JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus Page 14...

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

xiii INTRODUCTION from the year in the wilderness following the Exodus. This limitation, together with the paucity of historical data, suggests a high degree of deliberate selectivity. Both the selectivity and the disposition of the featured material stamp the Book of Exodus as falling into the category of historiosophy rather than historiography: Not the preservation and recording of the past for  its own sake but the culling of certain historic events for didactic purposes is the intent. 11 The entire narrative is God centered. Its focal points are God’s mighty deeds on behalf of His people in times of oppression, in the act of liberation, and in the course of the wilderness wanderings. God is the sole actor, the only initiator of events. The various episodes, therefore, project Israelite concepts of God and of His relationship to the world; that is, they embody the fundamental tenets and crucial elements of the religion of Israel and of its world view. The different aspects of the divine personality, as revealed in Exodus, express a conception of God that is poles apart from any pagan notions. There is but a single Deity, who demands exclusive service and fidelity. Being the Creator of all that exists, He is wholly independent of His creations, and totally beyond the constraints of the world of nature, which is irresistibly under His governance. This is illustrated by the phenomena of the burning bush, the ten plagues, and the dividing of the Sea of Reeds. As a consequence, any attempt to depict or represent God in material or pictorial form is inevitably a falsification and is strictly pro-hibited. The biblical polemic against idolatry appears here for the first time in the context of the Exodus. Although the nature of God must be beyond the scope of the human imagination, the texts affirm, as one of their principal teachings, that He is nevertheless deeply involved in human affairs. History, therefore, is not a procession of causeless, undirected, meaningless happenings but is the deliberate, purposeful, unfolding plan of the divine intelligence. God chooses to enter into an eternally valid covenantal relationship with His people, Israel; this legal reality entails immutable and inescapable obligations on their part. The Decalogue and the legislative sections of Exodus thereby constitute divine law. They are not, as is the case with the Near Eastern law collections, the fruit of human wisdom or royal sagacity. From this flows another credo, first explicated in Exodus, which thereafter animates all of biblical literature: that the welfare of society is conditional upon obedience to God’s law. God is deemed to be absolutely moral, and He correspondingly demands moral standards of behavior from human beings. He delivers the faithful from injustice and oppression and ensures the ultimate and inevitable downfall of the wicked. The religious calendar of Israel became transformed by the Exodus experience. Formerly tied to an expression of the rhythms of the seasons, the sacred times were reinterpreted in terms of that great historical event. They became commemorations of God’s benefactions upon Israel in Egypt and in the wilderness and were emancipated from phenomena of na-ture. Finally, two of the most important institutions of biblical Israel find their origins in this book. The account of the organization of the cult around a central place of worship with a hereditary priesthood occupies nearly one third of the entire book; thirteen of its forty chapters are concerned with this topic. And the prophetic office, of seminal impor-tance for the national history and faith and later also for some of the world’s other major religions, is initiated through the person of Moses. He is the archetypal prophet whose mission epitomizes the distinguishing features of later classical apostolic prophecy.   C h a p t e r Home  | T O C

JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus


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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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