As with Genesis, Exodus takes its name from the Septuagint (abbreviated as LXX), the first Greek translation of the Old Testament. The name means ‘a going out’, and refers to the central event of the book, Israel’s escape from Egypt.
The Genesis story concluded with the family of Jacob (Israel) firmly settled in Egypt. Exodus takes up the story approximately four hundred years later (Gen 15:13-14; Exod 12:41), by which time the descendants of Israel had multiplied till they were a nation in their own right, even though still in Egypt. The book shows how God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt, led them to Mount Sinai, and there formally confirmed the covenant made with Abraham, so that Israel might become in reality a people who would belong to and live for God. God then gave the people, through Moses, the principles by which they were to live and the religious order which they were to maintain if they were to enjoy the blessings of the covenant.
Revelation of God’s character
Apart from its value in recording the historical facts on which Israel’s national and religious life was built, Exodus is important in revealing much of the character of the one who was Israel’s God. Above all, he was a God who redeems. The people of Israel were always to remember him as the one who brought them ‘out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage’ (Exod 6:3-8; 20:2).
Israelites were to see their history not just as a collection of stories, but as a revelation to them of who God was, how he operated, and what he expected from them. God was involved in every aspect of Israel’s life: victories were his saving acts, disasters were his judgments. The preservation and growth of the nation was God’s doing (Exod 1:21; 14:21-22,31; 32:35). Israel’s God was holy, which meant that the people also had to be holy. They were to be set apart for God and were to keep his commandments (Exod 19:5).
Yet this God, who was different from and separate from his sinful creatures (Exod 19:12-13), also wanted to dwell among them (Exod 25:8; 33:14). The one whose holiness and justice required the punishment of the sinner (Exod 32:33) was the same one who graciously provided the way whereby repentant sinners could come to him, have their sins forgiven and be brought into living fellowship with the holy God (Exod 29:10-14; 34:6-7).