Exodus begins where Genesis leaves off: The descendants of Jacob are living in Egypt and have multiplied into a large community. But Egypt’s new king, the pharaoh, regards the Israelites as a threat and forces them into slavery. Exodus tells the story of how God hears the cry of His people, delivers them from Egyptian bondage, and leads them to freedom.
The title, Exodus, comes from a Greek word that means “going out,” which is fitting for the book’s subject: the exit of the Hebrew people from Egypt. The text does not name its author, but Jewish and Christian traditions ascribe the book to Moses. However, there is debate about how the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch, were compiled.
Assigning the events of Exodus to a specific historical period is difficult because there is little evidence from outside the Bible. The exodus can be dated to sometime during the 15th–13th centuries BC. The story is set mostly in Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula—particularly Mount Sinai. The events surrounding God’s call of Moses (Exod 2–4) take place in Midian, just east of Sinai.
—Faithlife Study Bible, Lexham Press
Best Commentaries on Exodus
Peter Enns, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan, 2000, 624 pp.
Most Bible commentaries take us on a one-way trip from our world to the world of the Bible. But they leave us there, assuming we can somehow make the return journey on our own. The NIV Application Commentary Series helps us with both halves of the interpretive task. This new and unique series shows readers how to bring an ancient message into a modern context. It explains not only what the Bible means but also how it can speak powerfully today. Exodus, written by renowned scholar Peter Enns, helps readers learn how the message of Exodus can have the same powerful impact today that it did when it was first written.
- Level: Intermediate
- Type: Devotional
Douglas Stuart, New American Commentary (NAC), B&H, 2006, 826 pp.
Douglas K. Stuart demonstrates his mastery of exegetical method, his sensitivity to the text, his courage in raising difficult questions, and his vast knowledge of ancient culture—as well as of grammar and theology—in attempting to answer those questions. This commentary on a key book of the Old Testament in which God declares and displays his great name marries both fidelity to the text with practical insights.
- Level: Advanced
- Type: Expository
Brevard S. Childs, Old Testament Library (OTL), Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, 688 pp.
Taking a pioneering approach to commentary writing, Brevard Childs gives an entirely original treatment to the book of Exodus. Apart from the philological notes and translation, this commentary includes a form-critical section, looking at the growth of the tradition in its previous stages; a consideration of the meaning of the text in its present form; and a consideration of its meaning in its total Old Testament context.
- Level: Advanced
- Type: Technical
John Durham, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), Thomas Nelson, 1987, 560 pp.
Study the book John I. Durham calls “A trip across holy ground,” and learn how its narrative records the exhilarating liberation of Israel from Egypt. Durham considers the historical evidence for Israel’s presence and flight from Egypt, the call of Moses, Egypt’s plagues, and the significance the abundance of cultic symbols and imagery in Exodus. He evaluates modern critical perspectives on Exodus, and evaluates the legacy of nineteenth-century “higher critical” interpretation for the book’s historicity. Organized for easy reference, Word Biblical Commentaries make an ideal Bible study companion whether you are studying a single passage or a complete biblical book.
- Level: Advanced
- Type: Technical
Terence E. Fretheim, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox Press, 1991, 321 pp.
The introduction to this book recognizes Exodus as a Christian book, although it respects its pre-Christian roots in the Hebrew Bible. The commentary then moves in a straightforward manner to review issues of faith and history, the critical and theological tasks of a commentary, and other leading theological concerns. Terence Fretheim gives special treatment to the significance of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, the relationship between law and narrative, and the shaping of literature by liturgy. This volume highlights, in a unique way, the theology of creation in Exodus.
- Level: Intermediate
- Type: Expository
Best Books on Exodus
Ross Blackburn counters scholarly tendencies to fragment the text over theological difficulties by contending that Exodus should be read as a unified whole, and that an appreciation of its missionary theme in its canonical context is of great help in dealing with the difficulties the book poses. For example, how is Exodus 6:3 best understood? Is there a tension between law and gospel, or mercy and judgment? How should we understand the painstaking detail of the tabernacle chapters? From a careful examination of Exodus, he demonstrates that the Lord humbled Pharaoh so the world would know that only God can save, that the Lord gave Israel the law so that its people might display his goodness to the nations by living in a state of order and blessing, and that the Lord dealt with Israel’s idolatry severely, yet mercifully, for his goodness cannot be known if his glory is compromised. In the end, Exodus not only sheds important light on the Church’s mission but also reveals what kind of God the Lord is—one who pursues his glory and our good, ultimately realizing both as he makes himself known in Christ Jesus.Learn more
The exodus—the story of God leading his chosen people out of slavery in Egypt—stands as a pivotal event in the Old Testament. But if you listen closely, you will hear echoes of this story of redemption all throughout God’s Word. Using music as a metaphor, the authors point us to the recurring theme of the exodus throughout the entire symphony of Scripture, shedding light on the Bible’s unified message of salvation and restoration that is at the heart of God’s plan for the world.Learn more
In this concise volume, a team of fresh Old Testament voices explores the theological dimensions of the Pentateuch and provides specific examples of critically engaged theological interpretation. This Pentateuch text is unique in that it emphasizes theological reading, serving as an affordable supplement to traditional introductory Pentateuch texts. Each chapter introduces theological themes and issues in interpretation, then offers exegesis of one or two representative passages to model theological interpretation in practice. This useful text will be valued by students of the Old Testament and the Pentateuch as well as pastors. It honors Walter Moberly, whose approach is played out in the book.Learn more
The story of the Exodus from Egypt is of fundamental importance, both in the Old Testament and beyond. However, it also contains issues that are theologically problematic for readers, especially concerning the actions of God. Why does God send a series of plagues on Egypt? How do we understand the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart? What do the answers to these questions say about God's character? This book addresses these questions, taking a narrative theological approach, reading the story as story. The picture that emerges is of God as responsive, speaking and acting to challenge the hearer to make the appropriate response to him.Learn more
In Echoes of Exodus, Bryan Estelle traces the motif as it weaves through the canon of Scripture. Wedding literary readings with biblical-theological insights, he helps us weigh again what we know and recognize anew what we have not seen. More than that, he introduces us to the study of quotation, allusion, and echo, providing a firm theoretical basis for hermeneutical practice and understanding.Learn more
Best Courses on Exodus
Explore the themes of salvation, law, and God’s presence in the book of Exodus with award-winning Old Testament scholar Dr. Tremper Longman. This course takes you step by step through Israel’s salvation from Egyptian bondage, their receiving of God’s law, and His command to build the tabernacle. Dr. Longman then connects these events to the New Testament. Learn how Jesus is the fulfillment of the exodus and how specific events mirror Jesus’ life and ministry.Learn more
In Introducing Torah, Dr. Rebekah Josberger provides important insights into the first five books of the Old Testament. The course begins with a look at the historical context of the Torah and why it inspired love in the psalmists' hearts. Designed to teach students how to read and appreciate this section of Scripture, the course will walk you through multiple passages of the Torah, with emphasis on the Sabbath, the Ten Commandments, and two difficult marriage/divorce laws in Deuteronomy. You will come away with a better understanding and appreciation of this important portion of the Bible.Learn more
Explore the fascinating literary and social world of the Israelites of the Old Testament period with David W. Baker. Dig into historical extrabiblical texts to gain insight into the ancient Near Eastern culture in OT203 The Literary World of the Old Testament. Discover parallels between ancient Israel’s family structures and government with the societal structures and challenges we face today in OT204 The Social World of the Old Testament.Learn more
In Introducing the Pentateuch, Dr. David Baker provides a broad overview of the background, structure, content, themes, and literary styles of the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. He traces the continuous story line from creation to Israel’s arrival in the promised land with a bird’s-eye view, while exploring key stories, topics, and theological messages in greater detail along the way. Throughout the course, Dr. Baker draws out and discusses the implications of this portion of the Old Testament for the Christian’s life and ministry.Learn more