What are the two major themes of the book of Exodus?

Expert Answers info

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write9,093 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Knowing and Making Known

God expresses the desire to know Israel and for the people of Israel to know him. In Exodus 3:15, God, addressing Moses, tells him that he, God, is to be remembered throughout all generations. God instructs Moses to tell the people of Israel that he, Moses, has been sent to them by the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

As Exodus progresses, God gradually reveals himself. We see God as the God who remembers, rules, rescues, judges, speaks, provides for, and dwells among his people. God remains a transcendent figure to whom all glory and honor are owed. But he also shows the immanent nature of his awesome divinity as he comes to dwell among this chosen people.

The Covenantal Relationship between God and the People of Israel

Exodus develops the covenant first handed down by God to Abraham in the Book of Genesis. The Mosaic covenant established with the people of Israel at Mount Sinai carries forward the purpose of the original covenant. In Genesis 12:1-3 God had promised that he would make Israel into a great nation, and the Mosaic covenant of Exodus represents the next stage of fulfillment of that original promise.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

johngault eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2012

write5 answers

starTop subject is History

1. God is sovereign and Almighty.

2. Man cannot uphold the Law, but is in need of a Savior.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write5,648 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business

If we were to synthesize the myriad of topics found in the book of Exodus, we could conclude that the two most important messages that we get out of the book are the following:

The Israelites are the chosen people of God:

The God of the Israelites is the god of Moses, as well as the god of Abraham. His name is "I AM" (or "I AM who I AM", also, Yahwe, Jehova, et al), and he declares himself as the liberator and protector of his people. To the modern reader this may sound obvious, but we are talking about a writing created during a time when these tenets were imperative to the Israelites as confirmation of themselves as a nation.

Coming straight from slavery into the possibility of a new land, the people of Israel needed several forms of validation to begin their journey. Having the validation of God means that they could move forward as an independent nation. The final confirmation of God's commitment to the people of Israel is sealed with the final covenant between themselves and God, found in Exodus 20 - 23 and 25:12.  From that moment on, Israel would be God's covenant-nation, ruled by the holy principles found in the Commandments. 

The second most important theme found in Exodus could clearly be:

God is Almighty.

Exodus illustrates in several occasions how the God of the Israelites "I AM" is quite almighty. It is in this book where we see their God manifest most furiously in the most dedicated fashion. First, God assists in the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt by giving 10 divine plagues to the Egyptians. This is proof of the wrath and power of a God that demands that his people are freed. These plagues were, in order a) the turning of water into blood,  b) infestation of frogs,  c) gnats, d) swarms of flies, e) death to the livestock  f) boils, or bubos, on the skin of the Egyptians, g) hail,  h) locusts,  i) darkness, and the worst of all: the death of every firstborn in Egypt (7:19-11:5)

Also, God does the well-known parting of the Red Sea to allow the passage of the people. Moreover, He also provides for the people light and guidance throughout their journey. 

The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people (Exodus 13:21-22).

He also provides them manna for their survival in the desert (16:35), and protects them even in times of weakness from the part of the people. 

In all, God's confirmation of his purpose with the people of Israel, as well as the clear proof that He is an Almighty God, are the two most important themes that come out of the many events that take place in the book of Exodus.



check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ask a Question