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Exodus, Book of
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Israel’s escape from slavery in Egypt is commonly known as the exodus (meaning ‘a going out’). The most likely date for the event is about 1280 BC, and the historical account of the event is given in the book of Exodus (see EXODUS, BOOK OF).

Significance of the exodus

The actual going out from Egypt was but one part of a series of events that gave the exodus its great significance in Israel’s history. It was preceded by God’s judgment on Egypt through a number of plagues (Exodus 1; Exodus 2; Exodus 3; Exodus 4; Exodus 5; Exodus 6; Exodus 7; Exodus 8; Exodus 9; Exodus 10; Exodus 11; see PLAGUE); it came about through the decisive judgment on Passover night and the subsequent crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 12; Exodus 13; Exodus 14; Exodus 15; see PASSOVER; RED SEA); and it was followed by the covenant ceremony at Mt Sinai, where God formally established Israel as his people (Exodus 16; Exodus 17; Exodus 18; Exodus 19; Exodus 20; Exodus 21; Exodus 22; Exodus 23; Exodus 24; see COVENANT). After giving them his law, God directed them to the new homeland he had promised them in Canaan.

Throughout the years that followed, Israelites looked back to the exodus as the decisive event in their history. This was not just because the exodus led to the establishment of Israel’s national independence, but more importantly because it showed them the sort of person their God was. Yahweh revealed his character, showing that he was a God who redeems (Deuteronomy 15:15; 2 Samuel 7:23; Nehemiah 1:8-10; Micah 6:4; cf. Exodus 6:6-8; Exodus 15:2; Exodus 15:13; see REDEMPTION). The exodus was a sign to the people of this Redeemer-God’s love (Deuteronomy 4:37; Deuteronomy 7:8; Hosea 11:1), power (Deuteronomy 9:26; 2 Kings 17:36; Psalms 81:10) and justice (Deuteronomy 6:21-22; Joshua 24:5-7).

In demonstrating the character of God, the exodus gave assurance to God’s people that they could trust in him. At the same time it reminded them that he required them to be loyal, obedient and holy (Leviticus 11:45; Deuteronomy 4:37-40; Deuteronomy 5:6-7; Deuteronomy 7:7-11; cf. Hosea 11:1-4).

The pattern repeated

Even with the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC and the subsequent captivity in Babylon, God’s people never forgot his redeeming power. They looked for a ‘second exodus’ when he would again deliver them from bondage. They prayed that as he had first brought them out of Egypt and into the promised land, so he would now bring them out of Babylon and back to their homeland (Isaiah 43:1-7; Isaiah 43:14-21; Isaiah 48:20-21; Isaiah 49:25-26; Isaiah 51:9-11; Isaiah 52:11-12; Jeremiah 31:10-12; Micah 7:14-17).

The exodus theme is prominent also in the New Testament. The word ‘exodus’ (RSV: ‘departure’) is used of Jesus’ death, by which he delivers people from the bondage of sin (Luke 9:31; cf. Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 2:14-15; see REDEMPTION). As the Passover lamb, he died in the place of those under judgment and so achieved redemption for them (1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19; see PASSOVER). Those redeemed through Christ can therefore sing the song that the redeemed Israelites sang, but with new meaning (Revelation 15:2-4; cf. Exodus 15:1-21). They must also heed the lessons that the Israelites failed to learn in the wilderness years that followed their deliverance (1 Corinthians 10:1-11; Hebrews 3:7-19).

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Exodus'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​bbd/​e/exodus.html. 2004.
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