exodus Summary and Overview
Bible Dictionaries at a Glance
exodus in Easton's Bible Dictionary
the great deliverance wrought for the children of Isreal when
they were brought out of the land of Egypt with "a mighty hand
and with an outstretched arm" (Ex 12:51; Deut. 26:8; Ps 114;
136), about B.C. 1490, and four hundred and eighty years (1
Kings 6:1) before the building of Solomon's temple.
The time of their sojourning in Egypt was, according to Ex.
12:40, the space of four hundred and thirty years. In the LXX.,
the words are, "The sojourning of the children of Israel which
they sojourned in Egypt and in the land of Canaan was four
hundred and thirty years;" and the Samaritan version reads, "The
sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers which
they sojourned in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt
was four hundred and thirty years." In Gen. 15:13-16, the period
is prophetically given (in round numbers) as four hundred years.
This passage is quoted by Stephen in his defence before the
council (Acts 7:6).
The chronology of the "sojourning" is variously estimated.
Those who adopt the longer term reckon thus:
| From the descent of Jacob into Egypt to the
| death of Joseph 71
| From the death of Joseph to the birth of
| Moses 278
| From the birth of Moses to his flight into
| Midian 40
| From the flight of Moses to his return into
| Egypt 40
| From the return of Moses to the Exodus 1
Others contend for the shorter period of two hundred and
fifteen years, holding that the period of four hundred and
thirty years comprehends the years from the entrance of Abraham
into Canaan (see LXX. and Samaritan) to the descent of Jacob
into Egypt. They reckon thus:
| From Abraham's arrival in Canaan to Isaac's
| birth 25
| From Isaac's birth to that of his twin sons
| Esau and Jacob 60
| From Jacob's birth to the going down into
| Egypt 130
| From Jacob's going down into Egypt to the
| death of Joseph 71
| From death of Joseph to the birth of Moses 64
| From birth of Moses to the Exodus 80
| In all... 430
During the forty years of Moses' sojourn in the land of
Midian, the Hebrews in Egypt were being gradually prepared for
the great national crisis which was approaching. The plagues
that successively fell upon the land loosened the bonds by which
Pharaoh held them in slavery, and at length he was eager that
they should depart. But the Hebrews must now also be ready to
go. They were poor; for generations they had laboured for the
Egyptians without wages. They asked gifts from their neighbours
around them (Ex. 12:35), and these were readily bestowed. And
then, as the first step towards their independent national
organization, they observed the feast of the Passover, which was
now instituted as a perpetual memorial. The blood of the paschal
lamb was duly sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of all
their houses, and they were all within, waiting the next
movement in the working out of God's plan. At length the last
stroke fell on the land of Egypt. "It came to pass, that at
midnight Jehovah smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt."
Pharaoh rose up in the night, and called for Moses and Aaron by
night, and said, "Rise up, and get you forth from among my
people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve
Jehovah, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds,
as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also." Thus was
Pharaoh (q.v.) completely humbled and broken down. These words
he spoke to Moses and Aaron "seem to gleam through the tears of
the humbled king, as he lamented his son snatched from him by so
sudden a death, and tremble with a sense of the helplessness
which his proud soul at last felt when the avenging hand of God
had visited even his palace."
The terror-stricken Egyptians now urged the instant departure
of the Hebrews. In the midst of the Passover feast, before the
dawn of the 15th day of the month Abib (our April nearly), which
was to be to them henceforth the beginning of the year, as it
was the commencement of a new epoch in their history, every
family, with all that appertained to it, was ready for the
march, which instantly began under the leadership of the heads
of tribes with their various sub-divisions. They moved onward,
increasing as they went forward from all the districts of
Goshen, over the whole of which they were scattered, to the
common centre. Three or four days perhaps elapsed before the
whole body of the people were assembled at Rameses, and ready to
set out under their leader Moses (Ex. 12:37; Num. 33:3). This
city was at that time the residence of the Egyptian court, and
here the interviews between Moses and Pharaoh had taken place.
From Rameses they journeyed to Succoth (Ex. 12:37), identified
with Tel-el-Maskhuta, about 12 miles west of Ismailia. (See
PITHOM T0002968.) Their third station was Etham (q.v.), 13:20,
"in the edge of the wilderness," and was probably a little to
the west of the modern town of Ismailia, on the Suez Canal. Here
they were commanded "to turn and encamp before Pi-hahiroth,
between Migdol and the sea", i.e., to change their route from
east to due south. The Lord now assumed the direction of their
march in the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. They
were then led along the west shore of the Red Sea till they came
to an extensive camping-ground "before Pi-hahiroth," about 40
miles from Etham. This distance from Etham may have taken three
days to traverse, for the number of camping-places by no means
indicates the number of days spent on the journey: e.g., it took
fully a month to travel from Rameses to the wilderness of Sin
(Ex. 16:1), yet reference is made to only six camping-places
during all that time. The exact spot of their encampment before
they crossed the Red Sea cannot be determined. It was probably
somewhere near the present site of Suez.
Under the direction of God the children of Israel went
"forward" from the camp "before Pi-hahiroth," and the sea opened
a pathway for them, so that they crossed to the farther shore in
safety. The Egyptian host pursued after them, and, attempting to
follow through the sea, were overwhelmed in its returning
waters, and thus the whole military force of the Egyptians
perished. They "sank as lead in the mighty waters" (Ex. 15:1-9;
compare Ps. 77:16-19).
Having reached the eastern shore of the sea, perhaps a little
way to the north of 'Ayun Musa ("the springs of Moses"), there
they encamped and rested probably for a day. Here Miriam and the
other women sang the triumphal song recorded in Ex. 15:1-21.
From 'Ayun Musa they went on for three days through a part of
the barren "wilderness of Shur" (22), called also the
"wilderness of Etham" (Num. 33:8; compare Ex. 13:20), without
finding water. On the last of these days they came to Marah
(q.v.), where the "bitter" water was by a miracle made
Their next camping-place was Elim (q.v.), where were twelve
springs of water and a grove of "threescore and ten" palm trees
After a time the children of Israel "took their journey from
Elim," and encamped by the Red Sea (Num. 33:10), and thence
removed to the "wilderness of Sin" (to be distinguished from the
wilderness of Zin, 20:1), where they again encamped. Here,
probably the modern el-Markha, the supply of bread they had
brought with them out of Egypt failed. They began to "murmur"
for want of bread. God "heard their murmurings" and gave them
quails and manna, "bread from heaven" (Ex. 16:4-36). Moses
directed that an omer of manna should be put aside and preserved
as a perpetual memorial of God's goodness. They now turned
inland, and after three encampments came to the rich and fertile
valley of Rephidim, in the Wady Feiran. Here they found no
water, and again murmured against Moses. Directed by God, Moses
procured a miraculous supply of water from the "rock in Horeb,"
one of the hills of the Sinai group (17:1-7); and shortly
afterwards the children of Israel here fought their first battle
with the Amalekites, whom they smote with the edge of the sword.
From the eastern extremity of the Wady Feiran the line of
march now probably led through the Wady esh-Sheikh and the Wady
Solaf, meeting in the Wady er-Rahah, "the enclosed plain in
front of the magnificient cliffs of Ras Sufsafeh." Here they
encamped for more than a year (Num. 1:1; 10:11) before Sinai
The different encampments of the children of Israel, from the
time of their leaving Egypt till they reached the Promised Land,
are mentioned in Ex. 12:37-19; Num. 10-21; 33; Deut. 1, 2, 10.
It is worthy of notice that there are unmistakable evidences
that the Egyptians had a tradition of a great exodus from their
country, which could be none other than the exodus of the
exodus in Smith's Bible Dictionary
of the Israelites from Egypt. the common chronology places the date of this event at B.C. 1491, deriving it in this way: --In #1Ki 6:1| it is stated that the building of the temple, in the forth year of Solomon, was in the 480th year after the exodus. The fourth year of Solomon was bout B.C. 1012. Add the 480 years (leaving off one years because neither the fourth nor the 480th was a full year), and we have B.C. 1491 as the date of the exodus. This is probably very nearly correct; but many Egyptologists place it at 215 years later, --about B.C. 1300. Which date is right depends chiefly on the interpretation of the Scripture period of 430 years, as denoting the duration of the bondage of the Israelites. The period of bondage given in #Ge 15:13,14; Ex 12:40,41| and Gala 3:17
as 430 years has been interpreted to cover different periods. The common chronology makes it extend from the call of Abraham to the exodus, one-half of it, or 215 years, being spend in Egypt. Others make it to cover only the period of bondage spend in Egypt. St. Paul says in #Ga 3:17| that from the covenant with (or call of) Abraham the giving of the law (less than a year after the exodus) was 430 years. But in #Ge 15:13,14| it is said that they should be strangers in a strange land,a nd be afflicted 400 years, and nearly the same is said in #Ex 12:40| But, in very truth, the children of Israel were strangers in a strange land from the time that Abraham left his home for the promised land, and during that whole period of 430 years to the exodus they were nowhere rulers in the land. So in #Ex 12:40| it is said that the sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was 430 years. But it does not say that the sojourning was all in Egypt, but this people who lived in Egypt had been sojourners for 430 years. (a) This is the simplest way of making the various statements harmonize. (b) The chief difficulty is the great increase of the children of Israel from 70 to 2,000,000 in so short a period as 215 years, while it is very easy in 430 years. But under the circumstances it is perfectly possible in the shorter period. See on ver. 7
(c) If we make the 430 years to include only the bondage in Egypt, we must place the whole chronology of Abraham and the immigration of Jacob into Egypt some 200 years earlier, or else the exodus 200 years later, or B.C. 1300. in either case special difficulty is brought into the reckoning. (d) Therefore, on the whole, it is well to retain the common chronology, though the later dates may yet prove to be correct. The history of the exodus itself commences with the close of that of the ten plagues. [PLAGUES, THE TEN] In the night in which, at midnight, the firstborn were slain,
#Ex 12:29| Pharaoh urged the departure of the Israelites. vs. #Ex 12:31,32| They at once set forth from Rameses, vs. #Ex 12:37,39| apparently during the night v. #Ex 12:42| but towards morning on the 15th day of the first month. #Nu 33:3| They made three journeys, and encamped by the Red Sea. Here Pharaoh overtook them, and the great miracle occurred by which they were saved, while the pursuer and his army were destroyed. [RED SEA, PASSAGE OF]
exodus in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
THE EX'ODUS The history of the exodus of the Israelites from the land of bondage -- their wanderings through the dreary wilderness under the guidance of the Law of God, the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, with many resting-places in delightful oases, and the constant services of the tabernacle, and their final entrance into the Promised Land.
The date, the geography, and the history of this "great turning-point in biblical history" will be considered.
1. Date. There is a difference of opinion among biblical scholars as to the name of the two kings who oppressed the Israelites and are mentioned in the book of Exodus under the generic name of Pharaoh.
(1) Some hold that Amosis or Aahmes I. was the Pharaoh of the Oppression, and that Thothmes or Tutmes II. was the Pharaoh of the Exodus, who perished in the Red Sea. The latter reigned about a century later, b.c. 1485. His reign is known to have been short and inglorious. But the difficulties in the way of this view are numerous.
(2) According to the other theory, now held by the majority of Egyptologists and biblical scholars, Rameses II., the Great -- the Sesostris of the Greeks -- was the Pharaoh who " knew not Joseph," Ex 1:11 (b.c. 1388 to 1325), and his son, Menephthah II., was the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Menephthah was the thirteenth son of Rameses, and began to rule probably b.c. 1325 or 1322. He marks a period of decline in which the conquests of his two great predecessors were gradually lost. Few monuments were erected in his reign, and even his father's tomb was left unfinished. This is just what we would expect after the catastrophe in the Red Sea. Herodotus tells us that the son of Sesostris (Rameses, whom he calls Pheron) undertook no warlike expeditions, and was smitten with blindness for 10 years because "he impiously hurled his spear into the overflowing waves of the river, which a sudden wind caused to rise to an extraordinary height." This reads like a confused reminiscence of the overthrow in the Red Sea. Taking this view, we may, with Lepsius and Ebers, set the Exodus in b.c. 1317, on the fifteenth day of the first month, Abib or Nisan, our April.
1. Geography. -- The Scripture data about the Exodus are as follows: The children of Israel proceeded from Rameses to Succoth, Ex 12:37; thence to Etham, "in the edge of the wilderness," Ex 13:20; here they were to "turn and encamp, before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baal-zephon." Gen 14:2. With these notices must be compared the list of camping-stations which Moses gives. Num 33:2-10. When the Egyptians came upon the track of the Israelites they said, "They are entangled in the land; the wilderness is closed against them," Ex 14:3 -- i.e. "They cannot get out of Egypt; they must either return or cross the sea." Moses intended to go by the way of the wilderness, but when he turned southward, by divine command, he was shut in by the waters of the Red Sea, which then probably extended farther north, to the Bitter Lakes. We may thus identify the places mentioned in the itinerary. Rameses, the place of general rendezvous, is Zoan (Tanis). Succoth, which Ebers considers an Egyptian word (fields), must have been halfway between Rameses and Etham. Etham was probably Pithom (Pitum); Pi-hahiroth is Ajeudot Agrad, a fortress on the way from Etham to Suez; Migdol is Bir Sitweis, about 2 miles from Suez; Baal-zephon is perhaps identical with Mount Atakah. Baal was the chief deity of the Phoenicians, who had at a very early period a settlement in Lower Egypt. There are two prominent theories about the locality and mode of the miraculous passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea:
(1) The usual theory, which locates the passage several miles south of Suez, where the sea is about 10 miles broad. This theory fits in best with the literal meaning of the narrative, for in this case the waters must have been actually divided for several miles, and have stood like walls on either hand. But the difficulties the view raises are more numerous than those it solves. Could the host of Israel, encumbered as they were, have crossed in one night through such a channel? Would the Egyptians have followed them through the deep sea, and in view of such an amazing interposition of God? Could any wind have had such an effect upon so wide a sea? And if not, why is it mentioned at all as an agent? An accumulation of miracles is called for by this theory.
(2) The second theory puts the crossing at the head of the gulf, near or some distance north of Suez. In Moses's time the gulf may have extended as a reedy marsh as far as the Bitter Lakes. The crossing was made possible by a special providence and a miraculous adaptation of the laws of nature. The east, or rather north-east, wind drove off the waters from the small arm of the sea which runs up by Suez; this would leave the water on the more northern part of the arm, so that there would be waters on both sides to serve as an entrenchment. This would meet the Sketch-map of the Route of the Exodus. exigences of the narrative, Ex 14:22. But even in this case the passage of two millions of people, with all their cattle, was an astounding miracle. It has its counterpart in the crossing of the river Jordan at the end of the journey through the wilderness. For a third theory advocated by Brugsch Bey, and more recently by Prof. A. H. Sayce, see Red Sea.
3. History. -- The Exodus was the execution of a divine plan. God sent ten plagues upon the land in punishment. The last was the severest: the first-born in every house lay dead. But while the destroying angel went through the midst of Egypt the Israelites were gathered in their respective houses, ready at any moment to hear the command, "Go! begone!" their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, their staffs in their hands, eating hastily the lamb which they had roasted. Thus they observed the Passover. "Dimly we see and hear in the darkness and confusion of that night the stroke which at last broke the heart of the king and made him let Israel go." "And Pharaoh in the night, he and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead." Then followed in quick succession the midnight call of Pharaoh for Moses and Aaron, the command to depart, the urgent co-operation of the nation to hasten their departure, and the actual leaving of the house of bondage and start upon the momentous journey.
1. Practical Lesson. -- The history of the exodus of the Israelites from the land of bondage -- their wanderings through the dreary wilderness under the guidance of the Law of God, the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, with many resting-places in delightful oases, and the constant services of the tabernacle, and their final entrance into the Promised Land -- has always been regarded as a most instructive type and illustration of the history of the Christian Church and of the individual believer, his deliverance from the bondage of sin, and his passage to the heavenly land of rest and peace.