Cover the basics of the Exodus narrative
Speak of some of the most significant aspects
of the story
◦ The promise made by God to Abraham in Genesis
and its importance in Exodus
◦ Deliverance from slavery
◦ Giving of the Law in the wilderness
Connections between Exodus and Pascha
Remember the ending of Genesis: the sons of
Jacob move to Egypt to be with Joseph and to
have food during the famine
Problems for Israelites begin when a Pharaoh
ascends to the throne who does not
remember Joseph
First time in Bible Jews referred to as Hebrews
is in Exodus 1
◦ Name comes from root “to cross/be on a path”
◦ Biblical people should always be on a journey
◦ Preference of God is for shepherds vs. city builders
Moses introduced
◦ Discovered by daughter of Pharaoh as an abandoned
 Emphasizes God’s election over human ascent
 Note also Moses was younger brother to Aaron
◦ Connected to Noah and Joseph
 Had been placed in an ark
 Rose to prominence in Pharaoh’s house
Moses kills an Egyptian beating a Hebrew
◦ Similar to Jacob/Judah, Moses is far from perfect
Moses is refused by his own Hebrew people when
he tries to break up one of their fights
◦ God chooses based on His own criteria, not on the
people giving their consent
Important motif appears again
◦ God hears the cry of the Israelite people,
remembering His (unilateral/unconditional)
covenant with Abraham
God appears to Moses in the form of a
burning bush that is not consumed
◦ No statue or temple nearby (i.e. would have been
entirely counter-cultural for God to appear there)
◦ Importance of fire: can both burn and illumine
◦ Imagery of the burning bush often used in
Orthodoxy to speak of the Mother of God holding
Christ in her womb
God tells Moses his name is Yahweh, or “I AM
◦ Often interpreted philosophically as “the one who
◦ Perhaps more accurate to the time/context is “I am
what I am” or “I do what I want to do”
 Or, simply: mind your own business about who I am in
my inner being and simply live by My will
◦ God again mentions He is the God of the fathers
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
Aaron, Moses’ older brother, is appointed by
God as Moses’ spokesman
◦ Moses says he is “slow of speech”
 Shows God uses/works through imperfect people
◦ Aaron is associated in the Bible with the priesthood
 Shows priests are not originators of the Law, but the
hearers of the Law (i.e. they must submit to the Law as
The family of Moses & Aaron
◦ None of Moses’ progeny are mentioned
 Similar to Abraham/Joseph in Genesis
 We become children of God through trusting in God
◦ Text indicates Moses is uncircumcised
Long series of plagues/signs
◦ Initially, Pharaoh’s magicians are able to mimic the
signs of Moses/Aaron
◦ Even after they are unable to mimic or defeat
Moses, Pharaoh persists in, and even hardens, his
slavery of the Hebrew people
◦ The people are unhappy with Moses/God for
worsening their situation
◦ After essentially destroying the land/natural
resources, God strikes the firstborn of the Egyptians
 Reversal of what Pharaoh did to Hebrews
 Emphasis on firstborn to indicate He is wiping out their
inheritance/continuation on the earth
Passover Instituted
◦ Beginning of the notion of the sacrificial lamb
◦ Blood of lamb placed on door so God would know
to “pass over” that house when striking the
◦ Unleavened bread (no time to wait for it to rise as
they are on the move)
 The “leaven” comes from the teaching of God/the Law
◦ Commanded to be kept throughout their
generations as a memorial/feast to the Lord
The Exodus
◦ The bones of Joseph are taken with the Hebrews
◦ God leads them through the wilderness as a pillar
of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night
◦ Hebrews complain against God when Pharaoh traps
them by the Red Sea
 God parts the Red Sea through Moses to allow Israel to
cross; closes it over Pharaoh and his chariots
◦ Red Sea is actually the “sea of reeds”
 Reeds are the material of which scrolls are made—i.e.
the passing through this sea is connected to the Law
◦ No water for three days—the people grumble
 Even after miracle of the Red Sea, the people disbelieve
The Manna
Big problem in the wilderness: no food!
God sends down manna, or bread from heaven
Manna used to sustain the people for 40 years
People received just enough for their daily need
Any “leftovers” spoiled by the next day, except:
God gave a double portion that would hold over for the
Introduction of Joshua
◦ Joshua defeats Amalek and his army
◦ Ultimately, Joshua will be the one to lead into the
promised land
◦ Jesus’ name is essentially the same as Joshua’s
 It means “to rescue/deliver”
Israel at Mount Sinai
◦ God makes a conditional covenant with the
 If they obey God’s voice and keep His commandments,
then they will be His people
 Being God’s people requires you to keep His
 Being “chosen” does not mean you have special privileges
by birthright
 Quite different than the promise made to Abraham
The Ten Commandments
◦ The 10 underscores their universal application
 10 is a more universal number than, say, 12
 These laws are more general than the later laws issued
◦ Broken into three main sections
 1-3: speak of our relationship with God
 4: sets aside the Sabbath
 During this era the Sabbath was a day to settle business
 For Hebrews it should be to hear the Law so they would be
corrected from previous 6 days and remember it the next
6 days
 5-10: honor your parents and, essentially, “do no
Additional Laws Given by God
◦ Dealing with Slavery
 Big question: why does the Bible “support” slavery
 As with issue of polygamy, the Bible subtly undercuts
the common practice
 Limits the length to six years, making it much less
valuable for the slave owner
 Prophets reference violation of these as reason for exile
◦ Harsh laws against mistreating strangers,
oppressed, widows, poor, etc.
 Why? Because YOU were strangers, oppressed, and
poor in Egypt
 Hebrews may not charge interest to the poor
 Significance of offering the firstborn/firstfruits
Additional Laws Given by God
◦ No partiality in judgment against poor/weak
◦ Sabbatical rest (7th day and 7th year)
 Wise, agriculturally, to let the land rest, BUT
 God says to do it so the poor may eat from it
 The Sabbath day allows slaves/animals time to rest
◦ Detailed instructions for worshipping God
 Indicates liturgical (vs. spontaneous) worship
 Includes images (“icons”) of the cherubim
 i.e. images are not completely banned
Additional Laws Given by God
◦ Appointment of the Aaronic/Levitic priesthood
 For no apparent reason, God chooses Aaron
 Only descendants of Aaron may be priests, but all
Levites are responsible for caring for the
 Levitic tribe is not the eldest—this follows a pattern
 Bells on garment of High Priest similar to those of
bishops today in the Orthodox Church
◦ Sacrifices
 Being a priest was, literally, a bloody business
 Underscores the paradox of the “bloodless sacrifice”
we reference at the Divine Liturgy
Uniqueness of the Writing of the Law
◦ Written in stone
 We understand this: it cannot be erased
◦ Written by the “finger of God”
 Indicates the Law is of divine origin
The Golden Calf
◦ The people become impatient waiting for Moses
◦ Aaron leads the people in making an idol
 It’s not the outsiders who are the concern
 The priests do not control the Law, but must submit to
◦ God considers destroying all of the people and
leaving only Moses (like he did with Noah)
Moses Pleads with God
◦ God changes His mind, BUT important as to why:
 Moses convinces God it would look bad if God brought
the people out of Egypt only for them to die in the
wilderness; it would not dishonor the Hebrews, but
God Himself
 God relents not because of the people’s worthiness or
repentance, but because of the covenant He made with
 Ezekiel 20 confirms this, with God saying four times
He saved Israel for His name’s sake!!!
Moses Breaks the Tablets of the Law
◦ Indicates the deal is off
◦ Symbolic/prophetic action of what people have
already done (i.e. broken God’s Laws)
God instructs the Israelites to continue
towards the Promised Land
◦ Indicates they will inherit the land not because of
their own righteousness, but because God is
Introduction of the Tent of Meeting
◦ Unlike the Temple later (which is problematic), the
Tent of Meeting is moveable
 Does not tie Hebrews to a geographic location
 In John, Jesus is said to have “tented” among us
The Law is Given a Second Time
◦ Repetition of the first giving, with God once again
writing it in stone
◦ Indicates Hebrews are already on their second
 Being “under grace” sounds nice and warm and cuddly;
in reality, it means you are “on thin ice” (cf. Ezekiel 16)
The promise of God to Abraham in Genesis
◦ “Drives” the whole story
◦ Referenced explicitly twice in Exodus as the reason
God saved His people (i.e. not because of their own
Deliverance from slavery
God giving His Law in the wilderness
◦ God desires His people to be free in order to
enslave themselves to Him, which is seen by:
◦ Specifically not in the Promised Land
◦ The true protection comes not from being in the
Promised Land, but from following God’s Law
◦ Not following God’s Law is the reason Jews are later
again enslaved (to the Babylonians)
Before speaking of Pascha specifically,
important to note broader Jewish
understanding of Exodus
◦ Alexandria, Egypt had largest population of Jews at
the time of Christ
◦ Clearly, the Jews understood Exodus more
◦ Not turning back to Egypt does not mean, literally,
they should never again live in Egypt
◦ So, what does Egypt mean?
Broadly, Egypt refers to the slavery to sin or
to living outside God’s Law
With this in mind, let’s examine the three
main points I emphasized from Exodus from
the perspective of Pascha
The promise of God to Abraham in Genesis
◦ God, through Jesus (the sacrificial lamb), opens up
salvation to all humanity
◦ Why? Certainly not because of our worthiness—
Jesus was left alone at the Cross
◦ Why? Because He promised Abraham he would be
“the father of many nations”
◦ Those who put their trust in the crucified Messiah
become children of “believing Abraham”
 Literally, their sins are “passed over”
Deliverance from slavery
◦ We are no longer slaves to sin, having been freed by
◦ However, we are not completely “free” per se, but
now free to enslave ourselves to the Law of Christ
God gives His Law in the wilderness
◦ Jesus gives us the Law of God which is based on
love of the needy neighbor
◦ Our only true protection is not in physical forts or
military might, but in the resurrection of the dead
◦ In other words, in the end, God alone is the judge
and He can make us to stand even if the rulers of
the world oppose us or put us to death
How do we know this?
◦ God raised Jesus from the dead
Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill (Areopagus)
◦ “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but
now commands all men everywhere to repent, because
He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world
in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He
has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the
dead.” (Acts 17:30-31)
◦ “Arise, O God, and judge the earth; for Thou shalt inherit
among all nations.” (Psalm 82:8; used as the hymn to
first introduce the Resurrection each year in the
Orthodox Church)
Importance of the name Pascha/Passover instead
of Easter

November 5, 2014 - Power Point Presentation