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Exodus - Week 2

April 15, 2020: Chapters 2-5

Image Credit: Moses found in the river, from Dura Europos Synagogue Fresco (244-255 CE). Artist unknown.


Read and Discuss Chapter 2:1-23.

  • Sargon, Noah, Moses, Jesus, King Arthur, and Superman (among others)
  • The power of origin stories: Exodus as hero origin story set in national origin story—double whammy
  • Young Moses and the development of a leader.Nakah—the deathblow. Multiple meanings of “Moses.”
  • Women in Exodus: Midwives, Moses’ mother and sister, Pharoah’s daughter—subversive, disobedient,powerful, and wise. Men kill. Women save. Does Moses learn from the women?


Other Things to Discuss, time permitting.

  • The nature & name of God (3-1-6; 13-15)
  • Negotiating with God & expectations of a leader. (4:1-5; 10-17)
  • Etiology & circumcision (4:24-26)
  • Let My People Go & Failure/Suffering/Patience as education

Questions to consider for Week 3 (chapters 6-10)

  1. In chapter 6 (and preceding and subsequent chapters) there is much repetition of the story, although with slight variation. Google search “Documentary Hypothesis” for a better understanding of the likely multiple authors who wove together this story through the centuries. What later agendas and emphases can you detect?
  2. In 6:9, we read that the Israelites “would not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and their cruel slavery.” In your opinion, is this broken spirit still at work in the world today?
  3. Chapter 7 details different kinds of magic/magicians. What’s the difference? Is the “magic” of Moses and Aaron substantially different in its aim, its ritual, or accomplishment?
  4. The 10 Plagues: Look for patterns in the plague cycles: Where is Pharaoh physically located in each?Moses? Which ones come with a warning? As a surprise?
  5. Pay attention to who is affected and who isn’t (it’s different for almost every plague). Why the divisions?
  6. Some scholars have connected each plague to an Egyptian god. Others have connected them with the classic forces in antiquity (earth, wind, fire and water). What do you think? Is there significance to them? Can they be given non-supernatural explanations? Mythical explanations? Can they be taken literally?
  7. Finally, consider this: Does Exodus (and therefore Judaism and Christianity) promote ideas like collective guilt and collective punishment? Or, Is it morally right for innocent individuals to pay for the crimes of their societies? What do you believe? Some later examples to consider: Slavery in America,World War II, the Holocaust, Climate Change, Ponzi Schemes, Natural Disasters, Mass Shootings.What’s the right balance between individual justice and corporate justice? Is complete justice even attainable?