Overview of Exodus
The book of Exodus is the story of God rescuing the children of Israel from Egypt and making them His people. Exodus is the second book of the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses), and it’s where we find the stories of the Ten Plagues, the first Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, and the Ten Commandments.
This Bible icon represents the theme and story of Exodus. See icons for the other 66 books of the Bible.
Exodus picks up where Genesis leaves off: the young nation of Israel is in Egypt (they were invited by Joseph, the one with the famous coat). A new Pharaoh notices the Israelites multiplying, and enslaves them. Afraid of an uprising, he orders that all Hebrew sons should be cast into the Nile at birth. But one son escapes this decree.
Moses is hidden in a basket and set afloat in the Nile—where Pharaoh’s daughter discovers him. Moses is grows up as her son. When an adult Moses sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, he kills the Egyptian and leaves the country to escape capital punishment.
Forty years later, God appears to Moses as a burning bush and sends him to deliver Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. Moses, with the help of his brother Aaron, confronts Pharaoh on God’s behalf: “Let My people go” (Ex 5:1). Pharaoh refuses, and so God sends 10 plagues upon the Egyptians:
- Water turns to blood.
- Swarms of frogs cover the land.
- Gnats infest the land.
- Swarms of flies fill the air.
- Egyptian cattle die.
- Boils break out on Egyptians.
- Hail and fire rain down.
- Locusts consume Egyptian crops.
- Darkness covers the land.
- Every firstborn dies.
When the last plague kills Pharaoh’s son, he finally allows Israel to leave.
The sons of Israel leave Egypt and make their way to Mount Sinai, where God gives His laws to Moses. God makes a covenant with the nation of Israel and the generations to come: because He rescued them from Egypt, Israel is to observe His rules. God speaks the Ten Commandments directly to the whole nation of Israel, and He relays specific ordinances to Moses on the mountain.
God does not stop with a list of rules, however. He gives Moses instructions for a tabernacle, a special tent of worship.
The book of Exodus ends with the glory of the LORD filling the tabernacle: God is now dwelling among His chosen people, Israel. The book of Leviticus goes on to document the laws God gives His people at Mount Sinai.
Theme verse of Exodus
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Ex 20:2)
See all the Bible verse illustrations for other books of the Bible.
Exodus’s role in the Bible
Exodus is a starburst of Old and New Testament theology. God is faithful, and keeps His promise to Abraham (Gn 15:13–21) by judging the Egyptians and liberating Israel. The Lord also gives Israel the first iteration of the Law, and begins to dwell among His people in the tabernacle. God’s liberation of Israel from slavery foreshadows His work to redeem the nations (Ro 6:17–18), just as His judgment on His people serves as an example for Christians now (1 Co 10:6–13). Exodus is also where God reveals His memorial name: YHWH, or LORD (Ex 3:14; 6:3).
The book of Exodus was written by Moses. Learn more about the authors who wrote the Bible.
Quick outline of Exodus
- God hears His people (Exodus 1–6)
- God saves His people from Egypt (Exodus 7–18)
- God gives His law to Israel (Exodus 19–34)
- Israel builds a tabernacle, and God dwells among His people (Exodus 35–40)
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