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Relationship to Exodus. The relationship of Chapters 15b-18 to the rest of Exodus is discussed at Exodus.
Outline. An outline of the complete book of Exodus, including Chapters 15b-18, is found at Exodus: Outline and page map.
Story. Chapters 15b-18 consists of five major sections:
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 15b-18 include:
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- Ex 16:4: That I may prove them. One way to read this is that God testing his people to see if they will gather manna in the manner that God prescribes (e.g. not gathering on the Sabbath). Another way to read this is that God is testing his people by sending him in the wilderness as opposed to, say, sending them through cities or other more hospitable land. Yet another way to read this is that the test consists of the people having to rely continually on God for sustenance in the wilderness, as opposed to the people being in circumstances where they could be more self-sufficient. In this latter sense, God may be trying to humble his people in a manner suggested in Num 11:6-10. (For more on manna as a test, see Studies in Shemot (Exodus), Part I by Nehama Leibowitz, pp. 263-72 (The World Zionist Organization, 1981, Sixth impression 1986; Haomanim Press, Jerusalem).
- Ex 17:1: No water for the people to drink. Some have interpreted the somewhat superfluous phrase "for the people to drink" as evidence that there may have been some water available, just not as much water as the children of Israel wanted. As evidence for this view, the verb drink here is based on the Hebrew lishtot which has the implication of continuous action (as opposed to another possibility, shetiya which is the gerund noun formation). (See Leibowitz reference below.)
- Ex 17:4: This people? It may be significant that Moses does not refer to the children of Israel as "thy people" here as he does on several other occassions (cf. Ex 32:11-12; 33:13, 16), suggesting that the people's actions at this time are not deserving to be associated with God.
- Ex 17:1-4: Exaggerated thirstiness? Some scholars see evidence here that the Israelites are exaggerating their plight, and this is why the word chide is being used in these verses. If the Israelites did not have any water, the description here—which seems to suggest the Israelites are being impatient—seems unjustified. (See Liebowitz reference below.)
- Ex 17:5: The people. It may be significant that God does not refer to the children of Israel as "my people" here as he does on several other occasions (cf. Ex 3:7, 10; 7:4, 16; 8:1; 12:31; Lev 26:12), suggesting that the people's actions at this time are not deserving to be associated with God.
- Ex 17:5: Wherewith thou smotest the river. This seemingly superfluous phrase my be significant because the rod is usually associated with punishment (such as Moses's use of the rod to bring the plagues against the Egyptians), whereas as here it is being associated with a blessing. (See the Leibowitz reference below; this point could lend support for a welcoming/embracing view of the "stretched out arm" in Ex 6:6.)
- Ex 17:5: Go on before the people. One view of this phrase is that it is a form of rebuke to Moses for his seeming impatience toward the children of Israel. That is, by going before the people, God may be suggesting to Moses that the people will not stone him as Moses complained in verse 4. Another view is that this phrase suggests a fatherly type of concern on God's part toward the children of Israel. That is, Moses should go before the people in an effort to show concern, empathy, and possibly faith regarding their thirsty plight. (See Liebowitz reference below.)
- Ex 17:8: Amalek. Gen 36:12 and 1 Chr 1:36 name an Amalek that is the son of Esau. Many (most?) scholars suggest the Amalek listed here in Exodus is in reference to that Amalek (e.g. the Word Biblical Commentary and the Jewish Encyclopedia), although the LDS Bible Dictionary does not suggest any such association.
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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- Ex 16:4: That I may prove them. In what sense is the manna a test for the Israelites? Isn't the raining of bread from heaven more of a blessing than a test?
- Ex 17:2: Chide and tempt. In what sense are the children of Israel chiding Moses? Is there something inherently wrong about inquiring about water when there is no water? In what sense are the children of Israel tempting (trying) God?
- Ex 17:5: Go on before the people. Why does God tell Moses to "Go on before the people"?
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- Ex 17:1-5: Leibowitz. See Studies in Shemot (Exodus), Part I by Nehama Leibowitz, pp. 273-83 (The World Zionist Organization, 1981, Sixth impression 1986; Haomanim Press, Jerusalem).
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