Exodus (bible)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
תּוֹרָה Torah ; Five Books of Moses; Pentateuch
  • Hebrew בְּרֵאשִׁית Bereshit "In the Beginning"; genesis
  • שְׁמוֹת Schemot "names"; Exodus
  • וַיִּקְרָא Wajikra “And he called”; Leviticus
  • בְּמִדְבַּר Bemidbar "In the desert"; Numbers
  • דְּבָרִים Devarim "words"; Deuteronomy
The 24 books of the Tanach ( T a N a K h )
T ora (instruction, teaching)
N evi'im (prophets)
K etuvim (writings)
Indented: the five megillots .
Order according to BHS ; may differ depending on the edition.
Old Testament books
History books


"Little" ( Book of the Twelve Prophets )

"Moses leads the people of Israel through the Red Sea" - illustration from the Hortus Deliciarum by Herrad von Landsberg (around 1180)

The 2nd book of Moses , in Hebrew שְׁמוֹת Schemot , German 'name' , in ancient Greek Ἔξοδος Éxodos, German ' Exodus ' called, is the second book of the Torah and the Jewish Tanakh as well as the Christian Old Testament and thus the second book of the two versions of the biblical canon .


In Judaism , the book is called Sefer Shemot (ספר שמות), which means "Book of Names", according to the Hebrew original . The name is derived from the first words of the book Shemot ("name", שמות). The naming after direct or most significant initial words is linked to their use as Parascha or Sidra (“week segment”) for reading the Torah (“instruction, teaching”) in the synagogue in Judaism.

The Latin name Exodus is derived from the Greek Ἔξοδος ("exodus"), which means the exodus of the Israelites from slavery under Egyptian rule.

The German name of 2 Book of Mose goes back to Martin Luther's translation of the Bible and follows the other traditional Jewish and church usage, which traditionally names Moses as the author.


The first part of the second book of Moses consists of the stories about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt under the guidance of Moses on the way to the land of Canaan promised to the Israelites by YHWH .

The story begins with the birth of Moses and describes emerging conflicts between Israelites and Egyptians. The Israelites were not allowed to leave until after the Ten Plagues hit Egypt . It leads through the Red Sea , the passage of which is described as a wonderful act of God , and further into the desert of Sinai , where God reveals the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai .

This is followed by the covenant of God with the people of Israel, in which the role of Aaron , the older brother of Moses, gains in importance. Chapters 21 to 24 of a code called a federal code compile federal laws that establish the people of Israel as a theocracy under the leadership of a priesthood. As a sign of this covenant, the ark of the covenant , a wooden box with stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments are inscribed, and a transportable tent temple are carried along by the entourage as a sanctuary. The temple tent, the construction of which is described in great detail, represents the first form of the Israelite temple .

The second book of Moses is closely related to the other four books of Moses, the Torah or the Pentateuch. In terms of time it is subordinate to the 1st book of Moses. The contents of the 3rd and 4th books of Moses follow on from the 2nd book of Moses . The fifth book of Moses is a summary of the 2nd-4th in some respects. Book, but goes beyond that in his teachings.


2. Book of Moses itself does not name an author. The German name follows the Jewish and Christian tradition of an authorship of Moses, who sees the entire Pentateuch (the five books of Moses) as written by Moses. Today this view is only represented by Orthodox Jews and some of the Christians (mainly from the evangelical and / or fundamentalist spectrum).

The question of authorship is discussed in more detail in the Torah article .

Important statements and topics

Moses with the Tablets of the Law,
painting by José de Ribera, 1638

The central theme of the book is God's covenant with the people of Israel. The motive of the doubting person or persons, the apostasy from God, the return to God and the punishment or forgiveness by God with renewal or confirmation of the covenant can be found multiple times.

At the same time, the role of the people of Israel in their relationship with their God called YHWH is important. Ultimately, the second book of Moses gives the justification for the claim of the Jewish people to their land. At the same time, the Jewish religion traces back many of its basic beliefs to revelations from God, which can be found in Exodus.

In Christianity, the exodus from Egypt is the most important image for the farewell to the slavery of sins , which is possible under the guidance of Christ .

Central contents are:

Notes on the name of God: The pronunciation of the name of God is not clear, as only the consonants of the name have been passed down. The exact consonant sequence according to the Hebrew text is YHWH. Out of awe of God, the Jews seldom pronounced the divine name YHWH and instead used other names such as Adonai (Hebrew: my Lord), Elohim (God) or Haschem (the name).

Content summary

The Israelites in Egypt and Moses Birth and Mission (Chapters 1-4)

The Israelites live as farm laborers and slaves in Egypt and are essentially without rights. The infant of a Levitic Israelite family is placed in a reed basket in the Nile to protect him from the killing of the male Israelite children ordered by the Pharaoh. He is found by a daughter of Pharaoh and adopted under the name of Moses out of pity. His birth mother is being designated as wet nurse for breastfeeding.

Moses grew up among the Egyptians, but felt himself to be a Hebrew. After killing an Egyptian who was threatening a Hebrew, he flees the country and marries Zippora , the daughter of the Midianite priest Jetro. Here YHWH reveals himself to him in the burning bush, the God of Israel, and tells Moses his plan of salvation for the people of Israel: Moses is supposed to return to Egypt, bring the Israelites out of there, and his older brother Aaron is supposed to be his spokesman.

Moses and Aaron Before Pharaoh: The Ten Plagues (Chapters 5-13)

The Pharaoh counters the request of Moses and Aaron to let the Israelites go by increasing the number of forced labor. Thereupon God first plagues the Egyptians with nine plagues in order to induce Pharaoh to let the Israelites go:

  1. The water of the Nile turns to blood;
  2. Frogs swarm the land;
  3. Mosquitoes plague humans and animals;
  4. Biting flies afflict humans and animals;
  5. An epidemic kills the cattle;
  6. Ulcers break open in man and cattle;
  7. Hailstorms devastate the land;
  8. Locusts eat the land bare;
  9. There is three days of darkness in the country;

Although terrified by the increasingly threatening plagues, the Pharaoh does not allow the Israelites to leave. The people of the Children of Israel will be spared the plagues.

Only the last, tenth plague , the death of all male firstborns of the Egyptians, convinced the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. The Jewish festival of Passover , the rules of which God reveals to Moses on the eve of the exodus, commemorates the sparing of the firstborn of the Israelites.

Persecution of the Israelites and Crossing the Red Sea (Chapters 13-15)

The Israelites set out from Sukkot to the Red Sea (presumably the Red Sea or the sea there) and are persecuted by the Egyptian army , as the Pharaoh regrets the permission to leave. Their God meets the fear of the Israelites by draining the Red Sea, which opens up a way of escape for them. The pursuing Egyptians drown in the falling water. A hymn of praise for the saved follows.

Across the Desert (Chapters 16-18)

From Elim on the Red Sea the Israelites set out through the Sin desert to Sinai; In the desert, the migratory train, grumbling because of hunger, is wonderfully looked after ( quail , manna ). The lack of water at the Rifidim camp is also brought in by a miracle of God. Even acts of war against Amalek are won with divine help. Here Moses is reunited with his wife and children.

At Sinai: The Ten Commandments and the Federal Laws (Chapters 19-23)

The Israelites reach Mount Sinai, which Moses climbs and meets his God there. God's intention to make a covenant with the Israelites that will make them His chosen, holy people, whom He will bless, is joyfully accepted by the Israelites.

Only Moses is allowed to meet God on Mount Sinai, where the Ten Commandments are proclaimed. Following, a detailed legislation specifically intended to regulate civilian life of the Israelites as God's people, and selected as the " book of the covenant is called" (20.22 to 23.33). Among other things, sacrifice , slavery and what is under the death penalty . After these proclamations, Moses returned to the Israelites to inform them of the laws that God had issued.

The stone tablets of the commandments, the ark, the priesthood, and the altar offering (chapters 24-31)

Moses goes back to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, carved in stone, from God (24.12ff). Before that, the alliance on Sinai is described. It is mentioned twice that the people unanimously accept and want to obey the legal statutes (24.3.7). In addition, the construction of the Ark of the Covenant and the temple tent, the sanctuary of the Israelites, as well as the regulations to be observed are made known. Aaron and his descendants are to represent the priesthood of the Israelites, and instructions are given for offering sacrifices on the altar. Regarding the Sabbath , God specifies that it is to be kept, and “[if] he profaned it shall be punished with death” ( Ex 31.14  EU ). Finally, God hands Moses the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments that he wrote with his own hand.

The golden calf (chapters 32-34)

While Moses is on Mount Sinai, the Israelites grow impatient and ask Aaron to make a material God, as was the custom at that time. Aaron collects gold and makes a golden calf , which he and the Israelites worship. God informed Moses of the apostasy of the Israelites and announced that he would kill them, but Moses asked for forbearance, which God finally granted. When Moses arrives at the camp, in anger he breaks the stone tablets and destroys the golden calf. The Levites prove themselves to be loyal to God and receive the order from Moses to kill the male apostate relatives with the sword. Afterwards Moses went back to Mount Sinai to please God. He receives forgiveness, new tablets of stone, and renewed promise and other regulations and laws for the Israelites.

Establishing the Ark of the Covenant and the Mishcan (Chapters 35-40)

Upon his return, Moses gathers the Israelites and gives them God's instructions. Then the ark, the mishkan and the altar are erected and Aaron is blessed as a priest. These chapters largely contain a repetition of the provisions given in chapters 24–31.

Summarizing rough breakdown


Historical accuracy

The 2nd book of Moses speaks of about 600,000 adult men who left Egypt, plus women and children ( Ex 12.37  EU ). In the past, this number was often uncritically accepted as a historical occurrence. Modern research, however, sees at least no evidence of the historicity of the events described. There is no archaeological evidence of such large population movements in the Sinai area or immigration to Canaan; only 50,000 to 100,000 people lived in Canaan at that time. Many researchers therefore assume a much smaller emigration, which also did not include all twelve tribes.

Other scholars consider the entire Exodus narrative not just an exaggeration but a free invention. In 2001, for example, the archaeologists Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman argued that land seizure by Israelites returning from Egypt could not only not be proven; on the contrary, the continuity in the material findings clearly showed that there was no immigration worth mentioning. At most, a conquest of the Canaanite cities by nomadic tribes at the end of the second millennium BC is conceivable, but they have been in the country for centuries. The biblical narrative distorted the memory of a civil war between rural and urban populations by reinterpreting it as a land grab.

See also



  • Watson E. Mills: Exodus . Bibliographies for Biblical Research 2. Mellen Biblical Press, Lewiston NY et al. a. 2001, ISBN 0-7734-2447-4 .
  • The first and second books of Moses. Concordant translation, Pforzheim 1993, ISBN 3-88475-015-1 .
  • Hanna Liss : Tanach. Jewish Bible textbook. Writings of the University for Jewish Studies, Volume 8. 3rd edition Universitätsverlag Winter, Heidelberg 2011, ISBN 978-3-8253-5904-1 .


  • Athalya Brenner (ed.): Exodus to Deuteronomy. A Feminist Companion to the Bible. The Feminist Companion to the Bible 2.5. Academic Press, Sheffield 2000, ISBN 1-84127-079-2 .
  • Christoph Dohmen : Exodus 19–40 (= HThKAT . Volume 2). Herder, Freiburg i. Br. U. a. 2004, ISBN 3-451-26805-1 .
  • Cornelis Houtman: Exodus. 4 Vols. Historical Commentary on the Old Testament, 3rd Transl. from the Dutch, 1993-2002.
  • Jörg Meuth: When God frees. Images and meditations on the texts from the book Exodus. Aussaat-Verl., Neukirchen-Vluyn 2001, ISBN 3-7615-5146-0 (spiritual meditation).
  • William HC Propp: Exodus 1-18. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Bible 2. Doubleday, New York a. a. 1999, ISBN 0-385-14804-6 .
  • Werner H. Schmidt : Exodus 1.1–6.30 (= BKAT . Volume II / 1). 2nd Edition. Neukirchener Theologie, Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011, ISBN 978-3-7887-2264-7 .
  • Werner H. Schmidt: Exodus 7.26-11.10 (= BKAT . Volume II / 2). Neukirchener Theologie, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1999, ISBN 978-3-7887-1958-6 .
  • Helmut Utzschneider , Wolfgang Oswald: Exodus 1–15 (= IEKAT .) Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-17-022222-9 .

Individual studies

  • WF Albright: From the Stone Age to Christianity. (2nd ed.) Doubleday / Anchor.
  • WF Albright: Archeology and the Religion of Israel. (5th ed.) 1969, Doubleday / Anchor.
  • Sabine Frank: The Exodus motif of the Old Testament. Religious-historical, exegetical and systematic-theological foundations and subject-didactic developments (= Forum Theology and Pedagogy . Volume 10). Lit-Verl., Münster 2004, ISBN 3-8258-7510-5 .
  • Sigmund Freud : The Man Moses and the Monotheistic Religion. 1937/1938.
  • Meik Gerhards: The exposure story of Moses. Literary and historical studies on a key text of the non-priestly Tetrateuch . Scientific monographs on the Old and New Testament 109. Neukirchener Verl., Neukirchen-Vluyn 2006, ISBN 3-7887-2137-5 .
  • Jan Christian Gertz : Tradition and editing in the Exodus story. Investigations into the final editing of the Pentateuch (= FRLANT . Volume 186). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2000, ISBN 3-525-53870-7 .
  • Martin Ravndal Hauge: The Descent from the Mountain. Narrative patterns in Exodus 19–40. JSOTSup 323rd Acad. Press, Sheffield 2001, ISBN 1-84127-177-2 .
  • James K. Hoffmeier: Israel in Egypt. The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition. Oxford Univ. Press, New York et al. a. 1999, ISBN 0-19-509715-7 .
  • Edgar Kellenberger: The stubbornness of the Pharaoh. Exegetical and interpretative studies on Exodus 1–15 (= BWANT . Volume 171 = Series 9, 11). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-17-019418-6 .
  • Michael D. Oblath: The Exodus Itinerary Sites. Their Locations from the Perspective of the Biblical Sources (= SBL . Volume 55). Lang, New York et al. a. 2004, ISBN 0-8204-6716-2 .
  • Encyclopaedia Judaica . Keter Publishing, entry on "Population", volume 13, column 866.
  • Konrad Schmid : patriarchs and exodus. Investigations into the double justification of the origins of Israel in the history books of the Old Testament (= WMANT . Volume 81). Neukirchener Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1999, ISBN 978-3-7887-1717-9 .
  • Y. Shiloh: The Population of Iron Age Palestine in the Light of a Sample Analysis of Urban Plans, Areas and Population Density. In: Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR), 1980, 239: 25-35.
  • Exploring Exodus: The Origins of Biblical Israel. Nahum Sarna , Shocken Books, 1986 (first edition), 1996 (reprint edition), chapter 5, "Six hundred thousand men on foot".
  • Those Amazing Biblical Numbers: Taking Stock of the Armies of Ancient Israel . William Sierichs, Jr.
  • The Rise of Ancient Israel: Symposium at the Smithsonian Institution October 26, 1991. By Hershel Shanks, William G. Dever, Baruch Halpern and P. Kyle McCarter, Biblical Archaeological Society, 1992.

Web links

Commons : 2nd Book of Moses  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wolfgang Oswald: Federal Book. Retrieved March 16, 2018 .