Saturday, July 9, 2011

Exodus 1:1-5 Connecting Strands

"These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family:
                              Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah;
                                        Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin;
                                                Dan and Naphtali;
                                                       Gad and Asher.

The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt."  (Exodus 1:1-5 NIV)


This may seem like a strange way to begin a book, but if we look closer, it begins to make more sense.  In Hebrew, the name of this book which we call Exodus means "These are the names of", which, as you may have noticed, are the first five words of the book.  Why is so much emphasis placed upon this fact?

The NIV Study Bible notes that these same words appear in Genesis 46:8, where it also lists the names of those who had gone down to Egypt with Jacob.  Earlier in Genesis 46, God assures Jacob that going to Egypt is the right move.  God also tells Jacob that He will be with him, and build his descendants into a great nation.  God also promises to bring Jacob (and, by implication, this nation) back to Canaan again. (Genesis 46:1-4)

The repetition of the words "these are the names of the sons of Israel" here in Exodus 1 neatly ties the story of the book of Exodus into the previous book, Genesis.  It also reminds us of God's promise to bring the Israelites back to Canaan, which helps set the stage for God's redemptive work in this book.  Exodus, therefore is not a separate entity, but a continuation of the story begun in Genesis.

When Jacob first came to Egypt, his descendants numbered seventy persons.  Joseph, as noted above, was already in Egypt.

 The word "Exodus" is a Latin word derived from the Greek "Exodos'', which means "exit" or "departure".  Many people have seen Cecil B. DeMille's movie ["The Ten Commandments" (1956)] where Charleton Heston plays the part of Moses, who leads the people of Israel across the miraculously dry bed of the Red Sea to freedom.  That image is what people often associate with this book of Exodus, and this is fine, as far as it goes.  However, the account of the exodus of the people of Israel is only one aspect of the message of the book of Exodus.  Besides freeing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt,  Exodus tells how God brings this nation into a special covenant relationship with Himself, and provides instructions for the tabernacle, which is God's kingly tent among the Israelites.

Further, these aspects of

                         covenant relationship,
                                         and God dwelling with His people

reveal God's purposes for history as a whole.  In the working out of this plan, He chose to use the nation of Israel, from which also would come the Messiah.                                                                                                   

No comments:

Post a Comment