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Exodus

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Book of Exodus

In Hebrew, the book of Exodus is called "Shmot" - meaning "Names of", for Exodus 1 begins "Elu Shmot Bnai Yisrael asher Yardo Mizrayima" - these are the names of the children of Israel who went down to Egypt. In Hebrew, since ancient times, leaving the land of Israel is called "Yehrida" - going down, while going to the land of Israel is called "Aliya." Thus, not only the Bible, but the language of the Jewish people as well, made the Land of Israel an integral part of our land and culture.

Exodus tells of the enslavement of the Jewish people in Egypt, their escape from bondage, celebrated in the holiday of Passover, the start of their wandering in the desert, and the acceptance of the Ten Commandments at Sinai. This story of escape from bondage to freedom gave hope and inspiration to many generations of slaves in the United States, has been retold again and again in song, and ultimately taught the world that slavery is wrong. The last chapters of the book are devoted to instructions for how to build the tabernacle of worship that would accompany the Israelites, a mobile temple for a nomadic people.

The national significance of the book of Exodus is that it tells the story, or myth, if not literally true, of how the Jews or "bnei Yisrael" (sons of Israel) became a people.

The events described cover a period of about 180 years. The dating is uncertain. The majority of scholars favor  Ramses II or Merneptah of the 19th Dynasty, about 1290 BCE. There are many problems with this date however, as the city of Jericho was apparently destroyed earlier, and the book of Judges seems to cover a much longer period before the reign of king Saul, about 1000 B.C.E. Thutmose III or Amenhotep II of the 18th Dynasty, about 1440 BCE, are therefore favored by another group of scholars, but this conflicts with the fact that Canaan was still under Egyptian rule at the time. Skeptics doubt the historicity of the Exodus narrative, but it shows reasonable evidence of veridicality in a number of points, such as the use of the number 10, evidence of the influence of Egyptian decimal based mathematics, and the Egyptianized names of Moses and others. The song of Miriam probably dates from about 1500-1200 BCE. National myths usually invoked descent from Gods. It would  be peculiar if a people had invented a tale of descent from slaves.

The story of Exodus exemplifies some rather special features of Jewish history and self identity. The Jews were a people before they had a land. Their national identity was syncretic with their religious identity, and the story or myth of the formation of the Jewish people, more than any other, weaves together religious, national and "tribal" themes.

Some highlights:

Exodus 1 Exodus 2 - Moses in the bullrushes

Exodus 7 The first of the ten plagues of Egypt.

Exodus 14 The actual escape from Egypt of the Israelites and the pursuit of Pharoah.

Exodus 15 - The song of Miriam - one of the oldest surviving Semitic ballads.

Exodus 19 (and following) - Moses receives the ten commandments and is instructed int he law.

Exodus 32 - The Golden Calf - The skeptical Israelites make a golden calf while Moses is on Mt. Sinai. The calf may be a kin of the god Sin, worshipped in pre-Muslim times in the Arabian peninsula and elsewhere.

Contents of Exodus

Exodus 1 Exodus 2 | Exodus 3 | Exodus 4 | Exodus 5 | Exodus 6 | Exodus 7 | Exodus 8 | Exodus 9 | Exodus 10 | Exodus 11 | Exodus 12 | Exodus 13 | Exodus 14 | Exodus 15 | Exodus 16 | Exodus 17 | Exodus 18 | Exodus 19 | Exodus 20 | Exodus 21 | Exodus 22 | Exodus 23 | Exodus 24 | Exodus 25 | Exodus 26 | Exodus 27 | Exodus 28 | Exodus 29 | Exodus 30 | Exodus 31 | Exodus 32 | Exodus 33 | Exodus 34 | Exodus 35 | Exodus 36 | Exodus 37 | Exodus 38 | Exodus 39 | Exodus 40|

Exodus - Bible - King James Version Bible  Old Testament  King James Version

History of the King James Bible

Meaning and pronunciation of Hebrew names in the Old Testament

Preface to the First Edition of the King James Bible

The bible and Zionism

The Bible, the Old Testament, has become a mainstay of human culture, but it is first and foremost a historical document of the Jewish people and our culture, It tells the story of our ancient kingdoms and civilization in the Land of Israel, and therefore it kept alive the tie of the people of Israel to the land of Israel for 2000 years, It forms the moral and cultural basis of Zionist ideology and aspirations,

The Bible, the Old Testament, is accepted by the three major Western faiths, It is a major work of Western civilization, The Bible documents the historic connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, even for those who do not believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, and even for those who do not believe in God at all, It is the historic epic of the Jewish people in our land,  

Additional Background

Map - Canaan Before the Hebrews

Map - Canaan and the Early Israelite Kingdom

Map - The kingdoms of Israel and Judea; Judea and Samaria in the time of Jesus

Map and article - Judea (Judah) and Judea and Samaria

Map of Palestine 1845 - Showing biblical and contemporary sites

Jews, Jewish Religion, anti-Semitism the Talmud and Zionism

History of Israel and Zionism, Zionist Advocacy at this site and at  Zionism and Israel Information Center Zionism and Israel Issues and Answers  Zionism and Its Impact Definitions of Zionism History of Zionism and the Creation of Israel  Timeline of Zionism and Israeli History Zionism and Israel Online Biography  Jewish antiZionismJews against Zionism  Neturei Karta (Jews against Zionism, Jews not Zionists) Encyclopedic Dictionary and Glossary of Zionism, Israel, Middle East and Jewish History My Personal Exodus Christian Zionism

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