In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Book of Exodus

  • Introduction
  • Annotated Study Bibles
  • Dictionary Treatments
  • Old Testament Introductions
  • Research Tools
  • Bibliographies and Surveys of Scholarship
  • Collected Essays
  • History of Composition and Literary Context
  • Exodus and History
  • Exodus and Israelite Religion
  • Exodus and Moses
  • Exodus and Wilderness Journey (Exodus 16–18)
  • Exodus and Revelation at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19–34)
  • Exodus and Tabernacle (Exodus 25–31, 35–40)
  • Exodus and Theology
  • History of Interpretation

Biblical Studies Book of Exodus
Thomas B. Dozeman
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 November 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 13 September 2010
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0038


Exodus is the second book in the Torah, or Pentateuch, of the Hebrew Bible. It follows the story of the Israelite ancestors in Genesis, which concludes with the migration of Jacob’s family to Egypt during a time of famine. Exodus opens with the Israelites’ change of status from guests to slaves in the land of Egypt (Exodus 1–2), which sets the stage for the divine rescue of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery through the leadership of Moses (Exodus 3–15), their initial journey into the wilderness to the divine mountain (Exodus 16–18), and the divine revelation of law, the formation of a covenant, and the construction of a portable sanctuary at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19–40), before the story continues with the formation of the sacrificial cultic system in Leviticus, the formation of the wilderness camp in Numbers 1–10, and the second stage of the wilderness journey in Numbers 11–36. Exodus contains the core story of salvation for ancient Israel, the biography of the liberator and lawgiver, Moses, and the central religious rituals for celebrating salvation, including Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Torah observance, and the guidelines for building the proper sanctuary for worship. The Book of Exodus contains a series of interpretations of these central themes, which has resulted in a complex history of composition, prompting a variety of questions about authorship, genre, historicity, and theology.

The Text of Exodus

Exodus is preserved in ancient and medieval tradition in a variety of different languages as illustrated in Würthwein 1995, of which the Hebrew and Greek versions are the most important for the critical study of the text.

  • Würthwein, Ernst. The Text of the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Biblia Hebraica. Rev. ed. Translated by Erroll F. Rhodes. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995.

    This book provides an historical overview of the different ancient versions of the Bible.

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