Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett

in The Bible: Authorized King James Version

Published in print February 1998 | ISBN: 9780192835253
Published online April 2009 |

Series: Oxford World's Classics


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The books of the Bible are not separate units, but a series of scrolls telling a continuous story. Thus that of the people of Israel begins in Gen. 12 and then continues through Exodus until the destruction of Jerusalem in 2 Kgs. 25. The title of this second scroll, Exodus (‘the road out’), concerns the slavery of the ancestors of Israel in Egypt. Perhaps not surprisingly, the story of the exodus from Egypt focuses more on the destruction of the Egyptians, by means of the ten plagues of Egypt, than it does on the actual departure from the slave-camps (‘house of slaves/bondage’) and on the regulations for life and worship of the people in the wilderness. The legend of the exodus is bound up with representations of the cult of YHWH. The passover legend (12) is created out of a fusion of two discrete rituals: the pastoral/nomadic practice of killing a lamb at the beginning of spring (one version of the new year) and the sedentary/farming ritual of eating unleavened bread. The tenth plague is made to coincide with the exodus itself and the slaves flee Egypt, armed for military battle. Too many different traditions and stories are fused together in 12 for historians to be able to extract any reliable information from the tale and readers are advised to follow all the details of the story carefully in 2–15 in order to get a real sense of the legend.

Chapter.  1049 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

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