Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Exodus 12:37-42 On Their Way (to the very day)

"The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth.
There were about six hundred thousand men on foot,
besides women and children.
Many other people went up with them,
as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.

With the dough they had brought from Egypt,
they baked cakes of unleavened bread.
The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt
and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.

Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years.
At the end of the 430 years, to the very day,
all the LORD's divisions left Egypt.

Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt,
on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the LORD
for the generations to come.

Exodus 12:37-42 (NIV)

There are a lot of interesting things in this portion of Scripture.  Here are some of my thoughts after reading this passage:
  1. It will be interesting to investigate the journey of the Israelites as they made their way out of Egypt.  I know there is some controversy regarding the route that they traveled.  I also know that there are places in the Bible which name specific places where they camped along the way.  Hopefully that can help sort out some of the questions, unless the places which are named are places which are unknown to us today.
  2. I was thinking that now would be a great time to make use of one of those programs which have maps, so we can plot the Exodus journey, or other places which we encounter.  It may take me some time to get that going, but I do intend to do it.  I like visuals.
  3. It was good that the LORD had warned the people through Moses that they should eat their final meal in Egypt in a 'ready to leave' mode, for apparently once things started happening, there was no time for further preparations.  They had brought along their bread dough, which provided some sustenance on their journey, but did not have time to prepare other food for themselves.  It was also good that they had had that first Passover dinner before they left.  Apart from other symbolic aspects, it gave them strength for the arduous journey ahead.  [God thinks of everything.]
  4. The text states that the Israelites had lived in Egypt for 430 years.  In fact, it was 430 years to the very day, according to this passage.  I think there is also controversy about when (and for how long) the Israelites were in Egypt.  We will look into that, but this passage is pretty specific, wouldn't you say?
  5. "Many other people'' (v.38) accompanied the Israelites.  Some Egyptians had seen the power of the LORD and had tried to obey His word.  (see Exodus 9:20)  Probably members of other people groups or nations were also living in (or passing through) Egypt at the time, whether as slaves, businessmen, traders, etc.  Some of these seem to have joined the Israelites as they left Egypt.
  6. Large droves of flocks and herds accompanied the Israelites.  True to His word, the LORD had brought the Israelites out of Egypt with great possessions. 
  7. The LORD kept vigil that night to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.  Therefore the Israelites are to honor the LORD by keeping the Passover for the generations to come.
  8. Sometimes there are discussions about how many Israelites actually left Egypt in the Exodus.  The round figure given in this passage (600,000 men, besides women and children) can help give us some idea of the great number of people involved in the journey.  If we figure roughly an equal amount of women, and about two children per couple (although I think this is conservative), we already have about two and a half million people.  Now these are very rough figures, and hopefully we can investigate this question further, but I think we can say that this is no tiny ragtag group of escaped slaves, as some articles and documentaries about the Exodus seem to imply.

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