JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus Page 15...

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

xiv INTRODUCTION The Setting in Time A clear distinction must be made between the special literary mold in which the narrative is cast— with its particular selectivity, emphases, and teachings— and the historical back-ground of the Exodus. This last issue is complicated by the absence from the biblical accounts of certain data essential to establishing chronological parameters. The names of the reigning Egyptian kings are not given; we do not know how long after Joseph’s death the reversal in the fortunes of the Israelites occurred; and we have no extra- biblical documentation that directly refers to Israel in Egypt, to the Exodus, or to the conquest of Canaan. In addition to these matters, there is the problem  that certain biblical texts have not yet yielded their secrets. For instance, Genesis 15: 13  foretells that Abraham’s offspring “ shall be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall be  enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.” This time span is there coordinated with just four generations. Exodus 12: 40– 41 states that the Israelites resided in Egypt for four hundred and thirty years. We are not told when this period is thought to have commenced; hence one cannot work backward to the patriar-chal era in order to fix the date of Israel’s departure from Egypt, not to mention the fact that the dates of the patriarchs are still a matter of scholarly dispute. The one apparently unambiguous chronological note is in 1 Kings 6: 1,  according to which four hundred and eighty years intervened between the building of Solomon’s  Temple and the Exodus. The king’s project can be reliably dated to around 960 B. C. E. This would place the great event at about the middle of the fifteenth century B. C. E. Unfortunately, this dating cannot be reconciled with many other details of the biblical narrative. Thus Moses, who lived in the Nile Delta, is easily and frequently in touch with the ruling pharaoh, who must also have had his residence in the area. But in the fifteenth century B. C. E. the Egyptian capital and royal palace were located at Thebes, a distance of more than four hundred miles ( ca. 650 km.) to the south of the Delta. Moreover, commencing about 1550 B. C. E. and for the next few hundred years, ener-getic and powerful Egyptian monarchs maintained a tight grip on Canaan. This situation would hardly have been conducive to Israel’s departure from Egypt and its conquest of Canaan in this period, especially as Egypt never figures in the biblical account of Joshua’s campaigns. On the other hand, a thirteenth century B. C. E. dating would seem to be far more satis-factory. It was then that the royal capital was situated in the Nile Delta; it was in this period that archaeological evidence shows the towns of Pithom and Ramses to have been built, and the Bible ascribes their erection to Israelite slaves. It was then that frenetic construction activity took place in the Nile Delta, which would have required the conscription of large numbers of laborers. The end of the thirteenth century was a period of Egypt’s decline and loss of its Canaanite province. The invasion of the Sea Peoples and the Libyans occurred; there was a power vacuum in the East; and generally it was a period of turmoil and up-heaval. Although a mid- thirteenth- century B. C. E. dating for the Exodus presently appears to ac-commodate more facts than a dating two centuries earlier, it is not without its own difficul-ties. True, it is reinforced by the Stele of Merneptah, the inscribed monument set up in western Thebes by the pharaoh of that name ( ca. 1224 to 1211 B. C. E.) to celebrate his vic-tory over the invaders of Egypt. This stele mentions “ Israel” as a people in Canaan but ap-parently not yet settled down within fixed borders. Nevertheless, the Exodus and con-   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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