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Story. Exodus is comprised of two halves, which can be can be thought of as further subdividing into eight major sections:
- I. Israel Enslaved, Delivered, and Gathered (Exodus 1-18)
- Chapters 1-2: Moses is delivered from Pharaoh. Israel is enslaved in Egypt. Moses is saved from Pharaoh's command that all male Israelite babies be killed at birth. Moses is raised in Pharaoh's court, but then flees from Pharaoh in Egypt to Midian.
- Chapters 3-7a: Moses is commissioned to deliver Israel. Israel cries to God for deliverance. God calls Moses to deliver Israel. Pharaoh refuses Moses' request to free the Israelites.
- Chapters 7b-15a: Israel is delivered from Egypt. Egypt suffers through the ten plagues upon Egypt, including the death of all firstborn on the night of Passover, Pharaoh agrees to let Israel go. He then changes his mind and pursues Israel to the shore of the Red Sea. Israel crosses the Red Sea upon dry ground. Pharaoh and his army are drowned when they try to follow.
- Chapters 15b-18: Journey to Sinai. Israel complains that it will die of hunger and thirst in the wilderness. The Lord provides manna, quail, and water. This is the beginning (concluded in Numbers) of the ten times that Israel will test the Lord. Israel is attacked by Amalek and prevails while Aaron and Hur hold Moses' arms upraised. Moses's father in law Jethro counsels him to delegate responsibility to lesser judges.
- II. Sinai Covenant: Israel commissioned to be the Lord's people (Exodus 19-40)
- Chapters 19-24a: Sinai Covenant Established. The Lord gives the Ten Commandments, the commandment that all males appear for three annual feasts, and other rules.
- Chapters 24b-31: Plans for the Ark, Tabernacle, and Priests. The Lord gives the plans for the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, and for the priest's office.
- Chapters 32-34: Sinai Covenant Broken and Renewed. While Moses is up on the mountain, Israel makes and worships the golden calf. Moses intercedes for Israel, and the Sinai covenant is renewed.
- Chapters 35-40: Implementing the Ark, Tabernacle, and Priests. Israel builds the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle and installs the priests as previously instructed by the Lord. The glory of the Lord fills the Tabernacle.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Exodus include:
- Sinai Covenant. The Sinai Covenant between God and Israel.
This section should be brief and explain facts about the historical setting that will help a reader to understand the book. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
The book of Exodus begins by rapidly covering the time period between the death of Joseph at the end of Genesis. __
Because the events of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are so closely related, that shared historical setting is addressed in more detail in a single combined discussion at Five Books of Moses. A broader treatment of the history of ancient Israel covering the entire Old Testament is found at Historical Overview of the Old Testament.
This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
Two halves of Exodus
- Deliverance and establishment. Exodus begins with Moses being delivered from destruction and then being commissioned as God's servant - to in turn deliver Israel. Like many books of scripture, Exodus can be viewed in two halves. In chapters 1-19, Israel is delivered from its submission to Pharoah and travels to Mount Sinai. In chapters 20-40 Israel is encamped at Mount Sinai and is established through the Sinai Covenant as a people in submission to God.
The Exodus theme
- The Exodus Theme is one of the most prominent symbols in the scriptures.
- Content. When the Iseraelites left Egypt, they left a land of relative plenty for a wilderness of great scarcity and hardship. They were given commandments, entered into a covenant relationship with the Lord, learned to be obedient, and evntually qualified to enter into a promised land of inheritance.
- Application. The importance of the Exodus Theme derives from the fact that it applies to several important situations:
- Israelites. The Israelites that Moses led through the wilderness are the model for this theme.
- Lehi's family. Nephi draws many parallels in his account between the experience of the Israelites under Moses and the experience of his own family in traveling through the wilderness and learning through the things that they suffered before inheriting a land of promise.
- Latter-day pioneers.
- Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, they also left a place of comfort but of limited opportunities for growth, and entered a land of hardship through which they could learn, develop, and qualify for a land of eternal inheritance in heaven.
- Mankind. Likewise, all mankind, upon leaving the premortal realm for mortality, leave a place of comfort but limited opportunities for growth and embark on a time of hardship, through which they can grow and thereby qualify for a land of eternal inheritance in heaven. (See the discussion of growth and perfection at Matt 5:48).
- Isaiah. One of the organizing structures in Isaiah is the three part theme of Trouble at Home, Exile Abroad, and Happy Homecoming. (See Isaiah).
Outline and page map
This section contains an outline for the entire book. Items in blue or purple text indicate hyperlinked pages that address specific portions of the book. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
I. Israel Enslaved, Delivered, and Gathered (Exodus 1-18)
- Pharoah brings Israel into bondage (1-2)
- Pharaoh attempts to destroy Israel (1:1-22)
- Moses born and escapes destruction (2:1-22)
- Israel cries for deliverance, God remembers covenant (2:23-25)
- God commissions Moses to Deliver Israel (3-4a)
- Moses called out of the burning bush (3:1-6)
- Moses commissioned to deliver Israel from Pharaoh (3:7-10)
- Moses objects that he is unimportant, promise that God will be with him (3:11-22)
- Moses objects that he will not be believed, given two signs and promised a third (4:1-9)
- Moses objects that he is not eloquent, promise of a spokesman (4:10-17)
- Moses returns to Egypt (4b)
- Pharaoh refuses to let Israel go, increases burden (5)
- God reaffirms Moses's commission (6-7a)
- Miracle of serpents and plagues #1-9 (7b-10)
- Miracle of serpents, Aaron's rod swallows Egyptians' rods (7:8-13)
- First set of three plagues with Aaron's rod (7:14-8:19)
- Second set of three plagues without rod (8:20-9:12)
- Third set of three plagues with Moses's rod (9:13-10:29)
- Plague #10: Passover and departure (11-13a)
- a. Plague #10 announced, Israel to borrow from Egyptians (11:1-10)
- a. Plague #10 occurs, Pharaoh frees Israel (12:29-42)
- Deliverance: Miracle of Egyptians swallowed up in Red Sea (13b-15a)
- Murmuring, waters healed at Marah (15b) (15:22-27)
- Murmuring, quail and manna provided in Wilderness of Sin (16)
- Murmuring, water provided at Horeb (17a) (17:1-7)
- War with Amalek (17b) (17:8-16)
- Jethro visits Moses (18)
II. Sinai Covenant and Tabernacle: Israel commissioned (Exodus 19-40)
- Sinai Covenant revealed and accepted in general terms (19a)
- Moses's authority to intermediate with God (19b-20a)
- Sinai Covenant revealed and accepted in specific terms (20b-24a)
- Specific covenant laws revealed (20:22-23:19)
- No other gods, and covenant laws (20:22-21:1)
- Hebrew slaves (21:2-11)
- Capital offenses, murder, enslavement, disrespecting parents (21:12-17)
- Assault (21:18-27)
- Damage by and to oxen (21:28-36)
- Theft, bailment, loss, and disputed ownership of property (22:1-15)
- Sexual purity and idolatry (22:16-20)
- Treatment of the needy and defenseless (22:21-27)
- Respect for God and rulers (22:28-31)
- No false witness (23:1-3)
- Assisting enemies (23:4-5)
- Proper justice (23:6-9)
- Sabbaths and annual feasts (23:10-19)
- Covenant summarized and accepted (23:20-24:11)
- Tabernacle (24b-27a)
- Moses ascends the summit for 40 days to receive law and stone tablets (24:12-18)
- Instruction to build tabernacle (25:1-9)
- Vessels: ark of the covenant and mercy seat (25:10-22)
- Vessels: table of showbread (25:23-30)
- Vessels: menorah lamps (25:31-40)
- Hangings: linen curtains of the tabernacle (26:1-6)
- Hangings: outer covering of the tabernacle (26:7-14)
- Supports: boards, sockets, and bars of the tabernacle (26:15-30)
- Hangings: two veils (26:31-37)
- Vessels: bronze altar of sacrifice for outer court (27:1-8)
- Supports and Hangings: outer court (27:9-19)
- Priests (27b-29)
- Priests to keep lamps burning with olive oil (27:20-21)
- Aaron's line chosen as priests, priestly clothing (28:1-5)
- Ephod (28:6-14)
- Breastplate (28:15-30)
- Robe (28:31-35)
- Golden plate (28:36-38)
- Tunic, turban, sash (28:39-43)
- Washing, anointing, and dressing Aaron and his sons (29:1-9)
- Sacrifice: sin offering of the bull (29:10-14)
- Sacrifice: burnt offering of the first ram (29:15-18)
- Sacrifice: Wave or burnt offering of the second ram (29:19-25)
- Wave and heave offerings, priesthood succession (29:26-30)
- Eating the sacrifice (29:31-34)
- Seven days of atonement (29:35-37)
- Daily sacrifice of the congregation, God to dwell with Israel (29:38-46)
- Miscellaneous (30-31)
- Israel worships the golden calf, Moses's first intercession (32a)
- Moses punishes Israel, Moses's second intercession (32b)
- God punishes Israel, Moses's third intercession (33)
- Sinai Covenant Renewed (34)
- Moses replaces stone tablets, God announces his name (34:1-9)
- Covenant promise of complete possession renewed (34:10-11)
- No idols, foreign alliances, or intermarriage (34:12-17)
- Observance of sabbaths and three annual feasts (34:18-26)
- Covenant renewed, Moses writes the words of the covenant (34:27-28)
- Moses's face shines (34:29-35)
- Offerings for construction of the tabernacle (35-36a)
- Tabernacle and Vessels Made (35b-38)
- Hangings: curtains for tabernacle walls (36:8-19)
- Supports: boards for tabernacle walls (36:20-34)
- Hangings: veil and door (36:35-38)
- Vessels: ark of the covenant (37:1-9)
- Vessels: table of showbread (37:10-16)
- Vessels: menorah lamp (37:17-24)
- Vessels: altar of incense ((37:25-29)
- Vessels: altar of burnt offering for outer courtyard (38:1-7)
- Vessels: bronze basin for outer courtyard (38:8)
- Supports and hangings: walls of courtyard (38:9-20)
- Quantity of metals used (38:21-31)
- Priestly clothing made (39a)
- Tabernacle completed and accepted (39b-40)
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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Translations and Lexicons.
Related passages that interpret or shed light on Exodus
- The Joseph Smith Translation made changes to the following verses in Exodus. This list is complete:
- Exo 1:1
- Exo 3:2-3
- Exo 4:21, 24-27
- Exo 5:4
- Exo 6:3-4, 8, 12, 14, 26-30
- Exo 7:1-4, 9, 13
- Exo 9:12, 17
- Exo 10:1, 20, 27
- Exo 11:8-10
- Exo 12:33, 37
- Exo 14:4, 8, 17, 20
- Exo 18:1
- Exo 20:23
- Exo 21:8, 20-21
- Exo 22:18, 28
- Exo 23:1
- Exo 27:8
- Exo 32:1, 12, 14, 23, 35
- Exo 33:1, 3, 20-23
- Exo 34:1-2, 4, 7, 14, 35
References cited on this page.
- Wayment, Thomas A., ed. The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament, p. 114-24. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2009. (ISBN 1606411314) BX8630.A2 2009
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.
- Wayment, The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament, p. 114-24.