JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus Page 13...

Masterly commentary on the second book of the Bible by eminent Jewish scholar.

xii INTRODUCTION nial, or three- year, cycles. The Book of Exodus was variously divided into twenty- nine  or thirty- three such sedarim, as the weekly Sabbath readings were called. Eventually, the Babylonian practice of completing the entire Torah in the course of a single year became universal. In this system, the Book of Exodus is divided into eleven sections, each known as a parashah ( pl., parashot or parshiyyot) or sidra ( h) ( pl., sedarot). The Contents and CharacterUsing the criterion  of geographic location, one may divide Exodus into three parts. Chapters 1: 1 to 15: 21,  which describe the oppression of Israel as well as the struggle for liberation and its final attainment, obviously  have as their setting the land of Egypt. The events recorded in chapters 15: 22 to 18: 27  take place on the way from the Sea of Reeds to Sinai, although  the location of chapter 18 is  debatable. For the rest of the book, chapters 19 to 40,  the scene of the action is Sinai. Such a simple locational classification, however, obscures the richness and variety of the subject matter, which a glance at the Table of Contents given above will immediately reveal. The Book of Exodus is the great seminal text of biblical literature. Its central theme, God’s redemption of His people from Egyptian bondage, is mentioned no  less than one hundred and twenty times in the Hebrew Bible in a variety of contexts. 7  This event informed and shaped the future development of the culture and religion of Israel. Remarkably, it even profoundly influenced ethical and social consciousness, so that it is frequently invoked in the Torah as the motivation for protecting  and promoting the interests and rights of the stranger and the disadvantaged of society. 8 This pervasive and sustained impact of the Exodus drama is not limited to the period of the Bible itself. It continued throughout history down to the present time and in recent  years has been a source of inspiration for the “ theologies of liberation” movements. 9  If it has so profoundly affected peoples of widely different cultures, this is hardly because the biblical nar-rative is a straightforward account of an historical event; it is not. Rather, this influence is due to the special orientation and perspective of Exodus. It is a document of faith, not a dis-passionate, secular report of the freeing of an oppressed people. The Book  of Exodus pos-sesses a character all its own and must be understood on its own terms. 10 A close examination of the constituent elements of the Book of Exodus determines at once that we do not have a comprehensive, sequential narrative, only an episodic account. Moreover, the time frame in which the varied episodes are placed is extremely limited. The afore- cited passage from the Dikdukei Ha- Te‘ amim adduces  a tradition that one hundred and forty years elapsed between the death of Joseph ( 1: 4)  — the first event recorded in the book— and the construction of the  Tabernacle almost exactly  one year after the Exodus, the last dated occurrence ( 40: 2).  Yet, the narrative is most sparing of detail relating to the period of the oppression. Neither  the duration of the sufferings of the Israelites nor anything about their inner life and community existence is mentioned. Only inciden-tally do we learn that the period of Egyptian enslavement lasted at least eighty years. We are told that Moses, who was born after the king’s genocidal decree, was eighty years old when he first presented himself before the pharaoh as the leader of the people. Further investigation reveals that the book really covers the events of just two years: the year- long diplomatic activity as well as the coercive measures taken against the Egyptians and a few incidents   C h a p t e r Home  | T O C

JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus


About Book JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus

FRONT MATTERTitle PagePatrons PageDedication PageCopyright PageAcknowledgmentsContentsIntroductionGlossaryAbbreviationsWEEKLY READINGSShemot Ch. 1:1Va-'Era' Ch. 6:2Bo' Ch. 10:1Beshallah Ch. 13:17Yitro Ch. 18:1 Mishpatim Ch. 21:1Terumah Ch. 25:1Tetsavveh Ch. 27:20Ki Tissa ' Ch. 30:11Va-Yakhel Ch. 35:1Pekudei Ch. 38: 21THE COMMENTARY TO EXODUSReversal of Fortune (1:1-22)An Introductory Summary (vv.1-7)The Oppression (vv. 8-14)The Midwives (vv. 15-22)The Birth and Youth of Moses (2:1-25)The Abandonment and Salvation of Moses (vv. 1-10)The Character of Moses (vv. 11-15)Moses in Midian (vv. 16-22)A Transitional Postscript (vv. 23-25)The Commissioning of Moses (3:1-4:17)The Theophany at the Burning Bush (vv. 1-6)The Divine Call (vv. 7-10)Moses' Dialogue with God (3:11-4:17)The Challenge of Leadership: Initial Failure (4:18-6:1)Leave-taking and Departure (vv. 18-23)The Night Encounter and Circumcision (vv. 24-26)Moses' Leadership is Accepted (vv. 27-31)The First Audience with Pharaon (5:1-6:1)Divine Reaffirmation (6:2-7:13)Moses Transmits the Divine Message (v. 9)A Renewed Call to Action (vv. 10-13)A Genealogy (vv. 14-25)A Recapitulation (vv. 26-30)Reaffirmation and Renewal of Moses' Mission (vv. 1-7)Signs before Pharaon (vv. 8-13)The Plagues (7:14-11:10)The First Plague: the Waters become Bloody (dam) (7:14-25)The Second Plague: Frogs (tsefardea') (7:26-8:11)The Third Plague: Vermin (kinnim) (vv. 12-15)The Fourth Plague ('arov) (vv. 16-28)The Fifth Plague: Prestilence (dever) (vv. 1-7)The Sixth Plague: Boils (shehin) (vv. 8-12)The Seventh Plague: Hail (barad) (vv. 13-35)The Eigth Plague: Locusts ('arbeh) (vv. 1-20)The Ninth Plague: Darkness (hoshekh) (vv. 21-29)The Announcement of the Tenth Plague (vv. 1-10)The Last Act (12:1-51)The Reform of the Calendar (v. 2)The Paschal Offering ( vv. 3-13)The Festival of Matsot (vv. 14-20)Instructions for the Pesah are Relayed (vv. 21-28)The Tenth Plague (vv. 29-36) The Exodus (vv. 37-42)Exclusionary Regulations (vv. 43-49)Commemorative Rituals (13:1-16)The Installation of the First-born (vv. 1-2)The Law of Matsot and Tefillin (vv. 3-10)The Redemption of the First-born (vv. 11-16)The Exodus (13:17-14:31)Into the Wilderness (vv. 17-22)The Miracle at the Sea (vv. 1-31)Instructions to Change Course (vv. 1-4)The Song at the Sea: Shirat ha-Yam (15:1-19)The Defeat of the Egyptians (vv. 1-10)The Incomparability of YHVH (vv. 11-13)The Impact on the Neighboring Peoples (vv. 14-16)The Grand Finale (vv. 17-18)A Coda (v. 19)The Song of Miriam (vv. 20-21)Crises in the Wilderness (15:22-17:16)The Bitter Waters at Marah (vv. 22-27)The Shortage of Food - Manna and Quail (vv. 1-20)The People are Informed (vv. 6-10)The Quail and Manna Arrive (vv. 11-20)The Law of the Sabbath (vv. 21-30)An Appendix on the Manna (vv. 31-36)Massah and Meribah (vv. 1-7)The Battle with Amalek (vv. 8-16)Jethro's Visit and the Organization of the Judiciary (18:1-27)The Arrival of Jethro (vv. 1-12)The Organization of the Judiciary (vv. 13-27)The Covenant at Sinai (19:1-20-21)Narrative Introduction (vv. 1-3)Israel's Destiny Defined (vv. 3c-6)The Popular Responce (vv. 7-8)Preparations for the Theophany (vv. 9-25)The Decalogue (vv. 1-14(17))The People's Reaction (vv. 15-18(18-21))The Regulation of Worship (vv. 19-23(22-26))The Book of the Covenant: The Laws (21:1-24:18)Judicial Rulings (21:2-22:16)Categorical Commands (22:17-23:19)The Agricultural Prescriptions (vv. 10-13)Renewal of the Divine Promises (vv. 20-33)Ratification of the Covenant (vv. 1-18)Instructions for the Tabernacle (25:1-31:18)The Materials (vv 1-9)The Ark (vv. 10-16)The Kapporet and the Cherubim (vv. 17-22)The Table and Its Appurtenances (vv. 23-30)The Menorah (vv. 31-40)The Tabernacle Coverings (vv. 1-14)The Wooden Structure (vv. 15-30)The Inner Curtain (parokhet) (vv. 31-35)The Outer Curtain (vv. 36-37)The Outer Altar of Sacrifices and Its Accessories (vv. 1-8)The Enclosure (vv. 9-19)A Summation (vv. 18-19)The Oil for Lighting (vv. 20-21)The Priesthood and the Priestly Vestments (vv. 1-43)The Vestments of Ordinary Priests (vv. 40-43)The Installation of the Priests (29:1-46)The Materials (vv. 1-3)The Washing (v. 4)The Robing and Anointing of Aaron Alone (vv. 5-7)The Robing of Aaron and His Sons (vv. 8-9)The Animal Sacrifices (vv. 10-26, 31-42)The Installation of Future Priests (vv. 27-30)The Sacrificial Meal (vv. 31-34)A Week-long Observance (vv. 35-37)The Regular Burnt Offering (vv. 38-42)A Summation (vv. 43-46)An Appendix to the Instruction (30:1-38)The Incense Altar (vv. 1-10)The Census and the Poll Tax (vv. 11-16)The Bronze Laver (vv. 17-21)The Aromatic Anointing Oil (vv. 22-33)The Ingredients of the Incense (vv. 34-38)Appointment of Construction Personnel (vv. 1-11)The Observance of the Sabbath (vv. 12-17)A Coda (v. 18)The Violation of the Covenant: The Golden Calf (32:1-33:23) The Making of a Golden Calf (vv. 1-6)God's Anger and Moses' Intercession (vv. 7-14)Moses Smashes the Tablets and Destroys the Calf (vv. 15-20)Aaron's Apologia (vv. 21-24)Selection of the Levites (vv. 25-29)Moses' Second Intercession (vv. 30-34)Withdrawal of the Divine Presence (vv. 1-6)Moses' Exceptional Status (vv. 7-11)Dialogue with God (vv. 12-23)Renewal of the Covenant (34:1-35)Preparatory Measures (vv. 1-3)God's Self-disclosure (vv. 4-9)Inauthentic and Authentic Worship (vv. 10-26)Epilogue: Moses Reaches the Pinnacle of Eminence (vv. 27-35)The Construction of the Tabernacle (35:1-40:38)The Convening of the People (35:1-19)The Work of Construction (36:8-38:20)The Making of the Priestly Vestments (vv. 1-31)Complection and Inspection (vv. 32-43)Erecting the Tabernacle (vv. 1-8)Anointing the Tabernacle and Furnishings (vv. 9-11)Installing the Priests (vv. 12-15)Fulfilling the Instructions (vv. 16-33)The Appearance of the Divine Presence (vv. 34-38)NOTES TO THE COMMENTARYEXCURSUSExcursus 1. The Hebrews 1:15Excursus 2. The Abandoned Hero Motif 2:3Excursus 3. God of the Father 3:6Excursus 4. 'El Shaddai 6:3Excursus 5. Tefillin 13:9, 16Excursus 6. Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Law (21:1-22:10)NOTES TO THE EXCURSUSESExcursus 1Excursus 2Excursus 3Excursus 4Excursus 5Excursus 6
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