Monday, April 2, 2012

Research Paper on Exodus

Research Paper on Exodus

In this paper I will reveal my deep knowledge of biblical text, Exodus 1-24, as well as express my point of view upon the chapters and how they can be treated.

1. Introduction 
The story of Exodus in general is said to be one of the core stories for both Jews and Christians, as for Jews it is the story of their liberation from Pharaoh slavery to that of God’s servants. And for Christians the story serves as the background for understanding death of Jesus Christ and the Last Supper in the gospel of John, New Testament.

The questions of history and faith are very important in relation to Exodus, as it is obvious that Exodus cannot be treated as the historical document, but only as the faithful story retelling, which was concerned mainly with the provision of the theological meaning and understanding of the events that were taking place. Theology in Exodus is very important and specific, and it arouses particular tensions which are not resolved in the first 24 chapters: “If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you” (Exodus 23:21).

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Exodus also includes different types of literature, such as story, law and liturgy and the text itself leads us to theological reflections. By means of liturgical texts it is possible to follow the meaning deeply. Theology of creation can be also observed in Exodus, as it is God who created leads people out of Israel and the God is “life-giving, life-preserving and life-blessing” (Exodus 1:7).

The knowledge of God and images of God are one of the main themes in Exodus, as God is constantly seeking for self-disclosure (Ex. 7:17, 8:10, 9:14, 11:7, 14:4) and is presented to us in many dimensions.

The distinctive feature of Exodus, is that unlike Genesis it is the story of the whole nation, and not the family story. The law, which is given to Israelites after they are saved from slavery, is the divine gift to them, but it is not very clear how the law obedience will be checked.

The idea of liberation can be seen through the whole Exodus, when God is saving those who are oppressed and gifting them liberty. The battle for liberation takes place, which shows that God is fighting the battle on the side of Israelites. Is that fair? Pharaoh on the other side is presented not just as the human being that is not setting Israelites free, but he serves as the representative of the wrong ideals of the whole Egypt.

2. Interpretation of Exodus 1:24 
The story of Exodus starts with the narration how Israelites were oppressed on the Egypt land when they came there with Jacob. The king of Egypt was very anxious about the situation, as he was afraid of war. As a consequence, Israelites were forced to hard work. The most important episode in the first chapter is that of with midwives that were asked by Pharaoh of Egypt to kill Hebrew boys when they are born. The idea is how Pharaoh could trust and give such tasks to Hebrew midwives. It is also mentioned that midwives feared God and obviously didn’t accomplish the task. The fear of God can mean the trust in God, and the person can trust just something that he definitely knows, so it can be assumed that those women were wise enough to understand the order of creation and live lives in harmony with it. There is a bright contrast shown between the Pharaoh who is bringing death and midwives that are resisting it and therefore promoting life (for their lie to Pharaoh the could be killed). Midwives were very clever to find the best answer to Pharaoh and were accomplishing their task of bringing life in the fullest extent. Then Moses is born, but Pharaoh commanded to throw all boys in Nile, so mother of Moses (whose name we will learn just in Ex. 7:20) placed the baby in the basket and left it on the Nile’s bank. Important note is that Moses sister was staying on the distance and watching what will happen to the basket, which means that she was anxious about the future of the child. It is also shown that not Egyptians were all the same, as Pharaoh’s daughter has found the baby, and her hart was kind as she had pity and decided to keep the child, even though she understood that the child was Hebrew. The greatest irony here is that the Nile, which was the sign of children death, becomes the mean of saving Moses and the direct relative of the person who established the policy of killing Hebrew boys, violates it. The other amazing point is that finally Moses mother is paid for what she wants to do (to feed the baby).

The name to Moses was given not immediately after he was found, but after he grew up and the name was Egyptian. The revelation of God in the burning bush is one of the most powerful episodes not only in Exodus, but also in the whole Old Testament. It was very much connected with the God’s identification to man and to the words that He was telling Moses, as obviously they were so strong and inspiring that lead to legendary events described in later chapters of Exodus. Here the understanding of the God’s image is essential, as it is not constant and changes from event to even. In Ex. 3:14 God says to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM…” The God was also shown as Lord, as the one who gives the law and demands obedience, as the judge for Israelites and Egyptians, as the king (Ex.15:18). God also is depicted showing his a kind of cosmic power, as natural forced obey to God and people (Egyptian Pharaoh) do not. In Ex. 3:7 is also shown that God has compassion and suffers along with his people.

To my opinion in chapters 5-11 God possesses human characteristics. God is playing his game with Egyptian Pharaoh by hardening his heart all the time to show the whole specter of his possibilities to both nations. God needs glory: “…that you may tell your children and grandchildren that I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs upon them…”(Ex. 10:2). God is also shown as jealous God in Ex. 9: 16. All the plagues were like the battle of God and Pharaoh, but God was the leader and having the absolute control upon it. That was the revelation of his knowledge to Israelites. Important note is that magicians could repeat some actions of Moses, but they were no able to remove them, which was the sign of the divine connection between Moses and God and the fact that Moses was chosen by God.

The Passover banquet was to happen when the final plague was still taking place and should be repeated in ages to commemorate God’s victory. There are some symbolic things mentions, such as bitter herbs, which are probably the sign how bitter was life of Israelites when they were slaves. And also unleavened bread, which can be similar to pita bread and it accompanied sacrifices at that time. One week abstinence from unleavened bread could probably be the reminder of God’s overwhelming victory over Egyptians and successful driving Israelites away from Egypt.

During the episode with Crossing the Sea (Ex. 13:17-15:21), Israel sociological situation was taken into consideration. One of the main ideas of the event was to show the God’s cosmic power over forces of chaos and turning them against Egyptians. Here the change of notions about what is good and what is bad takes place, as chaos is originally bad and wrong thing (in Exodus Egyptians represented such forces), but in the hands of God, the all forces can be used the way God wants. People of Israel during the trip are depressed hat just reveal that they were oppressed for a long period of time, and Moses speaks to them with the words from gospel (Ex. 14:13-14).

Bread and water (Ex. 15:22-18:27) were the signs of God’s favor. When the bitter water is made sweet (Ex.15:22-27), God is delivering his grace through human knowledge and useful properties of definite natural order elements. The manna mentioned is the type of the plant lice punctures the fruit of the tamarisk tree, which causes the fruit to excrete a yellowish-white ball; it has sweet taste, decays fast and attracts many ants. The purpose of showing the provision to people with that entire staff was to show that Lord is the God of people and that he heard people’s prayers. Also three parts of God’s will were shown: the establishment of solemn rest time (Sabbath), which should not be at the expense of the daily needs, in other words it should be the rest from work and not from enjoying life, and manna can be gathered one day at one time.

Amalekites were defeated with the combination human forces and divine energies: human leadership qualities and active community defense was involves, as well as the divine will.

Exodus 20:22-23:33 can be called the Book of Covenant, as it presented Law to worship (20:22-26, ordinances, moral commandments and duties (22:5-17) and sabbatical times and festival calendar (23:10-19). Most part of the mentioned laws were juts the illustrations how the Ten Commandments should have been applied in everyday life on practice.

The Covenant ceremony was the communition in the present of God and actual covenant making (Ex. 24). Encountering God on the mountain took place (Ex.24:9-11), and Moses was on the mountain alone and entered the sphere of God. Moses became the mean and the symbol of the covenant between God and people. The image of God has the transformative meaning here, as “no one can see God and live”, which can mean that no one can remain unchanged after seeing God.

3. Conclusion
In the conclusion I would like to summarize that Exodus is one of the most important parts in Old Testament, as it reveals the setting relationships between God and Israelites. It is very symbolic and in some places even controversial, as it is still the story told by people.
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