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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Exodus - Introduction

THE ENGLISH NAME OF EXODUS derives from the Greek title Exodos, short for Exodos Aigyptou, “Departure from Egypt,” used in the Septuagint. The Hebrew title, Sefer ve’eleh shemot, “the book of ‘And these are the names’” (usually abbreviated to Shemot, “Names”), is based on the opening words of the book.

Exodus, in its present form, is not an independent book, but part of the Torah which narrates the story of Israel from the creation of the world through the death of Moses. The Torah in its final form is divided into five separate books simply because ancient scrolls could not contain a work of that length. Nevertheless, the books were not divided arbitrarily but at natural transition points. Exodus begins where the Hebrews grow from a family into a nation ( 1.1–7;cf. v. 9 ), and it ends on the first day of the new year following the exodus from Egypt as the sanctuary is erected and the divine Presence takes up Its abode in the Israelites' midst. The opening section ( 1.1–6, which recapitulates Gen. 46.8–27 ) and the closing section ( 40.36–38, which anticipates Num. 9.15–23 ) look as if they were composed after the subdivision to serve as prologue and epilogue, marking the book as a distinct subunit within the Torah. Thematically, the book marks the transition from God's promises of progeny, land, and a permanent relationship with Israel (e.g., Gen. chs 12–15 ; (e.g., Gen. chs 17.1–8 ) to the fulfillment of these promises, beginning with the Israelites' phenomenal growth, the exodus, and the covenant at Sinai (Exod. 1.1–7; 12.1–36; chs 19–24 ).

Exodus is arguably the most important book in the Bible since it presents the seminal events in Israel's history and the definitive institutions of its religion, themes that have reverberated through all subsequent Jewish and Western history. These include Pharaoh's enslavement of the Israelites, the leadership of Moses, the beginnings of prophecy, the revelation of God's name YHVH to Moses, the ten plagues, the Pesaḥ (“Passover”) festival, the splitting and crossing of the sea, the manna, the revelation of the Decalogue at Mount Sinai, the covenant formally constituting Israel as God's people, the first of the Torah's law collections and rules about the Sabbath and sacrificial worship, the sin of the golden calf, and the construction of the sanctuary.

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