In this episode, we begin the Book of Exodus. God begins to fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs when he raises up Moses to lead his people out of bondage in Egypt, and while they won’t make it to the promised land until the Book of Joshua, Exodus provides the foundational story of the creation of the nation of Israel.
The Book of Exodus can be divided into three parts: First, we witness the power of the Lord as he extends his arm against Pharaoh, sending the ten plagues and finally parting the Sea of Reeds, which swallows up Pharoah and his army, letting Moses and the Israelites escape into the wilderness. In the second part, Moses will ascend Mount Sinai and receive the law (Torah). The final section of the book is devoted to the construction and description of the tabernacle, or the portable temple the Israelites will carry with them over the next 38 years they spend in the desert.
A three-part division is also seen in the Sinai episode where the people are gathered at the bottom, the elders are part way up, and Moses is on top speaking with God. We see a similar tripartite division in the third section’s description of the tabernacle with its courtyard, Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies.
Later mystics and teachers would use these three-fold divisions to describe the soul’s journey to God, labeling the stages with terms such as ‘purification,’ contemplation,’ and ‘union’.
After giving a brief overview of Exodus, we discuss some of the main themes of the book as a whole, and briefly touch on their importance for Israelite religion, later scripture and theology, mysticism, and world literature.
This week’s reading, chapters 1-6, gives us the background to the story of Moses, with his people enslaved and him in Pharaoh’s court. His life takes a drastic turn when he kills a man and has to flee to the desert where he marries Zipporah and lives with his father-in-law, Jethro, as a lowly shepherd. God speaks to him from a bush that burns without being consumed and calls him to lead his people out of Egypt so they can serve Him instead of Pharaoh. God overcomes all of Moses’ objections, reveals to him the name by which He will henceforth be known, and Moses makes his first attempt to convince Pharaoh, which fails miserably and makes the situation even worse for the Israelites.
As promised in the podcast, here is a link to an article describing the connection between the Feast of Trumpets and the giving of the gold plates to Joseph Smith.