I just finished reading the book of Exodus. It's a great continuation of Genesis. I'm amazed that their is such a controversy over who wrote the first five books of the Old Testament. I've done my own research and the writing style plus geographical information is distinctly Egyptian in nature. You would have to deduce that Moses, being raised by Egyptian royalty would naturally be the author. I sometimes think that scholars have too much time on their hands and they come up with controversies just to write papers.
So Exodus opens up about 400 years after Joseph. The Israelites are great in number and the powers that be in Egypt don't like that. So they enslave the Israelites and kill their first born children for population control. Think if it as a crude ancient method of abortion. Moses's mother places him in a basket and into the Nile river where he is found by Egyptian royalty and raised as their own. Moses grows up and see the plight of his people. In the process he kills and Egyptian guard and flees into the desert. There is where Moses talks to God(burning bush) and is commanded to return to Egypt and deliver his people.
I love the first half of Exodus. The story of the ten plagues and the passover still gives me goosebumps. I'm spoiled by the animated movie "The Prince of Egypt." I think that movie is the best depiction of what happened. The parting of the Red Sea in that movie is amazing! I grew up reading the story of Moses. It is one of my favorites.
On a side note, scientists believe there is some validity to the ten plague story. Scientists believe that the volcanic eruption that destroyed the island of Thera may have been the catylist for the resulting plagues. Such a volcanic eruption would have triggered chemical changes in water, changes in animal patterns and migration and a whole slew of other things. The only thing it doesn't explain is the killing of the fist born and the parting of a large body of water.
The second half of Exodus I didn't care for that much. I understand it's significance though. The second half tends to spend a lot of time on the specifications for the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle. As we all know the Ark of the Covenant was recovered by Indiana Jones and killed all the Nazi's. (joke) The Tabernacle is the temporary worship place where God's presence resided among the Israelite people. I must admit I didn't read the specification chapters as in depth as the rest of Exodus.
The highlights of the second half of Exodus are when Moses meets with God to get the Law. Imagery of a cloud with lightning and thunder sitting atop a mountain. Moses wanting to see God's face (glory) and God telling him that no man can see His face and live. I love this stuff.
I have a number of complaints though. The first one is that the Israelite people are dense as all get out. They just experienced God delivering them from the Egyptians. They escaped through a parted sea for crying out loud, but yet the continued to complain and doubt when things got hard. Moses was gone longer than they expected on the mountaintop and they decide to build a golden calf and worship fake gods. Really...dense.
But aren't we like that though? How many of us feel all spiritual and great on Sunday at church and as soon as we leave we turn back to our grumpy selves? Maybe we are as dense as they are?
My second critique is the conversation that Moses has with God about the golden calf. God is ready to wipe the Israelites out and start over with Moses. Moses talks God out of destroying them. I may need to study this passage because it just doesn't fit for me. God keeps his promises. Why would he break his promise and start over with Moses? Why does God need talked out of something by Moses? Is this a test for Moses? I really don't know. The entire scenario doesn't jive with the rest of the book. I'll have to look into this.
I'm starting Leviticus today. Leviticus tends to be a hard read. It's all about laws and offerings for certain sins. Luckily I don't have to read more than three chapters a day. I'll keep you posted.