So I finished book two from the Old Testament a few days ago, and am going to continue writing my perspectives on the Bible (see Genesis here).
The main focus of Exodus is the life of Moses. He was a Hebrew born in Egypt at a time when all of the Sons of Israel were under heavy persecution. His mother did not want him to grow up a slave, so she set him down the river in a wicker basket, and he was luckily picked up by the Pharaoh’s daughter.
So Moses grows up lavishly in the care of the Pharaoh’s daughter, but he felt bad for all the Hebrew’s slaving for the Egyptians. At one early point he sees an Egyptian strike a Hebrew and he
Ex 2:12 So he looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
Already Moses is fighting for a cause he believes in (this is before God started talking to him). So we see very early that Moses is passionate about saving his people, and likely would fight for there freedom with or without God’s directions.
So Moses flees Egypt so he doesn’t get murdered for killing the Egyptian, and while he’s on the lam God speaks to him through the ‘burning bush’ (later in this book he’s more direct).
Ex 3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ “
So God has chosen his favourite peoples and decided that Moses needs to stand up for them and free them from the oppression. To convince the people that he is a prophet, God gives Moses some powers (the first human to get supernatural abilities).
Specifically, Moses’ staff turns into a serpant when thrown to the ground, his hand turns lepourous when touched to his chest, and when Moses takes water from the Nile and pours it on the ground it will turn to blood.
And then Moses claims he isn’t a good enough public speaker to represent God, so God tells him to recruit his brother (remember that Moses was an orphan, so I don’t know how he knows his Hebrew brother) Aaron to help him in his tasks. I knew the general story of Moses before, but I had never heard mention of Aaron, but I guess its okay because he dissapears from the story later in Exodus.
Then follows Moses (and Aaron) quickly convincing the Israelites that they are sent by God (the ability to cast miracles would help), and then setting to demand from the Pharaoh that all the Sons of Israel be free to leave Egypt. The Pharaoh is dead-set against this and God intercedes with increasing levels of plagues.
An interesting passage before the plagues begin is Exodus 7:1
Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.”
Basically God sets out that he can elevate Moses to the level of a God, which contradicts later in the Ten Commandments where he states that one should not raise idols, but I guess God is exempt from His laws for us.
Now for the plagues and proofs to the Pharaoh: Moses does the staff-snake trick, the Nile to blood trick (in fact he turns all of the water in Egypt to blood), all the fish in the Nile are killed, frogs swarm from the Nile and cover the people’s land, gnats (lice) spread through Egypt, swarms of flies, killed all of the livestock (only of the Egyptians), boils and soars break out on man and beast (God doesn’t kill everyone so that they may exist to know and fear him – Ex 9:16), a heavy hail-fire storm (which kills every living thing caught outdoors), locusts (most of Egypt is in ruins by this point), and as a finale all the firstborns of Egypt shall die (including of the slaves and the cattle – even though he already killed all of the livestock).
Now God didn’t want to kill the Israelites firstborns (and He wasn’t sure which ones they were, even though He favoured them heavily), so He had them slaughter a lamb, and spill its blood on their steps so He would know which houses to “Passover.” Passover would then have to occur every year from then on. There were several other rules to Passover (no leftovers), but I won’t cover them here (God is really anal in this book).
So once all the firstborns are killed by God, the Isrealites head out of Egypt, but the Pharaoh chases after them. Then Moses reaches the Red Sea and God gives him the power to part the sea and cross through, then dropping the sea on the Egyptian soldiers.
Eventually the Isrealites escape the Egyptians and Moses goes up Mount Sinai to recieve the first set of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:3-17
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquit of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations who hate Me,
but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
but on the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.
“For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
“You shall not commit murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Number four there, the do not work on the sabbath, that becomes an important one, as was already emphasized in Genesis. Repeatedly it’s stated that those who work on the Sabbath are to be banished and/or stoned (take your pick, there’s passages stating both).
Also note, there’s no Hell yet, basically follow these rules so you don’t get stoned to death.
Then the story goes into some specifics of slave ordinances, property rights, sundry laws, and setting up a representative legal system (judges representing Moses who represents God). Kind of interesting, but most of the laws deal with oxen, slaves, and things that we’d have to extrapolate to put into practice today. Even still our current legal systems are much more detailed then the few short chapters mentioned in Exodus.
Basically the last half of the book of Exodus talks about God describing the Ark of the Covenant and the dress and conduct of the priests. It’s really dry and seems like God is being really assinine in commanding His people to build this. I guess if they’re true believers they won’t question Him, and will do their utmost to build a temple and ark to his exact specifications.
The next book is Leviticus, which hosts some of the famous passages that fanatics use to call homosexuality an abomination, but many other lesser known rules as well.