born of Israel are delivered through the obedient application of the blood of the Passover lamb. The ordinance for the consecration of the first-born to Yahweh, with provision for redeeming the first-born son, is instituted as a means for Israel to remember from one generation to another that Yahweh redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt with a mighty hand as He killed every first-born in the land of Egypt except the first-born of Israel who were redeemed through the blood of the Passover lamb.
The redemption of Israel from Egyptian domination irrupts as Yahweh separates Israel from the pursuing Egyptian army through the waters of the Red Sea which serve as a means of deliverance for Israel but death for the Egyptians. Yahweh's strategic leading of Israel through the wilderness to the shores of the Red Sea leaves them vulnerable to Pharaoh's pursuing army. Israel's fear and grumbling turns to great joy as Yahweh redeems His people from Egyptian domination through the waters of the Red Sea by parting the waters for Israel's safe passage, and then by allowing the waters to return to their normal position thereby drowning the pursuing Egyptian army.
The redemption of Israel from Egyptian dependency irrupts as Yahweh's testing of Israel in the wilderness demonstrates, in spite of their grumbling, His power to provide food, water, protection, and leadership, while His introducing them to the concept of the Sabbath day further separates them from their lifestyle in Egypt and prepares them for living a life separated to Him in covenant-relationship.
2. Analysis and Synthesis of Exodus
The constituting of Israel as a redeemed people to be a nation separated to Yahweh irrupts as Yahweh proposes a bilateral Suzerainty-Vassal covenant-relationship and Israel accepts by pledging themselves to obey all that He commands and by ratifying that pledge through the blood of the covenant. The constituting of Israel as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation separated to Yahweh and living under His rule irrupts as Yahweh, from atop Mount Sinai and through the mediation of Moses, proposes a covenant-relationship to His redeemed people which they accept.
The covenant law binding Israel to Yahweh specifies legal stipulations of the covenant which regulate the social and religious behavior of the redeemed people. The formal acceptance of the covenant by Israel binds the redeemed people in covenant-relationship to Yahweh and Him to them in a suzerainty-vassal relationship. The ratification of the covenant is formalized as the people twice pledge themselves to obeying all the words of Yahweh written in the book of the covenant, and as Moses sprinkles them with the blood of the covenant.
Yahweh's acceptance of Israel's ratification of the covenant is manifested through His appearing on Mount Sinai to Moses and the elders of Israel, and through His giving Moses a copy of the covenant law written on stone tablets. The enthronement of Yahweh as Israel's God and King Suzerain irrupts as Yahweh, in spite of Israel's rebellion and breaking of the covenant through idolatry, comes to dwell tabernacle among His people and the glory of His presence fills the Tabernacle.
The specification of the plans for the Tabernacle provides Israel with the details of its material, of the form and function of its component parts, of the Aaronic priesthood which is to minister before Yahweh in it, the designation of those who will have responsibility for building it, and the details for observing the Sabbath. The constitution of Israel as a redeemed people separated to Yahweh in covenant-relationship is threatened as the breaking of the covenant erupts with the people of Israel worshiping a golden calf, but Moses' mediation and the repentance of the people lead to a renewal of the covenant and restoration of the relationship.