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The Blue Letter Bible

Dr. J. Vernon McGee :: Notes for Exodus

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Exodus continues the account that was begun in Genesis, although there was a lapse of at least 3 1/2 centuries. Genesis 15:13 says that the seed of Abraham would spend 400 years in a land that was not theirs. It is difficult to be dogmatic about the chronology of the patriarchal period. It has been omitted purposely from these outlines. The word that opens Exodus is a conjunction, which is better translated “and” rather than “now.” Exodus has been called the sequel to Genesis. Dr. G. Campbell Morgan wrote, “In the book of Exodus nothing is commenced, nothing is finished.”


Exodus means “the way out.” Redemption is by blood and by power. The message is stated in Hebrews 11:23-29.


I am the LORD thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (Exodus 20:2)


Seventy souls of Jacob entered Egypt (Genesis 46:27). It is conservatively estimated that 2,100,000 left Egypt at the time of the Exodus. Although we cannot be certain of dating during this early period, it would seem that Joseph entered Egypt under the Hyksos or shepherd kings. This was the 15th to 17th dynasty. They were Semitic conquerors from Mesopotamia, Bedouin princes from the desert. They were related to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Actually, the Israelites were their only friends, as they were hated by Egyptians. Amasis, military leader of Egypt, led a rebellion against the Hyksos kings, deposed them, and was made Pharaoh. It was Ramses II in this line who was the Pharaoh of the oppression and the one “who knew not Joseph.”
Moses’ life is divided into three 40-year periods:

1. 40 years in Pharaoh’s palace in Egypt,
2. 40 years in the desert in Midian,
3. 40 years in the wilderness as leader of Israel.

The training in Egypt, evidently in the Temple of the Sun, did not prepare Moses to follow God in leading Israel out of Egypt. God trained him in the desert for 40 years to reveal to him that he could not deliver Israel alone. God gave Moses a B.D. (Backside of the Desert) degree.
“And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds” (Acts 7:22). The wisdom of Egypt is not to be despised even today. The construction of the pyramids and the retention of brilliance in the colors they used reveal they knew architecture and chemistry. Also, they knew the distance to the sun. And writing was a highly developed science among them.
After God prepared Moses to deliver his people, He sent him back to Egypt after 40 years. Moses is to assemble elders of Israel and go to Pharaoh. Pharaoh will refuse to let Israel go. His refusal will open the contest between God and the gods of Egypt. Pharaoh was a representative of the gods of Egypt. Egypt was dominated by idolatry — “gods many and lords many.” There were thousands of temples and millions of idols. Back of idolatry was Satan. There was power in the religion of Egypt — “Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth, men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Timothy 3:8). Pharaoh asked, “Who is Jehovah?” He had never heard of Him. “And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2). God introduced Himself. Pharaoh got acquainted with God and acknowledged Him as God. “And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time; the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked” (Exodus 9:27). “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you” (Exodus 10:16).
Two points of significance arise from this episode:

A. Why the plagues?

They were God’s battle with the gods of Egypt. Each plague was directed against a particular god in Egypt. “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD” (Exodus 12:12).

1. The Nile was turned to blood — the Nile was the lifeblood of Egypt and sacred to Osiris.

2. Frogs — Heka was the frog-headed goddess. It was an offense to the goddess to kill frogs.

3. Lice — Geb was the earth god.

4. Flies (beetles or scarabs) were sacred to Ra (the sun god), Ra-Ammon, and Khepara. Gold scarabs have been found in the tombs.

5. Murrain on cattle — Egypt was a land of “zoo-olatry.” They worshiped animals. Apis was the black bull that was worshiped. Mumified bulls have been found in a pyramid near Memphis, Egypt. There is a note of humor that God injects here. Imagine the Egyptians worshiping a sick cow!

6. Boils — the priests had to be spotless. They could not serve in their temples with boils.

7. Hail — Egypt is a land of no rainfall. There is less than one inch a year in Cairo. Isis was the goddess of air.

8. Locusts are a judgment from God (compare locusts in Joel and Revelation).

9. Darkness — Egyptians worshiped the sun (Ra).

10. Death of firstborn — the firstborn in Egypt were set aside for the service of the gods.

B. What does it mean to harden the heart of Pharaoh? The word “harden”' has in it the idea of “to twist with a rope.” The suggestion is that God hailed Pharaoh into court and made him reveal what was already in his heart. He was not permitted to cover up or compromise. He had to reveal his true intent and thought. See Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 14:4 and Romans 9:17-24.
The Passover is the oldest religious holy day or holiday in continuous celebration. It sets forth redemption by blood. God delivered His people out of Egypt by blood and power. This was the grace of God described to them in this fashion, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto myself” (Exodus 19:4). God wanted to reveal to His own people that He had power to deliver them.
The Law was then instituted with their permission. The Ten Commandments are a segment of the Mosaic Law. Legislation that regulated the social life in relationship to the Ten Commandments was given in the remainder of the Pentateuch.
The great emphasis was upon the construction of the tabernacle and the service of it. The sacrificial system was the heart of the worship of God. Sin must be dealt with before God can dwell with His people. “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).
The floor plan of the tabernacle and the furniture of it should be learned by every student of the Scriptures.

Tabernacle Floor Plan
Outline for Genesis ← Prior Section
Outline for Exodus Next Section →
The Pentateuch ← Prior Book
Notes for Leviticus Next Book →
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