Bible Query from
Q: In Ex, how do we know that the Book Exodus should be in the Bible?
A: Among other reasons, because Jesus and so many others in the Bible authenticated the Old Testament and referred to this book of the Torah as scripture. For further study refer to the questions at the end of this section for Jewish and early Christian writers who referred to Exodus. See also the questions on Matthew 22:32 and Luke 2:23.
Q: What is some of value of the Book of Exodus?
A: Exodus is a book to be read and experienced, not used only for learning its facts. While Exodus and Deuteronomy both give the Ten Commandments, Exodus is unique in what it tells us about the plagues and deliverance from Egypt. These are more than just interesting histories; they show the character of God and God's dealing with His people. God does not deliver His people from tough times, but rather delivers them through tough times. God used natural means (midwives), natural means in a supernatural intensity (some of the plagues), as well as supernatural means (parting the red sea at just the right time) to deliver His people.
Exodus shows how God relates individually to Moses and Aaron, and even Pharaoh. God was very patience with Moses' uncertainty about leadership, yet God also appeared "strict" with Moses' losing his temper in front of all the Israelites.
The experiences of Exodus were pivotal in defining Israel's identity as God's chosen people. They stayed together in hard times, experienced great deliverance and blessing, but most importantly saw God's working in their lives through it all.
Without Exodus we would have no clue about the Passover, and miss much of the typology of the Lord's Last Supper. As the Israelites were passed over for destruction by blood of the lamb, so too we are passed over from destruction by the blood of the Lamb, who takes away the sins of the world.
Q: In Ex, what are various ways to understand the book?
A: The Book of Exodus is deep and can be understood and studied on many different levels.
1) Besides generally strengthening our faith, Exodus solves a few small mysteries, such as why there were so many Semitic indicators in Egypt and then they were gone, after this why Thutmose IV became Pharaoh though he indicated he was not first in line, and who were the later "Habiru running amok" that destroyed some Canaanite cities afterwards.
2) It is an accurate history of the Israelites, and how they became a nation from a clan.
3) It is a book about God, revealing His character concerning how He deals with humanity. It shows how He combined both natural and supernatural means to work in history and deal with His people and their oppressors.
4) It is a book of the law, what God commanded for His people to obey.
5) Like Nehemiah, it is a book on godly leadership, how one man, plus God, could overthrow an army and successfully lead so many people for 47 years.
6) It is a book for all of God's people, that we too can be encouraged that God will deliver us, and we too can experience an encounter with him, and that God can making His home in the tabernacle of our hearts.
7) It is a book of patterns (Exodus 25:40), of deliverance, encounter, and a life of worship, and of what is pleasing and displeasing to God.
Q: In Ex, what is an outline of the book?
A: Since there are different ways to look at Genesis, different commentaries have rather different outlines. Here is a general outline.
I. Bondage in Egypt (Ex 1-14)
A. The Path to Pharaoh (Ex 1-4)
1. Israel's Enslavement (Ex 1)
2. Moses' Danger (Ex 2)
3. God's Call (Ex 3,4)
B. Deliverance - Let My People Go (Ex 5-14)
1. Two Confrontations (Ex 5-7:13)
2. 1st Plague - Blood (Ex 7:14-25)
3. 2nd Plague - Frogs (Ex 8:1-15)
4. 3rd Plague - Lice (Ex 8:16-19)
5. 4th Plague - Flies (Ex 8:20-32)
6. 5th Plague - Livestock Died (Ex 9:1-7)
7. 6th Plague - Boils (Ex 9:8-12)
8. 7th Plague - Hail and Fire (Ex 9:13-35)
9. 8th Plague - Locusts (Ex 10:1-20)
10. 9th Plague - Darkness 3 Days (Ex 10:21-29)
11. 10th Plague - Firstborn and Passover (Ex 11:1-12:30)
12. Crossing the Red Sea (Ex 12:31-14:31)
II. Life in the Wilderness (Ex 15-40)
A. To Sinai: A Journey of Relying on God (Ex 15:1-18:27)
1. Song of Miriam - remembering God's deliverance (Ex 15:1-21)
2. Marah and Elim - will God provide in the dry land? (Ex 15:22-27)
3. Manna and Quail - will God feed in the barren place? (Ex 16)
4. Massah - failing a test of faith (Ex 17:1-7)
5. Amalekites - will God protect? (Ex 17:8-15)
6. I can do it all myself - more attitudes to change Ex 18)
B. Encounter with God at Sinai (Ex 19-24)
1. Experience God (Ex 19)
2. 10 Commandments, altars, no idols (Ex 20)
3. civil laws (Ex 21-23:10)
4. Sabbaths and festivals (Ex 23:11-19)
5. God's promise for obedience (Ex 23:20-33)
6. Dinner with God (Ex 24)
C. Tabernacle Worship - Preparing for God Among You
1. Building our understanding
a. The materials - giving to God (Ex 25:1-9)
b. The ark - where to meet with God (Ex 25:10-22)
c. God's presence at the table (Ex 25:23-30)
d. Lampstand - God's light in our lives (Ex 25:31-40)
e. The Tabernacle - private intimacy with God (Ex 26)
f. Altar of Burnt Offering - give things up for God (Ex 27:1-8)
g. Tabernacle Courtyard - assembling together for God (Ex 27:9-19)
h. Never let your worship be out of oil - (Ex 27:20-21)
2. Setting yourself apart
a. The clothes of the priests of God (Ex 28)
b. Dedication of the priests of God (Ex 29)
3. What priests do
a. The altar of incense - are your prayers fragrant? (Ex 30:1-10)
b. Never forget we were bought with a price (Ex 30:11-16)
c. Washbasins - our need for daily washing (Ex 30:17-21)
d. Anointing oil (Ex 30:22-33)
e. Incense (Ex 30:34-38)
f. Artists (Ex 31:1-11)
g. The sign of keeping the Sabbath (Ex 31:12-18)
D. Rebellion, Repentance, and Restoration (Ex 32-33)
1. The Golden Calf - how could they? Could we? (Ex 32)
2. Restoration - can we? (Ex 33)
3. Obedience and encounter again (Ex 34)
E. Picking up Again the Tabernacle Worship After Repentance (Ex 35:1-39:43)
F. God Among You - How is Your Tabernacle Set Up? (Ex 40)
1. Preparing for God (Ex 40:1-33)
2. God coming in glory (Ex 40:34-38)
Q: In Ex, who first answered questions on Exodus?
A: As far as I am aware, the first person to write answers to questions on Genesis was Philo, a Hellenistic Jew from Alexandria, who lived from about 20 B.C. to 50 A.D. Unfortunately, only some fragments of his work on Exodus survive today.
Q: In Ex 1, how could there be so many people in 430 years?
A: For the answer, see the discussion on Numbers 1.
Q: In Ex 1, why would a loving God permit the Hebrews to be slaves for 400 years?
A: The lifetime of a person, or even 400 years, is just a short blip compared to a life in eternity in Heaven. God allows His people to suffer on earth, even unjust suffering, because this is just a temporary phase, and God will reward us in Heaven.
However, not only did God permit this, but this might have in fact been a great blessing for the Israelites. There were many battles in Canaan during this time: here are some of them:
|1500 B.C.||Egypt destroys Debir, Hazor, Jericho, others in Palestine|
|1485 B.C.||Thutmose III of Egypt captures Arvad in Phoenicia|
|1483-1437 BC.||Thutmose III of Egypt 17 campaigns - Napoleon of Egypt|
|1483/1468 BC.||At Megiddo Thutmose III defeats Canaanites|
|c.1454 B.C.||Qadesh revolts from Egypt|
Q: In Ex 1:7-8, how old was Miriam?
A: We do not know, but she was apparently old enough to watch the baby, yet too young to have to work. Maybe she was 8-12 years older than Moses.
Q: In Ex 1:8, archaeologically how did the Hyksos rulers fit in?
A: The Hyksos were a Middle Eastern people that conquered Egypt due to their superior chariots from 1760 to 1640 B.C. They ruled Egypt for a while, and were gradually driven out from 1573/55 to 1540 B.C. When Jacob and his family migrated to Egypt, the Egyptians in power were pre-Hyksos based on Genesis 46:34 and 32:32.
Genesis 46:34 says Egyptians would not be with shepherds, and the Hyksos were called "shepherd kings".
Genesis 32:32 says that these Egyptians would not eat with [Asiatic] Hebrews.
Thus, if the Hyksos could not be the Egyptian rulers when Jacob's family came to Egypt, the "new Pharaoh" would be suspicious of those in high positions under the previous Pharaoh. Furthermore, when the Hyksos were expelled, the native Egyptians might still be suspicious of non-Egyptian Asiatics, such as the Hebrews.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.54-56 for more info.
Q: In Ex 1:8-10, briefly, is it true that there is no archaeological evidence to support the Israelites having been in Egypt, as an atheist (Capella) asserted"?
A: No, there is ample evidence. Not only are there references to "Habiru", but the Papyrus Brooklyn 35.1446 shows many examples of Asiatics given Egyptian names. Some of the Asiatics are from the tribes of Issachar and Asher. See also the next question and for a more extensive answer and the discussion on Exodus 11:5-12:30 for more info.
Q: In Ex 1:8-10, did any pre-Christian pagan writers mention Moses?
A: On one hand, Origen (225-254 A.D.) says none did in his Commentary on the Song of Songs first homily p.273, and the translator's footnote 37 echoes this. (Ancient Christian Writers vol.26.) However, Julius Africanus (235-245 A.D.) says otherwise. He writes, "Polemo, for instance, in the first book of his Greek History, says: 'In the time of Apius, son of Phoroneus, a division of the army of the Egyptians left Egypt, and settled in the Palestine called Syrian, not far from Arabia: these are evidently those who were with Moses. And Apion the son of Poseidonius, the most laborious of grammarians, in his book Against the Jews, and in the fourth book of his History, says that in the time of Inachus king of Argos, when Amosis reigned over Egypt, the Jews revolted under the leadership of Moses. And Herodotus also makes mention of this revolt, and of Amosis, in his second book, and in a certain way also of the Jews themselves, reckoning them among the circumcised, and called them the Assyrians of Palestine, perhaps through Abraham. And Ptolemy the Mendesian, who narrates the history of the Egyptians from the earliest times, gives the same account of all these things; so that among them in general there is no difference worth notice in the chronology." The Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 6 Julius Africanus fragment 13 p.124.
Q: In Ex 1:8-10, apart from the Bible, is there any evidence of the Israelites being enslaved in Egypt or coming out of Egypt?
A: Some critical "scholars" still believe the outdated theory that there was no evidence of the Israelites either being in or coming out of Egypt. Perhaps they should read "the writing on the wall". A painting on the wall of the tomb of Khnumhotep (1892 B.C.) at Beni Hasan in Egypt shows 37 "Asiatics", or non-Egyptian people from the Mideast. They had black hair, pointed beards, long many-colored cloaks, bows, and throw sticks.
Christian scholars writing in the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, and other books have gathered a great deal of evidence that the Israelites were in Egypt. Not only do Christian scholars teach that the Israelites were in Egypt from about 1875-1445 B.C., but a secular archaeologist, David M. Rohl in his book Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest (Crown Publishers 1995) also documents evidence that is consistent with the Israelites coming out of Egypt. Here is a "Top Ten" list of facts that support the Israelites coming out of Egypt.
10. Skeletons of long-haired Asiatic sheep showed they first appeared in the Delta region of Egypt around the time of Joseph. (1900-1800 B.C..) Joseph's Egyptian name "Zaphenath-Paneah" was probably "Zat-en-aph" (he who is called) and "Ipiankhu" (Ipu is alive). The name Ipiankhu and variations were common in the time of Joseph but not very common earlier or later. Many other Hebrew names are found in an Egyptian papyrus in the Brooklyn Museum (35.1446). Under Pharoah Sobekhotep III (approximately 1540 B.C.), a large number of slaves were transferred to the area of Thebes. Of the 95 names, over 50% of the names were Asiatics, and their Egyptian names were given next to them. Many of the Egyptian names have "he/she who is called" as the first part of the name. Some of these people were recorded as being specifically from the tribes of Issachar and Asher.
In addition, some Hebrew names are Menahem and Shiphrah. This was 100 years before the Shiphrah in Exodus 1 though. Walter Kaiser in A History of Israel p.84 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.307 mentions that for two Semitic names, Shiphrah probably comes from Sp-ra (fair one), and the name Puah is probably is derived from the Ugaritic word "Pgt" meaning "girl" or "splendid one".
Also, the Leiden Papyrus 348 gives order to "distribute grain rations to the soldiers and to the 'Apiru who transport stones to the great pylon of Rames[s]es." The 'Apiru were likely the Hebrews. See Christianity Today 9/7/1998 p.48 for more info on this.
9. A non-Egyptian second-in-command made good sense. If Joseph had tried to rebel, Egyptians would not follow him. It is recorded that Canaanites, such as Meri-Ra and Ben-Mat-Ana, had high positions in the Egyptian Court. A Semite named Yanhamu was a deputy of Amenhotep III based at Gaza.
8. Bricks were used to build some Egyptian cities such as Pithom. At Pithom, bricks were found made with straw at the lowest level. At the intermediate level the bricks had only stubble. At the top level, archaeologists found that the bricks were made with no binding at all. The tomb of an Egyptian noble named Rekhmere / Rek-mi-Re at Thebes in the 15th century B.C. has a painting of slaves making bricks.
7. There was evidence of a great disaster with a great number of hurriedly buried bodies. However, the large numbers of deaths does not prove or disprove that this was due to a sudden event overnight.
Also, Tacitus in Histories book 5 lists differing speculations on the Jews being from Crete, or Egypt, or Ethiopia, or Assyrians, and then relates an interesting story. "Most writers, however, agree in stating that once a disease, which horribly disfigured the body, broke out in Egypt, that king Bocchoris, seeking a remedy, consulted the oracle of Hammon, and was bidden to cleanse his realm, and to convey into some foreign land this race detested by the gods. The people, who had been collected after diligent search, finding themselves left in a desert, sat for the most part in a stupor of grief, till one of the exiles, Moyses by name, warned them not to look for any relief from God or man, forsaken as they were of both, but to trust to themselves, taking for their heaven-sent leader that man who should first help them to be quit of the present misery.... Moyses, wishing to secure for the future his authority over the nation, gave them a novel form of worship, opposed to all that is practised by other men. ... They slay the ram, seemingly in derision of Hammon, and they sacrifice the ox, because the Egyptians worship it as Apis." (quoted from The Annals and The Histories by P. Cornelius Tacitus, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 1952.)
6. An Egyptian text dated around 1350 B.C. described a strange earlier event: "The sun is covered and does not shine to the sight of men. Life is no longer possible when the sun is concealed behind the clouds. Ra [the god] has turned his face from mankind. If only it would shine even for one hour! No one knows when it is midday. One's shadow is not discernible. The sun in the heavens resembles the moon...." This could refer to the darkness over the land. It probably does not refer to the eruption of the volcano on the Island of Thera because that happened about 200 years earlier. (This is from the Ipuwar Papyrus).
5. Pharaoh Thutmose IV apparently was not the first-born son. In the Dream Stela of Thutmose IV (1421-1410 B.C.) found between the forepaws of the Sphinx of Giza, the god Harmakhis promised Thutmose special help to become the next Pharaoh in return for removing the sand that had built up against the Sphinx. He likely would not have needed special help if he were the first in the succession of his father Amenhotep II (1450/1447-1401/1385). Walter Kaiser in A History of Israel p.90 says that the eldest brother of Thutmose IV was named Webensenu. Webensu was given a burial in the royal tomb, and he probably was the one who died during the tenth plague. The second son of Amenhotep II was Khaemwaset, who married before he died. As Kaiser says, "Thus, while the Sphinx Stele cannot be taken as direct proof of the death of the firstborn, enough evidence has been brought to light by Egyptologists to support the early date of the Exodus and the fact that indeed Thutmose IV had not expected to succeed his father to the throne."
4. Mixed Egyptian/Hebrew writing in caves near Mt. Sinai describes the parting of the sea, Moses, and catching the quail. The most interesting thing is that the language was a mixture of Egyptian and Hebrew. The historian Diodorus Siculus (10 B.C.) also knew of this too. Also, at the entrance to the copper mines in Sinai are hundreds of inscriptions. Most of them are in hieroglyphic Egyptian characters, but about 40 inscriptions are in sort of proto-Sinaitic alphabetic script from the 15th century B.C. However, this evidence is "disputable", because there is no way to date when these writings were made.
3. The Egyptian military, which prior to this time had controlled Canaan, was strangely absent. We do not hear much of the Egyptian military again until the time of Pharaoh Seti I, who destroyed Hazor in 1300 B.C.
2. In Jericho, Bryant G. Wood found strong walls, large quantities of grain (meaning a short siege), and no plundering (since the grain was still there). John Garstang was the one who first found abundant carbonized grain. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.182-183 mentions some evidence for an earthquake of magnitude 8 on the Richter scale, which could have left cracks in the walls. The inner mud-brick walls collapsed over the outer stone wall, forming a convenient ramp. When did this capture take place? Ceramic pottery from Cyprus indicates a date between 1450 to 1400 B.C. Egyptian amulets, are inscribed with the name of the current Pharaoh, up to Joshua's time. Earlier in this century John Garstang had misdated the walls of Jericho in Joshua's time, but Kathleen Kenyon has proved Garstang wrong according to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.575. Carbon-14 dating sets the destruction at 1410 B.C. +/- 40 years.
1. As to the destruction of cities in Canaan, Joshua only says the following cities were destroyed: Debir, Eglon, Hazor, Hebron, Jericho, Lachish, Libnah, Makkadeh, and Ai. Archaeologists have found at that time the following cities were destroyed: Arad, Debir, Hazor, the site at el-Khalil (Hebron?), Jericho, Lachish. The site at Beitin (Bethel?), the city of Gibeon and the site at Khirbet Nisya were abandoned. Perhaps the small town of Ai was destroyed so completely that the site will never be found. Who destroyed these cities? The Tell el-Amarna tablets tell us clearly. They were letters written from Canaan to the Egyptian Pharaoh around 1500-1370 B.C. The mention the feared "Habiru running amok". Interestingly, they also mention a king Lab'ayu of Shechem, who was a traitor because he was in confederation with the Habiru invaders. Later, the Stela of Pharaoh Merenpta/Merneptah (1229/1225 B.C.) also mentions a people called Israel in northern Canaan.
In addition, the Biblical Archaeologist Review vol.7 (Sept-Oct 1981) says there is evidence of Syro-Palestiniate remains near Qantir, Egypt from 1700-1500 B.C.
Apart from this, Julius Africanus (writing 235-245 A.D.) mentions ancient Greek historians who wrote about the Exodus. "Polemo, for instance, in the first book of his Greek History, says: 'In the time of Apius, son of Phoroneus, a division of the army of the Egyptians left Egypt, and settled in the Palestine called Syrian, not far from Arabia: these are evidently those who were with Moses. And Apion the son of Poseidonius, the most laborious of grammarians, in his book Against the Jews, and in the fourth book of his History, says that in the time of Inachus king of Argos, when Amosis reigned over Egypt, the Jews revolted under the leadership of Moses. And Herodotus also makes mention of this revolt, and of Amosis, in his second book, and in a certain way also of the Jews themselves, reckoning them among the circumcised, and called them the Assyrians of Palestine, perhaps through Abraham. And Ptolemy the Mendesian, who narrates the history of the Egyptians from the earliest times, gives the same account of all these things; so that among them in general there is no difference worth notice in the chronology." The Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 6 Julius Africanus fragment 13 p.124.
This is not the first time critical "scholars" were unaware of the archaeology. For example, archaeologists found out about the Hittites in 1892. However, some scholars still doubted their existence ten years later (1902, E.A.W. Budge.) See Evidence That Demands a Verdict volume 2 p.339-341 for more information on this.
Conclusion: It is hard to swim against the tide, when this skeptical theory drowns in a sea of facts. Thus archaeology today indicates that the Biblical record shows the trustworthiness of the Bible. Since the Bible is accurate on representing so many little details, maybe we should consider it accurate on what it represents itself to be: God's communication to us.
Other sources of interesting archaeological information on the Israelites in Egypt are: Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? by Ralph O. Muncaster, Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer (Zondervan), Evidence for Faith by John Warwick Montgomery, The New International Dictionary of the Bible by Douglas, J.D. and Merrill C. Tenney, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.53, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, and The Biblical Archaeology Review.
Q: In Ex 1:8-10, is it true that "it is well established that the Egyptians built all their own cities and monuments", as an atheist (Capella) asserted?
A: Not at all. See the previous question for the answer.
Q: In Ex 1:8-10, why did God let His people be oppressed?
A: God sometimes let's His people be oppressed for a variety of reasons: discipline (Judges), winnowing out those who did not want to follow, such as the exile, etc. But in this case, while the Bible does not explicitly say, we can speculate.
Imagine that the people were well-paid masons who were treated well, when Moses came on the scene saying God would deliver them. Why would they want to follow Moses, if Pharaoh had been so friendly to them? Even though freedom in the promised land would be better, many of them would not want to leave comfort. Imagine as some of them, as they packed up to leave, wondering how they could survive a rough life in the desert, when they had only know a life of comfort. Imagine them having to trust God for their very water and food, when there was none in the desert, when they had been so comfortable they did not have to trust God for anything. Thus we can see at least some reasons why God allowed them to have these hardships.
Even so, some people still complained in the wilderness, some wanted to go back to Egypt, and some challenged Moses' authority.
We may not like to hear this, but sometimes God has to make us uncomfortable before we will get up, move, and do what God wants us to do.
Q: In Ex 1:11 what do we know outside of the Bible about Egyptian slavemasters?
A: The Egyptian term ser is on a wall painting on the Theban tomb of Rekhmire, who was the overseer of brickmaking for Thutmose III. The mural shows slavemasters with heavy whips. The Egyptian hieroglyph is interesting: the head and neck of a giraffe. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.304 for more info.
Q: In Ex 1:11 (KJV), did the Israelites build "treasure cities"?
A: This King James expression is better translated "supply cities" (NKJV), or "store cities" (NIV). The "treasure" was grain and other food, not gold and silver. The supply cities were in the east of Egypt to better supply Egyptian troops going on expeditions in Palestine and Syria.
Q: In Ex 1:11, where were the two cities of Pithom and Rameses located?
A: Pithom (house of [the god] Atum), is on the wadi Tumilat just east of the Nile Delta. It is either the ruin at Tell er-Rababeh or else Tell el-Maskhuta 8-9 miles east. At Tell el-Maskhuta bricks have been found made without straw. The Septuagint adds that this is the same as the city of "On" or Heliopolis.
It used to be thought that the city of Rameses was located at Tanis/Zoan. However, now it is thought to be near Qantir according to Hans Goedicke in the Biblical Archaeologist Review vol.7 (Sept-Oct 1981). There are evidence of Syro-Palestiniate remains from 1700-1500 B.C.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.289,304, The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.793, and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1348 for more info.
Q: In Ex 1:11, where did the term "Pharaoh" originate?
A: The meaning of words sometimes changes over time. From 2,500 to 2,000 B.C. "Pharaoh" originally mean "great house" (palace) but it gradually came to mean the king of Egypt who lived in there. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.288-289 and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1323-1325 for more info.
Q: In Ex 1:15, how could two Hebrew midwives take care of so many Hebrew births?
A: They obviously did not attend to every birth, but supervised others. Overseers for different crafts regulated Egyptian society. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.306, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.109-110, and When Critics Ask p.63 for more info.
Q: In Ex 1:15-19, is there any evidence apart from the Bible of the names Shiphrah and Puah?
A: I am not aware of any evidence of the name Puah. But an Egyptian Papyrus in the Brooklyn Museum (35.1446), written approximately 1540 B.C., mentions a Shiphrah. This Shiphrah lived over a century before the Shiphrah mentioned in Exodus.
Q: In Ex 1:16-19, how could God bless the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah for lying to Pharaoh?
A: Christians differ on the answer.
1. Many say that God blessed their faith in standing for right, and forgave their lying to do so. Also, the Ten Commandments were not given yet.
2. Others say believers should not tell the truth in life and death situations to evil people who do not deserve it.
3. Shiphrah and Puah could not personally deliver all those babies: they more likely oversaw an "army" of midwives that did the work. The midwives under them might have lied or deliberately come late. 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.49-50 gives this answer.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.137, When Critics Ask p.63-64, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.109-110 for more info.
Q: In Ex 1:16, was it not unreasonable for Pharaoh to want to kill Israelites, since they made good slaves?
A: There were probably about 4.1 million Egyptians (+/- a million). Given that the Israelite birthrate was higher than the Egyptians, their population might have been around 2 million, Pharaoh became alarmed.
As a side note, while Pharaoh said to kill all the Hebrew baby boys, God ironically had one grow up in his own home.
Q: In Ex 1:16, why did Pharaoh want to kill the Hebrew boys instead of girls during the time when Moses was born? You would think it would be the other way around since men/boys born previously could get several women pregnant during the same period causing greater increase in the population. Or why did he not kill both sexes?
A: Scripture does not say why Pharaoh made this choice. However, we can see a number of possible reasons.
1) The Egyptians might be afraid that the boys could grow up to be soldiers and rebel. The Egyptians would not fear women so much.
2) Girls would still be quite useful workers, as Egypt was a major exporter of cloth, and they could be weavers.
3) Girls could be wives or concubines for Egyptian men and have babies that were raised Egyptian.
Q: In Ex 1:16, why was Moses in danger of being killed by Pharaoh, since his older brother Aaron apparently was in no such danger?
A: According to Walter Kaiser in A History of Israel p.89, if Moses was born in 1526 (80 years prior to the Exodus), he would have been born in the first year of the reign of Thutmose I (1526-1512 B.C.), and he was apparently the Pharaoh who made that decree.
As a side note, the Pharaoh who wanted to kill Moses after killing the Egyptian was probably Thutmose III (1504-1450 B.C.). No other Pharaoh lived long enough, and either the account in Exodus is accurate, or one would have to say it was a "great coincidence" that the only Pharaoh who lived long enough just happened to reign at the right time to fit.
Q: In Ex 2:1, how similar is the story of Moses in the basket similar to Sargon's story?
A: Sargon of Akkad (c.2355-2279 B.C.) according to legend was placed in a basket of rushes coated with pitch and set on a river. Akki the gardener rescued him and raised him as a son. However, Moses' mother did so because of a law of the king, and she did not abandon him, but sent Miriam to watch after him. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.308-309 for more info.
Q: In Ex 2:2,3 what is unusual about the Hebrew words here?
A: In Exodus 2:2 the adjective in a "fine/healthy child" is the same Hebrew word for "good" found in Genesis 1. In Exodus 2:3 the Hebrew word for "basket" is the same word used for Noah's ark. The Hebrew word for "reeds" (without vowels) is the same word as the Red/Reed Sea Moses and the Israelites crossed.
Q: In Ex 2:3, if God loved Moses, why did He allow Moses to be in such great danger from drowning, exposure, and crocodiles?
A: God sees all, and it is certain that He does not see some things the way we do. God Almighty was powerful enough to ensure that Moses was safe. Even if we are in the midst of the most horrendous flood, the safest place to be is in the center of God's will.
I am sure that experience reinforced to Moses that he was saved for a special mission. Others could see that as God could preserve Moses, God could preserve them also.
Q: In Ex 2:5, why would Pharaoh's daughter want to bathe in the Nile, and what about the crocodiles?
A: Today crocodiles are not found north of Aswan, but in ancient times they were as far north as Memphis. The princess would want to bathe in the Delta region in the north (where the Hebrews lived), to be free of crocodiles. It is likely Pharaoh's daughter would bathe in a small tributary, not necessary the main stream of the Nile. Also, this bathing was more likely for ritual purification than just to get clean. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.309 for more info.
Q: In Ex 2:10, is the name Moses Egyptian or Hebrew?
A: The name Moses is unusual because it is both. In Hebrew the name Moseheh comes from masah, meaning "to draw out." In Egyptian the verb ms/mes, meaning "drawn out, born", or "(such and such a god) is born". Grammatically it is the Egyptian old perfective form according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary p.310. ms is a common ending in Ptahmose, Thutmose, Ahmose, and Ramose. Unger's Bible Dictionary says the Egyptian name ms' can mean "a child or son". See The New International Bible Commentary p.672 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.309 for more info.
Q: In Ex 2:14,15 how did Moses leave Egypt fearing the king's anger, since in Heb 11:27 Moses left Egypt not fearing the King's anger?
A: In Exodus 2:14,15, when he was 40, Moses left Egypt the first time fearing the king's anger. In Exodus 13-14, when he was 80, Moses left Egypt the second time not fearing the king's anger, and Hebrews 11:27 describes the second time. Moses went back a second time to face his fear, but this time He knew he had a mission to fulfill, and that God would protect him.
For us, if we run away in fear from a trial of our faith, sometimes God has us go back later and face the same kind of trial.
Q: In Ex 2:18, how come Moses' father-in-law was named Reul, since he was Jethro in Ex 3:1 and 4:18?
A: My own father-in-law had two unrelated names (in Chinese and English), so I do not think this is unusual. This was probably not thought unusual by Abram/Abraham, Sarai/Sara, Jacob/Israel, Ben-Oni/Benjamin, Zaphenath-Paneah/Joseph, Hoshea/Joshua, Gideon/Jerubbaal, Ammiel/Eliam, Bathsheba/Bath-shua, Azariah/Uzziah, Abijam/Abijah, Jehoahaz son of Josiah/Shallum, Eliakim/Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin/Jeconiah/Coniah, Zedekiah/Mattaniah, Hananiah/Shadrach, Mishael/Meshach, Azariah/Abednego, Daniel/Belteshazzar, Simon/Peter, Joseph/Barnabas, Silas/Silvanus, and Saul/Paul.
People often had different names in different languages, and apparently later acquiring another name in the same language was rather common, too as Gideon/Jerubbaal and Hoshea/Joshua could tell you. One speculation is that this is more common in cultures that do not have surnames. In this case, Walter Kaiser in A History of Israel p.92, referring to the Ugaritic Textbook by Cyrus H. Gordon (1965), says the name Jethro (as well as Hobab) are found in the Ugaritic language. Re'u'el means "friend or shepherd of God".
In other cultures, multiple names were also common. In Egypt, Osiris, Wennofer, and Khent-amentiu were all the names of the same idol. Sebek-khu and Djaa were the same person. In Mesopotamia, Ahiqar is the same person as Aba'enlil-dari, and Tiglath-Pileser is Pul. The Lipit-Ishtar laws call the same god Enlil and Nunamnir, and Hammurapi's Law have Inana/Ishtar/Telitum and Nintu/Mama. The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.313 says that dual names for the same person are well known from South Arabic sources too. In addition to providing these examples, Kenneth Kitchen in Ancient Orient and Old Testament (IVP 1966) p.121-124, mentions that double names were common in Canaan, Old South Arabia, the Hurrians, and the Hittites.
Josephus had an alternate explanation. He speculated that Reuel was his name, and Jethro was his title.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.313 for more info, and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.339-340,323 for a different treatment of this question.
Q: In Ex 2:20, how do you pronounce the name "Zipporah", Moses' wife?
A: Cruden's Concordance pronounces it as ZIP-or-a with the "o" as the only long vowel and the accent on the second syllable. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary has the accent on the first syllable and no long vowels.
Q: In Ex 2:21-22, why should we look up to Moses, who [allegedly] had an illegitimate child?
A: Scripture never said Moses had an illegitimate child. When Exodus 2:21 says that Reul gave Moses Zipporah his daughter, he gave her to Moses as his wife. As proof of this, Exodus 4:20 calls Zipporah his wife, and Exodus 4:25, Zipporah his wife mentions Moses as her "bridegroom of blood".
It is interesting study in psychology though, to see the extent some people will read things into scripture (such as Exodus 2:21-22), while ignoring related scriptures (Exodus 4:20,25) in order to try to find some accusation against God and His Bible.
Q: In Ex 2:23-25, why did God wait until Moses was 80 years old before delivering the Israelites?
A: Scripture does not say, but we can find in scripture hints of some possible reasons.
Moses was apparently strong physically to kill an Egyptian (Exodus 2:12) and drive away multiple shepherds (Exodus 2:17). Perhaps he was impulsive to suddenly take matters into his own hands and kill the Egyptian in Exodus 2:11-12. Perhaps Moses had some things to learn first about waiting on God's leading and doing God's will God's way instead of his own way.
Moses was 80 years old when God called to him out of the burning bush. Perhaps after 40 years of living in the remote desert, he was better at relying on God's power.
Exodus 2:23 says that the king of Egypt (same as the Pharaoh) died. Since the Pharaoh died who tried to kill Moses in Exodus 2:15, Moses could go before the court again.
Throughout their captivity, the Bible never says the Hebrews cried out for help to God, until Exodus 2:23-24. Then and only then was when God brought Moses on stage again. This may sound elementary, but if you have a problem, know you have a problem and need God's help, why would you be reluctant to cry out to God?
Q: In Ex 3:2, why did the angel of the LORD appear in a burning bush?
A: While Scripture does not say, the burning bush gives us some things to ponder.
God's miracle of a bush on fire that did not burn up would have attracted Moses from a distance. In future times, God miraculous working in the Exodus would be like a light shining through the centuries attracting people to God too. When we share the message of God to others, make sure we let them see the light of God's character and works, and not just our own, puny, man-made fires.
Fire in the desert can be a dangerous thing, if you have to travel many miles to get water to put it out. Sand does not work as well. Nevertheless that bush was safe and not burned up. The people of Israel were in perilous situations with the Egyptians wanting to kill the baby boys, and later in the wilderness. Yet in obedience to God they could be kept safe.
On the other hand, they were not all safe in the wilderness. When some disobeyed, some were struck with plague, killed by fire, or swallowed up by the earth. Do not fall for the lie that "God is safe". God is not safe, but God is good. Let us turn to God in faith and obedience, that by His grace we see the kind, merciful side of God, not the stern, wrathful side.
Q: In Ex 3:2, who exactly was the angel of the LORD in the burning bush?
A: The word "angel" can mean messenger. There are three possibilities, and let's examine them all.
A good angelic being created by God: Exodus 3:2 says the "angel of the LORD". However, if it was simply an angel, why would Moses have to take off his shoes, because that was holy ground in Exodus 3:6?
God (Either the Trinity or the Father): The Being said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." By the way, an appearance of God in the Old Testament is called a theophany.
Jesus Christ: The early church understood this as an appearance of Jesus, the Word of God, prior to His incarnation on earth. Jesus could say "I am the God..." and Jesus could also be the messenger, or Word of God the Father. By the way, an appearance specifically of God the Son in the Old Testament is called a Christophany.
Early church writers who said it was Jesus include First Apology of Justin Martyr ch.63 p.184 (c.150 A.D.), Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) Irenaeus Against Heresies book 4 ch.29.2 p.502 (182-188 A.D.), Clement Of Alexandria Exhortation to the Heathen ch.1 p.173 (193-217/220 A.D.), and Tertullian An Answer to the Jews ch.8 p.163 (198-220 A.D.).
Q: In Ex 3:8 and Gen 23, how could Hittites be in Palestine in the time of Moses and Joshua?
A: The Hittites were a wide-ranging people, and a colony settled in the mountains of Palestine. The Indo-European Hittites sacked Babylon in 1590 B.C. Others believe this refers to the Hatti, a non-Indo-European people who were conquered before 2000 B.C. Hatti and Hitti are written the same in Hebrew. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.96-98 and When Critics Ask p.52-53 for more info.
Q: In Ex 3:8,17 and Josh 25:6, why is Canaan called the land of milk and honey?
A: To the pastoral Israelites, it was a land of lush hills and valleys for raising well-fed livestock and flowers for bees.
Q: In Ex 3:10 and Ex 6:10-13, was Moses called by God in Midian, or Egypt?
A: Moses was first called by God in Midian. Moses began to have doubts after he returned to Egypt though, and God reconfirmed Moses' call in Egypt. Sometimes today, people need reconfirmation of what they know is true, too. See When Critics Ask p.69 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.377 for more info.
Q: In Ex 3:10-4:17 why did Moses need a call, and why do we?
A: Before Moses put his life on the line, God confirmed to Moses that He would be doing His will. When other Israelites questioned who Moses was, that he would tell them what was right, the signs of Moses would persuade them that he was genuinely called. When Moses felt the heat of Pharaoh's anger and the demonic miracles of Pharaoh's magicians, Moses need to know for sure that He was right where He was supposed to be.
Sometimes Christians are asked, "why do you think you have a corner on the truth", or who called you to tell others they would be going to Hell if they rejected Christ the Son of God? If we had no call, and no message from God, they might have a point. But all Christians have a general call, given by Jesus Himself in Matthew 28:18-20. Paul echoes that call in 2 Timothy 4:1-2. We all are to shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the word of life in Philippians 2:15-16 and 2 Corinthians 5:18-20. When people question your credentials, it is not that they have a problem with your authority, though they might make it sound like it. Rather, their disagreement is with the words and exclusive claims of Christ. Sometimes our job is not just to persuade people, but to show that there is a difference between what they comfortably believe and what Jesus said. Once they see that difference, then they have a choice to make on whom they will follow.
Some Christians have been given a specific call, to go to a particular ministry, church, or people group. Not every Christian feels a specific call, and not every Christian has the same specific call. It is easy to imagine that your call is to the most important aspect of ministry, and different calls are not as important, but 1 Corinthians 12 shows that to be wrong. Regardless of whether or not you believe you have a specific call though, all of us are responsible to obey the general calls to all believers in the Bible, to share the word, love others, and live lives glorifying God.
Q: In Ex 3:18, was Moses deceptive when He asked Pharaoh to let them take a three-day journey to offer sacrifices?
A: No. Six points to consider, and then a probable reason why.
1. God said He would eventually take the Israelites out permanently (Exodus 3:17), and in due course, God did.
2. It was God's command, not Moses' own initiative, that at this time Moses only ask Pharaoh for the three-day journey, instead of permission to leave Egypt. (Exodus 3:18)
3. God knew for certain, and told Moses, that Pharaoh would not even grant this lesser request. (Exodus 3:19)
4. Hypothetically speaking, if Pharaoh had granted this request, there is no indication that Moses would have deceived Pharaoh and not returned.
5. Of course, if they had gone and returned to Egypt, that does not prevent them from later asking to leave permanently.
6. Being silent on a matter is not lying. Specifically, asking for a lesser request, and being silent about a larger request you will ask later is not lying.
Why would God have Moses initially only ask this lesser request? It was likely not deception but graciousness. God gave Pharaoh and the Egyptians the chance to first agree to a lesser request and gradually get used to the idea of letting the Israelites go. However, at the same time God gave the opportunity, God already knew, with certainty, the result of Pharaoh's free agency. Today, God offers the wonderful opportunity of salvation to all, but God already knows the results of everyone's free agency. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.138-139 and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.51 for more info.
Q: In Ex 3:22 and Ex 12:33-36, how could God tell the Israelites to ask things from the Egyptians?
A: The Hebrew word sa'al is "ask" not "borrow". Three points to consider in the answer.
1. No deception: The Egyptians knew the Israelites were leaving and keeping the items: Exodus 12:31-6. The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.324 says the Hebrew word for plunder, nissaltem, specifically does not suggest stealing, fraud, or deception. It also says that "loaned/borrowed" is frequently thought due to the influence of bad translations in a day when Hebrew was unknown or, as it is now, due to rationalistic prejudice."
2. No coercion: The Egyptians were favorably disposed toward them, and were urging them to leave in Exodus 12:33-36.
3. No injustice: The items were small compensation for infanticide and 400 years of slavery. This third concept, as well as the first two indirectly), were expressed by Tertullian in Five Books Against Marcion book 2 chapter 21 p.313-314 (207/208 A.D.). This answer is also in Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) in Against Heresies book 5 chapter 30 verse 2.
Summary: The Israelites made an open request, and the Egyptians, by now sympathized with them, and granted their request.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.143-144, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.110-111, Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.208-209, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.50, and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.300-302 for more info.
Q: In Ex 3:22 and Ex 12:33-36, how could God [allegedly] teach the Israelites to be dishonest and steal? (an atheist asked this)
A: Have you ever asked to have something? If so, does that make you a thief? - Of course not, that is silly. Likewise:
1. The Egyptians knew the Israelites were leaving. In fact, the Egyptians were asking the Israelites to hurry and leave in Exodus 12:33.
2. The Israelites asked the Egyptians for those things (Exodus 12:35-36)
3. The Egyptians were favorably disposed toward the Israelites and gave (not loaned) them those things. (Exodus 3:22; 21:36).
As mentioned in the previous answer, The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.324 says the Hebrew word for plunder, nissaltem, specifically does not suggest stealing, fraud, or deception.
Q: In Ex 4, what can we learn from Moses' response to God's call?
A: God first showed Moses His wondrous power (Ex 3:2), then patience to work through Moses' faithless excuses (Ex 4:1-13), and finally His anger burned against Moses. We have a responsibility to obey God's call, and not disobey through fear, rebelliousness, or belief in our own inadequacy. Hopefully you do not get to the point of getting God angry before you listen to His call.
When Moses said he was inadequate, we can see two truths and a faithless lie.
1. Moses told the factual truths that people would be unlikely to want to believe an unknown outsider, and that he was slow of speech.
2. Moses truthfully knew that in his natural self he was not up to successfully achieving the task.
3. Moses believed a faithless lie, that God was not great enough to work His will through Moses' inadequacy. I pray that if you have this lie in your heart that you would uncover it, confess this sin to God, and decide to believe the greatness of God is greater than even your worst weaknesses.
Q: In Ex 4:3-5, how can a lifeless rod become a snake?
A: This is no mere optical illusion, for in Exodus 7:12 the snake could swallow. God is greater than natural physical and biological laws, not the other way around. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.113 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.113 for more info.
Q: In Ex 4:11, does God not only allow, but also make people mute, deaf, and blind?
A: Like it or not, God consciously permits every evil and handicap that occurs. In addition, many times God has a special purpose for making people a certain way. So many mighty miracles were done through Moses, yet God choose both to make him with a speech impediment (Exodus 4:10-13, 6:12,30) and not to remove it. Likewise, so many miracles were done through Paul, yet in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, God chose not to remove Paul's thorn.
Q: In Ex 4:18, why was the name "Jethro" spelled different ways?
A: Many languages, including Arabic, have a different ending for a noun depending on how it is used in the sentence. The name Jethro was transliterated into Hebrew in one place with one ending, and a different place with another ending. This was also done with Geshem/Gashmu the Arab in Nehemiah 2:19; 6:1-2,6. What is especially interesting about Exodus 4:18 is that both endings are present in the same verse. Apparently the writers were not too picky about creating consistent spellings of names, and we should not be either. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.333 for more info.
Q: In Ex 4:18, why did Moses say he wanted to go to Egypt "to see if they were still there?"
A: Whether his reasons were right or wrong, Moses chose to be vague and hide his main reason to return to Egypt. The Bible does not defend Moses' secretiveness, it only records it.
Q: In Ex 4:22, how was Israel God's firstborn?
A: A firstborn had special rights, privileges, and responsibilities. Israel was God's chosen people, through Him God's word would spread throughout the earth. Israel had the following privileges:
Adopted as sons (Romans 9:4)
Entrusted with the very words of God (Romans 3:2), the receiving of the law (Romans 9:4)
The patriarchs (Romans 9:5)
The human ancestry of Christ (Romans 9:5).
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.52 for more info.
Q: In Ex 4:24, why did God almost kill Moses?
A: Four points to consider in the answer:
Situation: While God knew Moses would not die, things appeared desperate to Moses and Zipporah.
Cause: It does not say how Moses was near death, perhaps by disease, but they knew God not only allowed this, but deliberately caused this.
Discipline: Zipporah and Moses had not followed in the covenant of circumcision with Abraham, and God disciplined them until they did or Moses was brought near death.
Warning: As Moses discovered, nobody can become so great, they do not have to obey God anymore.
See also Hard Sayings of the Bible p.139-140, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.111, When Critics Ask p.66-67, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.52 for more info.
Q: In Ex 4:25 (KJV), what does a "bloody husband" mean?
A: This is better translated "a bridegroom of blood". 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.52 sees that perhaps Moses did not circumcise his son due to opposition from his wife Zipporah, and it was finally Zipporah who circumcised him.
Q: In Ex 4:30, should people believe because of signs?
A: People should not believe in God just because of signs. Signs have a proper place in confirming belief in God's messengers. These signs did not serve to prove the existence of God to these people; rather, the signs served to verify that Moses was from the Living God.
Q: In Ex 4:31 and Ex 6:9, did the people believe Moses, or not?
A: They initially believed in Moses in Exodus 4:31, but they later had doubts in Exodus 6:9 after Pharaoh increased their workload. See When Critics Ask p.69 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.344 for more info.
Q: In Ex 5:2, who was the Pharaoh of Egypt and when was the Exodus?
A: The Pharaoh who died here was probably Thutmose III. His chief queen was Hatshepsut Meritre (different from his mother, the famous Hatshepsut). The Exodus took place around 1446/1445 B.C. The reason for this 1446/1445 date is 1 Kings 6:1, which says that Solomon began to construct the Temple 480 years after Israelites came out of Egypt, and archaeologists are confident this would be 966 B.C..
As a side note, the historian Eusebius of Caesarea (318-339/340 A.D.) says the name of the Pharaoh's daughter who drew Moses out of the water was Merris in Praeparatio Evangelica 9.27. Josephus says Thermuthis in Antiquities of the Jews 2 224 (9.5), and the Book of Jubilees 47:5 says her name was Tharmuth. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.310 for more info.
This would be under either Thutmose III, or more probably, under Pharaoh Amenhotep II (1450/20-1401/1385 B.C.). His chief queen was named Tia. Other Christians used to think the Exodus took place much later under Rameses II (1290-1224 B.C.). The 1446/1445 B.C. date fits because:
1. 1 Kings 6:1 says 480 years before Solomon's Temple.
2. Under Amenhotep II, Semites were forced to make bricks.
3. Dream Stela of Thutmose IV. See the discussion on Exodus 12:29.
4. Judges 11:26 says 300 years before Jephthah.
5. Hazor was not inhabited after 13th century.
6. Tell el-Amarna tablets 1400-1370 B.C. mention the feared "Habiru" or "Abiru" running amok. It mentions that the cities of Arad, Gezer, Ashkelon, and Lachish were already captured.
7. Clement of Alexandria, in The Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 1 ch.2, mentions 450 years from the time of Joshua to David.
8. The name Rameses was used before the 13th century. See CHRONOLOGICAL AND BACKGROUND CHARTS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT p.29-30 and When Critics Ask p.67-68. Ramose was the name of a nobleman in the time of Amenhotep III, according to Inerrancy p.64. See also 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.53 for more info.
The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.327 says "To have the Exodus take place then (1449 B.C.) is unthinkable." However, carbon-14 dating has dated the destruction of Jericho at about 1410 B.C.. The reigning Pharaoh 40 years before that would be Thutmose III.
Q: In Ex 5:2, was this the same Pharaoh as the one in Ex 15?
A: According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.115-116, it was not the same one. The Pharaoh of Exodus 1, probably Thutmose III, wanted to either exterminate or reduce the population of the Israelites. The Pharaoh of the Exodus, probably Amenhotep II 1450/1420-1401/1385, focused on using them as slaves. Remember, there was an 80-year gap between Exodus 1 and Exodus 5.
Q: In Ex 5:3, Ex 8:26-27, and Ex 10:26, was Moses just making up reasons to have to leave?
A: Scripture does not say whether God told Moses to give Pharaoh these reasons for leaving, or if Moses said them on his own initiative. If it was the latter, note that scripture is silent on whether Moses said everything correctly.
Q: In Ex 5:6, why did they use straw to make bricks?
A: Straw gave the bricks more tensile strength, because the clay clinging to the straw would be less likely to apart.
Q: In Ex 5:6-7, how did the Israelites cope with having to gather their own straw?
A: First you must understand that straw was important to make strong bricks, because it acted as a binder to reduce bricks just crumbling away. Also while bricks were more common in Mesopotamia than in Egypt, some cities of Egypt such as Pithom were built with brick. The tomb of an Egyptian noble named Rekhmere / Rek-mi-Re at Thebes in the 15th Century B.C. has a painting of slaves making bricks. A picture of this is in The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.174.
The ruins at Pithom show bricks with straw at the lowest level, bricks with only stubble at the intermediate level, and bricks with no fibrous material at the top level. Bricks varied from 13 by 13 by 3 1/2 inches (33 by 33 by 9 cm) to 16 by 8 by 6 inches (41 by 20 by 15 cm).
See also Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.30, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.274-275, the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.458-459 and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.52-53 for more info.
Q: In Ex 6:1, why was God's mighty hand specifically mentioned here?
A: The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.341-342 has an interesting speculation here. At this time, Egyptian Pharaohs routinely used the term "possessor of [mighty] arm" as a part of their titles. Exodus 6:1 emphasized that their proud arms were nothing compared to God's arm.
Q: In Ex 6:3 and other passages, what are some of the problems with the JEPD theory?
A: The JEPD theory was first thought up in the nineteenth century prior to scholars being able to prove common people could write in the time of Moses. It says the first five (or sometimes six) books of the Bible were edited together from four previous sources, called J (for Jehovah), E (for Elohim), P (for Priestly), and D (for Deuteronomy).
There are many problems with the JEPD theory, but here are two.
1. Liberal scholars disagree on which verses belong to J, E, P, and D.
2. This theory hinges on use of different names for God in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. But other works do the same thing. In the book of Hebrews, Jesus and Christ are not mentioned in chapter 1, only "Son". Christ and Jesus are mentioned frequently after that though. Yet I have never heard of anyone doubting the unity of the book of Hebrews. The Book of Jonah only uses the divine name, except when the sailors are speaking up through Jonah 3:4. After that the narrative uses Elohim to refer to the True God also.
3. Many verses must be split in the middle. According to Evidence that Demands a Verdict volume II p.134, the Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible version of the JEPD theory splits the following verses into two or more sources.
Gen 2:4; 7:16,17; 8:2,3,13; 10:1; 12:4; 13:11,12; 16:1; 19:30; 21:1,2,6; 25:11,26; 31:18; 32:13; 33:18; 35:22; 37:25,28; 41:46; 42:28; 45:1,5; 46:1; 47:5,6,27; 48:9,10; 49:1,28
Exodus 1:20; 2:23; 3:4; 4:20; 7:15,17,20,21; 8:15; 9:23,24,35; 10:1,13,15; 12:27; 13:3; 14:9,19,20,21,27; 15:21,22,25; 15:13,15; 17:1,2,7; 19:2,3,9,11,13; 24:12,15,18; 25:18; 31:18; 32:8,34,35; 33:5,19; 34:1,11,14
Numbers 13:17,26; 14:1; 16:1,2,26,27; 20:22.
(Deuteronomy is not mentioned because it is considered entirely "D".)
Just how many verses would need to be split in the middle by this theory, before this theory is no longer tenable? Ninety-one verses is probably too many.
Q: Prior to Ex 6:3, why do 197 passages use the name Yahweh, since Ex 6:3 says God did not reveal Himself by that name to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
A: First what is not the answer, and then the answer.
a) True facts, which are not a part of the answer.
a1. Since Moses wrote Genesis in his time, not Jacob's, Moses could use whatever name he wished. For example, people correctly write that Columbus discovered America, even though Columbus did not know the name "America." See When Critics Ask p.68-69 for more info. This alone explains all but 53 places, which are direct quotes or similar.
a2. Comparison of the Septuagint and Masoretic text shows scribes were somewhat free in changing names for God. Julius Wellhausen said this was the biggest weakness of his own documentary hypothesis.
a3. God's name was known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but God was not primarily known as Yahweh. God was revealing a meaning to Moses that God did not reveal to the three men before him.
b) The answer is within Exodus 6:3 itself.
b1. Exodus 6:3 does not say revealed "before Moses' time". It only says, "to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob".
(This eliminates 5 of the 53 passages.)
b2. Exodus does not say they were unaware of God's divine name. It only says, "I appeared ... but by my name Yahweh I never made myself known to them." While God spoke or appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at least (8, 1, 6) 15 times, God never appeared to these men in a special way associated with His divine name as God appeared to Moses. In fact, when Jacob asked for a name after wrestling in Genesis 32:29, Jacob pointedly was not answered.
See also the next question and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.421 for more info.
Q: In Ex 6:3, since God did not personally revealed Himself as Yahweh to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, what about where God called Himself Yahweh in the following? Gen 15:7 "I am Yahweh who brought you out of Ur" Gen 18:14 "Is anything too hard for Yahweh?" Gen 28:13 "I am Yahweh, the God of your father..."
A: These are probably later scribal changes. In all three cases in the Greek Septuagint, the word God (theos) is used, not the Greek word for "I Am" in Exodus 3:14 (o W v), or the Greek word in Exodus 6:3 (kurios). See also the previous question.
Q: In Ex 6:16-20, how could the Israelites be in Egypt for 430 years, since there were only three generations mentioned between Levi and Moses?
A: There were more than three generations, as genealogies often had gaps, since child also means descendant, and father also means ancestor. See When Critics Ask p.69-70, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.140-142, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.111-112, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.53-54 for more info.
Q: In Ex 6:20, why did Amram marry Jochebed his aunt, since this is forbidden in Leviticus 18:11?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
1. Leviticus was not written yet, so they could not be held accountable for a future law.
2. Also, the Bible is not condoning this, but honestly reporting what happened.
Q: In Ex 6:20, were Jochebed and Amram, Levi's grandson, Moses' parents?
A: Not necessarily, since son can mean descendant, and Jochebed was not mentioned by name in Exodus 2:1-9. Since Kohath had 8,600 male descendants in Moses time (Numbers 3:28), it is unlikely Amram, Kohath's son, was Amram, Moses' father. See When Critics Ask p.69-70, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.111, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.117, 247, and The NIV Study Bible p.94, for the same explanation.
Q: In Ex 6:26-27, did Moses write this book, since it was written about Moses in third person?
A: There is no reason to doubt that Moses wrote this. Writing in the third person was not unusual in ancient literature. Other examples include the following:
1. Julius Caesar writing Gallic Wars.
2. Julius Caesar writing Civil Wars.
3. Xenophon writing Anabasis.
4. Josephus writing Wars of the Jews.
5. The apostle John writing the Gospel of John.
See the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.112-113 and When Critics Ask p.70-71 for more info.
Q: In Ex 7-11, why did God send the plagues on the Egyptians first, instead of just influencing the Egyptians to let them go?
A: Exodus 9:16 (and Romans 9:17) say that God did this to show His power and that His name would be proclaimed throughout the earth. Six points to consider.
a) God is sovereign and has the "right" to choose whatever means He wishes.
b) God was not unjust towards the Egyptians, who had 400 years of the "cultural norm" of enslaving the Hebrews.
c) Many times people under a leader suffer the consequences of the decisions of their leaders.
d) God gave them the opportunity to choose to let their slaves go. However, they choose economic advantages of enslaving others over treating others how they would want to be treated.
e) This was a judgment not just on Egypt, but on the Egyptian gods. It showed both that those gods were false, and that He was the only True God with power.
f) God's name was glorified over all the earth. In fact, Egyptians today look to Moses as a hero and prophet of God.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.54 for more info.
Q: In Ex 7:1, how could Moses be as God to Pharaoh?
A: This simile does not say Moses was divine, but all communication and interaction Pharaoh had with the true God would be through Moses, assisted by Aaron as a prophet. See also 2 Corinthians 3:20, where we are epistles (letters) from God to others. As one lady said, "we may be the only Bibles some people ever read."
Q: In Ex 7:11,22 and Ex 8:7, how could Pharaoh's magicians display magic power?
A: As a side note, a magic trick done today, that uses three cups covering balls, was practiced in ancient Egypt. While people can fool others with clever, non-supernatural tricks, Satan has miraculous power as 2 Thessalonians 2:9 and Revelation 13:13 show. These magicians likely were doing things through Satan's power. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.113, Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.102-104, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.142, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.54 for more info. See When Cultists Ask p.31-32 and When Critics Ask p.71-72 for more info and an informative chart comparing divine miracles with Satanic signs.
Q: In Ex 7:17-22, how could water turn to blood?
A: While the Egyptians likely were familiar with red sediment from Ethiopia, red dirt would not affect the water in jars and stone buckets. There are two views. Since nothing is impossible with God, it is pointless to ask which way God "had" to do it. Rather, you might ask which view has the best supporting evidence for how God chose to do it.
1. The blood is literal blood.
2. The water was red, such as is caused toxic algae that cause the "red tide" seen in various oceans and in the Nile. The algae kill the fish and make the water undrinkable.
Q: In Ex 7:19 and Ex 8:16, 24 did the plagues come on "all of" and "throughout" Egypt, or did they bypass Goshen in Ex 8:20,22?
A: Exodus 9:6 answer this by showing when they said all Egypt, it was implied that Goshen was excluded. See When Critics Ask p.72-73 for more info.
Q: In Ex 7:20, how could the magicians turn some water to blood, since Moses had turned the water in the river to blood already?
A: Exodus 7:20 only says the water in the river before Pharaoh was seen to turn to blood immediately. The other water could have changed a short time later.
Sometimes, when Satan knows God's timing, he can try to take credit for what God does. See the discussion on Exodus 12:29 or another possible example. See When Critics Ask p.73 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.434-435 for a different view, that "all" meant the greater part of the water.
Q: In Ex 7:22 and Ex 4:21, who hardened Pharaoh's heart?
A: Pharaoh was the first to do so, and God hardened it also. These verses say who hardened his heart:
The Lord will harden: Exodus 4:21
Pharaoh hardened his own heart Exodus 8:15,32: Exodus 9:34; 1 Samuel 6:6.
It grew hard (i.e. Pharaoh's heart itself grew hard): Exodus 7:13-14,22; 8:19; 9:7; 9:35
The Lord hardened it: Exodus 9:12; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:4-5,17
In summary, Christians such as Clement of Rome, writing in 1 Clement ch.51, p.20 (97/98 A.D.), did not view this as an either or situation, but both were involved.
A similar situation is in Romans 1:21-32, where God gave unbelieving depraved people over to greater depravity. God even hardened Israel's heart in Isaiah 63:17. When Critics Ask p.65 has a good explanation for hardening in general. See also Hard Sayings of the Bible p.142-143, Difficulties in the Bible p.61-66, The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.161-162, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.51-52, and the discussion on Romans 9:18 for more info.
As a side note, God also hardened the hearts of the Canaanites in Joshua 11:20 and Sihon, King of Heshbon in Deuteronomy 2:30/
Q: In Ex 8:10, why did Pharaoh ask Moses to remove the frogs tomorrow and not today?
A: Perhaps because the day was late, but even so they could have been removed immediately. This might show the extent to which Pharaoh's heart was hard. He wanted to be sure the frogs were not already going away by the time he talked with Moses.
Q: In Ex 8:16-19, what were these "gnats"?
A: These might have been what we today call "gnats", which are bothersome but do not bite. Alternately, they might very well have been mosquitoes. People are not sure of the precise meaning of the Hebrew word kinnim, because as The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.122, points out, this is the only place in the Bible this word is used.
Q: In Ex 8:19, Ex 31:18, Dt 9:10, Ps 8:3, and so forth, does God have a finger?
A: No. This is an anthropomorphic expression to indicate God's power. As a side note, the linguistic term for using a portion of something to denote the entire thing is a figure of speech called a synecdoche. For more info, see the discussion on Ps 91:4, When Critics Ask p.85, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.153-154, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.62. For a similar example in another religion, Islam, the Bukhari Hadith vol.9 book 93 ch.26 no.543 p.409 mentions Allah's finger.
Q: In Ex 8:19, Ex 31:18, Dt 9:10, Ps 8:3, and so forth, since it was wrong to make any images of God, why does the Bible use anthropomorphisms of God, such as having hands, etc.? (Many years ago John L. MacKenzie said this.)
A: The difference between the two is the difference between communication and worship. God choose to communicate in ways people could understand, including using poetry, and anthropomorphic expressions, such as "His right hand".
However, God is very specific about not wanting us to make images or draw pictures for the purposes of worship or veneration of God.
Q: In Ex 8:20-32, what kind of flies were these?
A: There are a couple of theories. According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.122-123, these might have been what are called "dog flies" which have painful bites. These might have represented the Egyptian god Re. Alternately, they might be Ichneuman flies, who represented the god Uatchit. The flies might have been attracted to the decaying frogs.
Q: In Ex 9:4, Ex 11:23, and Ex 12:13, how could the plagues not affect the Israelites as they affected the Egyptians?
A: God has power to do as He pleases. Also in Exodus 15:26, if the Israelites obeyed Him, God promised they would not have those diseases in the future either, in Exodus 15:26. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.114-115 for more info.
Q: In Ex 9:6,19-20, since all the cattle and horses died, how did the horses survive in Ex 14:9?
A: In Exodus 9:6, all refers to either cattle throughout all of Egypt, or all of the cattle in the fields of Egypt, or both. In context, the closeness of Exodus 9:19-20 to Exodus 9:6 makes it obvious the writer did not intend this to be understood as every single animal, inside or outside, but the animals in the field. See When Critics Ask p.73-74 and Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.145-146 for more info.
Q: In Ex 9:6,19-20, what do we know about cattle-raising in Egypt?
A: Egyptian cattle were usually kept in stables from May through December during the Nile flooding when the pastures were waterlogged. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.357 says it is likely this plague occurred in January, when some cattle were turned out to pasture. Because the flooding left the Delta later than the rest of Egypt, the cattle would have been in the stables later. If the cattle died of hoof and mouth disease because of the decaying frogs, this would mainly affect the cattle that were in the field.
Q: In Ex 9:9-10 (KJV), what are "blains"?
A: This King James Version expression means "boils" or "festering sores".
Q: In Ex 9:16; Ex 11:9, did God raise up Pharaoh just to punish him?
A: No, scripture does not say this. It says God raised up Pharaoh, with his stubborn wickedness, to demonstrate God's ability to bring the Israelites out of bondage. In addition to using evil to demonstrate to others His power and judgment, God also allows evil the power to advance, for a time, and God judges the fruit that is produced.
Q: In Ex 9:19 and Ex 9:27, how could Moses travel outside to see Pharaoh during the destructive plague of hail?
A: Obviously, the hail was not everywhere at all times. Even in a hurricane, it is calm in the eye of the storm. Moses might have gone to Pharaoh during a temporary lull over part of Egypt. Alternately, God might have protected Moses as he went to Pharaoh. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.146-147 for more info.
Q: In Ex 9:20, Isa 28:5, Ezek 4:9, what kind of food did farmers grow back then?
A: People's diet back then was very different from industrialized societies today, with more variety of natural foods. They did not have corn (maize) or potatoes in the Old World, because those came from the Americas. They had wheat and rye as we do today, but they grew significant amounts of other, ancient grains that we only grow as specialties today. For example, einkorn, emmer, and spelt are sometimes called "covered wheats"; they do not thresh as well as wheat. Rye, sorghum, and millet are not a nutritious as wheat, though sorghum and millet are still used in Africa. Kamut grain, which tastes delicious, was also grown. Other ancient grains are amaranth and quinoa. They did not have another grain, triticale, a cross between wheat and rye, because it was first grown in Scotland in 1875. For more info see http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1996/V3-156.html#EINKORNOrigin.
For sweeteners, besides sugar beets in Europe, and sugar cane far away in tropical countries, people basically just had honey. Honey has a large number of different chemicals in it, and every batch of wild honey is a little different because it depends on the flowers the bees visited. Someone once said about honey, that if a new food today had thousands of unknown substances, and had different chemicals in it every time it was made, there would be no way it would get the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration!
Q: In Ex 9:23, how can there be fire mixed with hail?
A: Naturally, this happens all the time in severe storms of hail accompanied by lightning and thunder. This probably is what the fire was based on Exodus 9:29. However, God could do it any way He wanted.
Q: In Ex 9:30, how are people supposed to fear God?
A: We do not fear God in the same way as one might fear an unjust, wicked person. However, we are to fear God in two ways.
1. Unbelievers should fear God's judgment and wrath.
2. Fear also means respect. All should respect God who created us, the One who is the purpose of our existence, and the One who will judge all and grant people eternal life or condemn them to eternal doom in Hell, the cosmic trash dump. Some non-Christians might feel that God fails to conform to what they want a god to be. The real God conforms to His own character, but perhaps He does not even care about conforming to your standards. See also the answer for Exodus 20:20.
Q: In Ex 10:21-23, how could there be darkness over just Egypt?
A: God made the light, and He can control it. Whether this was a temporary change in sun, natural law, or a dark cloud, volcanic ash, other obstruction, or none of the above, God can work as He wants.
Q: In Ex 10:21-33, is there any archaeological evidence for darkness over Egypt?
A: Maybe. The Biblical Archaeology Review January / February 1991 p.50 says,
"An Egyptian text dated after the end of the XVIIIth Dynasty (c.1350 B.C.) describes a calamity as follows:
'The sun is covered and does not shine to the sight of men. Life is no longer possible when the sun is concealed behind the clouds. Ra [the god] has turned his face from mankind. If only it would shine even for one hour! No one knows when it is midday. One's shadow is not discernible. The sun in the heavens resembles the moon....'"
This could refer to the darkness over the land, but it would not refer to the eruption of the volcano on the Island of Thera, as that happened about 200 years earlier.
Q: In Ex 10:29, Moses says he will never appear before Pharaoh again. Yet, Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron to himself in Exodus 11:31. How can this be? Was Moses wrong in Exodus 10:29 and if so, was it God who told him to say this, or was that his own initiative?
A: In Exodus 10:29, Pharaoh was obviously getting tired of seeing Moses, and so Moses' intention was that he would never come before Pharaoh again. When Pharaoh commanded him to come, Moses had to come though. Let's look at this three ways:
a) If this were a prophecy, then this was not true.
b) If this declared Moses' intention, then this was true; Moses did not come of his own initiative; he was called.
c) If this was a promise, then this human (not divine) promise was overridden by having to follow Pharaoh's command.
In short, Moses was not lying or being deceitful, but Moses clearly expected that he would not come before Pharaoh again and Moses was wrong on this.
An important point to see is that prophets were humans, and they could say and do things wrong too. The classic example is Nathan telling David he could build the temple and then God correcting Nathan in 2 Sam 7:3-17. A prophet of God is only without error when he is speaking as a prophet, i.e. "thus saith the Lord", or equivalent. When Moses lost his temper and struck the rock multiple times and called the Israelites rebels, he undoubtedly regretted those words later.
Q: In Ex 11:3 and Num 12:3, did Moses write himself that he was highly regarded and humble?
A: There are three different views:
a) Moses was matter-of-factly providing background about his reputation. See When Critics Ask p.102-103 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.248 for more info.
b) As this was being written down by a scribe for Moses, the scribe, under divine inspiration, added this.
c) This was a later scribal addition to the text, which God allowed to be preserved through the ages. See also the discussion on Numbers 12:3.
Q: In Ex 11:5-12:30, apart from the Bible, is there any evidence of any plagues occurring in Egypt during this time?
A: Perhaps so. David M. Rohl in Pharaoh's and Kings : A Biblical Quest (1995) p.278-279, mentions that there was evidence of a great disaster with a great number of hastily buried bodies. However, the large numbers of deaths does not prove or disprove that this was due to a sudden event overnight. This was discovered by Manfred Bietak at Tell ed-Daba. This is in Avaris and Pramesse: Archaeological Exploration of the Eastern Nile Delta (London). 1979 p.295.
In addition, Josephus quotes Manetho about that "a blast of God smote us." However, this is in the context of invaders from the east invading Egypt, so it could be an unrelated event, or there could have been invaders of Egypt during Moses' time period about which that Exodus was silent.
Q: In Ex 12:19 does "cut off from Israel" mean being expelled from the community or possibly death, or executed?
A: Christian scholars disagree as The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.375 says.
Expulsion: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.128. The Believer's Bible Commentary p.98 says, "that is, excluded from the camp and its privileges. In some contexts, the expression "cut off" means condemned to death." Most commentators would say it means death.
Q: In Ex 12:29, how could an [allegedly] all-loving God, who is as loving as possible, kill the firstborn Egyptians?
A: No verse in the Bible says that God is all-loving, and no verse says God is as loving as possible. God's love is balanced by His other attributes. As to how the God of the Bible could kill the firstborn Egyptians, see the answer to the next question.
Q: In Ex 12:29-30, why was God [allegedly] unjust to kill all the Egyptian firstborn instead of Pharaoh himself, since Pharaoh sinned?
A: God was not unjust. Three points to consider in the answer.
All the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites. Pharaoh himself did not whip the slaves, the Egyptian taskmasters did. For 400 years Egyptian society thought it normal to benefit from the Hebrew slaves.
People often bear the consequences of the actions of others. Cocaine-addict mothers give birth to babies with smaller brains, addicted to cocaine. Millions died because of the murderous madness of Hitler and others. These things happen in a fallen, unjust world. See the next point though.
Complete justice is delayed until judgment day. For example, in Luke 13:1-5 Jesus was told of Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus said that this did not happen because they were worse than other Galileans, but that if you do not repent you also will perish. Some are punished more severely than others for the same things in this life. However, on Judgment Day, God will judge with justice and set everything right.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.56 for more info.
Q: In Ex 12:29, what archaeological evidence indicates that Pharaoh's son died right before the Exodus?
A: In the Dream Stela of Thutmose IV (1421-1410 B.C.) found between the forepaws of the Sphinx of Giza, the god Harmakhis promised Thutmose special help to become the next Pharaoh in return for removing the sand that had built up against the Sphinx. He likely would not have needed special help if he were the first in the succession of his father Amenhotep II (1450/1447-1401/1385). See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.115-116 for more info.
Walter Kaiser in A History of Israel p.90 says that the eldest brother of Thutmose IV was named Webensenu. Webensu was given a burial in the royal tomb, and he probably was the one who died during the tenth plague. The second son of Amenhotep II was Khaemwaset, who married before he died. As Kaiser says, "Thus, while the Sphinx Stele cannot be taken as direct proof of the death of the firstborn, enough evidence has been brought to light by Egyptologists to support the early date of the Exodus and the fact that indeed Thutmose IV did not expect to succeed his father to the throne."
Q: In Ex 12:29-30, how could a just and loving God kill the firstborn Egyptians when they had no control over Pharaoh's decision?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. The deaths do not prove that either the Egyptians or their animals were guilty for Pharaoh's decision.
2. Against the infanticide and oppression, the people of Egypt apparently did not stand up or do anything until Exodus 12:33. Even in Exodus 14:5, Egyptian people wanted the Israelites back as slaves.
3. It is important to stand up, because people, including children, often suffer disproportionate consequences because of decisions of political leaders.
4. Much is unfair in this life. But there is a coming day, Judgment Day, when everything will be made fair. God is just, and the rich and poor, oppressors and oppressed, the Nazis, Cambodians, Sudanese, and everyone else will receive complete fairness at the end of time. — though who can say all they want is fairness, without mercy?
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.113-114 and When Critics Ask p.74-75 for other answers.
Q: In Ex 12:30, how could there not be a house without someone dead, since the Israelites were spared?
A: In context, this refers to houses in Egypt where the Passover was not celebrated.
Q: In Ex 12:35 (KJV), why did God command the Israelites to "borrow" from the Egyptians when they would never return the items?
A: This Hebrew word can be translated as "ask" (without intending to return), and was understood and translated that way in the Septuagint.
As to why the Israelites asked for and took the items of the Egyptians, see the discussion on Exodus 3:22 for the answer.
Q: In Ex 13, what do the four Passover cups represent?
A: While Passover was instituted in the Book of Exodus, the different cups offered in Passover are not in the Old Testament, but were a part of Jewish tradition that started during Roman times. They are documented in the Talmud (Pesachim 10:1)
There were apparently different symbolism, but here is one: the different cups represented different kinds of redemption.
The 1st cup was for the kiddush blessing said at the start of the Passover. This cup is to celebrate God taking them out of Egypt.
The 2nd was before the main meal to celebrate deliverance from Egyptian slavery.
The 3rd cup was drunk after the "Grace After Meals" to celebrate the demonstration of God's power.
The 4th cup was at the conclusion of the Hallel to celebrate them becoming a nation.
Some had a 5th cup, the "Cup of Elijah", which was not drunk.
Some of this information came from a Jewish site: http://2-passover.tripod.com/thefourcupsofwineforpassover.htm.
Q: In Ex 13:2, 13 did the Israelites have to sanctify their firstborn children (sons and daughters), or just the firstborn sons as Ex 22:29 says?
A: Hebrew and modern translations all say sons:
Exodus 13:2 "the one opening every womb among the sons of Israel"
Exodus 13:13 "every firstborn of men among your sons"
The older, King James version, just said firstborn.
Q: In Ex 13:4, was the first month Abib, or was it Nisan as in Nehemiah 2:1?
A: At that time (1445 B.C.) the Israelites called in Abib. Centuries later, (c.500 B.C.) under the Persians it was called Nisan. Iranians (Persians) of today, of all religions have a New Years celebration called Nowruz.
Q: In Ex 13:19, does preserving Joseph's bones imply that Christians should venerate sacred relics, as some Catholics say?
A: No. Every time bones were preserved for burial does not mean they were venerated. There is no evidence in the Bible that Joseph's bones, or anybody else's for that matter were held as sacred objects of worship.
The second commandment is not to have any images before God. Throughout the Middle Ages, various Catholics attempted to categorize sins, with the "seven deadly sins" being the most famous. The interesting thing about these various lists, is that the authors of all of them forgot about the second commandment.
See When Cultists Ask p.32-33 for more info.
Q: In Ex 13:21-22; Ex 14:19-20; Ex 40:38, how could God follow Israel as a cloud and pillar of fire?
A: Since God had already appeared as three visitors to Abram and a fire in a bush to Moses, appearing as a cloud or a pillar of file would not be at all difficult to God. It probably is more difficult for us to break our molds of what we think God has to do, than it is for God to appear as something.
Q: In Ex 14:6-7, why did Pharaoh pursue all the Israelites with only 600 chariots?
A: While chariots were awesome weapons of war in ancient times, and most of the Israelites did not have weapons, the answer is that Exodus 14:7 says that Pharaoh took 600 of the best chariots, and all the other chariots, and Exodus 14:9 says and the army. Exodus 15:4 also mentions Pharaoh's chariots and his army.
Q: In Ex 14:6-7, what were Egyptian chariots like at that time?
A: Archaeologists tell us chariots in northern Mesopotamia were like carts with three or four people in them, and up to four donkeys or horses. Egyptians had some chariots like these, until the Hyksos conquered most of Egypt, after 1586 B.C. with their superior chariots. After this time, Egyptian chariots were very light, with two horses and two men. One man was the chariot driver and the other was the archer. The wheels were large, with usually six spokes. There were no spikes on the chariot axles until Persian times. Chariots were important weapons of war on dry flat ground, but they were not very useful on mountains or on wet, soggy ground.
See the New Bible Dictionary (Eerdmans' 1962) p.204-206 for more info.
Q: In Ex 14:9-28 and Josh 24:6, how did the Pharaoh have "horsemen", since armies at that time did not have cavalry?
A: As the NIV footnote says, these may refer to "charioteers", not cavalry. When this word is used, it is always in contrast to the regular army.
Q: In Ex 14:14, since God fought for the Israelites then, why did God not always fight for the Israelites later?
A: God was not under obligation to always fight for the Israelites. He could fight for them and refrain from fighting for them whenever He wanted to do so. Often, it appears God let them fight their own battles.
Q: In Ex 14:17; 15:21, how does drowning the Egyptians exalt God and give Him glory?
A: It showed in the eyes of the Israelites that God had the power to save them even from a mighty army, and that God would watch over them.
Q: In Ex 14:17; 15:21, why was God so unjust to drown the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, when the soldiers were just obeying orders?
A: There is an important lesson here: soldiers should not be obeying orders that are evil. Back then, when the Egyptian soldiers were ordered to kill the peaceful worshippers of God, they were liable for judgment for their "evil obedience". Today when Muslim "holy warriors" are ordered to kill peaceful worshippers of God just because they are Christians, they too are liable to God's judgment of hellfire.
Q: In Ex 14:18, did the Israelites cross the "Red" Sea, or the very shallow "Reed" Sea?
A: The Hebrew is Yam Suph, and it could be either one; we do not know exactly where they crossed. When Critics Ask p.75-76 suggests it might be Lake Ballah, which was a shallow "sea" 10-15 miles (16-24 km) wide. (Lake Ballah was destroyed when the Suez Canal was built.)
Even the Sea of Reeds might not have been shallow back then. Exodus 14:22 says the waters formed a "wall" on both sides, so there must have been considerable water, there. If the sea they crossed was shallow, and the Israelites crossed it, then as one person quipped, it would be much more of a miracle if they had crossed the shallow Reed Sea, to drown all those horses and charioteers in just inches of water.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.144-145 for more info.
Q: In Ex 14:21-29, how could God part the Sea?
A: The Almighty could do it any way He wanted. Exodus 14:21 records a strong east wind, but there could be other factors too.
Q: In Ex 14:21-29, could the giant volcanic eruption of Thera have caused the parting of the Red Sea?
A: This view was advocated by the book The Bible as History and by Hans Goedicke. This theory looked popular at one time, because the volcano's eruption of the Island of Thera seemed to be about 1500 B.C., which was close to Goedicke's view that the Exodus took place at 1477 B.C. (The Exodus is now believed to have occurred 1445 B.C.) However, study of the calibrated radiocarbon dating of tree rings of both oaks in Ireland and bristlecone pine in California independently indicate a worldwide, tree-stunting cooling about 1628 B.C. +/- 20 years. Dating of Greenland ice sheets indicate cooling about 1645 B.C. Thus the volcanic eruption on the island of Thera was about 200 years to years earlier. See Biblical Archaeology Review January / February 1991 p.41-51 for more info.
Q: In Ex 14:21-29, how could 2 million Israelites cross the Red Sea in only 24 hours?
A: Assume that 602,000 men means about 2 to 2.5 million people. If the crossing was perhaps 2 to 2.5 miles (3.2 - 4 km) wide, and were an average of a two yards apart, that would be 1,760 single-file columns of 1,136 people each. Allowing for carts and animals, if they were an average of ten yards from the person in front of them, and the people walked slowly at 1 mile (1.6 km) per hour, they could pass a particular point in 6.5 hours.
Q: In Ex 15, is there any evidence of the Hebrews wandering in the Sinai peninsula?
A: Yes, there is some evidence. Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament p.30 says there was writing in caves found at Mt. Sinai describing the parting of the sea, Moses, and catching the quail. The most interesting thing is the language: it was a mixture of Egyptian and Hebrew. The historian Diodorus Siculus (10 B.C.) also knew of this. However, Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament p.30 also adds that the genuineness of the writing cannot be proved or disproved. This is probably because there is no way to date the writing on the rock walls.
The Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.535 says that at the entrance to the copper mines in Sinai there are hundreds of inscriptions. Most of them are in hieroglyphic Egyptian characters, but about 40 inscriptions are in sort of proto-Sinaitic alphabetic script from the 15th century B.C. These are the one of the earliest artifacts of alphabetic writing preserved today.
Q: In Ex 15:1-21, should this section go with the previous section of Exodus or the following section?
A: Since this is a narrative, it can go with either one. Many commentators put it with the previous section, since this was probably sung very soon after their deliverance. However, in organizing Exodus I prefer to place it in the following section, because the first half of Exodus 15 and the last half of Exodus 15 make such good mirror images. As they traveled in the wilderness we have to remember the Israelites could not "read ahead" in the Book of Exodus and find out where they were going or what would happen to them. As they traveled, there were basically only two things they could do. They could remember God's greatness and grace to them, or they could grumble about their current conditions.
In our lives today, there are basically only two things we can do too: please God by glorifying and obeying Him with thankfulness, or set our affection on the world and grumble or go our own way, doubting the provision or care of God.
Q: In Ex 15:1, how were there "riders", since the Egyptian army probably did not have cavalry back then?
A: The word "riders" does not specify what is ridden. Armies at that time relied on chariots, and these are chariot riders, also called charioteers. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.307 for more info.
Q: In Ex 15:2 (KJV), how can Miriam sing that she will prepare God a habitation?
A: Where the English King James Version translated "prepare a habitation", modern translations say "glorify". The Hebrew word navah (Strong's 5115), primarily means to celebrate (with praises) but Strong's also says it can mean prepare a habitation. A similar Hebrew word, naveh/navah, (Strong's 5116) means home.
Psalm 22:3 (KJV) says that God "inhabitest the praises of Israel." While this is actually a different Hebrew Word, yashab (Strong's 3427) which means to sit or dwell, the concept is similar.
Individually, in the New Testament God makes His home in the heart of each believer. John 14:23 says, "Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.'" (NKJV). While we will never be as God (the lie Satan taught in Genesis 3:4-5), it is an amazing truth that not only do we abide in Christ (John 15:7), but God abides in us (1 John 4:13-16).
Collectively from Old Testament times through now, believers are stones that together make up the Temple of the Living God (1 Peter 2:5; Ephesians 2:20-21).
Q: In Ex 15:3 in the KJV, how can God be a man of war, since God is not a man?
A: The Hebrew term "man of war" does not mean God is a man, but that God is a warrior.
Q: Since Ex 15:11 says "Who among the gods is like you", is there more than one God?
A: No. This verse, like Isaiah 40:18, shows that God is incomparable. 1 Corinthians 8:1-7 shows there are many idols, but there is only one True God, as is shown by Deuteronomy 4:35-39; 6:4; Mark 12:29-33; Isaiah 43:10-12; 44:6,8; 45:5-6,14,21; 46:9; Joel 2:27; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2:5; and 6:15-16.
Q: In Ex 15:16, how did God "purchase" the Israelites?
A: One of the ways that they belong to God is that God saved their lives.
Q: In Ex 15:22-27, what can we learn from the Waters of Mara and Elim?
A: God was testing the people according to Exodus 15:25. They people desperately needed water, and they found abundant water at Mara, but this might have seemed like a cruel joke, because it was bitter and undrinkable. Bitter water often is so because it is very alkaline. So not only does it taste bad, but it is harmful to your body. God not only made the bitter water bearable and healthy enough to drink, but actually made it sweet, and pleasant tasting.
Can God provide for you in a dry and thirsty land? God knows your needs, but what if you are in need, and the only provision appears to be nothing more than a cruel joke. Will you still be faithful, and either wait for God to provide you with other water, or, as in this case, miraculously make the apparent "non-solution" to your problem a solution both adequate and even giving contentment.
The Israelites were tested many times, as were David, later Jews, Jesus, and the early Christians. We should not be surprised when we are tested too.
Q: In Ex 16, what can we learn from the manna and the quail?
A: The people's urgent needs of water were satisfied, but what about their living longer term? Rather than asking God about their need, they grumbled against Moses. When you have a legitimate need, and God has not met it yet, what do you do? Do you grumble, or continue to pray to God?
Can God feed you in a barren place. When there is no nourishment, either physical food, or emotional, friendship, spiritual, do you think God is mighty enough to take care of you long term? We are to plan for the future (like the wise ant in Proverbs 30:25), but can you look to the future with confidence in Him, not fear?
Q: In Ex 16:23-30, why were the Israelites supposed to keep the Sabbath in a place called the Wilderness of Sin, since the command was given later with the Ten Commandments at Sinai?
A: God told them this commandment prior to giving all ten of the commandments.
Q: In Ex 16:23, is the Wilderness of Sin the same was the Wilderness of Zin?
A: No. The Wilderness of Sin was just west of Mount Sinai, while the Wilderness of Zin was just south of Judah and northeast of Kadesh Barnea. The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.404 says the initial Hebrew consonant is different.
Q: In Ex 16:31, Num 11:7-9, Dt 8:3,15, Josh 5:12, Ps 78:24,25, 105:40, and Neh 9:15, what exactly is manna?
A: Scripture only says that was a food miraculously provided by God.
Some have theorized it was the edible secretion of tamarisk trees in the Sinai, insect secretions, etc. but a natural explanation is insufficient. It came six days a week, but not on the Sabbath. Furthermore there would not be enough insects of tamarisk tree secretions to feed such a large population.
Hebrews 9:4 mentions that a pot of manna was put in the ark.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.57, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.622, Unger's Bible Dictionary p.691, and The New International Bible Dictionary p.620 for more info.
Q: In Ex 17:1-7, why was God angry with people who obeyed Him?
A: Exodus 17:1 says the people traveled from place to place as the Lord commanded. But they grumbled as they obeyed. Obedience is not enough; we are to have cheerful obedience, without complaining or arguing, as Philippians 2:14 says.
Q: In Ex 17:2 and Dt 6:16, how can people tempt God, since God cannot be tempted by evil in Jms 1:13?
A: A better translation than "tempt God" is "put the Lord to the test." God cannot really be tempted by evil, but people can still try. This is an expression of the sin of people who tell God "work this way and perform this miracle, or else."
Q: In Ex 17:8, when the Israelites were only winning when Aaron and Hur held up Moses' hands, doesn't that sound like superstition?
A: All knew the power was with God, not the hands. God sometimes uses physical actions to channel His power. For other examples, see 2 Kings 13:21 (Elisha's bones), Numbers 21:4-9 (the bronze snake), and John 9:6-7, (Jesus making mud to put on a blind man's eyes.)
Q: In Ex 17:15-16, what is the importance of God's name here?
A: It is very significant that Moses called God Yahweh Nissi, "The Lord is my banner". In a military battle, the banner was the honor of the army or division, and soldiers would fight to the end to save it at all cost. This means much more than God is strong and mighty. When a large army, determined to defeat the Israelites came right at them, the Israelites did NOT merely believe God was a far-off powerful being, who might give them some help if He felt like it. Rather, they believed not only that God was powerful, but that God would come through in the clutch and save those who called upon His name. Today Christians all believe that God is Almighty, but do you really live like you believe God will come through in the clutch for you? If so, then not only do you believe God is your banner, and you will struggle until the end to stand firm for God, but you also know that you are God's banner, in the sense that you bear His name and are the apple of His eye (Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalm 17:8), and that God will certainly be with you. Even if you are killed for God, you know that "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." (Psalm 116:15 NIV)
Q: In Ex 18:7 since we are supposed to worship only God, why did Moses do obeisance his father-in-law?
A: Bowing in respect is not worship. Even today people bow or curtsy to the Queen of England out of respect. Abraham bowed in respect to kings, and do obeisance is all right as long as it is not interpreted as worship. In contrast to this it is estimated that up to 50,000 Christians perished during Roman persecution and many people misunderstand why. The Romans did not have a problem with Christians worshipping Jesus. The Romans would not tolerate the Christians refusal to worship anybody except God, especially the Roman emperor. To add insult to injury, Roman pagans labeled Christians "atheists" for not believing in their idols.
Q: In Ex 18:17-26, why did Moses take Jethro's advice instead of God's?
A: It was not contrary to God's will, but Moses recognized it as good advice for following God. We are to be practical and take good and upright advice from others as well as from God.
Q: In Ex 19:3,20; 24:9,13,15,18; 34:4 why did Moses go up to the mountain seven times, and go back to see the Lord (Ex 32:31) yet Moses is only recorded as going down four times in Ex 19:14,24; 32:15; 34:29?
A: Some have used this to try to support multiple authorship of Exodus, but The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.416 says this does not really help answer the question. The book of Exodus is not required to be in chronological order, there is no problem with it being in chronological order here; the sequence is really quite straightforward.
Exodus 19:3 Moses went up alone
Exodus 19:14 Moses came down alone
Exodus 19:20 Moses went up to the top alone
Exodus 19:24 Moses came down briefly to get Aaron
Exodus 24:9 Moses and 73 others went up
Exodus 24:12-13 God tells Moses to come up, so Moses leaves the elders where they are, and Moses and Joshua went up farther.
Exodus 24:15 says that when Moses went up, apparently alone, so he went up farther.
Exodus 24:18 says that then Moses entered the cloud as he went up, so this is that same trip as Exodus 24:15.
Exodus 32:15 Moses came [all the way] down with two tablets, meeting Joshua. (Moses broke the tables in Exodus 32:19)
Exodus 32:31 Moses went back to the Lord. This does not mean He necessarily went up and down the mountain, though he could have.
Exodus 34:4 Moses went up with two blank stone tablets
Exodus 34:29 Moses came down the mountain with two stone tablets.
Speaking of Moses and mountains, a similar sequence happened during Jesus' transfiguration. Traveling with the twelve disciples, he separated and went up the mountain with just three of them. Luke 9:32-33 shows that Jesus was some distance from the three when the transfiguration occurred. Then a cloud enveloped them. Luke 9:36-37 shows that the other disciples rejoined Jesus prior to the crowds meeting Jesus at the base of the mountain.
Summary: Recognizing that one can travel partway up a mountain with a larger group and farther up a smaller group, and recognizing that the return of every trip does not need to be mentioned, there is no difficulty with the number of Moses' trips.
Q: In Ex 19:4, how could the people have eagles' wings?
A: This is a metaphor of the way God worked to carry them through, with no effort of their own. (When we have tremendous struggles, God still carries us on eagles' wings today.)
Q: In Ex 19:11, where exactly is Mt. Sinai?
A: Region: The Sinai Peninsula is a south-pointing triangle with the mountains on the southern part, which Exodus 19:2 and Numbers 3:14; 9:1,5; 10:12 call the Wilderness ("Desert") of Sinai. The Desert of Sin separates Elim from Sinai. Numbers 33:3-50 tells each place the Israelites camped. Unfortunately, we do not know the location of many of these campsites, but by looking at them, we can see what is between what.
Within the Wilderness of Sinai, there are actually two mountains, close to each other, that fit the location of Mount Sinai.
Gebel Musa/Mousa (7,363 ft) This is the traditional view, at least since about 500 A.D. It has very steep cliffs. The Monastery of St. Catherine is at the foot of this mountain. Many but not all Muslims view this as Mt. Sinai also. The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.674 has a picture of Jebel Musa.
Ras es-safsafeh (6,540 ft 1993 meters) is two miles (3.2 km) north of Gebel Musa on the same ridge. It has a wider plain at its foot.
Gebel Serbal (unlikely): Eusebius of Caesarea (325 A.D.) believed this. However, The New Bible Dictionary (1978) p.1193-1194 mentions there is no wilderness near its foot.
A few people think Mt. Sinai is in Mebel al-Lawz in Arabia, perhaps because
a) They mistakenly think the Sinai peninsula was a part of Egypt during the Exodus
b) They forget that Mt. Sinai was outside the land of Midian according to Exodus 18:27 and Numbers 10:29-30
c) Paul said Mt. Sinai in Arabia (Galatians 4:25), and they forget the Sinai Peninsula was in the Roman province of Arabia. www.christiananswers.net/abr/scoop.html, after giving the previous reasons, also says the distance to Arabia would be too far from Kadesh Barnea. Since people with flocks and herds would only travel about 6 miles per day. Yet the distance from Jebel al-Lawz to Kadesh Barnea is around 150 miles, and they went from Sinai to Kadesh Barnea in only 11 days.
Muslims sometimes try to say Mt. Sinai is Mecca. After all Galatians 4:25 says Mt. Sinai is in Arabia. However, this is not the modern country of Saudi Arabia, but rather the Sinai Peninsula was a part of the Roman Province of Arabia. Also, an 11-day journey around 800 miles from Mecca to Kadesh Barnea, with flocks and herds, young animals, and young children, on foot, would be incredible. See either The Roman World p.107 or Encyclopedia Britannica under Roman History for a map.
If Mt. Sinai were really Mecca, that would not make any difference to Christians, except that the stages of Israel's journey would no longer make sense. It is apparently important to some Muslims however, as it would give credibility to the idea that Mecca had some part in God's work prior to Mohammed. However, other Muslims, such as the footnote 2504 in the Holy Qur'an : English Translation of the Meanings and Commentary equate Mt. Sinai with Gebel/Jabal Musa, as do the majority of Christians.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.988-989 for more info.
Q: In Ex 20:4-5, is it OK for Christians to wear and have crosses and other religious art?
A: As reminders it is fine, just as Jews copied scripture as reminders based on Deuteronomy 6:8-9. However, neither crosses, nor scripture, nor anything else is to be worshiped in place of God. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.145-146 When Cultists Ask p.33-34, 228-229 for more info.
Q: Since Ex 20:4-5 says to have no graven images, why were there so many images in the tabernacle (Ex 25-27) and later the temple (1 Ki 6:1-38; 7:13-51)?
A: It was OK to make the images God commanded for decoration and not for worship. However, even when images God commanded to be made, were used as worship, they should be destroyed. As an example read of the bronze snake in Numbers 21:4-9 and 2 Kings 18:1-4. See Tertullian's Five Books Against Marcion (207/208 A.D.) book 2 ch.22, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.116 for more info and When Critics Ask p.83-84 for a useful chart showing the right and wrong use of images.
Q: In Ex 20:5; Dt 4:24; 6:15; Jo 2:18; Zeph 1:18; 3:18, is God a jealous God, since 1 Cor 13:4 says love is not envious?
A: Three points to consider in the answer:
1. Many verses show we are not to envy others for what they have, or even the things with which God has blessed them.
2. God is not a creature, and by His rules, it is OK for Him to be jealous of the worship and devotion that is rightfully his. This is similar to someone expecting devotion and faithfulness from a spouse, or a parent expecting honor and obedience from a child.
3. Even beyond this, 2 Corinthians 11:2 shows we should have a godly jealousy for others to continue being devoted to the real Jesus instead of a counterfeit.
Q: In Ex 20:5, briefly, why does a just God visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation?
A: Ezekiel 18 and Deuteronomy 24:16 show God does not declare the son guilty for a father's sins, but Exodus 20:5 and other verses indicate that children bear bad consequences for others' sins. Many believe God judgment takes into consideration where they started from and what was available to them, but everyone does not start from the same place and have the same opportunities.
Q: In Ex 20:5; Ex 34:7, Num 14:18; and Dt 5:9 how does God punish the children for the sins of their fathers up to the third and fourth generation, when Ezek 18:4,18-19 and Dt 24:16 say each will die for his own sin, not his fathers, and Ezek 18:19 says the son does not share the guilt of the father?
A: God apparently thought this an important concept, because the four verses in the Law repeat the same thing using the same two Hebrew words.
Visit is paqad (Strong's 6485) which is a neutral word that can mean visit with either a friendly or hostile intent.
Iniquity is 'avon (Strong's 5771) which means perversity, evil, fault, iniquity, mischief, punishment (of iniquity), sin.
Some people have thought their sin has no effect on their children; others have thought a child can be guilty just because of their parents. Jeremiah 31:29-30 and Ezekiel 18:2 rebuke people for saying, "The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." In Job 21:19 Job says similar. The truth is actually neither of these extremes. First two things that are not the answer, and then the answer.
Earlier vs. Later Revelation (not the answer): The Torah (Law) was given around 1440 B.C. and Ezekiel was written after 587 B.C.. As God's way of dealing with people was different in a large way in Noah's time, Abraham's time, under the Mosaic Law, and after Christ, God's way of dealing with people was different in a smaller way between Moses (when they had only the law) and Ezekiel (when they had prophetic writings too). However, both were under the Mosaic Law, and there was no explicit change of covenant/dispensation between the two. Furthermore, Deuteronomy 24:16 also says fathers and children not put to death for each other, and it was written at the same time as the rest of Deuteronomy.
Visit Iniquity vs. Die for sins (not the answer): The verses in the Law do not say children will die for their parents/ancestors' sins, only that iniquity will be visited upon them. Ezekiel 18 and Deuteronomy 24:16 only say that a child will not die for the sins of his father. However, while Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18 show that [physical and spiritual] death and eternal consequences are not the responsibility of parents but of the person himself, you cannot avoid the fact that the other verses prove that sin has generational effects. There are at least three different effects.
Consequences: Physical consequences are the easiest to see: babies born of drug-addicted mothers are born addicted to drugs. Some babies are cursed with fetal alcohol syndrome due to alcoholic mothers. If they start drinking alcohol, they will have an especially strong addiction to it. But God sometimes sets up non-physical consequences too. Canaan and his descendants were cursed with consequences because of Ham's sin in Genesis 9:25-27. Eli's descendants were cursed in 1 Samuel 2:31-33 because of the great sins of Eli's sons. Jehoiachin's offspring would never again rule in Jeremiah 22:28-30. But there are good generational consequences for obedience too, such as for the Recabite descendants in Jeremiah 35:18-19, and Abraham's descendants in Genesis 12:2, etc. Finally, Romans 8:28 promises that all things work together for good for those who love God. When we patiently bear curses, God is powerful enough to turn even those into blessings.
Growing Up In Sin: Exodus 20:5 and Deuteronomy 5:9 say God visits iniquity on the children of those who hate God. Children often grow up learning the values of their parents. If someone's parents hated God, they probably grew up being taught that too, either directly or implicitly. However, like Abraham from Ur, The Gideonites of Canaan, Ruth the Moabitess, and the pagans early Christians preached too, we can follow God's call to move beyond any and all bad upbringing and live a new life pleasing to Him.
Must Choose to Go Against the Sin: When a child's parents were involved in a sin, and particularly if the parents hated God, the child will be visited with an opportunity for that sin. The son or daughter must choose to go against their parents' patterns, or even against the norm for their culture, and follow God. Just as Abraham was told to leave his family and people where God led him, we all, in some way or another have to leave parts of our culture and upbringing and follow Christ.
A Simple Example of the three aspects: The Israelites often sinned in worshipping idols until the Exile. Israelite children born after that suffered the consequences of being in the exile because of their parents' and ancestors' sins. During their upbringing they it would be especially tempting to take the easy road and worship the Babylonian gods around them like everyone else was; many did this and were assimilated into that culture. But some, confronted with the idols during the curse of their time in Babylon, chose for God and against sin, and returned to the land of Israel. After that time, Israel never had problems with idols again.
Conclusion: Whether people like it or not, God has shown there are generational aspects to sin. God is just and we can understand what God has revealed about His justice. However, God's justice is defined by His word, we are not free to disregard His Word and demand God conform to our own ideas of justice. In the "independent, autonomous" culture of western society, we might wish to shy away from the fact that there are generational aspects to sin, but God's justice is defined by what God has said, not what we wish.
See Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.86-88 and When Critics Ask p.285-286 for more info.
Q: Since Ex 20:8 says we are to honor the Sabbath day (Saturday), why do Christians today believe it is fine to work on Saturday?
A: Genuine Christians have three different viewpoints:
Saturday: In the Old Testament the Sabbath was sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. One reason the nation of Judah was exiled to Babylon for 70 years, was because of 70 * 7 = 490 years of not observing the Sabbath. (Their year was 360 days.) See Leviticus 26:31-36; Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10,16; and Daniel 9:2.
Sunday: After Jesus rose from the dead, Sunday became the Lord's day and was celebrated by early Christians. Paul did not explain to the Corinthians why the first day of the week in 1 Corinthians 16:2, Paul assumed they already knew. Revelation 1:10 also refers to either Sunday, or else a vision of the day of the Lord. Justin's First Apology (c.138-165 A.D.) ch.67 p.185-186 also mentions worshipping on Sunday. Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) in fragments 7 (p.569) also mentions that Irenaeus spoke of Easter and the Lord's day.
All days: In Old Testament times, believers were to be in God's rest one day a week. However, Hebrews 4:11 indicates we have a different and better rest today. We should devote every day of the week to being in God's rest. In Colossians 2:16, Paul chastises the Colossians for continuing to keep the Sabbath day. Romans 14:5 speaks, without disapproval, of Christians who take all days alike. In 1 Corinthians 16:2 they stored up collections on Sunday.
See also Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.116-121, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.146-148, and When Critics Ask p.77-78 for more info. See Now That's A Good Question p.350-351 for the view that Christians should keep the Sabbath either Saturday or Sunday, and recreation is OK on the Sabbath.
See the question on Romans 14:5 for what the New Testament church did. The Post-New Testament church worshipped on Sunday as shown by
Epistle of Barnabas (100 A.D.)
Ignatius disciple of John the Apostle (110-117 A.D.)
First Apology of Justin Martyr (150 A.D.) chapter 67 p.185-186
Dionysius of Corinth (175 A.D.)
Melito of Sardis (175 A.D.)
Apostolic Constitutions (2nd century)
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.)
Tertullian's Apologeticus (198-220 A.D.)
Even the heretic Bardesanes (180 A.D.)
Augustine said it was not needful to practice the Sabbath in New Testament times.
Deviations from this were mentioned by Justin Martyr (wrote c.138-165 A.D.) (Dialogue with Trypho ch.47 p.218), calls Sabbath-keepers "weaker brethren", and Eusebius of Caesarea (324 A.D.) mentions Ebionite heretics as keeping the Sabbath.
See When Cultists Ask p.34-35 for more info.
Q: Since Ex 20:13 and Dt 5:17 say, "thou shalt not kill?" (KJV), why were so many people and animals killed?
A: That is a good question about a commonly misunderstood point. If Exodus 20:13 really meant never to kill any people, that would be news to Moses. On more than one occasion, God told Moses to fight wars and execute lawbreakers. If Exodus 20:13 really meant never to kill anything, that would be news to God, who commands animal sacrifice.
The Hebrew word, râtsach, could mean kill people, but Hard Sayings of the Bible p.148-149 says that of the seven Hebrew words for killing, this word, appearing 47 times in the Old Testament, is the one that means murder. The context of Exodus indicates that some wars and lawful execution are not only allowed, but also commanded. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.121, Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.402-403, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.59-60, and Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.285-286 for more info.
As an interesting side note, according to Now That's a Good Question p.458-460, a former governor of Pennsylvania vetoed a bill to reinstate the death penalty, quoting this verse and misinterpreting it.
Q: In Ex 20:13 and Dt 5:17 it says thou shalt not kill. He charged that we not kill and yet He sent His only begotten Son to be sacrificed (i.e. killed) by His people the Jews which confuses me. ... Please explain why Jesus had to die for my sins. Why did I have to kill Jesus? Why did we have to break one of His commandments in order to set things right with our God and our souls?
A: The commandment forbade murder; the Israelites still had war and executions. See the answer to the previous question on killing animals, executions, and wars. As for the atonement, God sent Jesus knowing He would be killed by evildoers. However, they were in a state of disobedience to God when they did so. Nonetheless, God even uses people's rebellion and evil for His purposes. Romans 8:28 is really an amazing verse. It says "...in all thing God works together for good for those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." It does NOT say God only works all good things together. Rather, it says God works all things (good and evil) together for good for those who love Him.
Of course we did not kill Jesus, the Roman soldiers did. Nonetheless, God had Jesus be unjustly murdered to bear the punishment for our sins.
Q: Since Ex 20:13 and Dt 5:17 says not to murder, why does God sometimes kill people?
A: The Ten Commandments were given to people; and God, who is all-knowing, is not bound by what He gave us. For example, God accepts worship, and we are not to accept worship.
Q: Since Ex 20:14,17 says not to commit adultery, why were there polygamous marriages after that?
A: Polygamous marriage is not adultery. Polygamy was allowed but not encouraged in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament it is not allowed for church leaders.
While Exodus 20:17 says not to covet your neighbor's wife (singular), this command is operative regardless of whether your neighbor had one or more wives. If it had said not to covet your neighbor's wives (plural), some might have interpreted that to mean that coveting just one of his wives would be OK. Of course that is not what God meant.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.121-124, Now That's A Good Question p.381-382, When Cultists Ask p.35-36, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.60 for more info.
Q: In Ex 20:20, why were the people to fear not, since they were supposed to fear in the same verse?
A: Both they and we are not supposed to be frightened and apprehensive of God who has such a great love for us. But we are supposed to fear God, in the sense of respecting God, and His power and holiness. Today, we are also to be afraid for the lost, that is being afraid of God's wrath destroying them if they do not repent, as Jude 23 teaches.
However, since Christ has been revealed, we do not have the same fear they had in the Old Testament, as Hebrews 12:18 teaches. See also the discussion on Exodus 9:30.
Q: In Ex 20:24, was the altar to be made of dirt, or acacia wood as Ex 27:1; 30:1; 37:1; and 38:1 say?
A: At Mt. Sinai they made an altar of dirt. Later, for the tabernacle, they made a portable altar from the wood of the acacia tree.
See When Critics Ask p.79 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.427-428 for a different answer.
Q: In Ex 20:25-26 and Josh 8:31, why were the people not to use hewn stones?
A: The Bible does not tell why God commanded this, only that He did. However, rocks hewn by iron chisels would display red rust marks over time. Blue-green marks would be visible with bronze or copper tools.
Q: Why do Ex 21:2-21, Ex 32:1-6, and Lev 25:46 condone slavery?
A: Slavery in the Bible was similar to indentured servants. All Hebrew slaves were to be freed every seventh year in Exodus 21:2-5. When the slave was freed, the ex-master was to furnish him or her liberally out of what the master had, according to Deuteronomy 15:13-15. The only exception to freeing a Hebrew slave was if the slave loved the master enough to choose to be a slave for life in Exodus 21:5-6. However, the Hebrews did not always free their slaves, as Jeremiah 34:8-22 shows; God rebuked them for that. The following became slaves:
Thieves who could not pay people back (Exodus 22:3)
Women sold by parents as concubines (Exodus 21:7-11)
People sold themselves as slaves if they were starving
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.149-150 for more info.
Q: In Ex 21:13, what does "an act of God" mean here?
A: This is very similar to the western legal usage of an act of God meaning something beyond human control. The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.432 says that similar expressions are found in the Hammurabi Law Code 249:38-39; 266:77.
Q: In Ex 21:17, was this a harsh punishment for disrespectful children?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. This would seem harsh to us today, knowing the parents had this power would keep the teenagers from totally despising their parents authority. However, this was mild compared to the Canaanites and Phoenicians, who practiced child sacrifice. Just imagine a Canaanite or Phoenician child acting disobedient, and the parent saying "your behavior is starting to make me feel very religious." The only Israelites who practiced child sacrifice were idol-worshippers whom God condemned.
2. For godly Israelites, given their very strong family orientation, there is no evidence that children ever were so disobedient that parents would resort to this.
3. Even if there were disobedient children, Exodus 21:17 does not specify parents had to do this; it was only an option. There is no evidence that any parent choose to do this.
4. In later Roman times, Roman fathers had the "right of paterfamilias." This was the legal right of a Roman father to kill his newborn child for any reason whatsoever.
Summary: Sometimes the creation of a law, giving a severe option, accomplishes the desired result without there being a case where it has to be enforced.
Q: In Ex 21:20, why is someone merely "punished" if they beat a slave and kill him?
A: Exodus 21:12 specifies the punishment: death for deliberate murder, and fleeing to a refuge for manslaughter. This applies to both slaves and free.
There was no mention of a different punishment for a slave, and no need to mention the punishment was the same, as murder of a freeman or slave was the same in Egypt where they lived. This Egyptian law is mentioned in Life in Egypt in Ancient Times by Bernard Romant, translated by J. Smith (Minerva 1978/81) p.124.
Q: In Ex 21:21 why does Exodus condone beating slaves?
A: Some behaviors in the old Testament were not advocated but rather allowed, because the people's hearts were hard. For example, divorce was permitted in the Old Testament because of people's hard hearts (Matthew 19:8) yet in Malachi 2:16 God said he hated divorce. Beating a person, with no permanent injury, was punished by a monetary fine for lost time in Exodus 21:18-19. Exodus 21:21 merely points out that a slave-owner does not have a fine for lost time, because it was the owner that (perhaps foolishly) lost the time of the slave. However, slave or no slave, if a man hits someone that the victim dies, the man shall be put to death in Exodus 21:12,20. Likewise, if a man causes permanent injury, there shall be either a monetary fine, freedom for a slave, or eye for an eye.
Q: In Ex 21:22 (NASB, NRSV), should it say "further injury/harm" or "injury/harm"?
A: The NASB and NRSV translators messed up here. The word "further" is not in the Hebrew, and thus Green's Literal Translation, the NKJV, and NIV all agree here. The KJV translates this as "mischief", without using the word "further" either. The NET Bible says, "serious injury". The problem with the word further is that it makes something that is clear sound ambiguous. Does "further harm" mean harm beyond the infant's death, because it is ambiguous whether a premature birth is "harm"? The Hebrew is not ambiguous, because it does not say "further". See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.247-248 for more info.
Q: Does Ex 21:22-23 demonstrate that abortion is wrong, or that a fetus is less than a baby?
A: When Critics Ask p.79 mentions that, according to the Hebrew scholar Umberto Cassuto, in his Commentary on the Book of Exodus (Magnes Press, 1967) "...But if any mischief happens, that is, if the woman dies or the children, then you shall give life for life."
Also, the Hebrew word (eats) means to bring forth in live birth as well as miscarriage. There is a different Hebrew word for miscarriage that does not mean live birth, but it was not used here. Finally, the word "child" is a word used of babies.
As a side note, abortion through chemicals was practiced in Bible times. According to Discover Magazine (September 1998), a plant that grew in Cyrenaica, called Silphium, could induce abortion. Minucius Felix (210 A.D.) wrote why chemical abortions were wrong in The Octavius of Minucius Felix ch.30 p.192. and Hippolytus' Refutation of All Heresies book 9.7 p.131 (225-235/6 A.D.) Silphium sold for its weight in silver.
Surgical abortions too were described in detail and condemned by Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) in A Treatise on the Soul ch.25 p.206
Tertullian's Apology ch.9 p.25 (198-220 A.D.) "In our case, murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the foetus [fetus] in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing.; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed."
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) says "The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion, inasmuch as there exists already the rudiment of a human being, which has imputed to it even now the condition of life and death, since it is already liable to the issues of both, although, by living still I the mother, it for the most part shares its own state with the mother." A Treatise on the Soul ch.37 p.218
Tertullian also mentions chemical abortion as wrong in On Exhortation to Chastity ch.12 p.57
See also Now That's A Good Question p.451-456 for more info.
Q: In Ex 21:29-30, why was the death penalty not carried out for some murders?
A: As in modern law, there is often no death penalty for manslaughter. It is one thing to deliberately kill a person, and it is another thing to kill a person through recklessness. See When Critics Ask p.80 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.261 for more info.
Q: In Ex 21-22, how did these laws compare with other laws around the same time?
A: Here are some comparisons.
Ex 21:2-4 When a single man became a slave, and his master gave him a wife, and the man was freed, the wife and children were still slaves of the master in the Akkadian Nuzi texts.
Ex 21:9 S.M. Paul in Book of the Covenant p.55, n.3 found an Assyrian document that said if a man has bought a girl to be a wife for his son, and the marriage does not occur, the buyer cannot return her to be a slave girl, "he must treat her as his own daughter, an Assyrian)
Ex 21:18-19 The Code of Hammurabi (206) says that if one man injures another accidentally, and swears as such, he must still pay the doctor's fee. The Hittite Laws (10) says that he must care for the man he injured, pay the doctor's fee, and also pay him six (later, ten) shekels of silver.
Ex 22:16-17, if a mean seduced a woman who was not engaged, the Middle Assyrian Law 56 said the man had to pay 1/3 of the bride price, and the father could do as he wished, about allowing the man to marry her or not.
Ex 22:19, Hittite Laws (187-188, 199:16-18) also said to execute someone who had sex with a sheep, cow, or pig, but not with a horse or mule. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.439 says that apparently this was prevalent among the Canaanites.
These examples came from The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.430-440.
Q: In Ex 22:8-9 and 1 Sam 2:25, did the people come before judges here, or before God?
A: There is no question about the Hebrew word; it is elohim. However, elohim can mean True God, false gods, or judges. Here are two views.
God: The Septuagint translated this as the people coming before God. Jay P. Greens' Literal Translation also says "God". The NRSV says "God", but adds as a footnote "or before the judges".
Judges: Elohim can mean human judges, as it does in Psalm 82:6. In this passage elohim is translated as judge in the KJV, NKJV. It is also mentioned to be judge in The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.142 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.111.
The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.309 and the NKJV also say Elohim refers to judges in Exodus 21:6.
In 1 Samuel 2:25, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.309 and the KJV say this refers to judges, and the NKJV says this refers to God. The NIV used "judges" but puts "God" in the footnote.
Summary: Here is what The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.586 declares about 1 Samuel 2:25. "As the NIV margin indicates, we cannot always be sure whether (elohim) means "God" or "(the) judges" in certain contexts. ... Here in v.25, and in the Exodus passages, it is perhaps best to leave the question moot, since in any case the "judges" (if such they be) are viewed as God's representatives who reflect his will and carry out his desires."
Q: In Ex 22:18, why were female witches put to death and [allegedly] not the males?
A: The prohibition against witchcraft, mediums, and dealing with the occult applied equally to men and women. Regardless of gender, God consider attempting sorcery very serious. Christians should not dishonor the name they bear by engaging in séances, Ouija boards, fortune-telling, or other attempts at sorcery.
Q: In Ex 22:18, a Sunday school teacher once shared that she can figure out how to treat physical ailments by holding a metal chain with a metal pendant over her wrist and asking her body questions. It will swing differently meaning no or yes. What do you think of this?
A: This is against the Bible. This is asking [some sort of] spirit for answers. This sounds vaguely similar to the Occultic (Satanic) practice of the Ouija board. Ask her how she knows which kind of spirit does she think is doing this? 1 John 4:1-2 says we are not just to believe every spirit. 2 Corinthians 6:17 says that we are to touch no unclean thing.
I once heard of a pastor [correctly] say from the pulpit that we are not to follow astrology. However, to prove there was nothing to it, he had his horoscope read and was going to show everyone how it was all false. Well, it turned out that the things started coming true. He was scared, and repented in front of the congregation of what he had done. Only after that did the rest of the predictions fail to come true.
Satan does have abilities beyond us, and he can sometimes predict things correctly (or else ensure that they happen.) He uses that to get people to trust this source of advice, that he can better deceive people later.
Here is what I would do if I were a member of the Sunday school class.
1. Go to the teacher and explain that you put your trust in Christ, not in familiar spirits. Show her the verses against the occult, and perhaps she might see and repent. Some verses saying we are to have nothing to do with the occult, communicating with the dead, etc. are:
Have nothing to do with magic & the occult, such as channeling, witchcraft, astral-projection, mediums, fortune-tellers, astrology, ouija boards, TM, EST, or Qi-gong. Lev 19:26,31;20:6-8,27; Acts 19:19; Ezek 13:18;22:18; Dt 18:9-14; Micah 5:12; Rev 9:21
Don't try to communicate with the dead. Dt 18:10-2; Isa 8:19; 1 Sam 28:3,7-12 + Lev 20:6-8
In regard to evil we are to be infants. 1 Cor 14:20; Mt 10:16 yet be on guard. Mt 10:16-7
2. If she is not persuaded to repent, tell the pastor and elders of the church that this should not happen in a church that trusts in Christ, and suggest they remove her as a Sunday school teacher.
3. If that fails, the member has a duty to leave that church, and tell everybody who wants to know why the member is leaving. Your leaving will be a better testimony than your staying and trying to continue to persuade them. As long as you stay, you are implicitly saying this is not so bad.
By the way, I would not give this advice for a Sunday school teacher who believed and taught an error on a secondary issue. But we are to have nothing to do with using "devices" to communicate with the spirit world for advice.
Q: In Ex 23:19, 34:26, and Dt 14:21, why shouldn't people boil a kid in its mother's milk?
A: -Simply because God told them not to do it. Whether an action is idolatrous, magical, profane, cruel, or contemptuous is not the main point; the ultimate reason is that God disliked it and said not to do it. See When Critics Ask p.80 for more info.
There was also an ancient Canaanite and Syrian practice of this going back to at least the 15th century B.C., according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary Volume 3 p.101. The pagan Ugaritic epic called "The Birth of the Beautiful and Gracious Gods" shows the practice of cooking a goat kid in its mother's milk to petition the gods for rain in Canaan. This is documented in the 15th century Ras Shamra Tablets according to A Survey of Old Testament Introduction p.179. See the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.595 for more info.
Later Jews expanded on this to not having meat and milk served at the same meal, or even prepared using the same utensils.
Q: In Ex 23:28, how did "hornets" drive out the Canaanites?
A: Literal insects called hornets did not drive out the Canaanites. The "hornets" God was referring to were the Israelites themselves. The Bible is all true, but that does not mean God is prevented from communicating to us using metaphors.
Q: In Ex 24:1, what can we learn from Nadab and Abihu?
A: As Aaron's sons, they were in line to become the next high priest. But being the child of a godly person did not make them "safer" from peril; actually it is a more dangerous position if someone does not want to follow God. The more you know, the more you will be held accountable for disobeying, as 2 Peter 2:21 shows.
Q: In Ex 24:4, how could Moses write "and Moses wrote all the words of the Lord"?
A: The same way he wrote Exodus 6:26-27. See the discussion on that. Alternately, Moses' scribe may have written this. See When Critics Ask p.81 for more info.
Q: In Ex 24:9-11, how could the elders come to Mt. Sinai, since people would be struck dead if they came to Mt. Sinai in Ex 19:12-13?
A: They could only come to Mount Sinai when they were invited. Similarly, they were supposed to go to the Promised Land, but after the spies' discouraging report, they refused to go. After God disciplined them and told them they would die in the desert, they decided to go to the Promised Land on their own. They were driven back by their enemies. Doing the right things is not the most important thing. Most important is to love and obey God, which includes doing the right things in the right way, at the right time. See When Critics Ask p.82 for more info.
Q: In Ex 24:10, how could they see God's form, since God does not have a physical body?
A: God can assume any physical shape He wants to have. See When Critics Ask p.83, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.124, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.152-153, and When Cultists Ask p.36 for more info.
Q: In Ex 25:18, why did God command Moses to make graven images of cherubim?
A: These were images that adorned the Tabernacle, but these images were not worshipped, prayed to, or venerated. When Cultists Ask p.36-37 mentions that the cherubim were for decorative art, they were not images of God, and they were not for either worship or veneration. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.146-147 and When Critics Ask p.83-84 for more info.
Q: In Ex 26:11,37; 25:3; 27:2-19; 30:18; 31:4; 35:5,24,32; 36:18,38; 38:2-29; 39:39 (KJV), why does this say brass?
A: It was really bronze, as The NKJV, NIV, NRSV, Green's Literal Translation, the NET Bible and even the older RSV translate it. Today bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, and brass is a term for an alloy of copper and zinc. However, technically this is not a mistake in the KJV as The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.654 points out that 400 years ago, any alloy of copper was called brass.
The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1123 mentions that the chemical distinction between tin and zinc was not generally known until modern times. Brass was apparently first deliberately made in Roman times, though since copper and zinc do sometimes naturally occur together, brass could have been made much earlier.
Q: In Ex 27:1 and Dt 10:3 (KJV), what is Shittim wood?
A: It probably means wood from the acacia tree. Shittim was a place east of Mount Sinai mentioned in Numbers 25:1. The wood might have been from that place, named after that place, or that place might have been named after the wood.
Q: In Ex 28:30, what are the "Urim and Thummim"?
A: They were a means God gave the priests for casting lots to find out God's will. A description of their exact appearance has been lost, except that Josephus claims they were stones on a breastplate. 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.357 says, "Urim and Thummim" can mean "lights and perfection".
Q: In Ex 28:34-35, how do bells keep Aaron, and his descendents, from dying?
A: Of themselves, the bells do not. But the proper form of worship in this Tabernacle was a serious matter to God, and ignoring this command would result in death. See also the next question.
Q: In Ex 28:34-45 and Ex 39:22-26, what was the purpose of the bells on the robe of the priest?
A: Scripture does not say, but we can speculate on two reasons.
1. As the people outside listened, they could hear the priest, whom they could not see, making the atoning sacrifice for them. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.152 for more info.
2. If the bells, stopped, they might indicate God was displeased with the priest and killed him. Then the people could pull the priest out by the rope that was around him.
Q: In Ex 29:20 and Lev 8:23-24, why put the blood on Aaron's right ear, right thumb, and right big toe?
A: While Scripture does not expressly say why God wanted this, the symbolism is not hard to see. It represents a bonding with the sacrifice. As another example, this was done to someone cleansed from a skin disease, when they brought their sacrifice of cleansing to the priest. (Leviticus 14:1-2,14-17)
Q: In Ex 30, what is the meaning of the objects and what do they represent?
A: First of all, there might still be some mysteries we do not know yet; God might not necessarily have revealed every reason why everything was exactly this way. Hebrews 8:5 says, "The place where they serve is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary, just as Moses was warned by God as he was about to complete the tabernacle. For he says, 'See that you make everything according to the design shown to you on the mountain.'" (NET Bible) See Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 for more on the significance of the Tabernacle and objects inside.
Here are more details on Exodus 30.
Exodus 30:1-9 The altar of acacia wood was small, about 3 feet high and 18 inches square, but very heavy because it was overlaid with gold. Gold can represent holiness and God, and gold was one of the three gifts the wise men brought to Jesus. This altar is a type of Christ's sacrifice for us. Curiously, no ornament of the temple was mentioned as "most holy" except the altar.
A secondary application to our lives is that just as the priest had to burn incense on the altar every morning and evening, we should talk with God at least every morning and evening too. As Christ sacrificed his life for us, in a lesser way we should be willing to suffer for others, as Paul showed in Colossians 1:24.
Exodus 30:10 once a year the high priest of the Israelites, was required to make atonement on the horns of the altar.
Just as the Israelites had a high priest in Exodus 30, we have a High priest who made a sacrifice for us in Hebrews 4:14: Jesus.
Exodus 30:17-21 Bronze basin for washing. Aaron and his sons [descendants] were to wash their hands and feet prior to entering the Tent of Meeting, and prior to approaching the altar.
Primarily, we are not to go before God thinking we do not have to be clean. We have to be washed. Of course, Christians are priests and kings, and we are washed in the blood of Jesus, so He fulfilled that for us. But we are to live washed, clean lives. See 1 Peter 1:15-16; 2:11-12.
By the way, the bronze came from bronze mirrors donated by the women in Exodus 38:8. A secondary application to our lives is that what was once used for vanity and adornment was remelted to be used for cleansing. It would please God if we were willing to have some of our familiar customs and habits "remelted" that they be transformed to His work. See Romans 12:1-2 and James 1:23-25.
Exodus 30:22-33 Anointing oil on holy things. I think the formula was simply done because it has a good-smelling result. Anointing oil is a type of the Holy Spirit and represents sanctification by God. It was salted in Exodus 30:35, probably for a preservative effect. Myrrh was very expensive, and one of the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus.
Primarily, as the anointing oil's fragrance "set the atmosphere" for everything, our cleansing and sanctification through the Holy gives us the aroma of Christ through and through. See 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 for more on us being the aroma of Christ.
A secondary application to our lives is that this anointing oil was not to taken for granted and "made common" by being used for anything else. Our bodies (God's temple 1 Corinthians 6:19-20), our unity of the spirit (Ephesians 4:3), and our lives are not to be made common with unholy uses. We are not to throw our pearls before swine, be yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-18), regard as holy things that are not holy, or be led astray from our sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)
Exodus 30:34-38 Incense represents intercession and prayers. But the incense was not to be used for anything else. Frankincense by the way, was very expensive, and it was one of the three gifts the wise men brought to Jesus. See Revelation 8:3-4 on incense being associated with prayer.
Primarily, as the priest's burning incense was a smell that permeated everything, The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and Jesus (John 16:7) should permeate our lives. Christ, and Christ alone, is our mediator (Ephesians 2:13-17; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 8:6) and the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us, with groans to deep for words (Romans 8:26-27).
A secondary application to our lives is that in following Christ, we are to continually pray, praising God and interceding for others. (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:6)
Q: In Ex 30:11,15 why did poor have to pay the same as the rich, who could afford it better?
A: The shekel tax as a ransom for their life, and there is an important point here. The life of the rich person is not any more or less important than the life of a poor person. In all of the Old Testament laws, there was no less penalty for killing or harming a poor person than a rich person.
The tax was only for people twenty years and older, and probably just men, which would mean that this was for a family unit. A family would not be penalized for having more children. Also, the shekel was a small unit of money.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.473 for more info.
Q: In Ex 30:12 and Lev 9:7, how can a ram or bull make atonement for a person?
A: Of itself, it cannot make atonement, according to Hebrews 9:9 and 10:4. However, Hebrews 9-11 shows the Old Testament sacrifices were a type, or figure, of Christ's sacrifice.
To put this in everyday terms, supposed some people had a great debt (or sin), that was so great they can never hope to repay their creditor (God's impartial demands for justice). Their credit cannot be trusted. But a rich king (God) steps in, and signs his name to an agreement to repay the debt in full. Then His son comes and pays the entire debt. When the creditor came around for the money, the people, in obedience to the king, had an actual sign that their debt was assumed by the king. See When Critics Ask p.522 for more info.
Q: In Ex 30:31-34, isn't it severe to kill someone for making a particular formulation of perfume?
A: Yes, it is strict. It is not unfair if everyone knows the rules, though. There is no evidence that anyone ever broke this rule or was punished for it.
Q: In Ex 31:12, why was observing the Sabbath Day so important?
A: Many genuine Christians believe that all days are a Sabbath rest under Christ (Hebrews 4:8-11), while other genuine Christians believe we are to keep the Sabbath today. Paul recognizes both practices in Romans 14:5-7, and says what counts is our living for the Lord.
Regardless though, all Christians have to agree that keeping the Sabbath Day was a very important commandment back during the time of the Mosaic Law, and if we lived back then, we would have to be diligent to keep it.
There are three explicit commands, and four explicit reasons regarding the Sabbath, but we can also see more reasons.
1. Keep the Sabbath holy (Exodus 20:8; Deuteronomy 6:12)
2. Do not work yourself (Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 6:13-14)
3. Those under you: son, daughter, servants, even (non-Jewish) foreigners within your gates, even animals, shall have a day of rest. (Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 6:14)
Explicit Sabbath Reasons:
1. Simple obedience: They are to obey God's commands.
2. Remembering Our Creator: As God made the earth in six days and then rested, so we too honor Him by resting on the Sabbath. (Exodus 20:11)
3. Remembering slavery and our Deliverer: As the Israelites were slaves in Egypt (presumably with no rest), and God brought them out, they are to remember they and observe the Sabbath. (Deuteronomy 16:15b)
4. As a sign between God's Old Testament people and God, that they would know God makes us holy. (Exodus 31:13)
5. God blessed the Sabbath and made it holy, so we are to acknowledge that. (Exodus 20:11b)
Possible Additional Reasons:
1. The Sabbath was an affront to people's own wisdom and effort. It would seem obvious to someone wise in this world that if you put in more work, you will get more benefit. And even when you wanted to take a break, you could still make your employees, servants, and animals more hard-working. God did not contradict that thought, or even say whether it was true or not. Regardless of the perceived truth of that mindset, God said to obey Him first.
2. The Sabbath was an affront to their self-reliance and independence. A trader, farmer, craftsman, or any other laborer would want to work the Sabbath if they thought the prosperity or even survival of themselves and their family depended on it. But it boils down to trust: does your prosperity and survival depend on you, or do you believe it depends on God?
3. Having a day of rest would make both them, the people under them, and even their animals healthier, physically, mentally, and emotionally, in having time to refresh and restore from the labor of the week. People today, regardless of their belief, need time to rest and refresh themselves.
4. Having a day of rest helps prevent burnout, from doing the same thing with no variation for years and years. Even Christians who see all days as alike still need time to rest and recuperate.
While genuine Christians disagree on not working on the Sabbath (Saturday), or Sunday, or all days are alike, all Christians ought to agree on two things here.
a) If we believed God wanted us to keep one day without work today, we should do it.
b) All our days, not just one-seventh of them, are to be devoted to serving God.
Q: In Ex 31:17, can God get weary?
A: God does not get physically tired (Isaiah 40:28). However, just as people can say they are tired of whining and insincere love, this is an expression showing God's lack of interest in insincere worship of Him. Isaiah 43:24 says that the Israelite's sins wearied God. Isaiah 1:14 says their festivals wearied God when they were wicked people. Ahaz's disbelief wearied God in Isaiah 7:14. Malachi 2:17 says that their words wearied God when they said those who do evil are good, and where is the God of justice. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.212-213 for additional discussion.
Q: In Ex 32:2-5, how could the prophet Aaron advocate worshipping idols?
A: Aaron sinned horribly. There is no excuse for what he did, but here is a possible explanation for his actions. When Moses did not come back, many questioned if Moses ever would return at all. Given the pressure of so many stressed and leaderless people asking Aaron to make an idol, Aaron gave in. Perhaps he valued his leading the people as a priest to restore structure and normalcy over waiting indefinitely upon the Lord.
Q: In Ex 32:1-10, why did God kill the Israelites who worshipped the golden calf, and not Aaron who made it?
A: God would have been just to kill all of them. However, God has the right to delay justice. He also has the right to extend mercy as He wishes, as Romans 9:15 shows.
The Circumstances: The people suggested the golden calf and provided the material. Scripture does not say whether Aaron was enthusiastic or felt coerced to obey all the people around him. The golden calf was using an image to worship the Lord in Exodus 32:5, not a different God. Of course even though the circumstances can help us realize why Aaron did this, the circumstances still do not excuse Aaron.
God is merciful to some and can delay His justice: God was very angry in verse 10 and He considered just destroying them all. God would have been just to destroy Aaron and all the others. God was merciful not just to Aaron, and merciful for not killing all the Israelites too.
Q: In Ex 32:14 does God change His mind, contrary to Num 23:19 and 1 Sam 15:29?
A: When our heart and actions change, God's revealed will towards us can change too. See the answer for Exodus 33:3, When Critics Ask p.85, and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.209-210 for info.
Q: In Ex 32:30, how could Moses try to make atonement for the people?
A: People can try to do impossible things, but even Moses could not take the place of anyone else, as Jeremiah 15:1 shows. Moses begged God to forgive the people of their great sin, and if not, then blot him out of God's book. This sounds very similar to Paul's feelings in Romans 9:1-4.
Q: Does Ex 32:30-32 show that Moses could take the place of the people similar to the Catholic belief in a "treasury of merit"?
A: No. If anything, it implies just the opposite, for two reasons.
1. In Exodus 32:33-34, God said that Moses' offer was not accepted by God. As a side note, Paul had a similar sentiment of sacrificial love towards the Jews in Romans 9:3, but it did not do the Jews any good either.
2. Moses did not offer to suffer for the people. Moses' offer to be completely blotted out of the book means sent to Hell. Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, and Copts all agree that no Christian goes to Hell for other Christians.
As a side note, in church tradition, the idea of a "treasury of merit" is totally absent from all pre-Nicene Christian writings. See When Cultists Ask p.37-38 for more info.
Q: In Ex 32:12 why did Moses ask God to "repent of this evil against thy people"?
A: The word "evil" here can also mean disaster. Moses asked God to relent from bringing the threatened disaster, because Deuteronomy 9:8 said God's wrath was aroused enough to destroy the people.
Q: In Ex 33:3 and Joshua 1, did God go with the Israelites into the Promised Land, or not?
A: God's revealed will is often timely and conditional, and it is sometimes explained as an anthropomorphic expression.
Timely: God told the rebellious generation he would not go with them. They all died, and God went with the following generation.
Conditional: Many of God's threats or promises have an explicit or implicit condition with them. For some examples of implicit conditional threats, see Jonah 3 and Genesis 20:3. See When Critics Ask p.87 for more info.
Anthropomorphic: God, who is beyond time, already knew what they would do, and He already knew what He would do. However, it is sometimes difficult for people to see that and simultaneously see that the people still had a real choice. Certainly if God had just told them what they would do for certain and what He would do for certain, that would limit their choosing.
A person does not have to agree with or even understand the concept that God is beyond time. They do not need to ponder timelessness before God will even communicate with them in a meaningful way. God communicates with people in terms people can all understand. See Now That's A Good Question p.202-205 for more on God communicating anthropomorphically.
Q: In Ex 33:5-6, why were the Israelites to take off their ornaments so that God would know what to do with them?
A: They were to take off the ornaments they had on when sinning, as a sign of mourning, and (hopefully) repentance. There is a key principle touched on here. God's revealed will to us can change when our heart changes. They had a choice to obey and mourn for their sin, or not.
See the discussion on Genesis 20:3-6, Deuteronomy 20:17; Jeremiah 15:6; Jonah 3-4; Jonah 3:10, and Jonah 4:1-2 for more info.
Q: In Ex 33:11, could Moses talk with God face-to-face?
A: As Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe write, a blind man can speak face to face with someone without seeing their face. This is an expression showing that Moses and God spoke intimately with each other, but it does not say Moses saw God's face as Exodus 33:20 shows. See When Critics Ask p.58, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.124-125, The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.82-83, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.46 for more info.
Q: In Ex 33:11,23; 24:10; and Gen 32:30 how could Moses, Abraham, or anyone else see anything of God, since God is invisible as Jn 1:18; Ex 33:20; Col 1:15 and 1 Tim 1:17; 6:16 say?
A: This was an argument Gnostics tried to use to say that, despite Jesus upholding the law, the God of the Old Testament was a different God than the God of the New Testament.
Invisible does not mean not having any form, nor does it mean that God is undetectable by angels or demons. It certainly does not mean that Almighty God is not mighty enough to be able to appear in a visible form. It simply means that we, with only visible eyes, cannot see things in the invisible realm and God is in that realm.
But God, while still remaining in heaven, is also able to "cross-over" and enter the physical realm in space-time. God would still be invisible in nature, but able to make Himself visible. We by nature are close to invisible during the darkness of night, but if we had a flashlight, people could still see where our presence was located. God could do the same, - with a burning bush.
But God did even more. In a way that has no 100% perfect natural analog, God crossed-over to have a localized presence in space-time, not just appearing as a man, but as a real, living, breathing man: Jesus Christ. Jesus both was and still is 100% human and 100% God.
Historically Irenaeus was the first Christian known to have answered this objection. He emphasized that since God is Almighty, He can even make visible, mortal people see invisible things, both in visions and after they put on immortality. See Irenaeus Against Heresies book 4 ch.20.4-10 p.489-491 for a more extensive answer.
Q: In Ex 33:19-20, how could Moses see God's "back", since God is spirit?
A: It is hard to refer to various distinctions of a spirit without using anthropomorphic terms. "Back" here does not "the part with a spinal cord". Rather, "back" can mean "back" as opposed to "front".
This refers to a reflection of some of God's attributes. It is not all of God's glory, as God denied Moses' request to see God's glory. (probably for Moses own safety). See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.154-156, The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.83 and R.C. Sproul in the first tape of his Holiness of God Series for more info.
Q: In Ex 34:20, Ex 13:2, and Num 18:15-16, should people kill unclean animals, or redeem them with money?
A: Exodus 34:20 says the owner had to either kill the firstborn animal or redeem it with money, except that he could redeem a donkey with a lamb. No other distinction was made between clean and unclean animals. Later, in Numbers 18:15-16 the law was narrowed to allow only redeeming with money of the firstborn unclean animals. See When Critics Ask p.87 for more info.
Some may have a problem with any God's law changing, because they do not differentiate three different aspects: moral, civil, and ceremonial. The ceremonial law changed in other ways, too, as situations changed. For example, sacrifices were not at the temple, before the temple was built.
Q: In Ex 34:23, why did all the man have to appear and not the women and children? (A Muslim asked this.)
A: We can see the answer when we read both Exodus 34:23 and 24 closely. It says, "Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel." I will drive out nations before you and enlarge our territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God." The women did not fight in the wars, only the men. No man was to "hide" by not appearing.
Q: In Ex 34:33 (KJV), how can it say, "And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face", since Ex 34:35 and 2 Cor 3:7,13 show the Israelites saw Moses' face?
A: The King James Version did not translate Exodus 34:33 well here. The Hebrew indicates that Moses had finished speaking when he took off the veil. Other modern versions are similar to the New King James, which says, "And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face."
Q: In Ex 35-40, what was the symbolism of the furniture within the Tabernacle?
A: Some see the following:
Brazen alter symbolized that even entrance demanded sacrifice
Brazen laver showed that those within needed cleansing
Bread of the Presence showed that Christ is our bread, He gives us all that we need for sustenance
Golden lampstand represented praise and prayer
Ark represented the presence of God
Veil showed the way to God's presence was not open to anyone (except the priest once a year). This changed when the veil is supernaturally ripped in two at the same time Jesus died on the cross.
This was taken loosely from The Teacher's Commentary by Lawrence O. Richards.
Q: In Ex 36:8-14, I was told that the dimensions that Moses received from God to build the tabernacle were almost exactly the dimensions that other ancients (not Hebrews) to build their own place of worship. Does this affect the credulity of God's dimensions for the Tabernacle?
A: First let's assume that presupposition is correct. (I will challenge that later). If it was the same dimensions as the dimensions the other ancients used for their temples, that would not affect the credibility of the Bible. If there were something special about the dimensions, Satan would use that information to make a counterfeit.
On the other hand, I seriously doubt the claim that these were the dimensions other ancients used for their temples, for a couple of reasons.
a) Different ancient worship places had different dimensions among themselves. As a simplistic example, suppose there were 10 ancient temples with dimensions of 100, 105, 110, 120, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 150, and the tabernacle had a dimension somewhere between 100 and 150. Now no matter what the dimension of the tabernacle, one could claim it was very similar to one of those 8 temples. - but that does not prove anything.
b) Ancient temples did not generally have a holy of holies, and the ones we know about were stationary temples, not tents.
c) Finally, remember that the tabernacle was built around 1400 B.C., older than all Roman temples and all Greek temples, except for the Myceneans. So if the dimensions were the same as a later temple, either there was no copying, or the later copied from the earlier, not the other way around. In general, it is not wise to pay credence to such things, unless they can provide examples.
Q: In Ex 36:22 (KJV, NASB), what are "tenons"?
A: Green's Literal Translation says "pins". The NRSV says "pegs". The NIV says "projections". The NKJV says "tenons" with a footnote says "Projections for joining, lit. hands".
Q: In Ex 37:14, does a sevenfold lampstand indicate later authorship, as sevenfold lampstands [allegedly] did not appear until 600 B.C.?
A: Some used to think this, but Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.31-32 points out the archaeologists have found sevenfold lampstands at Tell Beit Mirsim and some tombs at Dothan at the time of Moses show sevenfold lamps. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1006 says that seven-spouted lamps have been found in tombs and in the ruins of Canaanite temples, "Thus, the concept of a seven-fold lamp for sacred use in the Mosaic tabernacle was not anachronistic, as OT critics used to claim."
Q: Is Ex 38:8 evidence of later composition, as they [allegedly] did not have bronze mirrors back then?
A: No, because they did have bronze mirrors, as Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.31 says. Bronze is an alloy of copper and 2-18 percent tin. (The KJV said brass, because 400 years ago any alloy of copper was called brass.) The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1123-1124 says that bronze objects have been found at Ur from c.2500 B.C..
On p.1139 it says that bronze mirrors were rare, except in Egypt. They were very valuable though, as the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.389 says bronze mirrors did not spread to the common people until Hellenistic times. It also says that in the time of Joshua, the Tell el-Amarna letters mention a vassal presenting Pharaoh Akhenaton with 32 polished bronze mirrors. The Hittite king gave him one silver mirror.
As a side note, the oldest known Old Testament manuscript preserved today is 4Q17 of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is dated at 250 A.D. and contains Exodus 38 to Leviticus 2. The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated p.474 says it is practically identical to the Masoretic text.
Q: In Ex 39:28; Lev 8:9; Lev 16:4 (KJV), what is the mitre?
A: This Hebrew word can be translated "turban", as the NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, and NET Bible translate. Green's Literal Translation says "miter".
Q: In Ex 40, how could they build the tent, since there the tent was already there in Ex 33:7-8?
A: First two facts that are probably not that relevant, then the answer.
1. It is not required that Exodus 33:7-8 and Exodus 40 were written in chronological order, though they probably were.
2. After constant use under the sun, the tent might wear out.
Answer: Exodus 33:7-8 says Moses took an existing tent and called it the tent of meeting. After God anointed Bezalel and Aholiab In Exodus 31:2-7; 35:30; 36:1, they made the sacred implements, including a new tent of meeting, after God's design.
Q: In Ex, what applications can we learn from the entire book?
A: There are at least three applications.
As Moses and the Israelites left Egypt, so too, there may be fears, sins, other things, and situations that we need to be delivered from. And when we are delivered from them we need to leave. Are there certain "old, comfortable ways" of doing things in your life that you need to leave and stop doing?
Moses had already left the bondage of Egypt 40 years prior to the Exodus. But God had Moses go back to Egypt, not to bondage, but to free others. We may be free of some bondage we had, but what about our family, friends, and others? Perhaps God wants to use us to help deliver them too.
Even though all the Israelites were delivered, there were casualties on the way. Some Israelites were killed by plague and fire when they worshipped the golden calf, challenged Moses' authority, and were immoral with Moabite women. Miriam was made leprous for a while because of her prejudices. Even Moses himself was forbidden to enter the Promised Land because of him losing his temper in front of the people at the waters of Meribah. When you are delivered from something that is not the end of your challenges. You still must persevere. If you do something that makes you a casualty, then repent quickly, and even though there may still be consequences, obey God anyway for the rest of the journey.
Q: In Ex, what are some of the earliest manuscripts that still exist today?
A: Dead Sea Scrolls: (250 B.C. onward) 17 separate copies (The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.30 and The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated : The Qumran Texts in English 2nd ed.), from at least 23 original copies (The Dead Sea Scrolls in English 4th ed.). The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.436-438 says there are 15 copies. One manuscript from cave 4 is of the Samaritan family. According to The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated : The Qumran Texts in English 2nd ed. p.474, 4Q17 fragment in cave 4 (containing Exodus 38-Leviticus 2) is one of the oldest manuscripts, copied around 250 B.C. It is practically identical to the Masoretic text. These manuscripts are called
1Q2 (=1QExodus) Exodus 16:12-16; 19:24-25; 20:1,5-6,25-26; 21:1,4-5
2Q2 (=2QExodus(a)) Exodus 1:11-14; 7:1-4; 9:27=29; 11:3-7; 12:32-41; 21:18-20?; 26:11-13; 30:21?; 30:23-25; 32:32-34
2Q3 (=2QExodus(b)) paleo-Hebrew of Exodus 4:31; 12:26-27?; 18:21-22; 19:9; 21:37; 22:1-2,15-19; 27:17-19; 31:167-17; 34:10. Curiously it has Exodus 19:9 directly followed by a blank line directly followed by Exodus 34:10
2Q4 (=2QExodus(c)) Exodus 5:3-5
4Q1 (=4QGenesis-Exodus(a)) Genesis and Exodus. Exodus 2:1-5; 3:8-16, 18-21; 4:4-9,26-31; 5:1,3-17; 6:4-21,25; 7:5-13,15-20; 8:20-22; 9:8?
4Q11 (=4QpaleoGenesis-Exodus(i)) paleo-Hebrew of Genesis 50:26 Exodus 1:1-5 (twice?), 2:10,22025; 3:1-4,17-21; 8:13-15,19-21; 9:25-29,33-35; 10:1-5; 11:4-10; 12:1-12,42-46; 14:15-24;16:2-7,13-14,18-20,23-31,33-36; 17:1-3,5-11; 18:17-24; 19:24-25; 20:1-2; 22:23-24; 23:5-16; 25:7-20; 26:29-37; 27:1, 27:4?; 27:6-14; 28:33-35,40-42; 36:34-36; 40:15?
4Q13 (=4QExodus(b)) contains 6 fragments of Exodus 1-5
4Q14 (=4QExodus(c)) contains 36 fragments of Exodus 7-18
4Q15 (=4QExodus(d)) Exodus 13:15-17 followed directly by 15:1
4Q16 (=4QExodus(e)) Exodus 13:3-5
4Q17 (=4QExod-Lev(f)) Exodus 38-Lev2. (250 B.C.)
4Q18 (=4QExodus(g)) Exodus 14:21-27
4Q19 (=4QExodus(h)) Exodus 6:3-6
4Q20 (=4QExod(j)) Exodus 7-8
4Q21 (=4QExodus(k)) Exodus 36:9-10
4Q22 (=2QPaleoExodus(m)) Exodus Samaritan type of paleo-Hebrew Paleographically it is 100-25 B.C. The accelerated mass. Spec. dating at the Tucson lab gave 116 B.C. - 48 A.D.
4Q37 (=4QDeuteronomy(j)) (includes Deuteronomy 11:21 followed by Exodus 12:43-13:5)
7Q1 (= 7QLXXExod) is a copy of the Greek Septuagint version of Exodus 28:4-6 (100 B.C.).
phylacteries and mezuzot (worn on the forehead and arms respectively) have been found of Exodus and Deuteronomy among the Dead Sea Scrolls according to The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.33.
8Q3 is a phylactery which has Exodus 13:1-10; 13:11-16; 12:43-51; 20:11; Deuteronomy 6:5-9; 11:13; 6:1-3; 10:20-22; 10:12-19; 5:1-14; 10:13(?); 11:2; 10:21-22; 11:1,6-12.
8Q4 is a Mezuzah of Deuteronomy 10:12-11:21.
A Parallel Pentateuch was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. As some have made one Gospel story by placing various Gospel passages side by side, the Qumran community did the same with the Pentateuch, which is called scroll 4Q158.
Overall, preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls are the following verses from Exodus: 1:1-22; 2:1-18,22-25; 3:1-4,8-21; 4:1-9,26-31; 5:1,3-17; 6:3-21,30; 7:1-13,26-29; 8:1,5-22; 9:5b-35; 10:1-28; 11:3-10; 12:1-2,6-8,12-22,31-51; 13:1-7,12-13,15-16,18-22; 14:1-1,25-27; 15:1,9-21,23-27; 16:1-8,13-14,1-20,23-36; 17:1-16; 18:1-27; 19:1,7-17,23-25; 20:1-2,18-19a; 21:1,4-6,13-14,18-20?,22-32,37; 22:1-4,6-7,11-13,15-30; 23:5-16,29-31; 24:1-4,6-11; 25:7-29,31-34; 26:8-15,21-37; 27:1-3,4?,6-14,18-19; 28:3-12,22-24,26-28,30-43; 29:1-5,20,22-25,31-41; 30:10,12-18,21?,23-25,29-31,34-38; 31:1-8,13-17; 32:2-19,25-30,32-34; 33:12-23; 34:1-3,10-13,15-18,20-24,27-28; 35:1; 36:9-10,21-24,34-36; 37:9-16; 38:18-22; 39:3-24; 40:8-27; 40:15?. Ex 34:23-24,27-28 are very fragmentary.
See Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls vol.2 p.615 and The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls for more info.
The Nash Papyrus, dated 150 B.C., contains the Ten Commandments combined from Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-6:4f. The Nash Papyrus was the oldest known Biblical text until the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. A photograph of it is in the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.228.
Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1074 of Exodus is from approximately the second century (The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.367.
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) has preserved all of Exodus, except that Exodus 28:23-28 is absent.
We do not have any pages of Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) containing Exodus.
Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.) has all of Exodus, except that Exodus 28:23-28 is absent.
The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament and Apocrypha. Greek Manuscripts of the Bible p.60-61 shows a picture of a fragment, called Rahlfs 803 (=Dead sea scroll 7Q1), of Exodus 28:4-6, going back to 100 B.C.
Samaritans made their own copy of the Torah in the second century B.C., though the earliest surviving Samaritan copies are from the Middle Ages. The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.125-126. The Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls vol.1 p.277 says "the Samaritan Pentateuch tends to expand the text by frequently inserting parallel material from other places in the Pentateuch."
A Syriac translation of the Septuagint was made by Bishop Paul of Tella (616-617 A.D.), which we still have today, according to Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.35 (footnote).
Q: In Ex, how do we know that what we have is what was originally written based on the Jewish writer Philo?
A: As Christians we trust that the Old Testament that Christ validated the Old Testament we have. For that matter, for Muslims their Qur'an says that Jesus was given the Torah in Sura 5:46. We have early manuscripts from the time of Christ, which the next question addresses. However, there is an additional line of evidence. Philo of Alexandria was a Jewish scholar who lived from 15/20 B.C. to 50 A.D. He wrote in Greek, but it is curious that his Greek quotes of the Old Testament agree more closely with the Hebrew Masoretic text instead of the Greek Septuagint. He went into great detail into what different verses mean. Here are verses he referred to in Exodus.
1:8,9,11,15,18,20,21; 2:1,3,6,12,15-16,18,21,23,25; 3:1-2,4-6,9,14-15,17; 4:3,10,12,14,22; 5:2; 6:3,12,16,23,26,29; 7:1,12,15,17,23; 8:1,9,19,26,29; 10:20-23; 11:7; 12:2-4,8,11-12,16,23,34,38; 13:2,11-13,15,19; 14:4,7,13-14,19,27,30; 15:1,4,9,17,20,23,25,27; 16:4,6,13,15,18,36; 17:6,11-12; 18:4,7,11,14,16,25; 19:6,17-20; 20:2,5,9,12-13,16,18-22; 21:5-6,10,12-16,22,26,28,31,33; 22:1,6-7,26; 23:1-5,8,10,13,18-20,28; 24:1,6,10-11,18; 25:1,22,30,31,33,40; 26:1; 27:9; 28:17,30,34,36; 30:8,13,15,34; 31:1-2,39; 32:1,7,16-17,20,26,27,32; 33:5,7,12-13,17-18,23; 34:12,28; 35:22,30; 38:8; 39:3,26
See The Works of Philo : Complete and Unabridged. new updated version for more info.
Q: Which early writers referred to Exodus?
A: Philo the Jew (15/20 B.C. to 50 A.D.) quotes extensively from Exodus in On the Confusion of Tongues, Who is the Heir of Divine Things, Preliminary Studies, and other works.
Early pre-Nicene church writers referenced Exodus extensively.
Clement of Rome (97/98 A.D.) 1 Clement
Epistle of Barnabas (100-150 A.D.)
Didache (=Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) (before 125 A.D.)
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.)
Meleto/Melito of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.) listed Leviticus among the books of the Old Testament in his letter to Onesimus. It is unusual that he switches the order of Numbers and Leviticus. On Pascha p.72. Preserved in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History 4.26.
Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.)
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.)
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.)
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) first quotes Exodus 3:17 and then says, "Likewise in the same book of Exodus:" and quotes Exodus 20:2,22,23. Scorpiace ch.2 vol.3 p.634
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.)
Origen (225-254 A.D.)
Novatian (250/254-256/7 A.D.)
Anonymous Treatise Against Novatian (c.246-258 A.D.)
Anonymous Treatise on Rebaptism (c.246-258 A.D.)
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) quotes from Exodus, saying it was from Exodus in Treatise 12 the third book 11,13,113 among other places.
Dionysius of Alexandria (c.246-256 A.D.)
Archelaus (c.262-278 A.D.) Disputation with Manes)
Anatolius of Alexandria (270-280 A.D.) "two Agathobuli, who were surnamed the Masters, and the eminent Aristobulus, who was one of the Seventy who translated the sacred and holy Scriptures of the Hebrews for Ptolemy Philadelphus and his father, and dedicated his exegetical books on the law of Moses to the same kings. These writers, in solving some questions which are raised with respect to Exodus, say that all alike ought to" Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria ch.3 vol.6 p.147
Arnobius (297-303 A.D.)
Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.)
Methodius of Olympus and Patara (270-311/312 A.D.) quotes Exodus 30:1-9 as He [God] says Banquet of the Ten Virgins discourse 5 ch.7 p.328
After Nicea other writers referred to Exodus too.
Jerome (373-420 A.D.) discusses the books of the Old Testament. He specifically discusses Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, the Pentateuch, Job, Jesus son of Nave [Joshua], Judges, Ruth, Samuel Kings (2 books), twelve prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai,, Zechariah, Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Letter 53 ch.7-8 p.99-101.
Q: In Ex, what does the "parallel Pentateuch", (Dead Sea Scroll 4Q158) say?
A: Here is a small part of it. The scriptures it refers to are in italics. The translation is taken from The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition volume 2 p.307.
"Ex 20:12-17 your [father] and your mother [so that your days on the soil which YHWH your God gives you are lengthened. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not rob. You shall not give] false evidence [against] your [neigh]bour. You shall not cover the wife of [your] neigh[bour, or his house, or his servant, or his maid, or his ass, or anything of what belongs to your neighbour.] And YHWH said to Moses: Dt 5:30-31, Go and tell them: Go back to [your tents! You, however, stay here with me, for I am going to explain to you all the commandments, the laws] and the statutes, which you shall teach them, so that they shall do (them) in the land which [I give them so that they can possess it...] And the people did return, each man to his tent. But Moses remained in the presence [of YHWH...]."
Q: In Ex, what are some of the translation differences between the Hebrew and Greek Septuagint?
A: Here are a few of them in the 1,213 verses of Exodus. To get a sampling of Masoretic vs. Septuagint variations, the following focuses on chapter 30. Except where noted the first phrase is the Masoretic text (MT) and the second the Septuagint (LXX).
Ex 1:5 "And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls, Joseph being in Egypt." (MT) vs. "But Joseph was in Egypt. And all the souls born of Jacob were seventy-five." (Septuagint) The Dead Sea Scrolls also say 75 descendants. In Acts 7:14 Stephen said 75 descendants.
Ex 1:22 "born" vs. "born to Hebrews" (Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, and Targums)
Ex 2:25 "[God] knew/was concerned about them" vs. "[God] made himself known to them" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 says the Septuagint is in error here.)
Ex 3:6 "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face, for he feared to look upon God." (MT) vs. "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraam, and he God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and Moses turned away his face, for he was afraid to gaze at God." (Septuagint) vs. "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look" (Samaritan Pentateuch, Acts 7:32)
Ex 3:19 "go unless compelled by a mighty hand" vs. "go, no not by a mighty hand" (Septuagint, Vulgate)
Ex 4:22 "my first-born son" vs. "My own people" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.938)
Ex 8:22 "separate/deal differently" vs. "distinguish marvelously" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.356 says the Septuagint translators misunderstood the Hebrew word here)
Ex 8:32 "upon your people" vs. "of your people" (Septuagint)
Ex 8:23 "make a distinction" vs. "put a deliverance/redemption" in the Septuagint and Vulgate.
Ex 9:32 A Hebrew word for the second grain, probably "emmer" vs. "rye" in the Septuagint, vs. "herbs" in the Coptic version. (The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 says the grain emmer is found in Egyptian tombs, while the grain spelt is not.)
Ex 12:22 "basin" vs. "threshold"
Ex 12:40 "children of Israel lived in Egypt" (MT) vs. "children of Israel lived in Egypt and Canaan" in (Septuagint) vs. "children of Israel and their fathers lived in Egypt and Canaan" (Samaritan Pentateuch). Josephus writing about 93-94 A.D. in Antiquities of the Jews 2.15.2 also says they were in Egypt 215 years which is consistent with the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint. Josephus said it was 430 years after Abraham came into Canaan. See Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest p.330-331 for more info. The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.937 says, "in the land of Canaan".
Ex 14:25 "removed" vs. "clogged/jammed" (Samaritan, Septuagint, Syriac)
Ex 15:8 "breath from your nostrils" vs. "breath from you" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.938)
Ex 18:5 "eat bread" (MT, Septuagint) vs. "offer bread" (Syriac, Targums, Vulgate)
Ex 18:12 "brought" (MT, Septuagint) vs. "offered" (Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate) The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume p.413-414 says that "brought" is the correct word, and "offered" was just an interpretation.
Ex 19:18 "the whole mountain" vs. "all the people" in a few Hebrew manuscripts and the Septuagint.
Ex 20:12 "...mother, so that you may live long" (MT) vs. "...mother, so that it may go well with you and that you may live long on the good land" (Septuagint). Deuteronomy 5:16 has "...mother, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land"
Ex 20:17 is immediately followed by Dt 11:29-30 and 27:2b-3a,407, telling the Israelites to build the temple on Mt. Gerizim in the Samaritan Pentateuch. (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.937)
Ex 20:18 In the Nash Papyrus the sixth and seventh commandments are reversed according to The Journey from Texts to Translations p.188.
Ex 20:24 "in the placed where I have caused my name" vs. "in every place where I will cause my name" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.938)
Ex 22:8 "The master of the house shall come forward before Elohim" vs. "The master of the house shall come forward before El" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.938. It says the Samaritan Pentateuch "avoids any suggestion fo polytheisn: e.g., the plural predicates with 'elohim in the MT (Gen 20:13; 31:53; 35:7; Ex 22:8) are changed to the singular.") (It is Theon in the Greek Septuagint) The NIV translates this word a "judges" with a footnote saying "Or before God; also in verse 9" The NKJV also says "judges".
Ex 23:20 "Behold, I am about to send an angel before you to guard you in the way, and to bring you to the place which I have prepared." vs. "And, behold, I send my angel before thy face, that he may bring thee into the land which I have prepared for thee."
Ex 23:21 "Be observant before Him, and listen to His voice. Do not be rebellious against Him, for He will not forgive you transgressions; for My name is in Him." vs. "Take heed to thyself and hearken to him, and disobey him not; for he will not give way to three, for my name is on him."
Ex 23:25 "he [God] will bless" vs. "I will bless (Septuagint, Vulgate)
Ex 24:10 "And they saw the God of Israel. ... clearness" vs. "And they saw the place where the God of Israel stood ... purity"
Ex 24:11 "He did not stretch out His hand to the nobles of the sons of Israel. And they saw God" vs. "there was not even one missing, and they appeared in the place of God"
Ex 28:23-28 present in the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Complutensian Septuagint. Dead Sea scroll 4Q22 (=4QPaleoExodus(m)) contains fragments of 28:22-24,26-28,30-43. Absent from the Vaticanus and Alexandrinus versions of the Septuagint. See The Septuagint Version : Greek and English by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton. p.1131-1132 for more info.
Ex 29:9 "on Aaron and his sons" vs. "on them" in the Septuagint.
Ex 30:1 "An altar, a place of burning incense" vs. "an altar of incense" in the Septuagint.
Ex 30:1 "acacia-wood" vs. "incorruptible wood" in the Septuagint.
Ex 30:6 "[the altar] in front/before of the veil" (MT, Septuagint) vs. "[the altar] behind the veil" (Samaritan Pentateuch, according to The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.934)
Ex 30:12 "destruction" vs. "plague" in the Septuagint
Ex 30:21 "feet, and shall not die" vs. "feet with water, whensoever they shall go into the tabernacle of witness; they shall wash themselves with water, that they die not." (Perhaps the Septuagint translator accidentally repeated part of a line.)
Ex 30:27,28 Septuagint added "and all its furniture" four times
Ex 30:35 "salted, pure and holy" vs. "a pure and holy work" in the Septuagint
Ex 31:4-5 "bronze and in cutting of stones for settings" vs. "brass and blue, and purple, and spun scarlet, and works in stone"
Ex 32:29 "Today ordain yourselves" vs. "Today you have ordained yourselves" (Greek, Vulgate)
Ex 33:16 "are distinguished" vs. "shall be glorified" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 2 p.356 says the Septuagint translators misunderstood the Hebrew word here)
Bibliography for this question: the Hebrew translation is from Jay P. Green's Literal Translation and the Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton's translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English. The Expositor's Bible Commentary, The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5, and the footnotes in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV Bibles also were used.
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