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The Exodus (
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
: יציאת מצרים, ''Yeẓi’at Miẓrayim'': ) is the
founding myth An origin myth is a myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods, or supernatural humans. ...
of the
Israelites The Israelites (; ) were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israel and Judah, tribal and monarchic peri ...

Israelites
. It tells a story of Israelite enslavement and departure from Egypt, revelations at
biblical Mount Sinai In the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari and others. It appears in the form of an antholo ...
, and wanderings in the wilderness up to the borders of
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...
. Its message is that the Israelites were delivered from
slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that give ...
by
Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age. In the oldest biblical literature, he is a Weather ...
their god, and therefore belong to him by
covenant Covenant may refer to: Religion * Covenant (religion) In religion, a covenant is a formal alliance or agreement made by God with a religious community or with humanity in general. The concept, central to the Abrahamic religions The Abraha ...
. The consensus of modern scholars is that the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
does not give an accurate account of the origins of the Israelites, who appear instead to have formed as an entity in the central highlands of
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
in the late second millennium BCE from the indigenous
CanaaniteCanaanite may refer to: *Canaan and Canaanite people, Semitic-speaking region and civilization in the Ancient Near East *Canaanite languages *Canaanite religion *Canaanites (movement), an early Israelite non-Zionist movement. {{disambig Language an ...
culture. Most modern scholars believe that the story of the Exodus has some historical basis, but contains little material that is provable. The narrative of the Exodus is spread over four of the biblical books of the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
or Pentateuch, namely
Exodus Exodus or the Exodus may refer to: Religion *Book of Exodus, second book of the Hebrew Torah and the Christian Bible *The Exodus, the biblical story of the migration of the ancient Israelites from Egypt into Canaan Historical events * Jujuy E ...
, Leviticus,
Numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
, and
Deuteronomy The Book of Deuteronomy (literally "second law" from Greek ''deuteros'' + ''nomos'') is the fifth book of the Jewish , where it is called ''Devarim'' ( he, דְּבָרִים), "the words f Moses F, or f, is the sixth Letter (alphabet), let ...
. There is a widespread agreement that the composition of the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
took place in the Middle Persian Period (5th century BCE), although some traditions behind it are older since allusions to the story are made by 8th-century BCE
prophet In religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involu ...
s such as
Amos AMOS or Advanced Mortar System is a Finno-Swedish 120 mm automatic twin barrel A barrel or cask is a hollow cylindrical A cylinder (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ε ...
and
Hosea In the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusively i ...

Hosea
. The biblical Exodus is central in
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
, with it being recounted daily in
Jewish prayers Listed below are some Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans a ...
and celebrated in festivals such as
Passover Passover, also called Pesach (; he, פֶּסַח '), is a major Jewish holiday Jewish holidays, also known as Jewish festivals or ''Yamim Tovim'' ( he, ימים טובים, , Good Days, or singular , in transliterated Translitera ...
. Early Christians saw the Exodus as a typological prefiguration of resurrection and salvation by
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
. The narrative has also resonated with non-Jewish groups, such as the early American settlers fleeing persecution in Europe, and
African Americans African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being t ...
striving for freedom and
civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights Rights are legal Law is a system of rules created and law enforcement, enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', ...
.


Biblical narrative and laws


Narrative

The story of the Exodus is told in the books of
Exodus Exodus or the Exodus may refer to: Religion *Book of Exodus, second book of the Hebrew Torah and the Christian Bible *The Exodus, the biblical story of the migration of the ancient Israelites from Egypt into Canaan Historical events * Jujuy E ...
, Leviticus,
Numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
, and
Deuteronomy The Book of Deuteronomy (literally "second law" from Greek ''deuteros'' + ''nomos'') is the fifth book of the Jewish , where it is called ''Devarim'' ( he, דְּבָרִים), "the words f Moses F, or f, is the sixth Letter (alphabet), let ...
, the last four of the first five books of the Bible (also called the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
or Pentateuch). In the first book of the Pentateuch, the
Book of Genesis The Book of Genesis,, "''Bərēšīṯ''", "In hebeginning" the first book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including th ...

Book of Genesis
, the
Israelites The Israelites (; ) were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israel and Judah, tribal and monarchic peri ...

Israelites
had come to live in Egypt in the
Land of Goshen Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemica ...
during a famine due to the fact that an Israelite,
Joseph Joseph is a common masculine given name, derived from the Hebrew Yosef (יוֹסֵף). The form "Joseph" is used mostly in English, French and partially German-speaking (alongside "Josef") countries. This spelling is also found as a variant in th ...
, had become a high official in the court of the
pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the conte ...

pharaoh
. Exodus begins with the death of Joseph and the ascension of a new pharaoh "who did not know Joseph" (Exodus 1:8). The pharaoh becomes concerned by the number and strength of Israelites in Egypt and enslaves them, commanding them to build at two "supply" or "store cities" called
Pithom Pithom ( egy, pr-jtm; he, פיתום; grc, Ηρώ πόλις ''Heroöpolis'' or grc, Ηρώων πόλις ''Heroonopolis'') was an ancient city of Egypt. Multiple references in ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the ...
and Rameses (Exodus 1:11). The pharaoh also orders the slaughter at birth of all male Hebrew children. One Hebrew child, however, is rescued by being placed in a basket on the
Nile The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nub ...

Nile
. He is found and adopted by Pharaoh's daughter, who names him
Moses Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, ''Mōše''; also known as Moshe Rabbenu ( he, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ "Moshe our Teacher"); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, ' () is considered the most important prophet in Judais ...

Moses
. Moses eventually kills an Egyptian he sees beating a Hebrew slave, and is forced to flee to
Midian Midian (; he, מִדְיָן ''Mīḏəyān'' ; ar, مَدْيَن, Madyan; grc-gre, Μαδιάμ, ''Madiam'') is a geographical place mentioned in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, cano ...

Midian
, marrying
Tzipporah
Tzipporah
, a daughter of the Midianite priest
Jethro; french: Jéthro; nl, Jetro, Jeter; russian: Иофор ''Iofor (Yofor, Jofor)''; ar, شعيب Shuaib, ''Shu‘ayb, Sho‘ayb, Shu'aib''; tr, Şuayb , footnotes = Jethro is a male given name meaning "overflow". It is derived from the Hebrew wo ...
. The old pharaoh dies and a new one ascends to the throne. Moses, in Midian, goes to
Mount Horeb Mount Horeb (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ...
, where
Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age. In the oldest biblical literature, he is a Weather ...
appears in a
burning bush The burning bush is an object described by as being located on Mount Horeb Mount Horeb (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. ...
and commands him to go to Egypt to free the Hebrew slaves and bring them to the
promised land The Promised Land ( he, הארץ המובטחת, translit. Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping Letter (alphabet), letters (thus ''wikt:trans-#Prefix, trans-'' + ''wikt:litte ...
in
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
. Yahweh also speaks to Moses's brother
Aaron Aaron ''′aharon'', ar, هارون, Hārūn, Ancient Greek, Greek (Septuagint): wikt:Ἀαρών, Ἀαρών; often called Aaron the priest () and once Aaron the Levite () (Exodus 4:14)., group="note" ( or ; ''’Ahărōn'', Arabic: هار ...

Aaron
; they both assemble the Israelites and perform signs so that they believe in Yahweh's promise. Moses and Aaron then go to the Pharaoh and ask him to let the Israelites go into the desert for a religious festival, but the Pharaoh refuses and commands the Israelites to make
bricks without straw ''Bricks without straw'' is a phrase that refers to a task which must be undertaken without appropriate resources. Biblical narrative In Book of Exodus, Exodus 5 (Shemot (parsha), Parshat Shemot in the Torah), Moses and Aaron meet with Pharaoh a ...
and increases their workload. Moses and Aaron return to the Pharaoh and this time ask him to free the Israelites. The Pharaoh demands for Moses to perform a
miracle A miracle is a supernatural event that seems inexplicable by physical laws, natural or scientific laws. In various religions, a phenomenon that is characterized as miraculous is often attributed to the actions of a supernatural being, (especiall ...

miracle
, and Aaron throws down Moses' staff, which turns into a (sea monster or snake) (Exodus 7:8-13); however, Pharaoh's magicians) a title meaning "chief" and shortened from "chief lector priest". The Pharaoh's magicians are able to replicate Moses and Aaron's actions until the third plague (gnats), when they are the first to recognize that a divine power is at work (Exodus 8:19). In plague four (festering boils), they themselves are afflicted and no longer contest with Moses and Aaron. are also able to do this, though Moses' staff devours the others. The Pharaoh then refuses to let the Israelites go. After this, Yahweh begins inflicting the
Plagues of Egypt The Plagues of Egypt (), in the story of the book of Exodus, are ten disasters inflicted on Egypt Egypt ( ; ar, مِصر ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corne ...
on the Egyptians for each time that Moses goes to Pharaoh and Pharaoh refuses to release the Israelites. Pharaoh's magicians are able to replicate the first plagues, in which Yahweh turns the Nile to blood and produces a plague of frogs, but are unable to reproduce any plagues after the third, the plague of gnats. After each plague Pharaoh allows the Israelites to worship Yahweh to remove the plague, then refuses to free them. Moses is then commanded to fix the first month of
Aviv Aviv ( he, אביב) means "barley ripening", and by extension "spring season" in Hebrew language, Hebrew. It is also used as a given name, surname, and place name, as in Tel Aviv. The first month of the year is called the month of Aviv in the Pen ...
at the head of the
Hebrew calendar The Hebrew calendar ( Hebrew: , ), also called Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today for Jewish religious observance, and as an official calendar of the state of Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל; ar, إِس ...
. He instructs the Israelites to take a lamb on the 10th day of the month, slaughter it on the 14th, and daub its blood on their doorposts and lintels, and to observe the
Passover Passover, also called Pesach (; he, פֶּסַח '), is a major Jewish holiday Jewish holidays, also known as Jewish festivals or ''Yamim Tovim'' ( he, ימים טובים, , Good Days, or singular , in transliterated Translitera ...
meal that night, the night of the
full moon The full moon is the lunar phase s in 2022 as viewed from the Southern Hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (hemisphere Hemisphere may refer to: * A half of a sphere As half of the Earth * A hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere o ...
. In the final plague, Yahweh kills all the firstborn sons of Egypt and the firstborn cattle, but the Israelites, with blood on their doorposts are spared. Yahweh commands that the Israelites observe a festival as "a perpetual ordinance" to remember this event (Exodus 12:14). Pharaoh finally agrees to let the Israelites go after his firstborn son is killed. Yahweh leads the Israelites in the form of a
pillar of cloud
pillar of cloud
in the day and a pillar of fire at night. However, once the Israelites have already left, Yahweh hardens Pharoahs heart. Pharaoh then changes his mind and pursues the Israelites to the shore of the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a North ...

Red Sea
. Moses uses his staff to part the Red Sea, and the Israelites cross on dry ground, but the sea closes down on the pursuing Egyptians, drowning them all. The Israelites now begin to complain about Aaron and Moses, as Yahweh miraculously provided them first with water and food, eventually raining
manna Manna ( he, מָן ''mān'', ; ar, اَلْمَنُّ; sometimes or archaically spelled mana) is, according to the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as ...

manna
down for them to eat.
Amalek Amalek (; he, עֲמָלֵק, ''‘Ámālēq'', ar, عماليق ''‘Amālīq'') is a nation described in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic la ...
attacks at
Rephidim ''Battle with the Amalekites'', by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1860), representing Exodus 17:8-16. Rephidim ( he, רפידים) is one of the places visited by the Israelites The Israelites (; ) were a confederation of Iron Age ancient ...
but is defeated in battle. Jethro comes to Moses with Moses's wife and sons; on Jethro's advice, Moses appoints judges for the tribes of Israel. The Israelites reach the
Sinai Desert Sinai commonly refers to: * Sinai Peninsula, Egypt * Mount Sinai ar, جَبَل مُوْسَى, Jabal Mūsā syc, ܛܘܪܐ ܕܣܝܢܝ ⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲥⲓⲛⲁ ''Toou Sina'' , coordinates = , photo = Mount Moses.jpg , photo_caption = The su ...

Sinai Desert
and Yahweh calls Moses to
Mount Sinai Mount Sinai ( he , הר סיני ''Har Sinai''; Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its ...
, where
Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age. In the oldest biblical literature, he is a Weather ...
reveals himself to his people and establishes the
Ten Commandments The Ten Commandments ( he, עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת, ''Aseret ha'Dibrot''), also known as the Decalogue, are a set of biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. " ...

Ten Commandments
and
Mosaic covenant The Mosaic covenant (named after Moses Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, Hebrew romanization, romanized: ''Mōshé'', ISO 259#ISO 259-3, ISO 259-3: '; syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, '. (), also known as Moshe Rabbenu ...
: the Israelites are to keep his ''torah'' (i.e. law, instruction), and in return he will give them the land of Canaan. Yahweh establishes the Aaronic priesthood and various rules for ritual worship, among other laws. However, in Moses's absence the Israelites sin against Yahweh by creating the idol of a
golden calf According to the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common s ...
, and as retaliation Yahweh has the
Levites A Levite (or Levi) (, ) is a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in ...
kill three thousand people (Exodus 32:28) and Yahweh sends a plague on the Israelites. The Israelites now accept the covenant, which is reestablished, build a
tabernacle According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclus ...

tabernacle
for Yahweh, and receive their laws. Yahweh commands Moses to take a
census A census is the procedure of systematically calculating, acquiring and recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In ...

census
of the Israelites and establishes the duties of the Levites. Then the Israelites depart from Mount Sinai. Yahweh commands Moses to send twelve spies ahead to Canaan to scout the land. The spies discover that the Canaanites are strong, and, believing that the Israelites cannot defeat them, the spies falsely report to the Israelites that Canaan is full of giants so that the Israelites will not invade (Numbers 13:31-33). The Israelites refuse to go to Canaan, so Yahweh manifests himself and declares that the generation that left Egypt will have to pass away before the Israelites can enter Canaan. The Israelites will have to remain in the wilderness for forty years, and Yahweh kills the spies through a plague except for the righteous
Joshua Joshua () or Yehoshua ( he, יְהוֹשֻׁעַ ''Yəhōšūaʿ'') ''Yēšūʿ''; syr, ܝܫܘܥ ܒܪ ܢܘܢ ''Yəšūʿ bar Nōn''; el, Ἰησοῦς, ar , يُوشَعُ ٱبْنُ نُونٍ '' Yūšaʿ ibn Nūn''; la, Iosue functioned ...

Joshua
and
Caleb Caleb (), sometimes transliterated as Kaleb ( he, כָּלֵב, ''Kalev'', ; Tiberian vocalization: Kālēḇ; Academy of the Hebrew Language, Hebrew Academy: Kalev), is a figure who appears in the Hebrew Bible as a representative of the Tribe of J ...

Caleb
, who will be allowed to enter the promised land. A group of Israelites led by
Korah Korah ( he, ''Qōraḥ''; ar, قارون ''Qārūn''), son of IzharAccording to the Torah Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five books (P ...
, son of Izhar, rebels against Moses, but Yahweh opens the earth and sends them living to
Sheol Sheol ( , ; he, שְׁאוֹל ''Šəʾōl'') in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuv ...
. The Israelites come to the oasis of
Kadesh Barnea Kadesh or Qadesh (in classical Hebrew he, קָדֵשׁ, from the root "holy") is a place-name that occurs several times in the Hebrew Bible, describing a site or sites located south of, or at the southern border of, Canaan A 1692 map of ...
, where
Miriam Miriam ( he, מִרְיָם ''Mīrəyām'') is described in the Hebrew Bible as the daughter of Amram and Jochebed, and the older sister of Moses and Aaron. She was a prophets in Judaism, prophetess and first appears in the Book of Exodus. The ...
dies and the Israelites remain for forty years. The people are without water, so Yahweh commands Moses to get water from a rock by speaking to it, but Moses strikes the rock with his staff instead, for which Yahweh forbids him from entering the promised land. Moses sends a messenger to the king of
Edom Edom (; Edomite Edom (; Edomite: 𐤀𐤃𐤌 ''’Edām''; he, אֱדוֹם ''ʼÉḏōm'', lit.: "red"; akk, 𒌑𒁺𒈠𒀀𒀀 ''Uduma'') was an ancient kingdom in Transjordan located between Moab to the northeast, the Arabah Th ...

Edom
requesting passage through his land to Canaan, but the king refuses. The Israelites then go to
Mount Hor Mount Hor (Hebrew language, Hebrew: , ''Hor Ha-Har'') is the name given in the Old Testament to two distinct mountains. One borders the land of Edom in the area south of the Dead Sea, and the other is by the Mediterranean Sea at the Northern borde ...
, where Aaron dies. The Israelites try to go around Edom, but the Israelites complain about lack of bread and water, so Yahweh sends a plague of poisonous snakes to afflict them. After Moses prays for deliverance, Yahweh has him create the brazen serpent, and the Israelites who look at it are cured. The Israelites are soon in conflict with various other kingdoms, and king
Balak Balak ( ''Bālāq'') was a king of Moab Moab ''Mōáb''; Akkadian language, Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'aba'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'ba'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian language, Egyptian: 𓈗𓇋𓃀𓅱𓈉 ''Mū'ībū' ...

Balak
of
Moab Moab ''Mōáb''; Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'aba'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'ba'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and et ...
attempts to have the seer
Balaam Balaam (; , Standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrology), an object that bears a defined r ...

Balaam
curse the Israelites, but Balaam blesses the Israelites instead. Some Israelites begin having sexual relations with Moabite women and worshipping Moabite gods, so Yahweh orders Moses to
impale Impale may refer to: * Impaled (illusion), a magic trick simulating impalement * Impaled (band), American death metal band * Impalement Impalement, as a method of torture Torture (from Latin language, Latin ''tortus'': to twist, to torm ...
the idolators and sends a plague, but the full extent of Yahweh's wrath is averted when
Phinehas According to the Hebrew Bible, Phinehas or Phineas (; , ''Finees'', ) was a Kohen, priest during the Israelites’ The Exodus, Exodus journey. The grandson of Aaron and son of Eleazar, the High Priests (), he distinguished himself as a youth at ...
impales an Israelite and a Midianite woman having intercourse (Numbers 25:7-9). Yahweh commands the Israelites to destroy the Midianites and Moses and Phinehas take another census. They then conquer the lands of
Og
Og
and
Sihon Sihon was an Amorite The Amorites (; Sumerian language, Sumerian 𒈥𒌅 ''MAR.TU''; Akkadian language, Akkadian ''Amurrūm'' or ''Tidnum''; Egyptian language, Egyptian ''Amar''; he, אמורי ''ʼĔmōrī''; grc, Ἀμορραῖοι) were a ...
in Transjordan, settling the Gadites, Reubenites, and half the
Tribe of Manasseh According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusiv ...
there. Moses then addresses the Israelites for a final time on the banks of the
Jordan River ) , name_native_lang = , name_other = , name_etymology = Hebrew: ירדן (yardén, ''“descender”''), from ירד (yarad, ''“descended”'') , image = 20100923 mer morte13.JPG , image_size = , ima ...

Jordan River
, reviewing their travels and giving them further laws. Yahweh tells Moses to summon Joshua, whom Yahweh commissions to lead the conquest of Canaan. Yahweh tells Moses to ascend
Mount Nebo Mount Nebo ( ar, جَبَل نِيبُو, Jabal Nībū; he, הַר נְבוֹ, Har Nevo) is an elevated ridge A ridge or a mountain ridge is a geographical feature consisting of a chain of mountains or hills that form a continuous elev ...
, from where he sees the promised land and where he dies.


Covenant and law

The climax of the Exodus is the covenant (binding legal agreement) between God and the Israelites mediated by Moses at Sinai: Yahweh will protect the Israelites as his chosen people for all time, and the Israelites will keep Yahweh's laws and worship only him. The covenant is described in stages: at Exodus 24:3–8 the Israelites agree to abide by the "book of the covenant" that Moses has just read to them; shortly afterwards God writes the "words of the covenant" – the
Ten Commandments The Ten Commandments ( he, עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת, ''Aseret ha'Dibrot''), also known as the Decalogue, are a set of biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. " ...

Ten Commandments
– on stone tablets; and finally, as the people gather in Moab to cross into Canaan, the land God has promised them, Moses makes a new covenant between Yahweh and the Israelites "beside the covenant he made with them at Horeb" (Deuteronomy 29:1). The laws are set out in a number of codes: * Ethical Decalogue (i.e., the Ten Commandments), Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5; * The Book of the Covenant, Exodus 20:22–23:3; * Ritual Decalogue, Exodus 34; * The ritual laws of Leviticus 1–6 and
Numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
1–10; * The Holiness Code, Leviticus 17–26; * Deuteronomic Code,
Deuteronomy The Book of Deuteronomy (literally "second law" from Greek ''deuteros'' + ''nomos'') is the fifth book of the Jewish , where it is called ''Devarim'' ( he, דְּבָרִים), "the words f Moses F, or f, is the sixth Letter (alphabet), let ...
12–26.


Origins and historicity

There are two main positions on the historicity of the Exodus in modern scholarship. The majority position is that the biblical Exodus narrative has some historical basis, although there is little of historical worth in the biblical narrative. The other position, often associated with the school of Biblical minimalism, is that the biblical exodus traditions are the invention of the exilic and post-exilic Jewish community, with little to no historical basis. The biblical Exodus narrative is best understood as a
founding myth An origin myth is a myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods, or supernatural humans. ...
of the Jewish people, providing an ideological foundation for their culture and institutions, not an accurate depiction of the history of the Israelites. The view that the biblical narrative is essentially correct unless it can explicitly be proven wrong ( Biblical maximalism) is today held by "few, if any ..in mainstream scholarship, only on the more fundamentalist fringes."


Reliability of the biblical account

Mainstream scholarship no longer accepts the biblical Exodus account as history for a number of reasons. Most scholars agree that the Exodus stories were written centuries after the apparent setting of the stories. The
Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Starting with the deliverance of Moses by Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus), Pharaoh's daughter, it recounts the revelation at the Burning bush where he was called by Yahweh ...
itself attempts to ground the event firmly in history, dating the exodus to the 2666th year after creation (Exodus 12:40-41), the construction of the tabernacle to year 2667 (Exodus 40:1-2, 17), stating that the Israelites dwelled in Egypt for 430 years (Exodus 12:40-41), and including place names such as Goshen (Gen. 46:28),
Pithom Pithom ( egy, pr-jtm; he, פיתום; grc, Ηρώ πόλις ''Heroöpolis'' or grc, Ηρώων πόλις ''Heroonopolis'') was an ancient city of Egypt. Multiple references in ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the ...
and Ramesses (Exod. 1:11), as well as stating that 600,000 Israelite men were involved (Exodus 12:37). The
Book of Numbers The Book of Numbers (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population i ...
further states that the number of Israelites in the desert during the wandering were 603,550, including 22,273 first-borns, which modern estimates put at 2.5-3 million total Israelites, a clearly fanciful number that could never have been supported by the
Sinai Desert Sinai commonly refers to: * Sinai Peninsula, Egypt * Mount Sinai ar, جَبَل مُوْسَى, Jabal Mūsā syc, ܛܘܪܐ ܕܣܝܢܝ ⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲥⲓⲛⲁ ''Toou Sina'' , coordinates = , photo = Mount Moses.jpg , photo_caption = The su ...

Sinai Desert
. The geography is vague with regions such as Goshen unidentified, and there are internal problems with dating in the Pentateuch. No modern attempt to identify a historical Egyptian prototype for Moses has found wide acceptance, and no period in Egyptian history matches the biblical accounts of the Exodus. Some elements of the story are
miraculous A miracle is an event that seems inexplicable by natural or scientific laws. In various religions, a phenomenon that is characterized as miraculous is often attributed to the actions of a supernatural being (especially a deity), magic (paranorm ...

miraculous
and defy rational explanation, such as the
Plagues of Egypt The Plagues of Egypt (), in the story of the book of Exodus, are ten disasters inflicted on Egypt Egypt ( ; ar, مِصر ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corne ...
and the
Crossing of the Red Sea The Crossing of the Red Sea, or he, קריעת ים סוף, Kriat Yam Suph, parting of the Sea of Reeds forms an episode in the biblical narrative of The Exodus. It tells of the escape of the Israelites, led by Moses, from the pursuing Ancient ...
. The Bible also fails to mention the names of any of the Pharaohs involved in the Exodus narrative. While
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a that is characterized by , , a form of government, and systems of communication (such as ). Civilizations are intimately associated with additional char ...

ancient Egypt
ian texts from the
New Kingdom New is an adjective referring to something recently made, discovered, or created. New or NEW may refer to: Music * New, singer of K-pop group The Boyz Boyz or The Boyz may refer to: Music Bands *The Boyz (German band), a German boy band of t ...
mention "Asiatics" living in Egypt as slaves and workers, these people cannot be securely connected to the Israelites, and no contemporary Egyptian text mentions a large-scale exodus of slaves like that described in the Bible. The earliest surviving historical mention of the Israelites, the Egyptian
Merneptah Stele The Merneptah Stele – also known as the Israel Stele or the Victory Stele of Merneptah – is an inscription by the ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a of , concentrated along the lower reaches of the , situated in the plac ...
(c. 1207 BCE), appears to place them in or around Canaan and gives no indication of any exodus. Archaeologists
Israel Finkelstein Israel Finkelstein ( he, ישראל פינקלשטיין, born March 29, 1949) is an Israeli Israeli may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the State of Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל; ar, إِسْرَائِيل) ...

Israel Finkelstein
and
Neil Asher Silberman Neil Asher Silberman (born June 19, 1950 in Boston Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Massachusetts, most populous city of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Massa ...
say that archaeology has not found any evidence for even a small band of wandering Israelites living in the Sinai: "The conclusion – that Exodus did not happen at the time and in the manner described in the Bible – seems irrefutable ..repeated excavations and surveys throughout the entire area have not provided even the slightest evidence." Instead, modern archaeology suggests continuity between Canaanite and Israelite settlement, indicating a primarily Canaanite origin for Israel, with no suggestion that a group of foreigners from Egypt comprised early Israel.


Potential historical origins

Despite the absence of any archaeological evidence, a majority of scholars agree that the Exodus probably has some historical basis, with Kenton Sparks referring to it as "mythologized history." Scholars posit that small group of people of Egyptian origin may have joined the early Israelites, and then contributed their own Egyptian Exodus story to all of Israel. William G. Dever cautiously identifies this group with the
Tribe of Joseph The Tribe of Joseph is one of the Tribes of Israel in biblical tradition. Since Ephraim Ephraim (; he, אֶפְרָיִם/, ''ʾEfrayim'') was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian ...
, while
Richard Elliott Friedman Richard Elliott Friedman (born May 5, 1946) is a biblical scholar and the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia , mottoeng = To teach and to inquire into the nature of things. 'To serve' was lat ...
identifies it with the
Tribe of Levi According to the Bible, the Tribe of Levi is one of the tribes of Israel The Twelve Tribes of Israel ( he, שבטי ישראל, translit=Shivtei Yisrael, lit=Tribes of Israel) are, according to Judeo-Christian texts, the descendants of the Biblica ...

Tribe of Levi
. Most scholars who accept a historical core of the exodus date this possible exodus group to the thirteenth century BCE at the time of
Ramses II Ramesses II ( egy, wikt:rꜥ-ms-sw, rꜥ-ms-sw meaning "Ra is the one who bore him", ''Rīʿa-məsī-sū'', ; ) was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful ...

Ramses II
, with some instead dating it to the twelfth century BCE at the time of
Ramses III Usermaatre Meryamun Ramesses III (also written Ramses and Rameses) was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt, Twentieth Dynasty in Ancient Egypt. He is thought to have reigned from 26 March 1186 to 15 April 1155 BC and is considered ...

Ramses III
. Evidence in favor of historical traditions forming a background to the Exodus myth include the documented movements of small groups of
Ancient Semitic-speaking peoples Ancient Semitic-speaking peoples or Proto-Semitic people were Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divid ...
into and out of Egypt during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties, some elements of Egyptian
folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholog ...

folklore
and culture in the Exodus narrative, and the names Moses, Aaron and Phinehas, which seem to have an Egyptian origin. Scholarly estimates for how many people could have been involved in such an exodus range from a few hundred to a few thousand people. Joel S. Baden notes the presence of Semitic-speaking slaves in Egypt who sometimes escaped in small numbers as potential inspirations for the Exodus. It is also possible that oppressive Egyptian rule of Canaan during the late second millennium BCE may have aided the adoption of the story of a small group of Egyptian refugees by the native Canaanites among the Israelites. The expulsion of the
Hyksos Hyksos (; Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex and stable culture with t ...
, a Semitic group that had conquered much of Egypt, by the
Seventeenth Dynasty of Egypt The Seventeenth Dynasty of Egypt (notated Dynasty XVII, alternatively 17th Dynasty or Dynasty 17) is classified as the third dynasty of the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt The Second Intermediate Period marks a period when History of ancient ...
is also frequently discussed as a potential historical parallel or origin for the story. Alternatively, Nadav Na'aman argues that oppressive Egyptian rule of Canaan during the Nineteenth and especially the
Twentieth Dynasty#REDIRECT Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt 20 (twenty; Roman numeral XX) is the natural number In mathematics, the natural numbers are those used for counting (as in "there are ''six'' coins on the table") and total order, ordering (as in "this is ...
may have inspired the Exodus narrative, forming a "
collective memory Collective memory refers to the shared pool of memories, knowledge and information of a social group In the social sciences, a social group can be defined as two or more people who interact with one another, share similar characteristics, and c ...
" of Egyptian oppression that was transferred from Canaan to Egypt itself in the popular consciousness. A minority position among scholars is to see the biblical exodus traditions as the invention of the exilic and post-exilic Jewish community, with little to no historical basis. Lester Grabbe, for instance, argues that " ere is no compelling reason that the exodus has to be rooted in history," and that the details of the story more closely fit the seventh through the fifth centuries BCE than the traditional dating to the second millennium BCE. Philip R. Davies suggests that the story may have been inspired by the return to Israel of Israelites and Judaeans who were placed in Egypt as garrison troops by the
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of We ...

Assyria
ns in the fifth and sixth centuries BCE. Finkelstein and Silberman argue that "the most consistent geographical details of the Exodus story come from the seventh century BCE ..six centuries after the events of the Exodus were supposed to have taken place". There is no direct evidence for any of the people or Exodus events in non-biblical ancient texts or in archaeological remains, and this has led most scholars to omit the Exodus events from comprehensive histories of Israel.


Development and final composition

The earliest traces of the traditions behind the exodus appear in the northern prophets
Amos AMOS or Advanced Mortar System is a Finno-Swedish 120 mm automatic twin barrel A barrel or cask is a hollow cylindrical A cylinder (from ) has traditionally been a Solid geometry, three-dimensional solid, one of the most basic of ...
and
Hosea In the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusively i ...
, both active in the 8th century BCE in northern
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...
, but their southern contemporaries
Isaiah Isaiah ( or ; he, , ''Yəšaʿyāhū'', "God God, in monotheistic thought, is conceived of as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith Faith, derived from Latin ''fides'' and Old French ''feid'', is confidence or trus ...
and
Micah Micah (; ) is a given name. Micah is the name of several people in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afro ...
show no knowledge of an exodus ( contains a reference to the exodus, which many scholars take to be an addition by a later editor); while
Jeremiah Jeremiah, Modern Modern may refer to: History *Modern history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human acti ...

Jeremiah
, active in the 7th century, mentions both Moses and the Exodus. The story may, therefore, have originated a few centuries earlier, perhaps in the 9th or 10th BCE, and there are signs that it took different forms in Israel, in the Transjordan region, and in the southern
Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, יְהוּדָה, ''Yəhūdā''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'uda'' 'ia-ú-da-a-a'' arc, 𐤁‬𐤉‬𐤕‬𐤃𐤅‬𐤃 ''Bēyt David, Dāwīḏ'') was an Israelites, Israelite kingdom of the Southern Le ...
before being unified in the Persian era. The Exodus narrative was most likely further altered and expanded under the influence of the return from the
Babylonian captivity The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a number of people from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. After the Battle of Carchemish in ...
in the sixth century BCE. Evidence from the Bible suggests that the Exodus from Egypt formed a "foundational mythology" or "state ideology" for the
Northern Kingdom of Israel The Kingdom of Israel () or the Kingdom of Samaria was a kingdom of the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. The Hebrew Bible depicts the Kingdom of Israel as one of two successor states to the former Kingdom of Israel (united monarchy), United ...
. The northern psalms 80 and 81 state that God "brought a vine out of Egypt" (Psalm 80:8) and record ritual observances of Israel's deliverance from Egypt as well as a version of part of the
Ten Commandments The Ten Commandments ( he, עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת, ''Aseret ha'Dibrot''), also known as the Decalogue, are a set of biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. " ...

Ten Commandments
(Psalm 81:10-11). The Books of Kings records the dedication of two golden calf, golden calves in Bethel and Dan (ancient city), Dan by the Israelite king Jeroboam I, who uses the words "Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt" (1 Kings 12:28). Scholars relate Jeroboam's calves to the golden calf made by Aaron of Exodus 32. Both include a nearly identical dedication formula ("These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt;" Exodus 32:8). This episode in Exodus is "widely regarded as a tendentious narrative against the Bethel calves". Egyptologist Jan Assmann suggests that event, which would have taken place around 931 BCE, may be partially historical due to its association with the historical pharaoh Sheshonq I (the biblical Shishak). Stephen Russell dates this tradition to "the eighth century BCE or earlier," and argues that it preserves a genuine Exodus tradition from the Northern Kingdom, but in a Kingdom of Judah, Judahite recension. Russell and Frank Moore Cross argue that the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom may have believed that the calves at Bethel and Dan were made by Aaron. Russell suggests that the connection to Jeroboam may have been later, possibly coming from a Judahite redactor. Pauline Viviano, however, concludes that neither the references to Jeroboam's calves in Hosea (Hosea 8:6 and 10:5) nor the frequent prohibitions of idol worship in the seventh-century southern prophet
Jeremiah Jeremiah, Modern Modern may refer to: History *Modern history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human acti ...

Jeremiah
show any knowledge of a tradition of a golden calf having been created in Sinai. Some of the earliest evidence for Judahite traditions of the exodus is found in Psalm 78, which portrays the Exodus as beginning a history culminating in the building of the temple at Jerusalem. Pamela Barmash argues that the psalm is a polemic against the Northern Kingdom; as it fails to mention that kingdom's destruction in 722 BCE, she concludes that it must have been written before then. The psalm's version of the Exodus contains some important differences from what is found in the Pentateuch: there is no mention of Moses, there are only seven plagues in Egypt, and the
manna Manna ( he, מָן ''mān'', ; ar, اَلْمَنُّ; sometimes or archaically spelled mana) is, according to the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as ...

manna
is described as "food of the mighty" rather than as bread in the wilderness. Nadav Na'aman argues for other signs that the Exodus was a tradition in Judah before the destruction of the northern kingdom, including the Song of the Sea and Psalm 114, as well as the great political importance that the narrative came to assume there. A Judahite cultic object associated with the exodus was the brazen serpent or nehushtan: according to 2 Kings 18:4, the brazen serpent had been made by Moses and was worshiped in the Solomon's Temple, temple in Jerusalem until the time of king Hezekiah of Judah, who destroyed it as part of a religious reform, possibly around 727 BCE. In the Pentateuch, Moses creates the brazen serpent in Numbers 21:4-9. Meindert Dijkstra writes that while the historicity of the Mosaic origin of the Nehushtan is unlikely, its association with Moses appears genuine rather than the work of a later redactor. Mark Walter Bartusch notes that the nehushtan is not mentioned at any prior point in Kings, and suggests that the brazen serpent was brought to Jerusalem from the Northern Kingdom after its destruction in 722 BCE. The revelation of God on Sinai appears to have originally been a tradition unrelated to the Exodus. Joel S. Baden notes that " e seams [between the Exodus and Wilderness traditions] still show: in the narrative of Israel's rescue from Egypt there is little hint that they will be brought anywhere other than Canaan—yet they find themselves heading first, unexpectedly, and in no obvious geographical order, to an obscure mountain." In addition, there is widespread agreement that the revelation of the law in Deuteronomy was originally separate from the Exodus: the original version of Deuteronomy is generally dated to the 7th century BCE. The contents of the books of Leviticus and
Numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
are late additions to the narrative by priestly sources. Scholars broadly agree that the publication of the Torah (or Pentateuch) took place in the mid-Persian period (the 5th century BCE), echoing a traditional Jewish view which gives Ezra, the leader of the Jewish community on its return from Babylon, a pivotal role in its promulgation. Many theories have been advanced to explain the composition of the first five books of the Bible, but two have been especially influential. The first of these, Persian Imperial authorisation, advanced by Peter Frei in 1985, holds that the Persian authorities required the Jews of Jerusalem to present a single body of law as the price of local autonomy. Frei's theory was demolished at an interdisciplinary symposium held in 2000, but the relationship between the Persian authorities and Jerusalem remains a crucial question. The second theory, associated with Joel P. Weinberg and called the "Citizen-Temple Community", proposes that the Exodus story was composed to serve the needs of a post-exilic Jewish community organized around the Temple, which acted in effect as a bank for those who belonged to it. The books containing the Exodus story served as an "identity card" defining who belonged to this community (i.e., to Israel), thus reinforcing Israel's unity through its new institutions.


Hellenistic Egyptian parallel narratives

Writers in Greek and Latin record several Egyptian tales of the expulsion of a group of foreigners that were connected to the Exodus in the Ptolemaic kingdom, Ptolemaic period. These tales often include elements of the Hyksos period and most are extremely anti-Jewish. The earliest non-biblical account is that of Hecataeus of Abdera (c. 320 BCE), as preserved in the first century CE Jewish historian Josephus in his work ''Against Apion'' and in a variant version by the first-century BCE Greek historian Diodorus. Hecataeus tells how the Egyptians blamed a plague on foreigners and expelled them from the country, whereupon Moses, their leader, took them to Canaan. In this version, Moses is portrayed extremely positively. Manetho, as preserved in Josephus's ''Against Apion'', tells how 80,000 lepers and other "impure people", led by a priest named Osarseph, join forces with the former Hyksos, now living in Jerusalem, to take over Egypt. They wreak havoc until the pharaoh and his son chase them out to the borders of Syria, where Osarseph gives the lepers a law-code and changes his name to Moses. The identification of Osarseph with Moses in Manetho's account may be an interpolation or may come from Manetho. Other versions of the story are recorded by first-century BCE Egyptian grammarian Lysimachus of Alexandria, who sets the story in the time of Pharaoh Bakenranef (Bocchoris), the first-century CE Egyptian historian Chaeremon of Alexandria, and the first-century BCE Gallo-Roman historian Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus. The first century CE Roman historian Tacitus includes a version of the story that claims that the Hebrews worshiped a donkey as their god in order to ridicule Egyptian religion, while the Roman biographer Plutarch claims that the Egyptian god Set (deity), Seth was expelled from Egypt and had two sons named Juda and Hierosolyma. It is possible that the stories represent a polemical Egyptian response to the Exodus narrative. Egyptologist Jan Assmann proposes that the story comes from oral sources that "must ..predate the first possible acquaintance of an Egyptian writer with the Hebrew Bible." Assmann suggests that the story has no single origin but rather combines numerous historical experiences, notably the Amarna period, Amarna and Hyksos periods, into a folk memory. There is general agreement that the stories originally had nothing to do with the Jews. Erich S. Gruen suggests that it may have been the Jews themselves that inserted themselves into Manetho's narrative, in which various negative actions from the point of view of the Egyptians, such as desecrating temples, are interpreted positively.


Religious and cultural significance


In Judaism

Commemoration of the Exodus is central to
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
, and Jewish culture. In the Bible, the Exodus is frequently mentioned as the event that created the Israelite people and forged their bond with God, being described as such by the prophets
Hosea In the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusively i ...

Hosea
, Jeremiah (prophet), Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The Exodus is invoked daily in List of Jewish prayers and blessings, Jewish prayers and celebrated each year during the Jewish holidays of
Passover Passover, also called Pesach (; he, פֶּסַח '), is a major Jewish holiday Jewish holidays, also known as Jewish festivals or ''Yamim Tovim'' ( he, ימים טובים, , Good Days, or singular , in transliterated Translitera ...
, Shavuot, and Sukkot. The fringes worn at the corners of traditional Jewish prayer shawls are described as a physical reminder of the obligation to observe the laws given at the climax of Exodus: "Look at it and recall all the commandments of the Lord" (Numbers). The festivals associated with the Exodus began as agricultural and seasonal feasts but became completely subsumed into the Exodus narrative of Israel's deliverance from oppression at the hands of God. For Jews, Passover celebrates the freedom of the Israelites from captivity in Egypt, the settling of Canaan by the Israelites and the "passing over" of the angel of death during the Plagues of Egypt#10. Death of firstborn: Ex. 11:1–12:36, death of the first-born. Passover involves a ritual meal called a Passover Seder, Seder during which parts of the exodus narrative are retold. In the Hagaddah of the Seder it is written that every generation is obliged to remind and identify itself in terms of the Exodus. Thus the following words from the Pesachim, Pesaḥim (10:5) are recited:
”In every generation a person is duty-bound to regard himself as if he personally has gone forth from Egypt”.
Because the Israelites fled Egypt in haste without time for bread to rise, the unleavened bread matzoh is eaten on Passover, and homes must be cleansed of any items containing leavening agents, known as Chametz. Shavuot celebrates the granting of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai; Jews are called to rededicate themselves to the covenant on this day. Some denominations follow Shavuot with The Three Weeks, during which the "two most heinous sins committed by the Jews in their relationship to God" are mourned: the Golden Calf and the doubting of God's promise by the Twelve Spies. A third Jewish festival, Sukkot, the Festival of Booths, is associated with the Israelites living in booths after they left their previous homes in Egypt. It celebrates how God provided for the Israelites while they wandered in the desert without food or shelter. It is celebrated by building a sukkah, a temporary shelter also called a booth or tabernacle, in which the rituals of Sukkot are performed, recalling the impermanence of the Israelites' homes during the desert wanderings.


Non-Jewish significance

The Christian ritual of the eucharist and the holiday of Easter draw directly on the imagery of the Passover and the Exodus. In the New Testament,
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
is frequently associated with motifs of the Exodus. The Gospel of Mark has been suggested to be a midrash on the Exodus, though scholar Larry Perkins thinks this unlikely. Mark suggests that the outpouring of Jesus' blood creates a new covenant (Mark 14:24) in the same way that Moses' sacrifice of bulls had created a covenant (Exodus 24:5). In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reverses the direction of the Exodus by escaping from the Massacre of the Innocents committed by Herod the Great before himself returning from Egypt (Matt 2:13-15). Other parallels in Matthew include that he is baptized by water (Matt 3:13-17), and tested in the desert; unlike the Israelites, he is able to resist temptation (Matt. 4.1-3). The Gospel of John repeatedly calls Jesus the Passover lamb (John 1:29, 13:1, 19:36), something also found in 1 Peter (1 Pet 1:18-20), and 1 Corinthians (1 Cor 5:7-8). Michael Graves calls Paul (apostle), Paul's discussion of the exodus in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 and his comparison of the early church in Corinth to the Israelites in the desert " e two most significant NT passages touching on the exodus." John also refers to Jesus as manna (John 6:31-5), water flowing from a rock in the desert (John 7:37-9) and as a pillar of fire (John 8:12). Early Christians frequently interpreted actions taken in the Exodus, and sometimes the Exodus as a whole, typology (theology), typologically to prefigure Jesus or actions of Jesus. In The Epistle to the Romans, Romans 9:17, Paul interprets the hardened heart of Pharaoh during the Plagues of Egypt as referring to the hardened hearts of the Jews who rejected Christ. Early Christian authors such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Augustine all emphasized the supersession of the Old Covenant of Moses by the New Covenant of Christ, which was open to all people rather than limited to the Jews. A number of historical events and situations have been compared to the Exodus. Many early American settlers interpreted their flight from Europe to a new life in America as a new exodus. American "founding fathers" Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin recommended for the Great Seal of the United States to depict Moses leading the Israelites across the Red Sea. African Americans suffering under slavery and racial oppression interpreted their situation in terms of the Exodus, making it a catalyst for social change. South American Liberation theology also takes much inspiration from the Exodus.


See also

* Book of Joshua, the continuation of the narrative in the conquest of Canaan * Ipuwer Papyrus * List of films based on the Bible#Moses (Exodus-Deuteronomy), List of films related to the Exodus * Moses in Islam * Stations of the Exodus * Va'eira, Bo (parsha), and Beshalach: parsha, Torah portions (''parashot'') telling the Exodus story * The Exodus Decoded


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External links


Old maps showing the route of the Exodus
The National Library of Israel, Eran Laor Cartographic Collection {{DEFAULTSORT:Exodus Egypt in the Hebrew Bible Book of Exodus Stations of the Exodus, Jewish mythology Moses Origin myths Passover Sacred history