I read Exodus today. Due to allergies my eyes were watery all day making it a challenge to focus. Nevertheless, I read the book in three sittings – 2 ½ hours total reading time. I was struck by the following observations.
1. The book divides into halves: (1) leaving Egypt (more narrative in nature) and (2) meeting God at Sinai (more descriptive/instructive in nature).
2. Women play significant roles but are even less prominent than in Genesis. They appear early in the story of the birth of Moses. The mid-wives, who are named in the text (Shiphrah and Puah -- 1:15), are featured as heroes in defying Pharaoh’s order to kill all the male infants at birth. They are described as having “feared God” (1:17 & 21) and as a reward for this fear God established households for them (1:21). Moses’ mother, and sister, and Pharaoh’s daughter are prominent is saving Moses from Pharaoh’s death sentence. They were not named within the story but it may be assumed the sister is the same as Miriam who was later named (15:20-21). Moses’ mother was later named (Jochebed – 6:20). [Aaron’s wife was also named, Elisheba – 6:23.] In the middle of the book Miriam and the women are portrayed as taking the lead in worship in song and dance (15:20). Near the end of the book women are reported to contribute to the fabrication of the tabernacle (35:22-29).
3. In response to the deliverance through the Red Sea, Moses led Israel in the first worship song recorded in history (15:1-18).
4. The pattern of genealogical listings prominent in Genesis is replicated for Moses and Aaron as descendants of Levi (6:14-25).
5. There is a pattern of duplication in the book. Moses and Aaron, two tablets of commandments, two listings of the Law of God, two descriptions of the tabernacle and furnishings.
6. I was struck by Jethro’s instruction to Moses that the elders selected to help judge Israel be persons who “fear God” (18:21). This phrase is not common in Exodus but is tied to the midwives (1:17-21), Pharaoh’s delay in freeing Israel (9:30) and, more significantly, it is portrayed as God’s gift to Israel that they not sin against Him (20:20).
7. The tabernacle incorporated diverse elements of creation (wood, minerals, precious stones, animal hair and hides, etc.).
8. The temple and furnishings were built largely with free-will offerings and so much was given the people had to be told to stop giving (36:1-6). But there was a foundational minimal contribution (30:11-16 & 38:24).
9. For some reason it stood out to me that the inner tabernacle was covered with four layers of diverse material, one of them embroidered with angels.
I will reflect on some of these and other observations later.