Book of Exodus

ספר שמות (Hebrew)

General Information

Exodus, the second book of the Bible, derives its name from the narrative's main theme, Israel's exodus from Egypt. Picking up where Genesis left off, the first 15 chapters of Exodus describe Egypt's harsh policy toward Israel and the escape of the Israelites from their bondage. The narrative follows the career of Moses from his marvelous birth through his exile in Midian. It continues with his final victorious contest with Pharaoh, in which Moses is God's spokesman, and ends with the Egyptian debacle at the Reed (traditionally Red) Sea. Chapters 16 - 40 describe the march of the Israelites through the wilderness to Mount Sinai, where God descends on the mountain, gives the law to Moses, and establishes a quickly broken Covenant with Israel that must be reestablished after Aaron makes the Golden Calf.

Many important events are recorded in Exodus: the revelation of God's name as Yahweh in 3:11 - 15; the institution of the Passover in 5:1 - 12:36; and the giving of the Ten Commandments, directives for the construction of the Tabernacle, and other religious and ceremonial legislation in 19 - 40. The authorship of the book has been ascribed traditionally to Moses, but it is actually a composite work of much later date, containing the same literary strands found in Genesis.

Text Font Face
Text Size
(for printing)
BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects
J J M Roberts

B S Childs, The Book of Exodus (1974). C A Cole, Studies in Exodus (1986).

Book of Exodus

Brief Outline

  1. Israel in Egypt (1:1-12:36)
  2. The journey to Sinai (12:37-19:2)
  3. Israel at Sinai (19:3-40:38)


Advanced Information

The Exodus was the great deliverance wrought for the children of Isreal when they were brought out of the land of Egypt with "a mighty hand and with an outstretched 136), about B.C. 1490, and four hundred and eighty years (1 Kings 6:1) before the building of Solomon's temple. The time of their sojourning in Egypt was, according to Ex. 12:40, the space of four hundred and thirty years. In the LXX., the words are, "The sojourning of the children of Israel which they sojourned in Egypt and in the land of Canaan was four hundred and thirty years;" and the Samaritan version reads, "The sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers which they sojourned in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt was four hundred and thirty years." In Gen. 15:13-16, the period is prophetically given (in round numbers) as four hundred years.

This passage is quoted by Stephen in his defence before the council (Acts 7:6). The chronology of the "sojourning" is variously estimated. Those who adopt the longer term reckon thus:- Years From the descent of Jacob into Egypt to the death of Joseph 71 From the death of Joseph to the birth of Moses 278 From the birth of Moses to his flight into Midian 40 From the flight of Moses to his return into Egypt 40 From the return of Moses to the Exodus 1 430 Others contend for the shorter period of two hundred and fifteen years, holding that the period of four hundred and thirty years comprehends the years from the entrance of Abraham into Canaan (see LXX. and Samaritan) to the descent of Jacob into Egypt.

They reckon thus:- Years. From Abraham's arrival in Canaan to Isaac's birth 25 From Isaac's birth to that of his twin sons Esau and Jacob 60 From Jacob's birth to the going down into Egypt 130 215 From Jacob's going down into Egypt to the death of Joseph 71 From death of Joseph to the birth of Moses 64 From birth of Moses to the Exodus 80 In all 430 During the forty years of Moses' sojourn in the land of Midian, the Hebrews in Egypt were being gradually prepared for the great national crisis which was approaching.

The plagues that successively fell upon the land loosened the bonds by which Pharaoh held them in slavery, and at length he was eager that they should depart. But the Hebrews must now also be ready to go. They were poor; for generations they had laboured for the Egyptians without wages. They asked gifts from their neighbours around them (Ex. 12:35), and these were readily bestowed. And then, as the first step towards their independent national organization, they observed the feast of the Passover, which was now instituted as a perpetual memorial. The blood of the paschal lamb was duly sprinkled on the poor-posts and lintels of all their houses, and they were all within, waiting the next movement in the working out of God's plan.

At length the last stroke fell on the land of Egypt. "It came to pass, that at midnight Jehovah smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt." Pharaoh rose up in the night, and called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, "Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve Jehovah, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also." Thus was Pharaoh (q.v.) completely humbled and broken down. These words he spoke to Moses and Aaron "seem to gleam through the tears of the humbled king, as he lamented his son snatched from him by so sudden a death, and tremble with a sense of the helplessness which his proud soul at last felt when the avenging hand of God had visited even his palace." The terror-stricken Egyptians now urged the instant departure of the Hebrews.

In the midst of the Passover feast, before the dawn of the 15th day of the month Abib (our April nearly), which was to be to them henceforth the beginning of the year, as it was the commencement of a new epoch in their history, every family, with all that appertained to it, was ready for the march, which instantly began under the leadership of the heads of tribes with their various sub-divisions. They moved onward, increasing as they went forward from all the districts of Goshen, over the whole of which they were scattered, to the common centre. Three or four days perhaps elapsed before the whole body of the people were assembled at Rameses, and ready to set out under their leader Moses (Ex. 12:37; Num. 33:3). This city was at that time the residence of the Egyptian court, and here the interviews between Moses and Pharaoh had taken place. From Rameses they journeyed to Succoth (Ex. 12:37), identified with Tel-el-Maskhuta, about 12 miles west of Ismailia.

Their third station was Etham (q.v.), 13:20, "in the edge of the wilderness," and was probably a little to the west of the modern town of Ismailia, on the Suez Canal. Here they were commanded "to turn and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea", i.e., to change their route from east to due south. The Lord now assumed the direction of their march in the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. They were then led along the west shore of the Red Sea till they came to an extensive camping-ground "before Pi-hahiroth," about 40 miles from Etham. This distance from Etham may have taken three days to traverse, for the number of camping-places by no means indicates the number of days spent on the journey: e.g., it took fully a month to travel from Rameses to the wilderness of Sin (Ex. 16:1), yet reference is made to only six camping-places during all that time.

The exact spot of their encampment before they crossed the Red Sea cannot be determined. It was probably somewhere near the present site of Suez. Under the direction of God the children of Israel went "forward" from the camp "before Pi-hahiroth," and the sea opened a pathway for them, so that they crossed to the farther shore in safety. The Egyptian host pursued after them, and, attempting to follow through the sea, were overwhelmed in its returning waters, and thus the whole military force of the Egyptians perished. They "sank as lead in the mighty waters" (Ex. 15:1-9; comp. Ps. 77:16-19). Having reached the eastern shore of the sea, perhaps a little way to the north of 'Ayun Musa ("the springs of Moses"), there they encamped and rested probably for a day. Here Miriam and the other women sang the triumphal song recorded in Ex. 15:1-21. From 'Ayun Musa they went on for three days through a part of the barren "wilderness of Shur" (22), called also the "wilderness of Etham" (Num. 33:8; comp. Ex. 13:20), without finding water.

On the last of these days they came to Marah (q.v.), where the "bitter" water was by a miracle made drinkable. Their next camping-place was Elim (q.v.), where were twelve springs of water and a grove of "threescore and ten" palm trees (Ex. 15:27). After a time the children of Israel "took their journey from Elim," and encamped by the Red Sea (Num. 33:10), and thence removed to the "wilderness of Sin" (to be distinguished from the wilderness of Zin, 20:1), where they again encamped. Here, probably the modern el-Markha, the supply of bread they had brought with them out of Egypt failed. They began to "murmur" for want of bread. God "heard their murmurings" and gave them quails and manna, "bread from heaven" (Ex. 16:4-36). Moses directed that an omer of manna should be put aside and preserved as a perpetual memorial of God's goodness. They now turned inland, and after three encampments came to the rich and fertile valley of Rephidim, in the Wady Feiran. Here they found no water, and again murmured against Moses.

Directed by God, Moses procured a miraculous supply of water from the "rock in Horeb," one of the hills of the Sinai group (17:1-7); and shortly afterwards the children of Israel here fought their first battle with the Amalekites, whom they smote with the edge of the sword. From the eastern extremity of the Wady Feiran the line of march now probably led through the Wady esh-Sheikh and the Wady Solaf, meeting in the Wady er-Rahah, "the enclosed plain in front of the magnificient cliffs of Ras Sufsafeh." Here they encamped for more than a year (Num. 1:1; 10:11) before Sinai (q.v.). The different encampments of the children of Israel, from the time of their leaving Egypt till they reached the Promised Land, are mentioned in Ex. 12:37-19; Num. 10-21; 33; Deut. 1, 2, 10. It is worthy of notice that there are unmistakable evidences that the Egyptians had a tradition of a great exodus from their country, which could be none other than the exodus of the Hebrews.

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)

Book of Exodus

Advanced Information

Exodus is the name given in the LXX. to the second book of the Pentateuch (q.v.). It means "departure" or "outgoing." This name was adopted in the Latin translation, and thence passed into other languages. The Hebrews called it by the first words, according to their custom, Ve-eleh shemoth (i.e., "and these are the names"). It contains, (1.) An account of the increase and growth of the Israelites in Egypt (ch. 1) (2.) Preparations for their departure out of Egypt (2-12:36). (3.) Their journeyings from Egypt to Sinai (12:37-19:2). (4.) The giving of the law and the establishment of the institutions by which the organization of the people was completed, the theocracy, "a kingdom of priest and an holy nation" (19:3-ch. 40). The time comprised in this book, from the death of Joseph to the erection of the tabernacle in the wilderness, is about one hundred and forty-five years, on the supposition that the four hundred and thirty years (12:40) are to be computed from the time of the promises made to Abraham (Gal. 3:17). The authorship of this book, as well as of that of the other books of the Pentateuch, is to be ascribed to Moses. The unanimous voice of tradition and all internal evidences abundantly support this opinion.

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)


Catholic Information

After the death of Joseph, Israel had grown into a people, and its history deals no longer with mere genealogies, but with the people's national and religious development. The various laws are given and promulgated as occasion required them; hence they are intimately connected with the history of the people, and the Pentateuchal books in which they are recorded are rightly numbered among the historical books of Scripture. Only the third book of the Pentateuch exhibits rather the features of a legal code. The Book of Exodus consists of a brief introduction and three main parts:

Introduction, i, 1-7.- A brief summary of the history of Jacob connects Genesis with Exodus, and serves at the same time as transition from the former to the latter.

(1) First Part, i, 8-xiii, 16.- It treats of the events preceding and preparing the exit of Israel from Egypt.

(a) Ex., i, 8-ii, 25; the Israelites are oppressed by the new Pharao "that knew not Joseph", but God prepares them a liberator in Moses.

(b) Ex., iii, 1-iv, 31.-Moses is called to free his people; his brother Aaron is given him as companion; their reception by the Israelites.

(c) v, 1-x, 29.-Pharao refuses to listen to Moses and Aaron; God renews his promises; genealogies of Moses and Aaron; the heart of Pharao is not moved by the first nine plagues.

(d) xi, 1-xiii, 16.-The tenth plague consists in the death of the first-born; Pharao dismisses the people; law of the annual celebration of the pasch in memory of the liberation from Egypt.

(2) Second Part, xiii, 17-xviii, 27.- Journey of Israel to Mt. Sinai and miracles preparing the people for the Sinaitic Law.

(a) xiii, 1-xv, 21.-The Israelites, led and protected by a pillar of cloud and fire, cross the Red Sea, but the persecuting Egyptians perish in the waters.

(b) xv, 22-xvii, 16.-The route of Israel is passing through Sur, Mara, Elim, Sin, Rephidim. At Mara the bitter waters are made sweet; in the Desert of Sin God sent quails and manna to the children of Israel; at Raphidim God gave them water form the rock, and defeated Amalec through the prayers of Moses.

(c) xviii, 1-27.-Jethro visits his kinsmen, and at his suggestion Moses institutes the judges of the people.

(3) Third Part, xix, 1-xl, 38.- Conclusion of the Sinaitic covenant and its renewal. Here Exodus assumes more the character of a legal code.

(a) xix, 1-xx, 21.-The people journey to Sinai, prepare for the coming legislation, receive the decalogue, and ask to have the future laws promulgated through Moses.

(b) xx, 22-xxiv, 8.-Moses promulgates certain laws together with promises for their observance, and confirms the covenant between God and the people with a sacrifice. The portion xx, 1-xxiii, 33, is also called the Book of the Covenant.

(c) xxiv, 9-xxxi, 18.-Moses alone remains with God on the mountain for forty days, and receives various instructions about the tabernacle and other points pertaining to Divine worship.

(d) xxxii, 1-xxxiv, 35.-The people adore the golden calf; at this sight, Moses breaks the divinely given tables of the law, punishes the idolaters, obtains pardon from God for the survivors, and, renewing the covenant, receives other tables of the law.

(e) xxxv, 1-xl, 38.-The tabernacle with its appurtenances is prepared, the priests are anointed, and the cloud of the Lord covers the tabernacle, thus showing that He had made the people His own.


The contents of the Pentateuch furnish the basis for the history, the law, the worship, and the life of the Chosen People of God. Hence the authorship of the work, the time and manner of its origin, and its historicity are of paramount importance. These are not merely literary problems, but questions belonging to the fields of history of religion and theology. The Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is inseparably connected with the question, whether and in what sense Moses was the author or intermediary of the Old-Testament legislation, and the bearer of pre-Mosaic tradition. According to the trend of both Old and New Testament, and according to Jewish and Christian theology, the work of the great lawgiver Moses is the origin of the history of Israel and the basis of its development down to the time of Jesus Christ; but modern criticism sees in all this only the result, or the precipitate, of a purely natural historical development. The question of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch leads us, therefore, to the alternative, revelation or historical evolution; it touches the historical and theological foundation of both the Jewish and the Christian dispensation. We shall consider the subject first in the light of Scripture; secondly, in the light of Jewish and Christian tradition; thirdly, in the light of internal evidence, furnished by the Pentateuch; finally, in the light of ecclesiastical decisions.


It will be found convenient to divide the Biblical evidence for the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch into three parts: (1) Testimony of the Pentateuch;

(2) Testimony of the other Old-Testament books; (3) Testimony of the New Testament.

(1) Witness of the Pentateuch

The Pentateuch in its present form does not present itself as a complete literary production of Moses. It contains an account of Moses' death, it tells the story of his life in the third person and in an indirect form, and the last four books do not exhibit the literary form of memoirs of the great lawgiver; besides, the expression "God said to Moses" shows only the Divine origin of the Mosaic laws but does not prove that Moses himself codified in the Pentateuch the various laws promulgated by him. On the other hand, the Pentateuch ascribes to Moses the literary authorship of at least four sections, partly historical, partly legal, partly poetical. (a) After Israel's victory over the Amalecites near Raphidim, the Lord said to Moses (Exodus 17:14): "Write this for a memorial in a book, and deliver it to the ears of Josue." This order is naturally restricted to Amalec's defeat, a benefit which God wished to keep alive in the memory of the people (Deuteronomy 25:17-19). The present pointing of the Hebrew text reads "in the book", but the Septuagint version omits the definite article. Even if we suppose that the Massoretic pointing gives the original text, we can hardly prove that the book referred to is the Pentateuch, though this is highly probable (cf. von Hummelauer "Exodus et Leviticus", Paris, 1897, p. 182; Idem, "Deuteronomium", Paris, 1901, p. 152; Kley, "Die Pentateuchfrage", Munster, 1903, p. 217). (b) Again, Ex., xxiv, 4: "And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord." The context does not allow us to understand these words in an indefinite manner, but as referring to the words of the Lord immediately preceding or to the so-called "Book of the Covenant", Ex., xx-xxiii. (c) Ex., xxxiv, 27: "And the Lord said to Moses: Write thee these words by which I have made a covenant both with thee and with Israel." The next verse adds: "and he wrote upon the tables the ten words of the covenant." Ex., xxxiv, 1, 4, shows how Moses had prepared the tables, and Ex., xxxiv, 10-26, gives us the contents of the ten words. (d) Num., xxxiii, 1-2: "These are the mansions of the children of Israel, who went out of Egypt by their troops under the conduct of Moses and Aaron, which Moses wrote down according to the places of their encamping." Here we are informed that Moses wrote the list of the people's encampments in the desert; but where it this list to be found? Most probably it is given in Num., xxxiii, 3-49, or the immediate context of the passage telling of Moses' literary activity; there are, however, scholars who understand this latter passage as referring to the history of Israel's departure from Egypt written in the order of the people's encampments, so that it would be our present Book of Exodus. But this view is hardly probable; for its assumption that Num., xxxiii, 3-49, is a summary of Exodus cannot be upheld, as the chapter of Numbers mentions several encampments not occurring in Exodus.

Besides these four passages there are certain indications in Deuteronomy which point to the literary activity of Moses. Deut., i, 5: "And Moses began to expound the law and to say"; even if the "law" in this text refer to the whole of the Pentateuchal legislation, which is not very probable, it shows only that Moses promulgated the whole law, but not that he necessarily wrote it. Practically the entire Book of Deuteronomy claims to be a special legislation promulgated by Moses in the land of Moab: iv, 1-40; 44-49; v, 1 sqq.; xii, 1 sqq. But there is a suggestion of writing too: xvii, 18-9, enjoins that the future kings are to receive a copy of this law from the priests in order to read and observe it; xxvii, 1-8, commands that on the west side of the Jordan "all the words of this law" be written on stones set up in Mount Hebal; xxviii, 58, speaks of "all the words of this law, that are written in this volume" after enumerating the blessings and curses which will come upon the observers and violators of the law respectively, and which are again referred to as written in a book in xxix, 20, 21, 27, and xxxii, 46, 47; now, the law repeatedly referred to as written in a book must be at least the Deuteronomic legislation. Moreover, xxxi, 9-13 states, "and Moses wrote this law", and xxxi, 26, adds, "take this book, and put it in the side of the ark. . .that it may be there for a testimony against thee"; to explain these texts as fiction or as anachronisms is hardly compatible with the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture. Finally, xxxi, 19, commands Moses to write the canticle contained in Deut., xxxii, 1-43.

The Scriptural scholar will not complain that there are so few express indications in the Pentateuch of Moses' literary activity; he will rather be surprised at their number. As far as explicit testimony for its own, at least partial, authorship is concerned, the Pentateuch compares rather favourably with many other books of the Old Testament.

(2) Witness of other Old-Testament Books

(a) Josue.-The narrative of the Book of Josue presupposes not merely the facts and essential ordinances contained in the Pentateuch, but also the law given by Moses and written in the book of the law of Moses: Jos., i, 7-8; viii, 31; xxii, 5; xxiii, 6. Josue himself "wrote all these things in the volume of the law of the Lord" (xxiv, 26). Prof. Hobverg maintains that this "volume of the law of the Lord" is the Pentateuch ("Über den Ursprung des Pentateuchs" in "Biblische Zeitschrift", 1906, IV, 340); Mangenot believes that it refers at least to Deuteronomy (Dict. de la Bible, V, 66). At any rate, Josue and his contemporaries were acquainted with a written Mosaic legislation, which was divinely revealed.

(b) Judges; I, II Kings.-In the Book of Judges and the first two Books of Kings there is no explicit reference to Moses and the book of the law, but a number of incidents and statements presuppose the existence of the Pentateuchal legislation and institutions. Thus Judges, xv, 8-10, recalls Israel's delivery from Egypt and its conquest of the Promised Land; Judges, xi, 12-28, states incidents recorded in Num., xx, 14; xxi, 13,24; xxii, 2; Judges, xiii, 4, states a practice founded on the law of the Nazarites in Num., vi, 1-21; Judges, xviii, 31, speaks of the tabernacle existing in the times when there was no king in Israel; Judges, xx, 26-8 mentions the ark of the covenant, the various kinds of sacrifices, and the Aaronic priesthood. The Pentateuchal history and laws are similarly presupposed in 1 Samuel 10:18; 15:1-10; 10:25; 21:1-6; 22:6 sqq.; 23:6-9; 2 Samuel 6.

(c) 1 and 2 Kings.-The last two Books of Kings repeatedly speak of the law of Moses. To restrict the meaning of this term to Deuteronomy is an arbitrary exegesis (cf. 1 Kings 2:3; 10:31); Amasias showed mercy to the children of the murderers "according to that which is written in the book of the law of Moses" (2 Kings 14:6); the sacred writer records the Divine promise of protecting the Israelites "Only if they will observe to do all that I have commanded them according to the law which my servant Moses commanded them" (2 Kings 21:8). In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josias was found the book of the law (2 Kings 22:8, 11), or the book of the covenant (2 Kings 23:2), according to which he conducted his religious reform (2 Kings 23:10-24), and which is identified with "the law of Moses" (2 Kings 23:25). Catholic commentators are not at one whether this law-book was Deuteronomy (von Hummelauer, "Deuteronomium", Paris, 1901, p. 40-60, 83-7) or the entire Pentateuch (Clair, "Les livres des Rois", Paris, 1884, II, p. 557 seq.; Hoberg, "Moses und der Pentateuch", Frieburg, 1905, p. 17 seq.; "uber den Ursprung des Pentateuchs" in "Biblische Zeitschrift", 1906, IV, pp. 338-40).

(d) Paralipomenon.-The inspired writer of Paralipomenon refers to the law and the book of Moses much more frequently and clearly. The objectionable names and numbers occurring in these books are mostly due to transcribers. The omission of incidents which would detract from the glory of the Israelite kings or would not edify the reader is not detrimental to the credibility or veracity of the work. Otherwise one should have to place among works of fiction a number of biographical or patriotic publications intended for the young or for the common reader. On their part, the modern critics are too eager to discredit the authority of Paralipomena. "After removing the account of Paralipomena", writes de Wette (Beitrage, I, 135), "the whole Jewish history assumes another form, and the Pentateuchal investigations take another turn; a number of strong proofs, hard to explain away, for the early existence of the Mosaic books have disappeared, the other vestiges of their existence are placed in a different light." A glance at the contents of Parlipomenon suffices to explain the efforts of de Witte and Wellhausen to disprove the historicity of the books. Not only are the genealogies (1 Chronicles 1-9) and the descriptions of worship traced after the data and laws of the Pentateuch, but the sacred writer expressly points out their conformity with what is written in the law of the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:40), in the law of Moses (2 Chronicles 23:18; 31:3), thus identifying the law of the Lord with that written by Moses (cf. 2 Chronicles 25:4). The reader will find similar indications of the existence and the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch in I Par., xxii, 12 seq.; II Par., xvii, 9; xxxiii, 4; xxxiv, 14; xxv, 12. By an artificial interpretation, indeed, the Books of Paralipomenon may be construed to represent the Pentateuch as a book containing the law promulgated by Moses; but the natural sense of the foregoing passages regards the Pentateuch as a book edited by Moses.

(e) I, II Esdras.-The Books of Esdras and Nehemias, too, taken in their natural and commonly accepted sense, consider the Pentateuch as the book of Moses, not merely as a book containing the law of Moses. This contention is based on the study of the following texts: I Esd., iii, 2 sqq.; vi, 18; vii, 14; II Esd., i, 7 sqq.; viii, 1, 8, 14; ix, 3; x, 34, 36; xiii, 1-3. Graf and his followers expressed the view that the book of Moses referred to in these texts is not the Pentateuch, but only the Priestly Code; but when we keep in mind that the book in question contained the laws of Lev., xxiii, and Deut., vii, 2-4; xv, 2, we perceive at once that the book of Moses cannot be restricted to the Priestly Code. To the witness of the historical books we may add II Mach., ii, 4; vii, 6; Judith, viii, 23; Ecclus., xxiv, 33; xlv, 1-6; xlv, 18, and especially the Preface of Ecclus.

(f) Prophetic Books.-Express reference to the written law of Moses is found only in the later Prophets: Bar., ii, 2, 28; Dan., ix, 11, 13; Mal., iv, 4. Among these, Baruch knows that Moses has been commanded to write the law, and though his expressions run parallel to those of Deut., xxviii, 15, 53, 62-64, his threats contain allusions to those contained in other parts of the Pentateuch. The other Prophets frequently refer to the law of the Lord guarded by the priests (cf. Deuteronomy 31:9), and they put it on the same level with Divine Revelation and the eternal covenant of the Lord. They appeal to God's covenant, the sacrificial laws the calendar of feasts, and other laws of the Pentateuch in such a way as to render it probable that a written legislation formed the basis of their prophetic admonitions (cf. Hosea 8:12), and that they were acquainted with verbal expressions of the book of the law. Thus in the northern kingdom Amos (iv, 4-5; v, 22 sqq.) and Isaias in the south (i, 11 sqq.) employ expressions which are practically technical words for sacrifice occurring in Lev., i-iii; vii, 12, 16; and Deut., xii, 6.

(3) Witness of the New Testament

We need not show that Jesus and the Apostles quoted the whole of the Pentateuch as written by Moses. If they attributed to Moses all the passages which they happen to cite, if they ascribe the Pentateuch to Moses whenever there is question of its authorship, even the most exacting critics must admit that they express their conviction that the work was indeed written by Moses. When the Sadducees quote against Jesus the marriage law of Deut., xxv, 5, as written by Moses (Matthew 22:24; Mark 12:19; Luke 20:28), Jesus does not deny the Mosaic authorship, but appeals to Ex., iii, 6, as equally written by Moses (Mark 12:26; Matthew 22:31; Luke 20:37). Again, in the parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:29), He speaks of "Moses and the prophets", while on other occasions He speaks of "the law and the prophets" (Luke 16:16), thus showing that in His mind the law, or the Pentateuch, and Moses are identical. The same expressions reappear in the last discourse addressed by Christ to His disciples (Luke 24:44-6; cf. 27): "which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me". Finally, in John, v, 45-7, Jesus is more explicit in asserting the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch: "There is one that accuseth you, Moses. . .for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?" Nor can it be maintained that Christ merely accommodated himself to the current beliefs of his contemporaries who considered Moses as the author of the Pentateuch not merely in a moral but also in the literary sense of authorship. Jesus did not need to enter into the critical study of the nature of Mosaic authorship, but He could not expressly endorse the popular belief, if it was erroneous.

The Apostles too felt convinced of, and testified to, the Mosaic authorship. "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith to him: We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write." St. Peter introduces a quotation from Deut., xviii, 15, with the words: "For Moses said" (Acts 3:22). St. James and St. Paul relate that Moses is read in the synagogues on the Sabbath day (Acts 15:21; 2 Corinthians 3:15). The great Apostle speaks in other passages of the law of Moses (Acts 13:33; 1 Corinthians 9:9); he preaches Jesus according to the law of Moses and the Prophets (Acts 28:23), and cites passages from the Pentateuch as words written by Moses (Romans 10:5-8; 19). St. John mentions the canticle of Moses (Revelation 15:3).


The voice of tradition, both Jewish and Christian, is so unanimous and constant in proclaiming the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch that down to the seventeenth century it did not allow the rise of any serious doubt. The following paragraphs are only a meagre outline of this living tradition.

(1) Jewish Tradition

It has been seen that the books of the Old Testament, beginning with those of the Pentateuch, present Moses as the author of at least parts of the Pentateuch. The writer of the Books of Kings believes that Moses is the author of Deuteronomy at least. Esdras, Nehemias, Malachias, the author of Paralipomena, and the Greek authors of the Septuagint Version consider Moses as the author of the whole Pentateuch. At the time of Jesus Christ and the Apostles friend and foe take the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch for granted; neither our Lord nor His enemies take exception to this assumption. In the first century of the Christian era, Josephus ascribes to Moses the authorship of the entire Pentateuch, not excepting the account of the lawgiver's death ("Antiq. Jud.", IV, viii, 3-48; cf. I Procem., 4; "Contra Apion.", I, 8). The Alexandrian philosopher Philo is convinced that the entire Pentateuch is the work of Moses, and that the latter wrote a prophetic account of his death under the influence of a special divine inspiration ("De vita Mosis", ll. II, III in "Opera", Geneva, 1613, pp. 511, 538). The Babylonian Talmud ("Baba-Bathra", II, col. 140; "Makkoth", fol. IIa; "Menachoth", fol. 30a; cf. Vogue, "Hist. de la Bible et de l'exegese biblique jusqua'a nos jours", Paris, 1881, p. 21), the Talmud of Jerusalem (Sota, v, 5), the rabbis, and the doctors of Israel (cf. Furst, "Der Kanon des Alten Testaments nach den Überlieferungen im Talmud und Midrasch", Leipzig, 1868, pp. 7-9) bear testimony to the continuance of this tradition for the first thousand years. Though Isaac ben Jasus in the eleventh century and Abenesra in the twelfth admitted certain post-Mosaic additions in the Pentateuch, still they as well as Maimonides upheld its Mosaic authorship, and did not substantially differ in this point from the teaching of R. Becchai (thirteenth cent.), Joseph Karo, and Abarbanel (fifteenth cent.; cf. Richard Simon, "Critique de la Bibl. des aut. eccles. de E. Dupin", Paris, 1730, III, pp. 215-20). Only in the seventeenth century, Baruch Spinoza rejected the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, pointing out the possibility that the work might have been written by Esdras ("Tract. Theol.-politicus", c. viii, ed. Tauchnitz, III, p. 125). Among the more recent Jewish writers several have adopted the results of the critics, thus abandoning the tradition of their forefathers.

(2) Christian Tradition

The Jewish tradition concerning the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch was brought in to the Christian Church by Christ Himself and the Apostles. No one will seriously deny the existence and continuance of such a tradition from the patristic period onward; one might indeed be curious about the interval between the time of the Apostles and beginning of the third century. For this period we may appeal to the "Epistle of Barnabus" (x, 1-12; Funk, "Patres apostol.", 2nd ed., Tübingen, 1901, I, p. 66-70; xii, 2-9k; ibid., p. 74-6), to St. Clement of Rome (1 Corinthians 41:1; ibid., p. 152), St. Justin ("Apol. I", 59; P. G., VI, 416; I, 32, 54; ibid., 377, 409; "Dial.", 29; ibid., 537), to the author of "Cohort. Ad Graec." (9, 28, 30, 33, 34; ibid., 257, 293, 296-7, 361), to St. Theophilus ("Ad Autol.", III, 23; ibid., 1156; 11, 30; ibid., 1100), to St. Irenæus (Cont. haer., I, ii, 6; P.G., VII, 715-6), to St. Hippolytus of Rome ("Comment. In Deut.", xxxi, 9, 31, 35; cf. Achelis, "Arabische Fragmente etc.", Leipzig, 1897, I, 118; "Philosophumena", VIII, 8; X, 33; P.G., XVI, 3350, 3448), to Tertullian of Carthage (Adv. Hermog., XIX; P. L., II, 214), to Origen of Alexandria (Contra. Cels., III, 5-6; P. G., XI, 928; etc.), to St. Eusthatius of Antioch (De engastrimytha c. Orig., 21; P.G., XVIII, 656); for all these writers, and others might be added, bear witness to the continuance of the Christian tradition that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. A list of the later Fathers who bear witness to the same truth may be found in Mangenot's article in the "Dict. de la Bible" (V, 74 seq.). Hoberg (Moses und der Pentateuch, 72 seq.) has collected the testimony for the existence of the tradition during the Middle Ages and in more recent times.

But Catholic tradition does not necessarily maintain that Moses wrote every letter of the Pentateuch as it is today, and that the work has come down to us in an absolutely unchanged form. This rigid view of the Mosaic authorship began to develop in the eighteenth century, and practically gained the upper hand in the nineteenth. The arbitrary treatment of Scripture on the part of Protestants, and the succession of the various destructive systems advanced by Biblical criticism, caused this change of front in the Catholic camp. In the sixteenth century Card. Bellarmine, who may be considered as a reliable exponent of Catholic tradition, expressed the opinion that Esdras had collected, readjusted, and corrected the scattered parts of the Pentateuch, and had even added the parts necessary for the completion of the Pentateuchal history (De verbo Dei, II, I; cf. III, iv). The views of Génebrard, Pereira, Bonfrere, a Lapide, Masius, Jansenius, and of other notable Biblicists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are equally elastic with regard to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Not that they agree with the contentions of our modern Biblical criticism; but they show that today's Pentateuchal problems were not wholly unknown to Catholic scholars, and that the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch as determined by the Biblical Commission is no concession forced on the Church by unbelieving Bible students.


The possibility of producing a written record at the time of Moses is no longer contested. The art of writing was known long before the time of the great lawgiver, and was extensively practised both in Egypt and Babylon. As to the Israelites, Flinders Petrie infers from certain Semitic inscriptions found in 1905 on the Sinaitic peninsula, that they kept written accounts of their national history from the time of their captivity under Ramses II. The Tell-el-Amarna tablets show the language of Babylon was in a way the official language at the time of Moses, known in Western Asia, Palestine, and Egypt; the finds of Taanek have confirmed this fact. But it cannot be inferred from this that the Egyptians and Israelites employed this sacred or official language among themselves and in their religious documents (cf. Benzinger, "Hebraische Archaologie", 2nd ed., Tübingen, 1907, p. 172 sqq.). It is not merely the possibility of writing at the time of Moses and the question of language that confronts us here; there is the further problem of the kind of written signs used in the Mosaic documents. The hieroglyphic and cuneiform signs were widely employed at that early date; the oldest inscriptions written in alphabetical characters date only from the ninth century B.C. But there can hardly be any doubt as to the higher antiquity of alphabetic writing, and there seems to be nothing to prevent our extending it back to the time of Moses. Finally, the Code of Hammurabi, discovered in Susa in 1901 by the French expedition funded by Mr. And Mrs. Dieulafoy, shows that even in pre-Mosaic times legal enactments were committed to, and preserved in, writing; for the Code antedates Moses some five centuries, and contains about 282 regulations concerning various contingencies in the civic life.

Thus far it has been shown negatively that an historic and legal document claiming to be written at the time of Moses involves no antecedent improbability of its authenticity. But the internal characteristics of the Pentateuch show also positively that the work is at least probably Mosaic. It is true that the Pentateuch contains no express declaration of its entire Mosaic authorship; but even the most exacting of critics will hardly require such testimony. It is practically lacking in all other books, whether sacred or profane. On the other hand, it has already been shown that four distinct passages of the Pentateuch are expressly ascribed to the authorship of Moses. Deut., xxxi, 24-9, is especially noted; for it knows that Moses wrote the "words of this law in a volume" and commanded it to be placed in the ark of the covenant as a testimony against the people who have been so rebellious during the lawgiver's life and will "do wickedly" after his death. Again, a number of legal sections, though not explicitly ascribed to the writing of Moses, are distinctly derived from Moses as the lawgiver. Besides, many of the Pentateuchal laws bear evidence of their origin in the desert; hence they too lay an indirect claim to Mosaic origin. What has been said of a number of Pentateuchal laws is equally true of several historical sections. These contain in the Book of Numbers, for instance, so many names and numbers that they must have been handed down in writing. Unless the critics can bring irrefutable evidence showing that in these sections we have only fiction, they must grant that these historical details were written down in contemporary documents, and not transmitted by mere oral tradition. Moreover, Hommel ("Die altisraelitische Überlieferung in inschriftlicher Beleuchtung", p. 302) has shown that the names in the lists of the Book of Numbers bear the character of the Arabian names of the second millennium before Christ, and can have originated only in the time of Moses, though it must be admitted that the text of certain portions, e.g., Num., xiii, has suffered in its transmission. We need not remind the reader that numerous Pentateuchal laws and data imply the conditions of a nomadic life of Israel. Finally, both the author of the Pentateuch and its first readers must have been more familiar with the topography and the social conditions of Egypt and with the Sinaitic peninsula than with the land of Chanaan. Cf., e.g., Deut., viii, 7-10; xi, 10 sqq. These internal characteristics of the Pentateuch have been developed at greater length by Smith, "The Book of Moses or the Pentateuch in its Authorship, Credibility, and Civilisation", London, 1868; Vigouroux, "La Bible et les decouvertes modernes", 6th ed., Paris, 1896, I, 453-80; II, 1-213, 529-47, 586-91; Idem, "Les Livres Saints et la critique rationaliste", Paris, 1902, III, 28-46, 79-99, 122-6; Heyes, "Bibel und Ægypten", Munster, 1904, p. 142; Cornely, "Introductio specialis in histor. Vet. Test. libros", I, Paris, 1887, pp. 57-60; Poole, "Ancient Egypt" in "Contemporary Review", March, 1879, pp. 757-9.


In accordance with the voice of the triple argument thus far advanced for the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, the Biblical Commission on 27 June, 1906, answered a series of questions concerning this subject in the following way:

(1) The arguments accumulated by the critics to impugn the Mosaic authenticity of the sacred books designated by the name Pentateuch are not of such weight as to give us the right, after setting aside numerous passages of both Testaments taken collectively, the continuous consensus of the Jewish people, the constant tradition of the Church, and internal indications derived from the text itself, to maintain that these books have not Moses as their author, but are compiled from sources for the greatest part later than the Mosaic age.

(2) The Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch does not necessarily require such a redaction of the whole work as to render it absolutely imperative to maintain that Moses wrote all and everything with his own hand or dictated it to his secretaries; the hypothesis of those can be admitted who believe that he entrusted the composition of the work itself, conceived by him under the influence of Divine inspiration, to others, but in such a way that they were to express faithfully his own thoughts, were to write nothing against his will, were to omit nothing; and that finally the work thus produced should be approved by the same Moses, its principal and inspired author, and published under his name.

(3) It may be granted without prejudice to the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch, that Moses employed sources in the production of his work, i.e., written documents or oral traditions, from which he may have drawn a number of things in accordance with the end he had in view and under the influence of Divine inspiration, and inserted them in his work either literally or according to their sense, in an abbreviated or amplified form.

(4) The substantial Mosaic authenticity and integrity of the Pentateuch remains intact if it be granted that in the long course of centuries the work has suffered several modifications, as; post-Mosaic additions either appended by an inspired author or inserted into the text as glosses and explanations; the translation of certain words and forms out of an antiquated language into the recent form of speech; finally, wrong readings due to the fault of transcribers, which one may investigate and pass sentence on according to the laws of criticism.

The post-Mosaic additions and modifications allowed by the Biblical Commission in the Pentateuch without removing it from the range of substantial integrity and Mosaic authenticity are variously interpreted by Catholic scholars.

(1) We should have to understand them in a rather wide sense, if we were to defend the views of von Hummelauer or Vetter. This latter writer admits legal and historical documents based on Mosaic tradition, but written only in the times of the Judges; he places the first redaction of the Pentateuch in the time of the erection of Solomon's temple, and its last redaction in the time of Esdras. Vetter died in 1906, the year in which the Biblical Commission issued the above Decree; it is an interesting question, whether and how the scholar would have modified his theory, if time had been granted him to do so.

(2) A less liberal interpretation of the Decree is implied in the Pentateuchal hypotheses advanced by Hobert ("Moses und der Pentateuch; Die Pentateuch Frage" in "Biblische Studien", X, 4, Freiburg, 1907; "Erklarung des Genesis", 1908, Freiburg, I-L), Schopfer (Geschichte des Alten Testamentes, 4th ed., 226 sqq.), Hopfl ("Die hohere Bibelkritik", 2nd ed., Paderborn, 1906), Brucker ("L'eglise et la critique", Paris, 1907, 103 sqq.), and Selbst (Schuster and Holzammer's "Handbuch zur Biblischen Geschichte", 7th ed., Freiburg, 1910, II, 94, 96). The last-named writer believes that Moses left a written law-book to which Josue and Samuel added supplementary sections and regulations, while David and Solomon supplied new statutes concerning worship and priesthood, and other kings introduced certain religious reforms, until Esdras promulgated the whole law and made it the basis of Israel's restoration after the Exile. Our present Pentateuch is, therefore, an Esdrine edition of the work. Dr. Selbst feels convinced that his admission of both textual changes and material additions in the Pentateuch agrees with the law of historical development and with the results of literary criticism. Historical development adapts laws and regulations to the religious, civil, and social conditions of successive ages, while literary criticism discovers in our actual Pentateuch peculiarities of words and phrases which can hardly have been original, and also historical additions or notices, legal modifications, and signs of more recent administration of justice and of later forms of worship. But Dr. Selbst believes that these peculiarities do not offer a sufficient basis for a distinction of different sources in the Pentateuch.

(3) A strict interpretation of the words of the Decree is implied in the views of Kaulen (Einleitung, n. 193 sqq.), Key ("Die Pentateuchfrage, ihre Geschichte un ihre System", Munster, 1903), Flunk (Kirchenlexicon, IX, 1782 sqq.), and Mangenot ("L'authenticite mosaique du Pentateuque", Paris, 1907; Idem, "Dict. de la Bible", V, 50-119. With the exception of those portions that belong to the time after the death of Moses, and of certain accidental changes of the text due to transcribers, the whole of the Pentateuch is the work of Moses who composed the work in one of the ways suggested by the Biblical Commission. Finally, there is the question as the theological certainty of the thesis maintaining the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch.

(1) Certain Catholic scholars who wrote between 1887 and 1906 expressed their opinion that the thesis in question is not revealed in Scripture nor taught by the Church; that it expresses a truth not contained in Revelation, but a tenet which may be freely contested and discussed. At that time, ecclesiastical authority had issued no pronouncement on the question.

(2) Other writers grant that the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch is not explicitly revealed, but they consider it as a truth revealed formally implicitly, being derived from the revealed formulae not by a syllogism in the strict sense of the word, but by a simple explanation of the terms. The denial of the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch is an error, and the contradictory of the thesis maintaining the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch is considered erronea in fide (cf. Mechineau, "L'origine mosaique du Pentateuque", p. 34).

(3) A third class of scholars considers the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch neither as a freely debatable tenet, nor as a truth formally implicitly revealed; they believe it has been virtually revealed, or that it is inferred from revealed truth by truly syllogistic deduction. It is, therefore, a theologically certain truth, and its contradictory is a rash (temeraria) or even erroneous proposition (cf. Brucker, "Authenticite des livres de Moise" in "Etudes", March, 1888, p. 327; ibid., January, 1897, p. 122-3; Mangenot, "L'authenticité mosaïque du Pentateuque", pp. 267-310.

Whatever effect the ecclesiastical decision concerning the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch may have had, or will have, on the opinion of students of the Pentateuchal question, it cannot be said to have occasioned the conservative attitude of scholars who wrote before the promulgation of the Decree. The following list contains the names of the principal recent defenders of Mosaic authenticity: Hengstenberg, "Die Bucher Moses und Aegypten", Berlin, 1841; Smith, "The Book of Moses or the Pentateuch in its Authorship, Credibility, and Civilisation", London, 1868; C. Schobel, "Demonstration de l'authenticite du Deuteronome", Paris, 1868; Idem, "Demonstration de l'authenticite mosaique de l'Exode", Paris, 1871; Idem, "Demonstration de l'authenticite mosaique du Levitique et des Nombres", Paris, 1869; Idem, "Demonstration de l'authenticite de la Genese", Paris, 1872; Idem, "Le Moise historique et la redaction mosaique du Pentateuque", Paris, 1875; Knabenbauer, "Der Pentateuch und die unglaubige Bibelkritik" in "Stimmen aus Maria-Laach", 1873, IV; Bredenkamp, "Gesetz und Propheten", Erlangen, 1881; Green, "Moses and the Prophets", New York, 1883; Idem, "The Hebrew Feasts", New York, 1885; Idem, "The Pentateuchal Question" in "Hebraica", 1889-92; Idem, "The Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch", New York, 1895; Idem, "The Unity of the Book of Genesis", New York, 1895; C. Elliot, "Vindication of the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch", Cincinnati, 1884; Bissel, "The Pentateuch, its Origin and Structure", New York, 1885; Ubaldi, "Introductio in Sacram Scripturam", 2nd ed., Rome, 1882, I, 452- 509; Cornely, "Introductio specialis in historicos V. T. libros", Paris, 1887, pp. 19-160; Vos, "Mosaic Origin of the Pentateuchal Codes", London, 1886; Bohl, "Zum Gesetz und zum Zeugniss", Vienna, 1883; Zah, "Erneste Blicke in den Wahn der modernen Kritik des A. T.", Gutersloh, 1893; Idem, "Das Deuteronomium", 1890; Idem, "Israelitische und judische Geschichte", 1895; Rupprecht, "Die Anschauung der kritischen Schule Wellhausens vom Pentateuch", Leipzig, 1893; Idem, "Das Rathsel des Funfbuches Mose und seine falsche Losung", Gutersloh, 1894; Idem, "Des Rathsels Losung order Beitrage zur richtigen Losung des Pentateuchrathsels", 1897; Idem, "Die Kritik nach ihrem Recht uknd Unrecht", 1897; "Lex Mosaica, or the Law of Moses and the Higher Criticism" (by Sayce, Rawlinson, Trench, Lias, Wace, etc.), London, 1894; Card. Meignan, "De L'Eden a Moise", Paris, 1895, 1-88; Baxter, "Sanctuary and Sacrifice", London, 1896; Abbé de Broglie, "Questions bibliques", Paris, 1897, pp. 89-169; Pelt, "Histoire de l'A.T.", 3rd ed., Paris, 1901, I, pp. 291-326; Vigouroux, "Les Livres Saints et la critique ratioinaliste", Paris, 1902, III, 1-226; IV, 239-53, 405-15; Idem, "Manuel biblique", 12th ed., Paris, 1906, I, 397-478; Kley, "Die Pentateuchfrage, ihre Geschichte und ihre Systeme", Munster, 1903; Hopfl, "Die hohere Bibelkritik", Paderborn, 1902; Thomas, "The Organic Unity of the Pentateuch", London, 1904; Wiener, "Studies in Biblical Law", London, 1904; Rouse, "The Old Testament in New Testament Light", London, 1905; Redpath, "Modern Criticism and the Book of Genesis", London, 1905; Hoberg, "Moses und der Pentateuch", Freiburg, 1905; Orr, "The Problem of the Old Testament considered with reference to Recent Criticism", London, 1906.


A detailed account of the opposition to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is neither desirable nor necessary in this article. In itself it would form only a noisome history of human errors; each little system has had its day, and its successors have tried their best to bury it in hushed oblivion. The actual difficulties we have to consider are those advanced by our actual opponents of today; only the fact that the systems of the past show us the fleeting and transitory character of the actual theories now in vogue can induce us to briefly enumerate the successive views upheld by the opponents of the Mosaic authorship.

(1) Abandoned Theories

The views advanced by the Valentinian Ptolemy, the Nazarites, Abenesra, Carlstadt, Isaac Peyrerius, Baruch Spinoza, Jean Leclerc are sporadic phenomena. Not all of them were wholly incompatible with the Mosaic authorship as now understood, and the others have found their answer in their own time.-With the work of John Astrue, published in 1753, began the so-called Hypothesis of Documents which was further developed by Eichhorn and Ilgen. But the works of the suspended priest, Alexander Geddes, published in 1792 and 1800, introduced the Hypothesis of Fragments, which in its day was elaborated and championed by Vater, de Wette (temporarily at least), Berthold, Hartmann, and von Bohlen. This theory was soon confronted by, and had to yield to the Hypothesis of Complements or Interpolations which numbered among its patrons Kelle, Ewald, Stahelin, Bleek, Tuch, de Wette, von Lengerke, and for a brief period also Franz Delitzsch. The theory of interpolations again had hardly found any adherents before Gramberg (1828), Stahelin (1830), and Bleek (1831) returned to the Hypothesis of Documents, proposing it in a somewhat modified form. Subsequently, Ewald, Knobel, Hupfeld, Noldeke, and Schrader advanced each a different explanation of the documentary hypothesis. But all of these are at present only of an historical interest.

(2) Present Hypothesis of Documents

A course of religious development in Israel had been proposed by Reuss in 1830 and 1834, by Vatke in 1835, and by George in the same year. In 1865-66 Graf took up this idea and applied it to the literary criticism of the Hexateuch; for the critics had begun to consider the Book of Josue as belonging to the preceding five books, so that the collection formed a Hexateuch instead of a Pentateuch. The same application was made by Merx in 1869. Thus modified the documentary theory continued in its development until it reached the state described in the translation of the Bible by Kautzsch (3rd ed., with Introduction and Annotations, Tübingen, 1908 sqq.). In itself there is nothing against the assumption of documents written by Moses; but we cannot ascribe with certainty anything of our literary remains to the hands of the Hebrew lawgiver. The beginning of written accounts must be placed towards the end of the time of Judges; only then were fulfilled the conditions which must precede the origin of a literature properly so called, i.e., a general acquaintance with the art of writing and reading, stationary settlement of the people, and national prosperity. What then are the oldest literary remains of the Hebrews? They are the collections of the songs dating from the heroic time of the nation, e.g., the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14), the Book of the Just (Joshua 10:12 sqq.), the Book of Songs (1 Kings 8:53; cf. Budde, "Geschichte der althebr. Literature", Leipzig, 1906, 17). The Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20:24-23:19) too must have existed before the other sources of the Pentateuch. The oldest historical work is probably the book of the Yahwist, designated by J, and ascribed to the priesthood of Juda, belonging most probably to the ninth century B.C.

Akin to this is the Elohim document, designated by E, and written probably in the northern kingdom (Ephraim) about a century after the production of the Yahweh document. These two sources were combined by a redactor into one work soon after the middle of the sixth century. Next follows the law-book, almost entirely embodied in our actual Book of Deuteronomy, discovered in the temple 621 B.C., and containing the precipitate of the prophetic teaching which advocated the abolition of the sacrifices in the so- called high places and the centralization of worship in the temple of Jerusalem. During the Exile originated the Priestly Code, P, based on the so-called law of holiness, Lev., xvii-xxvi, and the programme of Ezechiel, xl-xlviii; the substance of P was read before the post-exilic community by Esdras about 444 B.C. (Nehemiah 8-10), and was accepted by the multitude. History does not tell us when and how these divers historical and legal sources were combined into our present Pentateuch; but it is generally assumed that there was an urgent call for a compilation of the tradition and pre-exilic history of the people. The only indication of time may be found in the fact that the Samaritans accepted the Pentateuch as a sacred book probably in the fourth century B.C. Considering their hatred for the Jews, one must conclude that they would not have taken this step, unless they had felt certain of the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch. Hence a considerable time must have intervened between the compilation of the Pentateuch and its acceptance by the Samaritans, so that the work of combining must be placed in the fifth century. It is quite generally agreed that the last redactor of the Pentateuch completed his task with great adroitness. Without altering the text of the older sources, he did all within man's power to fuse the heterogeneous elements into one apparent (?) whole, with such success that not only the Jews after the fourth century B.C., but also the Christians for many centuries could maintain their conviction that the entire Pentateuch was written by Moses.

(3) Deficiencies of the Critical Hypothesis

As several Pentateuchal critics have endeavoured to assign the last redaction of the Pentateuch to more recent dates, its placement in the fifth century may be regarded as rather favourable to conservative views. But it is hard to understand why the patrons of this opinion should not agree in considering Esdras as the last editor. Again, it is quite certain that the last editor of the Pentateuch must have notably preceded its acceptance on the part of the Samaritans as a sacred book; bit is it probably that the Samaritans would have accepted the Pentateuch as such in the fourth century B.C., when the national and religious opposition between them and Jews was well developed? Is it not more probable that the mixed nation of Samaria received the Pentateuch through the priest sent to them from Assyria? Cf. 2 Kings 17:27. Or again, as this priest instructed the Samaritan population in the law of the god of the country, is it not reasonable to suppose that he taught them the Pentateuchal law which the ten tribes carried with them when they separated from Juda? At any rate, the fact that the Samaritans accepted as sacred only the Pentateuch, but not the Prophets, leads us to infer that the Pentateuch existed among the Jews before a collection of the prophetic writings was made, and that Samaria chose its sacred book before even Juda placed the works of the Prophets on the same level with the work of Moses. But this natural inference finds no favour among the critics; for it implies that the historical and legal traditions codified in the Pentateuch, described the beginning, and not the end, of Israel's religious development. The view of Israel's religious development prevalent among the critics implies that the Pentateuch is later than the Prophets, and that the Psalms are later than both. After these general considerations, we shall briefly examine the main principles, the methods, the results, and the arguments of the critical theory.

(a) Principles of the Critics

Without pretending to review all the principles involved in the theories of the critics, we draw attention to two: the historical development of religion, and the comparative value of internal evidence and tradition.

(i) The theory of the historical evolution of Israelitic religions leads us from Mosaic Yahwehism to the ethical monotheism of the Prophets, from this to the universalist conception of God developed during the Exile, and from this again to the ossified Phariseeism of later days. This religion of the Jews is codified in our actual Pentateuch, but has been fictitiously projected backwards in the historical books into the Mosaic and pre-prophetic times. The idea of development is not a purely modern discovery. Meyer ("Der Entwicklungsgedanke bei Aristoteles", Bonn, 1909) shows that Aristotle was acquainted with it; Gunkel ("Weiterbildung der Religion", Munich, 1905, 64) maintains that its application to religion is as old as Christianity, and that St. Paul has enunciated this principle; Diestel ("Geschichte des A.T. in der chrislichen Kirche", Jena, 1869, 56 sqq.), Willmann ("Geschichte des Idealismus", 2nd ed., II, 23 sqq.), and Schanz ("Apologie des Christentums", 3rd ed. II, 4 sqq., 376) find the same application in the writings of the Fathers, though Hoberg ("Die Forschritte der bibl. Wissenschaften", Freiburg, 1902, 10) grants that the patristic writers often neglect the external forms which influenced the ideas the Chosen People. The Fathers were not fully acquainted with profane history, and were more concerned about the contents of Revelation than about its historical development. Pesch ("Glaube, Dogmen und geschichtliche Thatsachen" in "Theol. Zeitfragen", IV, Freiburg, 1908, 183) discovers that St. Thomas, too, admits the principle of development in his "Summa" (II-II, Q. i, a. 9, 10; Q. ii, a. 3; etc.). But the Catholic conception of this principle avoids two extremes:

the theory of degeneracy, based on the teaching of the early Lutheran theologians (cf. Giesebrecht, "Die Degradationshypothese und die altl. Geschichte", Leipzig, 1905; Steude, "Entwicklung und Offenbarung", Stuttgart, 1905, 18 sqq.);

the theory of evolution which dissolves all truth and history into purely natural development to the exclusion of everything supernatural.

It is this latter extreme that is advocated by the Biblical critics. Their description of the early religion of Israel is contradicted by the testimony of the oldest Prophets whose authority is not questioned by them. These inspired seers know of the fall of Adam (Hosea 6:7), the call of Abraham (Isaiah 29:23; Micah 7:20), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha (Hosea 11:8; Isaiah 1:9; Amos 4:11), the history of Jacob and his struggle with the angel (Hosea 12:2 sqq.), Israel's exodus from Egypt and dwelling in the desert (Hosea 2:14; 7:16; 11:1; 12:9, 13; 13:4, 5; Amos 2:10; 3:1; 9:7), the activity of Moses (Hosea 12:13; Micah 6:4; Isaiah 63:11-12), a written legislation (Hosea 8:12), and a number of particular statutes (cf. Kley, "Die Pentateuchfrage", Munster, 1903, 223 sqq.). Again, the theory of development is more and more contradicted by the results of historical investigation. Weber ("Theologie und Assyriologie im Streit um Babel und Bibel", Leipzig, 1904, 17) points out that the recent historical results imply decadence rather than development in ancient oriental art, science, and religion; Winckler ("Religionsgeschichtler und geschichtl. Orient", Leipzig, 1906, 33) considers the evolutionary view of the primitive state of man as false, and believes that the development theory has, at least, been badly shaken, if not actually destroyed by recent Oriental research (cf. Bantsch, "Altorientalischer und israelitischer Monothesismus", Tübingen, 1906). Köberle ("Die Theologie der Gegenwart", Leipzig, 1907, I, 2) says that the development theory has exhausted itself, reproducing only the thoughts of Wellhausen, and deciding particular questions not in the light of facts, but according to the postulates of the theory. Finally, even the rationalistic writers have thought it necessary to replace the development theory by another more in agreement with historical facts. Hence Winckler ("Ex Oriente lux", Leipzig, 1905- 6; Idem, "Der Alte Orient", III, 2-3; Idem, "Die babylonische Geisteskultur in ihren Beziehungen zur Kulturentwicklung der Menschheit" in "Wissenschaft und Bildung", Leipzig, 1907; cf. Landersdorfer in "Historisch-Politische Blatter", 1909, 144) has originated the theory of pan-Babelism according to which Biblical religion is conceived as a conscious and express reaction against the Babylonian polytheistic state religion. It was not the common property of Israel, but of a religious sect which was supported in Babylon by certain monotheistic circles irrespective of nationality. This theory has found powerful opponents in Budde, Stade, Bezold, Köberle, Kugler, Wilke, and others; but it has also a number of adherents. Though wholly untenable from a Christian point of view, it shows at least the weakness of the historical development theory.

(ii) Another principle involved in the critical theory of the Pentateuch supposes that the internal evidence of literary criticism is of higher value than the evidence of tradition. But thus far the results of excavations and historical research have been favourable to tradition rather than to internal evidence. Let the reader only remember the case of Troy, Tiryns, Mycenae, and Orchomenos (in Greece); the excavations of the English explorer Evans in Crete have shown the historical character of King Minos and his labyrinth; Assyrian inscriptions have re-established the historical credit of King Midas of Phrygia; similarly, Menes of Thebes and Sargon of Agade have been shown to belong to history; in general, the more accurate have been the scientific investigations, the more clearly have they shown the reliability of even the most slender traditions. In the field of New-Testament criticism the call "back to tradition" has begun to be heeded, and has been endorsed by such authorities as Harnack and Deissmann. In the study of the Old Testament too there are unmistakable signs of a coming change. Hommel ("Die altisrealitische Überlieferung in inschriftlicher Beleuchtung", Munich, 1897) maintains that Old- Testament tradition, both as a whole and in its details, proves to be reliable, even in the light of critical research. Meyer ("Die Entstehung des Judentums", Halle, 1896) comes to the conclusion that the foundations of the critical Pentateuchal theory are destroyed, if it can be proved that even part of the impugned Hebrew tradition is reliable; the same writer proves the credibility of the sources of the Books of Esdras (cf. "Grundriss der Geographie und Geschichte des alten Orientes", Munich, 1904, 167 sqq.). S.A. Fries has been led by his critical studies, and without being influenced by dogmatic bias, to accept the whole traditional view of the history of Israel. Cornill and Oettli express the conviction that Israel's traditions concerning even its earliest history are reliable and will withstand the bitterest attacks of criticism; Dawson (cf. Fonck, "Kritik und Tradition im A.T." in "Zeitschrift fur katholische Theologie", 1899, 262-81) and others apply to tradition the old principle which has been so frequently misapplied, "magna est veritas, et praevalebit"; Gunkel ("Religionsgeschichtliche Volksbucher", II, Tübingen, 1906, 8) grants that Old-Testament criticism has gone a little too far, and that many Biblical traditions now rejected will be re-established.

(b) Critical Method

The falsehood of the critical method does not consist in the use of criticism as such, but in its illegitimate use. Criticism became more common in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; at the end of the eighteenth it was applied to classical antiquity. Bernheim ("Lehrbuch der historischen Methode", Leipzig, 1903, 296) believes that by this means alone history first became a science. In the application of criticism to the Bible was are limited, indeed, by the inspiration and the canonicity of its books; but there is an ample field left for our critical investigations (Pesch, "Theol. Zeitfragen", III, 48).

Some of the principal sins of the critics in their treatment of Sacred Scripture are the following:

They deny everything supernatural, so that they reject not merely inspiration and canonicity, but also prophecy and miracle a priori (cf. Metzler, "Das Wunder vor dem Forum der modernen Geschichtswissenschaft" in "Katholik", 1908, II, 241 sqq.).

They seem to be convinced a priori of the credibility of non-Biblical historical documents, while they are prejudiced against the truthfulness of Biblical accounts. (Cf. Stade, "Geschichte Israel's", I, 86 seq., 88, 101.) Depreciating external evidence almost entirely, they consider the questions of the origin, the integrity, and the authenticity of the sacred books in the light of internal evidence (Encycl. Prov. Deus, 52).

They overestimate the critical analysis of the sources, without considering the chief point, i.e., the credibility of the sources (Lorenz, "Die Geschichtswissenschaft in ihren Hauptrichtungen und Aufgaben", ii, 329 sqq.). Recent documents may contain reliable reports of ancient history. Some of the critics begin to acknowledge that the historical credibility of the sources is of greater importance than their division and dating (Stark, "Die Entstehung des A.T.", Leipzig, 1905, 29; cf. Vetter, "Tübinger theologische Quartalschrift", 1899, 552).

The critical division of sources is based on the Hebrew text, though it is not certain how far the present Massoretic text differs from that, for instance, followed by the Septuagint translators, and how far the latter differed form the Hebrew text before its redaction in the fifth century B.C. Dahse ("Textkritische Bedenken gegen den Ausgangspunkt der heutigen Pentateuchkritik" in "Archiv fur Religionsgeschichte", VI, 1903, 305 sqq.) shows that the Divine names in the Greek translation of the Pentateuch differ in about 180 cases from those of the Hebrew text (cf. Hoberg, "Die Genesis", 2nd ed., p. xxii sqq.); in other words and phrases the changes may be fewer, but it would be unreasonable to deny the existence of any. Again, it is antecedently probable that the Septuagint text differs less from the Massoretic than from the ante-Esdrine text, which must have been closer to the original. The starting point of literary criticism is therefore uncertain. It is not an inherent fault of literary criticism that it was applied to the Pentateuch after it had become practically antiquated in the study of Homer and the Nibelungenlied (cf. Katholik, 1896, I, 303, 306 sqq.), nor that Reuss considered it as more productive of difference of opinion than of results (cf. Katholik, 1896, I, 304 seq.), nor again that Wellhausen thought it had degenerated into childish play. Among Bible students, Klostermann ("Der Pentateuch", Leipzig, 1893), Konig ("Falsche Extreme im Gebiete der neueren Kritik des A.T.", Leipzig, 1885; "Neueste Prinzipien der alt. Kritik", Berlin, 1902; "Im Kampfe um das A.T.", Berlin, 1903), Bugge ("Die Hauptparabeln Jesu", Giessen, 1903) are sceptical as to the results of literary criticism, while Orelli ("Der Prophet Jesaja", 1904, V), Jeremias ("Das alte Testament im Lichte des Alten Orients", 1906, VIII), and Oettli ("Geschichte Israels", V) wish to insist more on the exegesis of the text than on the criss-cross roads of criticism. G. Jacob ("Der Pentateuch", Göttingen, 1905) thinks that the past Pentateuchal criticism needs a thorough revision; Eerdmans ("Die Komposition der Genesis", Giessen, 1908) feels convinced that criticism has been misled into wrong paths by Astrue. Merx expresses the opinion that the next generation will have to revise backwards many of the present historico-literary views of the Old Testament ("Religionsgeschichtliche Volksbucher", II, 1907, 3, 132 sqq.).

(c) Critical Results

Here we must distinguish between the principles of criticism and its results; the principles of the historical development of religion, for instance, and of the inferiority of tradition to internal evidence, are not the outcome of literary analysis, but are its partial basis. Again, we must distinguish between those results of literary criticism which are compatible with the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch and those that contradict it. The patrons of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and even the ecclesiastical Decree relating to this subject, plainly admit that Moses or his secretaries may have utilized sources or documents in the composition of the Pentateuch; both admit also that the sacred text has suffered in its transmission and may have received additions, in the form of either inspired appendices or exegetical glosses. If the critics, therefore, can succeed in determining the number and the limits of the documentary sources, and of the post-Mosaic additions, whether inspired or profane, they render an important service to the traditional tenet of Pentateuchal authenticity. The same must be said with regard to the successive laws established by Moses, and the gradual fidelity of the Jewish people to the Mosaic law. Here again the certain or even probable results of sane literary and historical criticism will aid greatly the conservative commentator of the Pentateuch. We do not quarrel with the legitimate conclusions of the critics, if the critics do not quarrel with each other. But they do quarrel with each other. According to Merx (loc. cit.) there is nothing certain in the field of criticism except its uncertainty; each critic proclaims his views with the greatest self-reliance, but without any regard to the consistency of the whole. Former views are simply killed by silence; even Reuss and Dillmann are junk-iron, and there is a noticeable lack of judgment as to what can or cannot be known. Hence the critical results, in as far as they consist merely in the distinction of documentary sources, in the determination of post-Mosaic materials, e.g., textual changes, and profane or inspired additions, in the description of various legal codes, are not at variance with the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch. Nor can an anti-Mosaic character be pointed out in the facts or phenomena from which criticism legitimately infers the foregoing conclusions; such facts or phenomena are, for instance, the change of the Divine names in the text, the use of certain words, the difference of style, the so-called double accounts of really, not merely apparently, identical events; the truth of falsehood of these and similar details does not directly affect the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. In which results then does criticism clash with tradition? Criticism and tradition are incompatible in their views as to the age and sequence of the documentary sources, as to the origin of the various legal codes, and as to the time and manner of the redaction of the Pentateuch.

(i) Pentateuchal Documents.-As to the age and sequence of the various documents, the critics do not agree. Dillmann, Kittel, Konig, and Winckler place the Elohist, who is subdivided by several writers into the first, second, and third Elohist, before the Yahwist, who also is divided into the first and second Yahwist; but Wellhausen and most critics believe that the Elohist is about a century younger than the Yahwist. At any rate, both are assigned to about the ninth and eight centuries B.C.; both too incorporate earlier traditions or even documents.

All critics appear to agree as to the composite character of Deuteronomy; they admit rather a Deuteronomist school than single writers. Still, the successive layers composing the whole book are briefly designated by D1, D2, D3, etc. As to the character of these layers, the critics do not agree: Montet and Driver, for instance, assigned to the first Deuteronomist cc. i-xxi; Kuenen, Konig, Reuss, Renan, Westphal ascribe to DN, iv, 45-9, and v-xxvi; a third class of critics reduce D1 to xii, 1-xxvi, 19, allowing it a double edition: according to Wellhausen, the first edition contained i, 1-iv, 44; xii-xxvi; xxvii, while the second comprised iv, 45-xi, 39; xii-xxvi; xxviii-xxx; both editions were combined by the redactor who inserted Deuteronomy into the Hexateuch. Cornill arranges the two editions somewhat differently. Horst considers even cc. xii-xxvi as a compilation of pre-existing elements, gathered together without order and often by chance. Wellhausen and his adherents do not wish to assign to D1 a higher age than 621 B.C., Cornill and Bertholet consider the document as a summary of the prophetic teaching, Colenso and Renan ascribe it to Jeremias, others place its origin in the reign of Ezechias or Manasses, Klostermann identifies the document with the book read before the people in the time of Josaphat, while Kleinert refers it back to the end of the time of the Judges. The Deuteronomist depends on the two preceding documents, J and E, both for his history land his legislation; the historical details not found in these may have been derived from other sources not known to us, and the laws not contained in the Sinaitic legislation and the decalogue are either pure fiction or a crystallization of the prophetic teaching.

Finally, the Priestly Code, P, is also a compilation: the first stratum of the book, both historical and legal in its character, is designated by P1 or P2; the second stratum is the law of holiness, H or Lev., xvii-xxvi, and is the work of a contemporary of Ezechiel, or perhaps of the Prophet himself (H, P2, Ph); besides, there are additional elements springing rather from a school than from any single writer, and designated by Kunen as P3, P4, P5, but by other critics as Ps and Px. Bertholet and Bantsch speak of two other collections of laws: the law of sacrifices, Lev., i-vii, designated as Po; and the law of purity, Lev., xi-xv, designated as Pr. The first documentary hypothesis considered PN as the oldest part of the Pentateuch; Duston and Dillmann place it before the Deuteronomic code, but most recent critics regard it as more recent than the other documents of the Pentateuch, and even later than Ezech., xliv, 10-xlvi, 15 (573-2 B.C.); the followers of Wellhausen date the Priestly Code after the return from the Babylonian Captivity, while Wildeboer places it either after or towards the end of the captivity. The historical parts of the Priestly Code depend on the Yahwistic and the Elohistic documents, but Wellhausen's adherents believe that the material of these documents has been manipulated so as to fit it for the special purpose of the Priestly Code; Dillmann and Drive maintain that facts have not been invented or falsified by P, but that the latter had at hand other historical documents besides J and E. As to the legal part of P, Wellhausen considers it as an a priori programme for the Jewish priesthood after the return from the captivity, projected backwards into the past, and attributed to Moses; but other critics believe that P has systematized the pre-exilic customs of worship, developing then, and adapting them to the new circumstances.

What has been said clearly shows that the critics are at variance in many respects, but they are at one in maintaining the post- Mosaic origin of the Pentateuchal documents. What is the weight of the reasons on which they base their opinion?

The conditions laid down by the critics as prerequisites to literature do not prove that the sources of the Pentateuch must be post-Mosaic. The Hebrew people had lived for, at least, two hundred years in Egypt; besides, most of the forty years spent in the desert were passed in the neighbourhood of Cades, so that the Israelites were not longer a nomadic people. Whatever may be said of their material prosperity, or of their proficiency in writing and reading, the above-mentioned researches of Flinders Petrie show that they kept records of their national traditions at the time of Moses.

If the Hebrew contemporaries of Moses kept written records, why should not the Pentateuchal sources be among these documents? It is true that in our actual Pentateuch we find non-Mosaic and post- Mosaic indications; but, then, the non-Mosaic, impersonal style may be due to a literary device, or to the pen of secretaries; the post-Mosaic geographical and historical indications may have crept into the text by way of glosses, or errors of the transcribers, or even inspired additions. The critics cannot reject these suggestions as mere subterfuges; for they should have to grant a continuous miracle in the preservation of the Pentateuchal text, if they were to deny the moral certainty of the presence of such textual changes.

But would not the Pentateuch have been known to the earlier Prophets, if it had been handed down from the time of Moses? This critical exception is really an argument e silentio which is very apt to be fallacious, unless it be most carefully handled. Besides, if we keep in mind the labour involved in multiplying copies of the Pentateuch, we cannot be wrong in assuming that they were very rare in the interval between Moses and the Prophets, so that few were able to read the actual text. Again, it has been pointed out that at least one of the earlier Prophets appeals to a written mosaic law, and that all appeal to such a national conscience as presupposes the Pentateuchal history and law. Finally, some of the critics maintain the J views the history of man and of Israel according to the religious and the moral ideas of the Prophets; if there be such an agreement, why not say that the Prophets write according to the religious and moral ideas of the Pentateuch?

The critics urge the fact that the Pentateuchal laws concerning the sanctuary, the sacrifices, the feasts, and the priesthood agree with different stages of post-Mosaic historical development; that the second stage agrees with the reform of Josias, and the third with the enactments enforced after the time of the Babylonian Exile. But it must be kept in mind that the Mosaic law was intended for Israel as the Christian law is intended for the whole world; if then 1900 years after Christ the greater part of the world is still un-Christian, it is not astonishing that the Mosaic law required centuries before it penetrated the whole nation. Besides, there were, no doubt, many violations of the law, just as the Ten Commandments are violated today without detriment to their legal promulgation. Again there were times of religious reforms and disasters as there are periods of religious fervour and coldness in the history of the Christian Church; but such human frailties do not imply the non-existence of the law, either Mosaic or Christian. As to the particular laws in question, it will be found more satisfactory to examine them more in detail.

(ii) Pentateuchal Codes.-The critics endeavour to establish a triple Pentateuchal code: the Book of the Covenant, Deuteronomy, and the Priestly Code. Instead of regarding this legislation as applying to different phases in the forty years' wandering in the desert, they consider it as agreeing with three historical stages in the national history. As stated above, the main objects of this triple legislation are the sanctuary, the feast, and the priesthood.

(a) The Sanctuary

At first, so the critics say, sacrifices were allowed to be offered in any place where the Lord had manifested his name (Exodus 20:24-6); then the sanctuary was limited to the one place chosen by God (Deuteronomy 12:5); thirdly, the Priestly Code supposes the unity of sanctuary, and prescribes the proper religious rites to be observed. Moreover, the critics point out historical incidents showing that before the enforcement of the Deuteronomic law sacrifices were offered in various places quite distinct from the resting place of the ark. What do the defenders of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch answer? First, as to the triple law, it points to three different stages in Israel's desert life: before the erection of the tabernacle at the foot of Mt. Sinai, the people were allowed to erect altars and to offer sacrifices everywhere provided the name of the Lord had been manifested; next, after the people had adored the golden calf, and the tabernacle had been erected, sacrifice could be offered only before the tabernacle, and even the cattle killed for consumption had to be slaughtered in the same place, in order to prevent a relapse into idolatry; finally, when the people were about to enter the promised land, the last law was abolished, being then quite impossible, but the unity of sanctuary was kept in the place which God would choose. Secondly, as to the historical facts urged by the critics, some of them are caused by direct Divine intervention, miracle or prophetic inspiration, and as such are fully legitimate; others are evidently violations of the law, and are not sanctioned by the inspired writers; a third class of facts may be explained in one of three ways:

Poels ("Le sanctuaire de Kirjath Jeraim", Louvain, 1894; "Examen critique de l'histoire du sanctuaire de l'arche", Louvain, 1897) endeavours to prove that Gabaon, Masphath, and Kiriath-Jarim denote the same place, so that the multiplicity of sanctuaries is only apparent, not real.

Van Hoonacker ("Le Lieu du culte dans la legislation rituelle des Hebreux" in "Musceeon", April-Oct., 1894, XIII, 195-204, 299- 320, 533-41; XIV, 17-38) distinguishes between private and public altars; the public and national worship is legally centralized in one sanctuary and around one altar, while private altars may be had for domestic worship.

But more commonly it is admitted that before God had chosen the site of national sanctuary, it was not forbidden by law to sacrifice anywhere, even away from the place of the ark. After the building of the temple the law was not considered so stringent as to bind under all circumstances. Thus far then the argument of the critics is not conclusive.

(b) The Sacrifices

According to the critics, the Book of the Covenant enjoined only the offering of the first-fruits and the first-born of animals, the redemption of the first-born of men, and a free-will offering on visiting the sanctuary (Ex., xxii, 28-9; xxiii, 15, [Heb., xxiii, 19]); Deuteronomy more clearly defines some of these laws (xv, 19-23; xxvi, 1-11), and imposes the law of tithes for the benefit of the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the Levites (xxvi, 12-5); the Priestly Code distinguishes different kinds of sacrifices, determines their rites, and introduces also incense offering. But history hardly bears out this view: as there existed a permanent priesthood in Silo, and later on in Jerusalem, we may safely infer that there existed a permanent sacrifice. The earliest prophets are acquainted with an excess of care bestowed on the sacrificial rites (cf. Amos 4:4, 5; 5:21-22, 25; Hosea passim). The expressions of Jeremias (vii, 21-3) may be explained in the same sense. Sin offering was known long before the critics introduce their Priestly Code (Osee, iv, 8; Mich., vi, 7; Ps., xxxix [xl], 7; 1 Kings, iii, 14). Trespass offering is formally distinguished from sin offering in 2 Kings 13:16 (cf. 1 Samuel 6:3-15; Isaiah 53:10). Hence the distinction between the different kinds of sacrifice is due neither to Ezekiel 45:22-5, nor to the Priestly Code.

(c) The Feasts

The Book of the Covenant, so the critics tell us, knows only three feasts: the seven-days feast of the azymes in memory of the exodus form Egypt, the feast of the harvest, and that of the end of the harvest (Exodus 23:14-7); Deuteronomy ordains the keeping of the feasts at the central sanctuary adds to Pasch to the feast of the azymes, places the second feast seven weeks after the first, and calls the third, "feast of tabernacles", extending its duration to seven days (Deuteronomy 16:1-17); the Priestly Code prescribes the exact ritual for five feasts, adding the feast of trumpets and of atonement, all of which must be kept at the central sanctuary. Moreover, history appears to endorse the contention of the critics: Judges, xxi, 19 knows of only one annual feast in Silo; 1 Samuel 1:3, 7, 21 testifies that the parents of Samuel went every year to Silo to the sanctuary; Jeroboam I established in his kingdom one annual feast similar to that celebrated in Jerusalem (1 Kings 12:32-3); the earliest Prophets do not mention the names of the religious feasts; the Pasch is celebrated for the first time after the discovery of Deuteronomy (2 Kings 23:21-3); Ezechiel knows only three feasts and a sin offering on the first day of the first and the seventh month. But here again, the critics use the argument e silentio which is not conclusive in this case. The feast of atonement, for instance, is not mentioned in the Old Testament outside the Pentateuch; only Josephus refers to its celebration in the time of John Hyrcanus or Herod. Will the critics infer from this, that the feast was not kept throughout the Old Testament? History does not record facts generally known. As to the one annual feast mentioned in the early records, weighty commentators are of opinion that after the settlement of the people in the promised land, the custom was gradually introduced of going to the central sanctuary only once a year. This custom prevailed before the critics allow the existence of the Deuteronomic law (1 Kings 12:26-31), so that the latter cannot have introduced it. Isaias (xxix, 1; xxx, 29) speaks of a cycle of feasts, but Osee, xii, 9 alludes already to the feast of tabernacles, so that its establishment cannot be due to the Priestly Code as the critics describe it. Ezechiel (xlv, 18-25) speaks only of the three feasts which had to be kept at the central sanctuary.

(d) The Priesthood

The critics contend that the Book of the Covenant knows nothing of an Aaronitic priesthood (Exodus 24:5); that Deuteronomy mentions priests and Levites without any hierarchical distinction and without any high priest, determines their rights, and distinguishes only between the Levite living in the country and the Levite attached to the central sanctuary; finally, that the Priestly Code represents the priesthood as a social and hierarchical institution, with legally determined duties, rights, and revenues. This theory is said to be borne out by the evidence of history. But the testimony of history points in the opposite direction. At the time of Josue and the early Judges, Eleazar and Phinees, the son and nephew of Aaron, were priests (Numbers 26:1; Deuteronomy 10:6; Joshua 14:1 sqq.; 22:13, 21; 24:33; Judges 20:28). From the end of the time of Judges to Solomon, the priesthood was in the hands of Heli and his descendants (1 Samuel 1:3 sqq.; 14:3; 21:1; 22:1) who sprang from Ithamar the younger son of Aaron (1 Chronicles 24:3; cf. 1 Samuel 22:29; 14:3; 2:7 sqq.). Solomon raised Sadoc, the son of Achitob, to the dignity of the high priesthood, and his descendants held the office down to the time of the Babylonian Captivity (2 Samuel 8:17; 15:24 sqq.; 20:25; 1 Kings 2:26, 27, 35; Ezekiel 44:15); that Sadoc too was of Aaronic descent is attested by I Par., vi, 8. Besides the Books of Josue and Paralipomenon acknowledge the distinction between priests and Levites; according to 1 Samuel 6:15, the Levites handled the ark, but the Bethsamites, the inhabitants of a priestly city (Joshua 21:13-6), offered sacrifice. A similar distinction is made in 2 Samuel 15:24; 1 Kings 8:3 sq.; Isaiah 66:21. Van Hoonacker ("Les pretres et les levites dans le livre d'Ezechiel" in "Revue biblique", 1899, VIII, 180-189, 192-194) shows that Ezechiel did not create the distinction between priests and Levites, but that supposing the traditional distinction in existence, he suggested a divisions in to these classes according to merit, and not according to birth (xliv, 15-xlv, 5). Unless the critics simply set aside all this historical evidence, they must grant the existence of an Aaronitic priesthood in Israel, and its division into priests and Levites, long before the D and P codes were promulgated according to the critical theory. It is true that in a number of passages persons are said to offer sacrifice who are not of Aaronitic descent: Judges, vi, 25 sqq.; xiii, 9; 1 Samuel 7:9; 10:8; 13:9; 2 Samuel 6:17; 24:25; 1 Kings 8:5, 62; etc. But in the first place, the phrase "to offer sacrifice" means either to furnish the victim (Leviticus 1:2, 5) or to perform the sacrificial rite; the victim might be furnished by any devout layman; secondly, it would be hard to prove that God committed the priestly office in such a way to Aaron and his sons as not to reserve to himself the liberty of delegating in extraordinary cases a non-Aaronite to perform the priestly functions.

(iii) Pentateuchal Redaction.-The four documentary sources of the Pentateuch thus far descried were combined not by any one individual; critics require rather three different stages of combination: first, a Yahwistic redactor RXX or RX combined J and E with a view of harmonizing them, and adapting them to Deuteronomic ideas; this happened either before or after the redaction of D. Secondly, after D had been completed in the sixth century B.C., a redactor, or perhaps a school of redactors, imbued with the spirit of D combined the documents JE into JED, introducing however the modifications necessary to secure consistency. Thirdly, a last redactor RX imbued with the letter and the spirit of P, combined this document with JED, introducing again the necessary changes. The table of nations in Gen., xiv was according to Kunen added by this last redactor.

At first sight, one is struck by the complex character of this theory; as a rule, truth is of a more simple texture. Secondly, one is impressed by the unique nature of the hypothesis; antiquity has nothing to equal it. Thirdly, if one reads or studies the Pentateuch in the light of this theory, one is impressed by the whimsical character of the redactor; he often retained what should have been omitted, and omitted what should have been retained. The critics themselves have to take refuge, time and time again, in the work of the redactor, in order save their own views of the Pentateuch. A recent writer does not hesitate to call the complex redactor ein genialer Esel. Fourthly, a truth-loving, straightforward reader is naturally shocked by the literary fictions and forgeries, the editorial changes and subterfuges implied in the critical theory of the Pentateuchal documents and redaction. The more moderate critics endeavour to escape this inconvenience: some appeal to the difference between the ancient and the modern standard of literary property and editorial accuracy; others practically sanctify the means by the end. Oettli considers the dilemma "either the work of Moses or the work of a deceiver" as the expression of sheer imprudence; Kautzsch unctuously points to the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God whose ways we cannot fathom, but must admire. The left wing of criticism openly acknowledges that there is no use in hushing up matters; it actually is the result of scientific research that both form and contents of a great part of the Old Testament are based on conscious fiction and forgery.


In some general introductions to the Pentateuch its messianic prophecies are specially considered, i.e., the so-called proto-evangelium, Gen., iii, 15; the blessing of Sem, Gen., ix, 26-7; the patriarchal promises, Gen., xii, 2; xiii, 16; xv, 5; xvii, 4-6, 16; xviii, 10-15; xxii, 17; xxvi, 4; xxviii, 14; the blessing of the dying Jacob, Gen., xlix, 8-10; the Prophecy of Balaam, Num., xxiv, 15 sqq.; and the great Prophet announced by Moses, Deut., xviii, 15-19. But these prophecies belong rather to the province of exegesis than introduction. Again, the text of the Pentateuch has been considered in some general introductions to the work. We have seen already that besides the Massoretic Text we have to take into account the earlier text followed by the Septuagint translators, and the still earlier readings of the Samaritan Pentateuch; a detailed investigation of this subject belongs to the field of textual or lower criticism. But the style of the Pentateuch can hardly be referred to any other department of Pentateuchal study.

As Moses employed no doubt pre-existent documents in the composition of his work, and as he must have made use too of the aid of secretaries, we expect antecedently a variety of style in the Pentateuch. It is no doubt due to the presence of this literary phenomenon that the critics have found so many points of support in their minute analysis. But in general, the style of the work is in keeping with its contents. There are three kinds of material in the Pentateuch: first, there are statistics, genealogies, and legal formularies; secondly, there are narrative portions; thirdly, there are parenthetic sections.

No reader will find fault with the writer's dry and simple style in his genealogical and ethnographic lists, in his table of encampments in the desert, or his legal enactments. Any other literary expression would be out of place in records of this kind. The narrative style of the Pentateuch is simple and natural, but also lively and picturesque. It abounds in simple character sketches, dialogues, and anecdotes. The accounts of Abraham's purchase of a burying-ground, of the history of Joseph, and of the Egyptian plagues are also dramatic. Deuteronomy has its peculiar style on account of the exhortations it contains. Moses explains the laws he promulgates, but urges also, and mainly, their practice. As an orator, he shows a great deal of unction and persuasiveness, but is not destitute of the earnestness of the Prophets. His long sentences remain at times incomplete, thus giving rise to so-called anacolutha (cf. Deuteronomy 6:10-12; 8:11-17; 9:9-11; 11:2-7; 24:1-4). Being necessarily a popular preacher, he is not lacking in repetitions. But his earnestness, persuasiveness, and unction do not interfere with the clearness of his statements. He is not merely a rigid legislator, but he shows his love for the people, and in turn wins their love and confidence.

Decisions of the Biblical Commission

Some decisions of the Biblical Commission in regards to the chief subject of this article, viz., Genesis, are as follows: The various exegetical systems which exclude the literal and historical sense of the first three chapters of the Book of Genesis are not based on solid foundation. It should not be taught that these three chapters do not contain true narrations of facts, but only fables derived from the mythologies and cosmogonies of earlier peoples, purged of the polytheistic errors and accommodated to monotheism; or allegories and symbols, with no objective reality, set forth in the guise of history to inculcate religious and philosophical truths; or, finally, legends partly historical and partly fictitious put together for instruction and edification. In particular, doubt should not be cast on the literal and historical sense of passages which touch on the foundations of the Christian religion, as, for instance, the creation of the universe by God at the beginning of time; the special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from the first man; the unity of the human race; the original happiness, integrity, and immortality of our first parents in the state of justice; the precept given by God to man to try his obedience; the transgression of the Divine precept, at the suggestion of the Devil, under the form of a serpent; the fall of our first parents from their original state of justice; the promise of a future Redeemer.

In explaining such passages in these chapters as the Fathers and Doctors interpreted differently, one may follow and defend the opinion which meets his approval. Not every word or phrase in these chapters is always necessarily to be taken in its literal sense so that it may never have another, as when it is manifestly used metaphorically or anthropomorphically. The literal and historical meaning of some passages in these chapters presupposed, an allegorical and prophetical meaning may wisely and usefully be employed. As in writing the first chapter of Genesis the purpose of the sacred author was not to expound in a scientific manner the constitution of the universe or the complete order of creation, but rather to give to the people popular information in the ordinary language of the day, adapted to the intelligence of all, the strict propriety of scientific language is not always to be looked for in their terminology. The expression six days and their division may be taken in the ordinary sense of a natural day, or for a certain period of time, and exegetes may dispute about this question.

Publication information Written by A.J. Moss. Transcribed by Thomas M. Barrett & Michael T. Barrett. Dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York


Many works referring to the Pentateuch have been cited throughout the course of this article. We shall here add a list of mainly exegetical works, both ancient and modern, without attempting to give a complete catalogue.

PATRISTIC WRITERS."Eastern Church:--ORIGEN, Selecta in Gen., P. G., XII, 91- 145; IDEM, Homil. in Gen., ibid., 145-62; IDEM, Selecta et homil, in Ex., Lev., Num., Deut., ibid., 263-818; IDEM, Fragmenta in P.G., XVII, 11-36; ST. BASIL, Homil. in Hexaemer. in P.G., XXIX, 3-208; ST. GREGORY OF NYSSA, In Hexaemer. in P.G., XLIV, 61-124; IDEM, De homin. Opific., ibid., 124-297; IDEM, De vita Moysis, ibid., 297-430; ST. JOHN CHRYS., Homil. in Gen. in P.G., LIII, LIV, 23- 580; IDEM, Serm. In Gen. in P.G., LIV, 581-630; ST. EPHR., Comment in Pentat. in Oper. Syr., I, 1-115; ST. CYRIL OF ALEX., De adoratione in spiritu in P.G., LXVIII, 133-1125; Glaphyra in P.G., LXIX, 13-677; THEODORETUS, Quaest. in Gen., Ex., Lev., Num., Deut. in P.G., LXXX, 76-456; PROCOPIUS OF GAZA, Comment. in Octateuch. in P.G., LXXXVII, 21-992; NICEPHORUS, Catena in Octateuch. et libros Reg. (Leipzig, 1772).

Western Church: ST. AMBROSE, In Hexaemer. in P.L., XIV, 123-274; IDEM, De Paradiso terrestri, ibid., 275-314; IDEM, De Cain et Abel, ibid., 315-60; IDEM, De Noe et arca, ibid., 361-416; IDEM, De Abraham, ibid., 419-500; IDEM, De Isaac et anima, ibid., 501-34; IDEM, De Joseph patriarcha, ibid., 641-72; IDEM, De benedictionibus patriarcharum, ibid., 673-94; ST. JEROME, Liber quaest. hebraic. in Gen. in P.L., XXIII, 935-1010; ST. AUGUSTINE, De Gen. c. Manich. ll. due in P.L., XXXIV, 173-220; IDEM, De Ger. ad lit., ibid., 219-46; IDEM, De Ger. ad lit. ll. duodecim, ibid., 245-486; IDEM, Quaest in Heptateuch., ibid., 547-776; RUFINUS, De benedictionibus patriarcharum in P.L., XXI, 295-336; ST. VEN. BEDE, Hexaemeron in P.L., XCI, 9-190; IDEM, In Pentateuch. Commentarii, ibid., 189-394; IDEM, De tabernaculo et vasibus ejus, ibid., 393-498; RHABANUS MAURUS, Comm. in Gen. in P.L., CVII, 443-670; IDEM, Comment. in Ez., Lev., Num., Deut. in P.L., CVIII, 9-998; WALAFRID STRABO, Glossa ordinaria in P.L., CXIII, 67-506.

MIDDLE AGES:-ST. BRUNO OF ASTI, Expositio in Pentateuch. in P.L., RUPERT OF DEUTZ, De SS. Trinitate et operib. Ejus in P.L., CLXVII, 197-1000; HUGH OF ST. VICTOR, Adnotationes elucidatoriae in Pent. in P.L., CLXXV, 29-86; HONORIUS OF AUTUN, Hexameron in P.L., CLXXII, 253-66; IDEM, De decem plagis Aegypti, ibid., 265-70; ABELARD, Expositio in Hexaemeron in P.L., CLXXVII, 731-84; HUGH OF ST. CHER, Postilla (Venice, 1588); NICOLAUS OF LYRA, Postilla (Rome, 1471); TOSTATUS, Opera, I-IV (Venice, 1728); DIONYSIUS THE CARTHUSIAN, Comment. in Pentateuch. in Opera omnia, I, II (Montreuil, 1896-7).

MORE RECENT WORKS.-Jewish Writers:-The Commentaries of RASHI (1040-1150), ABENASRA (1092-1167), and DAVID KIMCHI, (1160-1235) are contained in the Rabbinic Bibles; ABARBANEL, Comment. (Venice, 5539 A.M.; 1579 B.C.); CAHEN, French tr. of Pent. (Paris, 1831); KALISCH, Historical and Critical Comment on the Old Test. (London), Gen. (1885); Lev. (1867, 1872); Ez. (1855); HIRSCH, Der Pent. ubersetzt und erklart (2nd ed., Frankfurt, 1893, 1895); HOFFMANN, Das Buch Lev. ubersetz und erklart (Berlin, 1906).

Protestant Writers:-The works of LUTHER, MELANCHTHON, CALVIN, GERHART, CALOVIUS, DRUSIUS, DE DIEU, CAPPEL, COCCEIUS, MICHAELIS, LE CLERC, ROSENMULLER, and even of TUCH and BAUMGARTEN, are of minor importance in our days; KNOBEL, Gen. (6th ed., by DILLMANN, 1892; tr., Edinburgh, 1897); RYSSEL, Ez. and Lev. (3rd ed., 1897); DILLMANN, Numbers, deut., Jos. (2nd ed., 1886); LANGE, Theologisch-homiletisches Bibelwerk (Bielefeld and Leipzig); IDEM, Gen. (2nd ed., 1877); IDEM, Ez., Lev., and Numbers (1874); STOSCH, Deut. (2nd ed., 1902); KEIL and FRANZ DELITZSCH, Biblischer Comment. uber das A.T.; KEIL, Gen. and Ex. (3rd ed., Leipzig, 1878); IDEM, Lev., Numbers, Deut. (2nd ed., 1870; tr., Edinburgh, 1881, 1885); STRACK and ZOCKLER, Kurzgefasster Komment. zu den h. Schriften A. und N.T. (Munich); STRACK, Gen. (2nd ed., 1905); IDEM, Ez., Lev., Numbers (1894); OETTLI, Deut. (1893); NOWACK, Handkomment. zum A.T. (Gottingen); GUNKEL, Gen. (1901); BANTSCH, Ez., Lev., Numbers (1903); Deut. by STEUERNAGEL (1900); MARTI, Kurtzer Handommentar z. A.T. (Freiburg): HOLZINGER, Gen. (1898), Ez. (1900), Numbers (1903); BERTHOLET, Lev. (1901), Deut. (1899); BOHMER, Das erste Buch Mose (Stuttgart, 1905); COOK, The Holy Bible according to the Authorized Version, I-II (London, 1877); SPENCE and EXELL, The Pulpit Commentary (London): WHITELAW, Gen.; RAWLINSON, Ex.; MEYRICK, Lev.; WINTERBOTHAM, Numbers; ALEXANDER, Deut.; The Expositor's Bible (London): DODS, Gen. (1887); CHADWICK, Exod. (1890); KELLOGG, Lev. (1891); WATSON, Numbers (1889); HARPER, Deut. (1895); The International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh): GRAY, Numbers (1903); DRIVER, Deut. (1895); SPURRELL, Notes on the Hebrew Text of Gen. (2nd ed., Oxford, 1896); GINSBURG, The Third Book of Moses (London, 1904); MACLAREN, The Books of Ex., Lev., and Numbers (London, 1906); IDEM, Deut. (London, 1906); REUSS, L'histoire sainte et la loi (Paris, 1879); KUENEN, HOSYKAAS, and OORT, Het Oude Testament (Leyden, 1900-1).

Catholic Works:-The works of CAJETAN, OLEASTER, STEUCHUS EUGUBINUS, SANTE PAGINO, LIPPOMANNUS, HAMMER, B. POREIRA, ASORIUS MARTINENGUS, LORINUS, TIRINUS, A LAPIDE, CORN, JANSENIUS, BONFRERE, FRASSEN, CALMET, BRENTANO, DERESER, and SCHOLZ are either too well known or too unimportant to need further notice. La Sainte Bible (Paris); CHELIER, La Genese (1889); IDEM, l'Exode et la Levitique (1886); TROCHON, Les Nombres et le Deuteronome (1887-8); Cursus Scripturae Sacrae (Paris); VON HUMMELAUER, Gen. (1895); Ex., Lev. (1897); Num. (1899); Deut. (1901); SCHRANK, Comment. literal. in Gen. (1835); LAMY, Comment in l. Gen. (Mechlin, 1883-4); TAPPEHORN, Erklarung der Gen. (Paderborn, 1888); HOBERG, Die Gen. nach dem Literalsinn erklart (Freiburg, 1899); FILLION, La Sainte Bible, I (Paris, 1888); NETELER, Das Buch Genesis der Vulgata und des hebraischen Textes ubersetzt und erklart (Munster, 1905); GIGOT, Special Introduction to the Study of the Old Testament, I (New York, 1901). Biblical Commission: Acta Apostolicoe Sedis (15 July, 1908); Rome (17 July, 1909).

Book of Exodus

Jewish Perspective Information


-Biblical Data:

Name and Contents.

Ch. i.-iv.: The Call of Moses.

Ch. v., vi.: The Preparation.

Ch. vii.-x.: The Plagues:

Ch. xi-xiii. 16: The Departure.

Ch. xiii. 17-xv. 21: Pharaoh's Death.

Ch. xv. 22-xviii.: The March to Sinai.

Ch. xix.-xx.: Israel's Call:

Ch. xxi.-xxiv.: The Law and the Covenant.

Ch. xxv.-xxxi.: The Sanctuary and the Priests.

Ch. xxxii-xxxiv.: The Sin of the People with the Golden Calf.

Ch. xxxv.-xl.: The Sanctuary and the Garments of the Priests


Revelations of God.

God the Absolutely Exalted One.


The Moral Law.


-Critical View I.:

Characteristics of JE.

Characteristics of P.

P's Representation of the Tabernacle Unhistorical.

-Critical View II.:


Errors of Critical School.

-Biblical Data:

The second book of the Torah or Pentateuch is called by the Jews , from the opening words, or briefly . The Greek name is ξοδος (in Philo also ξαγωγή), that is, "departure"; the Latin, "[Liber] Exodus." It contains, according to the Masorah, 1,209 (?) verses in 164 sections ("parashiyyot"), 69 ending in the middle of the line ("petuḥot" = "open"), and 95 with a space in the middle of the line ("setumot"="closed"), in 29 chapters ("sedarim"), and 14 sections ("pisḳot"), for reading on the Sabbath, in 11 lessons. The common division into 40 chapters is taken from the Vulgate.

Name and Contents.

The second book of the Torah is the organic continuation of the first book. It narrates the departure of the descendants of the Patriarchs, increased to a people, from servitude in Egypt, their journey to Sinai, and the revelations and laws which they received there. It is a well-planned and well-arranged work, displaying much literary skill in the command over great masses of material as well as in the marshaling of the facts. It is homogeneous in its views, and is not encumbered by unnecessary repetitions, though the sequel to it is found only in the following books. It is divided into two principal sections: (1) ch. i-xviii., recounting Israel's deliverance from Egypt; (2) ch. xix.-xl., the promulgation of the Law. These may again be divided into subsections.

Ch. i.-iv.: The Call of Moses.

The Israelites living in Egypt are oppressed by forced labor,imposed upon them by a new Pharaoh who desires to destroy them (i.). The exposed male infant of a Levitic family (whose name, in order not to divert interest from the main story, is not given here), is found by Pharaoh's daughter, who calls him "Moses" and adopts him. Moses, grown to man's estate, sympathizes with his suffering brethren, and flees the country because he has slain an Egyptian overseer. He goes to Midian, becomes shepherd to the priest Jethro, and marries the latter's daughter Zipporah (ii.). As he is feeding the sheep on Mount Horeb, he has a marvelous experience. God appears to him from a thorn-bush which, though burning, is not consumed. He reveals Himself as the God of the Fathers of Israel, and orders Moses to go before Pharaoh and demand the release of his brethren. God overcomes Moses' reluctance by His promises of supreme aid, and appoints his brother Aaron to be his assistant. Moses then returns to Egypt.

Ch. v., vi.: The Preparation.

As Pharaoh not only refuses Moses' request, but oppresses the people still further, Moses complains to God, who thereupon announces to him that He will now display His power and will surely liberate Israel. At this point the genealogy of Moses and his family is inserted, in order that it may not later interrupt or weaken in any way the story which follows.

Ch. vii.-x.: The Plagues:

the proofs of God's power. After God has assigned their tasks to Moses and Aaron, and predicted Pharaoh's obduracy, and after they have attested their commission by working a miracle before Pharaoh (vii. 1-13), God sends nine plagues over Pharaoh, and his land: (1) the changing of the waters of the Nile into blood (, vii. 14-25); (2) frogs (, vii. 28-viii. 11); (3) vermin (, viii. 12-15); (4) noxious animals (, viii. 16-28); (5) death of the cattle (, ix. 1-7); (6) boils upon men and beasts (, ix. 9-12); (7) storms, killing men and beasts (, ix. 13-35); (8) locusts that devour all vegetation(, x. 1-20); (9) deep darkness for three days (, x. 21-29). These plagues, which give evidence of God's power over nature, are increasingly obnoxious and dangerous, and are so arranged that every third plague (hence narrated more briefly) confirms the two preceding ones (narrated more in detail), and each group follows naturally upon the preceding one. The story displays a skilful climax, rhythm, and variety. Pharaoh, however, is untouched by the first plague, which his magicians can imitate; after the second plague, which they can reproduce, but not check, he begins to supplicate; after the third plague he allows his magicians to comfort him; from the third on he makes fresh promises after each plague, but recalls them when the danger is past, and remains obdurate.

Ch. xi-xiii. 16: The Departure.

The last, decisive blow, namely, the death of all the first-born of the Egyptians (), and the departure are announced. For the protection of their homes the Israelites are commanded to kill a lamb () and to eat it quickly with unleavened bread () and bitter herbs (), on the 14th of the first month, and to be ready for immediate departure. The first-born of all the Egyptians die. Pharaoh dismisses the Israelites. To the number of 600,000 men, not including women and children, they leave the country, after a sojourn of 430 years, carrying with them rich gifts from benevolent Egyptians. They go first from Rameses to Succoth. Chap. xii. 43-xiii. 16 contain supplementary regulations regarding the future observance of the Passover.

Ch. xiii. 17-xv. 21: Pharaoh's Death.

Repenting his clemency, Pharaoh, with chariots and horsemen, pursues the Israelites, who have reached the shores of the Red Sea (), divinely guided by day by a pillar of cloud, and by night by a pillar of fire. The Israelites pass dry-shod through the waters, which marvelously recede before them while engulfing Pharaoh and his entire army. Moses and his people sing a song of praise to God.

Ch. xv. 22-xviii.: The March to Sinai.

The Israelites journey into the desert of Shur, to Mara. The people, complaining of lack of water, are satisfied. They reach Elim. In the desert of Sin they complain of lack of food. God sends them quails, and from this time on, except on the Sabbath, sends them a daily shower of manna. Upon arrival at Rephidim the people again complain of lack of water. God gives them water from a rock ("Massah and Meribah" = "place of temptation and quarrels"; xvii. 7). Amalek attacks Israel and is vanquished by Joshua. God commands eternal war against Amalek. Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, having heard of Israel's deliverance, visits Moses, bringing him his wife Zipporah and their two children, whom Moses had left behind at home. On Jethro's advice Moses appoints subordinate judges.

Ch. xix.-xx.: Israel's Call:

the promulgation of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. In the third month the Israelites arrive in the desert of Sinai and encamp at the mountain. God announces to them through Moses that, having by His power liberated them, He will now constitute them His people, making them a nation of priests and a holy people. The Israelites accept this call with one accord, and after they have prepared themselves worthily, God, through Moses' mediation, and with thunder and lightning, clouds of smoke and noise of trumpets, reveals Himself to them on Mount Sinai and pronounces the ten fundamental commands of religion and morals, which are followed by a command regarding the altar.

Ch. xxi.-xxiv.: The Law and the Covenant.

The Ten Commandments, formally declaring the divine will regarding man's attitude to God and to all His creatures, are followed by enactments relating to civil law: (1) indemnifications for injuries done to, a fellow man; (2) duties toward persons who have no actual claims, though they are dependent on the good will of others. In conclusion there are the promise of the land of Canaan as the reward of obedience, and the warning against the pagan inhabitants. God then enters into a solemn covenant with the people, through Moses. He calls Moses up into the mountain to receive the stone tablets of the Law and further instructions.

Ch. xxv.-xxxi.: The Sanctuary and the Priests.

In order that God may dwell permanently among the Israelites, they are given instructions for erecting a sanctuary. The directions provide for: (1) a wooden ark, gilded inside andoutside, for the Tables of the Covenant, with a cover similarly gilded as "mercy seat" for the Divine Presence; (2) a gilt table for the so-called "shewbread" (); (3) a golden candlestick for a light never to be extinguished; (4) the dwelling, including the curtains for the roof, the walls made of boards resting on silver feet and held together by wooden bolts, the purple curtain veiling the Holy of Holies, the table and candlestick, and the outer curtain; (5) a sacrificial altar made of bronzed boards; (6) the outer court formed by pillars resting on bronze pedestals and connected by hooks and crossbars of silver, with embroidered curtains; (7) preparation of the oil for the candlestick. Then follow directions for the garments of the priests: (1) a shoulder-band (ephod) with two onyx stones, on each of which are engraved the names of six of the tribes of Israel, also golden chains for holding the breastplate ("ḥoshen") set with twelve precious stones, in four rows; (2) a robe for the ephod, with bells and pomegranates around the seam; (3) a golden miter plate with the inscription "Holiness to the Lord"; (4) a coat; (5) a miter; (6) a girdle. All these things are for Aaron. For his sons coats, bonnets, girdles, and linen breeches shall be made. Then follow directions for ordaining the priests, including robing, anointing (of Aaron), and a seven days' sacrifice; the institution of daily morning and evening offerings; directions for making a golden altar of incense, to be set up in front of the inner curtain, opposite the Ark of the Covenant, and on which an atonement shall be made once a year with the blood of the sin-offering; directions for a yearly tax of half a shekel to be paid by every Israelite enumerated in the census toward the expenses of this service; directions for making a laver and stand of brass, to be set up between the Tabernacle and the altar of sacrifice; the preparation of the holy oil for anointing and of the holy incense; appointment of the master workmen Bezaleel and Aboliab to direct the work; the observance of the Sabbaṭh.

The most striking point in this enumeration is the place given to the directions regarding the altar of incense, which, to agree with the arrangement as described in chaps. xxxv.-xl., should follow the directions for making the golden candlestick (xxv. 31-40). This has been a puzzle to the critics, who have made it the basis of the most far-reaching hypotheses. The passage was not only supposed to be a later interpolation, but it was assumed that originally there was no altar of incense, not even in Herod's temple! The riddle may be solved as follows: In xxxv.-xl. the articles are enumerated in the order in which they were set up, while here they are enumerated according to their uses. The golden altar of incense later stood in the Tabernacle, between the table and the candlestick, a fact leading to the assumption that, like them, it belonged to the Tabernacle. But as throughout ancient literature the offerings of sacrifice and incense are two independent coordinated acts of worship, so the altar of incense was, to all intents and purposes, an independent requisite of worship as important as the rest of the apparatus. For this reason everything that is necessary for the dwelling of God and the sacrifices that guarantee His presence is described first, and the altar of incense after (comp. especially Lev. xvi. 16-17: first, atonement for the Holy of Holies and the "tabernacle . . . that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleannesses"; then, the cleansing and sanctifying of the altar of incense "from the uncleannesses of the children of Israel"). The sacrifice presumes God's presence, while it is the object of the incense to insure the continuation of His presence. The things, again, that must be repeatedly renewed are placed last, namely, the oil for lighting; the yearly tax; the laver with stand, consisting of mirrors, which were taken apart again after the laver had been used, and are, therefore, not enumerated in Num. iv. 14; the oil for anointing; and the incense. In conclusion, there are the directions for the workshop, the appointing of the master workman, and the arrangement of the work. These directions are admirably thought out, down to the smallest detail.

Ch. xxxii-xxxiv.: The Sin of the People with the Golden Calf.

While Moses is on the mountain the people become impatient and urge Aaron to make them a golden calf, which they worship with idolatrous joy. God informs Moses and threatens to abandon Israel. Moses at first intercedes for the people, but when he comes down and beholds their madness, he angrily breaks the two tablets containing the divine writing. After pronouncing judgment upon Aaron and the people he again ascends to God to implore forgiveness for them, as God is about to withdraw from them His blessed presence and to leave them unguided in the wilderness. Moses' intercession prevails. When he petitions God to tell him who will accompany them, what He intends to do, and how He will manifest His splendor, God commands him to make new tablets, and reveals Himself to Moses as a God of inexhaustible love and mercy. He assures Moses that in spite of their way wardness He will lead Israel into the Promised Land, giving Moses in token thereof new commandments applicable only to that land. He commands the Israelites not to have intercourse with the pagan natives, to refrain from all idolatry, and to appear before Him on the three pilgrimage festivals. Moses then returns to the people, who listen to him in respectful silence.

Ch. xxxv.-xl.: The Sanctuary and the Garments of the Priests

(almost in the same words as in ch. xxv.-xxxi.). Moses collects the congregation, enjoins upon them the keeping of the Sabbath, and requests gifts for the sanctuary. The entire people, men and women, high and low, respond willingly and quickly, and under the direction of the superintendent they make: (1) the dwelling, including the curtains, the walls, and the veil; (2) the Ark and cover; (3) the table; (4) the golden candlestick; (5) the golden altar of incense; (6) the altar of burnt offerings; (7) the laver; (8) the outer court. An estimate of the cost of the material follows. Next comes the preparation of the garments of the priests, including: (1) the ephod with the onyx stones, together with the breastplate and its twelve precious stones and its golden chains; (2) the robe of the ephod; (3) the coats for Aaron and his sons; (4) the miter and bonnets; (5) the breeches;(6) the girdle; (7) the golden plate of the crown. Moses inspects the work when completed and praises it, and the sanctuary is set up on the first of the second month. In connection with this section (xxxv.-xl.) the questions arise: Why the lengthy repetition of ch. xxv.-xxxi, in ch. xxxv.-xl.? and Why the difference in the order in which the various objects are described? To the first question the answer is: When the people fell away and God renounced them, the tablets of the covenant seemed to have become useless, wherefore Moses broke them. But after the people had been forgiven new tablets were made and the promises relating to the country had to be repeated. Furthermore, the promise given by God that He will dwell among Israel, in a sanctuary erected by them and in which they will worship, must not be allowed to remain unfulfilled; and therefore the building of the sanctuary that had been planned is undertaken anew, but according to the original idea. Hence ch. xxxii.-xxxiv. belong necessarily between ch. xxv.-xxxi. and xxxv.-xl. To the second question the reply is, that in xxv.-xxxi., which contain the plan, the pieces are enumerated according to the uses to which they are put, while in xxxv.-xl. (as also in the working-plans given to the overseers in xxxi. 7 et seq.), which narrate the progress of the work, they are enumerated according to their arrangement.


Exodus contains the most fundamental anct sublime revelations of God regarding His nature and will, and describes the beginnings of the theocratic constitution of the Israelitic people and the foundations of its ethics, law, customs, and worship. God, as revealed in Exodus, is not a new, hitherto unknown God: He is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob-the Fathers of the people-who has protected them and has been worshiped by them (Ex. ii. 24; iii. 6, 13-18; iv. 5; vi. 3, 8; xv. 2; xxxii. 13). He Himself designates the name by which He is to be addressed: " [Yhwh], the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (iii. 15). The book, however, expressly purposes to reveal, or fully develop, for the first time certain aspects of the divine nature that have not hitherto been noted. When God appears to Moses in the flaming bush, and commissions him, to announce to the Israelites their impending liberation, Moses asks doubtingly (iii. 13): "Behold when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?" Moses seeks to know, not the name of God, but what God's name, which he knows is full of significance, expresses in this particular case. Moses is well aware that the name "Yhwh" means "the Almighty," and that salvation rests with God; but in his anxiety, amounting indeed to a lack of faith, he wishes to know at once how God will save.

Revelations of God.

God, however, will not announce that now; merely comforting him by saying (iii. 14) ("I will be there [helping when necessary] in such a way as I may deem fit"; A. V. "I AM THAT I AM"). "I will prove myself as the Almighty, the unfailing savior." On this passage, if interpreted rightly, is based the passage vi. 2, where God encourages Moses-who is disappointed because reference to this name has availed him nothing-by saying "I am Yhwh! I have revealed myself as a faithful God ["El Shaddai"] to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, without their having known me according to my name Yhwh." And now God works His miracles, all with the express intention that the people may "know that I am Yhwh" (vi. 7; vii. 5, 17; viii. 6, 18; ix. 14, 25, 29; x. 2: xiv. 18; xvi. 12). Thus, God is, as His name Yhwh implies, the almighty Savior, subject only to His own will, independent, above nature and commanding it; the God of miracles; the helpful God, who uses His power for moral purposes in order to establish law and liberty in the world, by destroying the wicked and saving the oppressed (iii. 8; vi. 6; vii. 5; xv. 2, 3, 11), in whose hands are given judgment and salvation (iii., iv., vi. 1-8). In ch. xxxii. et seq. is revealed another side of God's nature. Israel has merited His destructive anger because of its sin with the golden calf. But God not only refrains from destruction and from recalling His word regarding the promised land; He even listens to Moses' prayers to grant His presence anew to the people. When Moses again asks, "Show me thy glory," God answers, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of Yhwh before thee, and will be gracious unto whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy unto whom I will show mercy" (xxxiii. 18-19). And again, "Thou canst not see my face: for man shall not see me and live; . . . thou shalt see my back; but my face shall not be seen" (ib. 20, 23, R. V.). When God appears to Moses He reveals Himself as "Yhwh, Yhwh God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation" (xxxiv. 6-7). In these words God has revealed Himself as a being full of holy zeal against wickedness-a zeal, however, which is counteracted by the immeasurably greater power of His love, mercy, and forgiveness, for these are inexhaustible. But even this does not constitute His entire nature, which in its full depth and clarity is beyond the comprehension of man. These two revelations contain the highest and most blessed insight into the nature of God ever attained; and around them may be grouped the other statements regarding God which the book of Exodus contains.

God the Absolutely Exalted One.

God is the absolutely Exalted One, who can not be compared with any other gods; even the Midianite Jethro admits that Yhwh is greater than all gods (xv. 1, 11; xviii. 11). The whole world belongs to God: He has created heaven and earth and all that is therein; He rules forever; He performs marvels; nothing like Him has ever been; hence He is an object of veneration (xv. 11, 18; xix. 5; xx. 11; xxxiv. 10). He givesspeech to man, or leaves him deaf and dumb; gives him sight, or makes him blind (iv. 11). He has power over men's hearts, either encouraging them to do good (iii. 21, xi. 3, xii. 36), or, having larger ends in view, not preventing them from doing evil ("hardening the heart," iv. 21; vii. 3; x. 1, 20; xiv. 4, 17). God is omniscient: He knows the distant, the future, what man may be expected to do according to his nature (vi. 4-13, 29; viii. 11, 15; ix. 12, 35; xxiv. 20; xxxiv. 10-12). From God proceed artistic inspiration, wisdom, insight, knowledge, and skill (xxxi. 3; xxxv. 31, 34; xxxvi. 1, 2).

God is Providence (ii. 25); He rewards good deeds, be they done from fear of or love for Him (i. 21, xx. 6). He is not indifferent to human misery; He sees and hears and intervenes at the right moment (iii. 7; iv. 31; vi. 5; xxii. 22, 26); He makes promises which He fulfils (ii. 24, iii. 16, iv. 31, vi. 5, xxxii. 13). God is jealous and leaves nothing unpunished (xx. 7, xxxiv. 7); but He always punishes the sinner Himself, admitting no vicarious death, even if it is offered (xxxii. 33). His great moral indignation ("anger") against sin would be destructive (xxxii. 10, 33) were not His forgiving love still greater (xx. 5, xxxii. 14, xxxiii. 19). He is gracious and full of mercy (xv. 13, xxxiv. 6). His presence means grace; it sanctifies; for He Himself "is glorious in holiness" (xv. 11, xxix. 43).

Man can not perceive God in His entire nature; he may only look after God when He has passed by and imagine Him (Dillmann to Ex. xxxiii. 22).

Yet God reveals Himself to man; i.e., He informs man visibly and audibly of His presence and will. God, who has already appeared to the Fathers, appears in the flaming bush, in the pillar of cloud and of fire on the march, in the clouds in which He came down on Sinai, in the fire on the mountain, in the cloud in the desert, in the pillar of cloud on Moses' tent, in the cloud from which He calls out to Moses His attributes of grace, in the cloud and the fire that serve as signals to the Israelites to start or to encamp (vi. 3; xiii. 21; xiv. 19; xix. 11; xx.; xxiv. 15, 17; xxxiii. 9; xxxiv. 5; xl. 34-36). This divine appearance is called God's message (xiv. 19; xxiii. 20, 23; xxxii. 34; xxxiii. 2) or His glory (xvi. 7, 10; xxiv. 16-17; xxxiii. 22; xl. 34).

God appears in order to make Himself known, to give commands, and to impart reverence leading to obedience (xvi. 10, xix. 9, xx. 20). God speaks chiefly with Moses; He puts the words in Moses' mouth, and tells him what to say; He talks with him face to face, as a man with his neighbor, and gives him a staff as a token of his office (iii. 15; iv. 17; vii. 2, 17, 20; ix. 23; x. 13; xxxiii. 11). But God also speaks from heaven to the entire people (xx. 22), and orders for Himself a permanent dwelling-place among them in the tabernacle set up according to His directions (xx. 22, xxv. 8, xxix. 45); He descends thither in order to talk with Moses, His especial place being the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, between the two cherubim (xxv. 22, xxix. 43, xxx. 6).


God has made a covenant with the Fathers of the people, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that He will multiply them as the stars of heaven; that He will remember them, save them, and give to them and their descendants the land of Canaan-a land "flowing with milk and honey," and that, shall reach "from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river" (ii. 24; iii. 8, 17; vi. 4-8; xiii. 5; xxiii. 31; xxxii. 13; xxxiii. 3). God remembers this covenant and keeps it despite everything, as is exemplified in the deliverance of Israel and the destruction of Pharaoh (i. 7, 12; iii. 7; vi. 1; xxiii. 20); He does not forget it, in spite of the dejection and the murmurings of the people (vi. 9; xiv. 10; xv. 24; xvi. 2, 27; xvii. 3), their worship of the golden calf and their obstinacy (xxxii. 9; xxxiii. 3, 5; xxxiv. 9). He leads, fights for, heals, and educates Israel and destroys Israel's enemies (xiii. 17; xiv. 14, 25; xv. 3, 26; xvi. 4; xx. 20; xxiii. 22, 23, 27; xxxiii. 2, xxxiv. 11, 24). The Israelites are God's people, His host, His first-born son (vi. 7, vii. 4, xii. 41, xv. 16, xxxii. 11 et seq.; xxxiii. 13, 16). Yhwh will be Israel's God (vi. 7, xxix. 5). Israel is His property ("segullah"). Above all people Israel shall be His people, "a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation," if Israel will listen to God's voice and keep His covenant (xix. 5, 6). Therefore He gives to the Israelites commandments, descends to them in His glory, holds them worthy of renewed revelations, and orders divine service (xxiv. 8, xxxiv. 27).

The Moral Law.

In Exodus are found for the first time the preeminent characteristics of the Israelitic law: its origin in and pragmatic connection with history. An account is given of the laws in connection with the events that called them forth. Thus, on the one hand, history explains and justifies the Law, while on the other the Law keeps alive and commemorates the events and teachings of history. As furthermore God is the subject of history as well as the lawgiver, Israel's religion assumes here the fundamental characteristic that determines its entire future development: it is a law founded on God as revealed in history. The basis is the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments (Ex. xx. 1-17), in which all duties are designated as duties toward the God who liberated Israel from the slavery of Egypt. Israel must not recognize any other God; idolatry and the making and worshiping of images are forbidden (xx. 2-5, 23; xxiii. 13, 24, 33; xxxii.; xxxiv. 12-14, 17); Israel shall beware of seductive intercourse with the idolatrous Canaanites; sacrificing to idols, and magic, are punishable by death. Nor may the name of the true God be applied to vain idols (this is the only correct explanation of xx. 7). God is recognized as Creator of the world by the sanctification of the Sabbath, on which man and beast shall rest from all labors (xvi. 23 et seq., xx. 7 et seq., xxiii. 12, xxxi. 12-17, xxxv. 1-3), and also by the observance of the Sabbatical year (xxiii. 10). He is recognized as Israel's savior from Egyptian oppression by the celebration of the Passover (see below).

"Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee" (xx. 12, fifth commandment). He who strikes or insults his father or mother is punished by death (xxi. 15, 17). Honor must also be accorded to those in authority (xxii. 27 [A. V. 28])."Thou shalt not kill" (xx. 13). Murder is punishable by death (xxi. 12); there is no place of refuge for the murderer, as there is for the accidental homicide, even at the altar (xxi. 13-14). For bodily injuries there is a fine (xxi. 18-19, 22-25, 28-31).

"Thou shalt not commit adultery" (xx. 14). Lechery and intercourse with animals are punishable by death (xxii. 17); the seducer of a virgin must either marry her or compensate her father (xxii. 15 et seq.). "Thou shalt not steal" (xx. 15). Kidnaping is punishable by death (xxi. 16). Killing of a burglar is justifiable. Whoever steals cattle, slaughtering and selling it, has to pay four or five times its value; if it is found alive, double; if the thief is unable to pay he is sold into slavery (xxi. 37, xxii. 3). Property injured or destroyed must be made good (xxi. 33-36, xxii. 4-14).

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor" (xx. 16). Justice, veracity, impartiality, honesty in court, are enjoined (xxiii. 1, 2, 6-8). An oath is demanded where there is suspicion of a default (xxii. 7 et seq.).

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's (xx. 17). The duties to one's neighbor include both kindly deeds and kindly thoughts. The poor man must be cared for: justice shall be done to him; loans shall be made to him; and he shall not be pressed for payment, nor shall the necessaries of life be taken in pawn (xxii. 24 et seq.). Widows and orphans shall not be oppressed; for God is their advocate (xxii. 21). Strangers shall not be injured or oppressed; "for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt" (xxii. 20, xxiii. 9); they also shall rest on the Sabbath (xx. 10). A Hebrew bond-servant shall not serve longer than six years, unless he himself chooses to remain. He may not earn any wages for himself while serving. The master of a girl that has been sold into servitude shall marry her or give her a dower. Servants are to be set free on receiving bodily injuries; and death caused by an animal is requited (xxi. 1-11, 20, 21, 26, 27, 32). Servants also shall rest on the Sabbath (xx. 10, xxiii. 12). Animals shall be treated gently (xxiii. 4, 5, 19), and be allowed to rest on the Sabbath (xx. 10; xxiii. 12). Consideration for an enemy is enjoined (xxiii. 4, 5). To do these commandments is to obey God (xv. 26, xvi. 28, xx. 6, xxiii, 13). Israel shall trust in Him (iii.-vi., xiv. 31, xvi., xvii. 7, xix. 9); and in a significant passage (xx. 6) the love for God is accentuated.


In Exodus the beginnings of the national cult are seen. It is strictly forbidden to make or worship idols (xx. 3, 23; xxiii. 24; xxxii.; xxxiv. 13, 17). The symbol of the Divine Presence is the Tabernacle built according to God's directions, more especially the cover of the Ark of the Covenant and the space between the cherubim thereon (see Tabernacle). Worship by specially sanctified priests shall be observed in this sanctuary (see Leviticus). The festivals include the Sabbath, for which no ritual is mentioned, and three "pilgrimage festivals," at which all males are to appear before God (xxiii. 14-17, xxxiv. 18-23).

The Passover is discussed in detail, a large part of the book being devoted to its institution (xii. 1-28, 43-50; xiii. 1-16; xxiii. 15; xxxiv. 18-20); and its historical origin is to be brought home to all future generations (xii. 2, 14, 17, 24-27, 42; xiii. 5-10, 16; see MaẒẒah; PesaḤ; Seder). Toward evening of the 14th day of the first month a yearling male lamb or kid without blemish shall be slaughtered, roasted by the fire, and eaten at the family dinner, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. It must be roasted whole, with the legs and entrails, and no bones must be broken; none of the meat must be carried from the house, but whatever remains until morning must be burned. In connection with this there is a seven days' festival (), the Feast of Maẓẓot (unleavened bread). This bread shall be eaten for seven days, from the 14th to the 21st of the first month (the month of Abib, in which Israel went out from Egypt; xxiii. 15, xxxiv. 18). It is strictly forbidden to partake of anything leavened; it must be removed from the house on the first day. The first and the seventh day are strictly days of rest, on which only necessary food may be prepared. The sanctification of the firstlings that belong to God is also connected with the Passover. The first-born child, and that of the ass, which can not be sacrificed, must be redeemed by a lamb (xiii. 1 et seq., xxii. 28, xxxiv. 19 et seq.). Other festivals are (1) the cutting of the first-fruits of the harvest ("Ḥag ha-Ḳaẓir") or the Feast of Weeks ("Ḥag Shabu'ot"), and (2) the harvest-home ("Ḥag ha-Asif") at the end of the year, after the harvest has been gathered in (xxiii. 16, xxxiv. 22). At these festivals the people must not appear empty-handed before God; they must not mix the blood of the Passover sacrifice with leavened bread, nor leave the sacrifice until the morning; they must take the firstlings of the field into the house of God, and must not seethe the kid in its mother's milk (xxiii. 18, 19; xxxiv. 25, 26). The tithes from the barn and the vineyard must not be delayed. Animals torn in the field ("ṭerefah") must not be eaten, but must be thrown to the dogs, for "ye shall be holy men" (xxii. 28-30; A. V. 29-31).E. G. H. B. J.

-Critical View I.:

The Book of Exodus, like the other books of the Hexateuch, is of composite origin, being compiled of documents originally distinct, which have been excerpted and combined by a redactor (see Pentateuch). The two main sources used in Exodus are the one now generally known as "JE," the chief component parts of which date probably from the seventh or eighth century B.C., and the one denoted by "P," which is generally considered to have been written during or shortly after the Babylonian captivity. The former of these sources is in tone and character akin to the writings of the great prophets; the latter is evidently the work of a priest, whose chief interest it was to trace to their origin, and describe with all needful particularity, the ceremonial institutions of his people. It is impossible, within the limits of the present article, to state the details of the analysis, at least in what relates to the line of demarcation between J and E, or to discuss the difficult problems which arise inconnection with the account of the legislation contained in JE (xix.-xxiv. and xxxii.-xxxiv.); but the broad and important line of demarcation between P and JE may be indicated, and the leading characteristics of the principal sources may be briefly outlined.

The parts of Exodus which belong to P are: i. 1-5, 7, 13-14, ii. 23b-25 (the oppression); vi. 2-vii. 13 (commission of Moses, with genealogy, vi. 14-27); vii. 19-20a, 21b-22, viii. 1-3, 11b-15 (A.V. 5-7, 15b-19), ix. 8-12, xi. 9-10 (the plagues); xii. 1-20, 28, 37a, 40, 41, 43-51, xiii. 1-2, 20 (Passover, maẓẓot, dedication of first-born); xiv. 1-4, 8-9, 15-18, 21a, c, 22-23, 26-27a, 28a-29 (passage of Red Sea); xvi. 1-3, 6-24, 31-36 (the manna); xvii. 1a, xix. 1-2a (journey to Sinai); xxiv. 15-18a, xxv. 1-xxxi. 18a (instructions respecting the Tabernacle); xxxiv. 29-35, xxxv.-xl. (the construction and erection of the Tabernacle). The rest of the book consists of J and E, which (before they were combined with P) were united into a whole by a redactor, and at the same time, it seems, expanded in parts (especially in the legal portions) by hortatory or didactic additions, approximating in style to Deuteronomy.

Characteristics of JE.

In JE's narrative, particularly in the parts belonging to J, the style is graphic and picturesque, the descriptions are vivid and abound in detail and colloquy, and both emotion and religious feeling are warmly and sympathetically expressed. As between J and E, there are sometimes differences in the representation. In the account of the plagues, for instance, the Israelites are represented by J as living apart in Goshen (viii. 18 [A. V. 22], ix. 26; compare Gen. xlv. 10, xlvi. 28, etc.; also J); and the plagues are sent by Yhwh at a specified time announced beforehand to Pharaoh by Moses. In E the Israelites are represented, not as occupying a district apart, but as living side by side with the Egyptians (iii. 22, xi. 2, xii. 85 et seq.); and the plague is brought to pass on the spot by Moses with his rod (vii. 20b; ix. 23; x. 12, 13a; compare iv. 2, 17, 20b; xvii, 5; also E) or his hand (x. 22). An interesting chapter belonging to E is xviii., which presents a picture of Moses legislating. Disputes arise among the people; they are brought before Moses for settlement; and his decisions are termed "the statutes and directions ["torot"] of God." It was the office of the priests afterward to give direction () upon cases submitted to them, in matters both of civil right (Deut. xvii. 17) and of ceremonial observance (ib. xxiv. 8; Hag. ii. 11-13); and it is difficult not to think that in Exodus xviii. there is a genuine historical tradition of the manner in which the nucleus of Hebrew law was created by Moses himself.

JE's account of the Sinaitic legislation is contained in xix. 3-xxiv. 14, 18b; xxxi. 18b-xxxiv. 28. This narrative, when examined attentively, discloses manifest marks of composite structure. The greater part of it belongs tolerably clearly to E, viz.: xix. 3-19; xx.-xxiii. 33 (expanded in parts by the compiler); xxiv. 3-8, 12-14, 18b; xxxi. 18b; xxxii. 1-8 (9-14, probably compiler), 15-35; xxxiii. 5-11. To J belong xix. 20-25, xxiv. 1-2, 9-11 (fragments of an account of the theophany on Sinai); and xxxiii. 1-4, xxxiii. 12-xxxiv. 28 appear also to be based upon J, but amplified by the compiler. A particularly noticeable passage in E's narrative is xxxiii. 7-11, which preserves the oldest representation of the "Tent of Meeting"; it was outside the camp (compare Num. xi. 16, 17, 24-30; xii. 4; also E; and contrast the representation of P in Num. ii. et seq.); the youthful Joshua was its keeper; and Moses from time to time repaired to it for the purpose of communing with Yhwh. Evidently the Tent of Meeting, as pictured by E, was a much simpler structure than it is in the representation of P (xxvi.-xxxi., etc.), just as the altar (xx. 24-26), feasts, etc. (xxiii. 10-19), presented by E, reflect the usage of a simpler, more primitive age than do the corresponding regulations in P.

The laws of JE are contained in xii. 21 27 (Passover); xiii. 3-16 (maẓẓot and consecration of first-born); xx. 1-17 (the Decalogue); xx. 22-xxiii. 33 (the "Book of the Covenant"; see xxiv. 7); and the repetition (with slight verbal differences, and the addition in xxxiv. 12-17 of more specific warnings against idolatry) of xiii. 12-13, and of the theocratic section of the Book of the Covenant (xxiii. 10-19) in xxxiv. 10-26 (sometimes called the "Little Book of the Covenant"). The Decalogue and the Book of the Covenant both belong in particular to E.

These laws have in many places had parenetic additions made to them by the compiler (e.g., much of xiii. 3-16; the explanatory comments in xx. 4-6, 9-11, 12b, 17; xxii. 21b, 22; xxiii. 23-25a). The laws in xxxiv. 10-26 are introduced ostensibly as embodying the conditions for the renewal of the Covenant after it had been broken by the sin of the golden calf; but it is generally supposed that originally they formed a separate collection, which was introduced independently, in slightly different recensions, into E in xxiii. 10-19, and into J here, and which probably, when J was complete, stood as part of J's direct sequel to xxiv. 1-2, 9-11. Further, although by the author of xxxiv. 1-28 in its present form (see verse 1b), the "ten commandments" (Hebr. "ten words") of verse 28b are evidently intended to be the Decalogue of xx. 1-17, yet the natural subject of "And he wrote" in verse 28 is "Moses" (compare verse 27); hence it is also inferred by many critics that, in the original context of verse 28, the "ten words" were the preceding group of laws (verses 10-26), which, though now expanded by the compiler, would in that case have comprised originally ten particular injunctions (the "ritual Decalogue" of J, as opposed to the "moral Decalogue" of E in xx. 1-17). Whatever the true explanation of the double appearance of this little group of laws may be, it is in any case the earliest existing formulation of what were regarded at the time as the essential ritual observances of the religion of Yhwh.

Characteristics of P.

The literary and other characteristics of P are, mutatis mutandis, the same in Exodus as in other parts of the Hexateuch. The same or similar stereotyped formulas appear; and (as a reference to the synopsis above will show) there is the same disposition to reduce the account of ordinary events to a bare summary, but to enlarge upon everything connected with ceremonial institutions. In i.-xi. the narrative of P runs parallel to that of JE; and the compiler has sometimes preserved divergent versions of the same events. Thus, if vi. 2-vii. 13 be compared carefully with iii. 1-vi. 1, it will be seen not to describe the sequel of it, but to contain a parallel and partly divergent account of the commission of Moses and of the preliminary steps taken by him to secure the release of the people. In the narrative of the plagues there aresystematic differences between P and JE: thus in P Aaron cooperates with Moses; no demand for Israel's release is ever made upon Pharaoh, the plagues being viewed rather merely as signs or proofs of power; the description is brief; the success or failure of the Egyptian magicians (who are mentioned only in this narrative) is noted, and the hardening of Pharaoh's heart is expressed by the verb "ḥhazaḳ," "ḥizzaḳ" (this verb is used also by E; but J has regularly "kabed," "hikbid"), In xii.-xiii. the double strand is particularly evident: Passover, maẓẓot, narrative, and the dedication of the first-born are all in duplicate (in P, xii. 1-13 [43-50 supplementary], 14-20, 28, 37a, 40-41, 51; xiii. 1-2: in JE, xii, 21-27 (which careful comparison will show to be not really the sequel of xii. 1-13), 29-36, 37b-39, 42a; xiii. 3-10, 11-16).

The most characteristic part of P is, however, the account of the instructions given to Moses on the Mount (xxiv. 15-18a) for the construction of the Tabernacle and the appointment of a priesthood (xxv.-xxxi.). These instructions fall into two parts: (1) xxv.-xxix.; (2) xxx.-xxxi. In xxv.-xxix. the following subjects are dealt with: the Ark, table of show-bread, and candlestick (xxv.); the Tabernacle ("mishkan"), its curtains, boards, and veil (xxvi.); the altar of burnt offering, and the court (xxvii.); the dress of the priests (xxviii.); the ritual for their consecration, and for the daily burnt offering, which it is a primary duty of the priesthood to maintain (xxix. 1-42); and finally what is apparently the formal close of the entire body of instructions, Yhwh's promise to take up His abode in the sanctuary thus established (xxix. 43-46). Chapters xxx.-xxxi. contain directions respecting the altar of incense, the maintenance of public worship, the brazen laver, the anointing-oil, the incense (xxx.); the nomination of Bezaleel and Aholiab, and the observance of the Sabbath (xxxi.). While now it is not doubted that xxv.-xxix., with unimportant exceptions, form part of the original legislation of P, it is generally held by critics that xxx.-xxxi. belong to a secondary and posterior stratum of it, reflecting a later stage of ceremonial usage. The chief reason for this conclusion is the manner in which the altar of incense is introduced (xxxi. 1-10). If such an altar had been contemplated by the author of xxv.-xxix., he must, it is argued, have introduced it in xxv., together with the other furniture of the Holy Place, and also mentioned it in xxvi. 33-35; moreover, he would naturally, in such a case, have distinguished the altar described in xxvii. 1-8 from the altar of incense, and not have spoken of it simply as the altar.

This conclusion respecting the secondary character of the altar of incense appears to be confirmed by the fact that in the other laws of P there is a stratum in which such an altar is not recognized (for instance, Lev, xvi.). There are also other indications tending to show that xxx.-xxxi. belong to a posterior stratum of P, as compared with xxv.-xxix. Chapters xxxv-xl. describe, largely in the same words as xxv.-xxxi. (the tenses alone being altered), but with several differences of order, how the instructions given there to Moses were carried out. In these chapters the altar of incense and the brazen laver (xxx. 17-21) are introduced in the places which they would naturally be expected to occupy, namely, in the descriptions of the Holy Place and the court respectively (xxxvii. 25-28, xxxviii. 8). It follows that if xxx.-xxxi. belong to a secondary stratum of P, the same must be true of xxxv.-xl. The later origin of xxxv.-xl. seems to be further supported by the fact that the Septuagint version of these chapters is not by the same hand as the rest of the book; so that presumably they were not in the manuscript used by the original translators. The chapters, if this view is correct, have taken the place of a much briefer account of the manner in which the construction of the Tabernacle was carried out.

P's Representation of the Tabernacle Unhistorical.

P's representation of the Tabernacle and its appointments can not be historical. The lsraelites in the wilderness had undoubtedly an "ohel mo'ed"; but it was the simple "ohel mo'ed" of E (Ex. xxxiii. 7-11; Num. xi., xii.), not the costly and elaborate structure described by P. P's representation is the embodiment of an ideal; it is a "product of religious idealism," constructing for the Mosaic age, upon the basis of traditions or reminiscences of the Temple of Solomon, a shrine such as might be adequate to Yhwh's majesty, and worthily symbolize His presence in the midst of His people (compare Ottley, "Aspects of the O. T." p. 226).


The introductions to the O. T. by Kuenen, Driver, Holzinger, König, Cornill, Baudissin; the commentaries of Dillmann, Baentsch (1900), Holzinger (1900), and A. R. S. Kennedy (forthcoming); C. A. Briggs, The Higher Criticism of the Hexateuch, 1897; Carpenter and Harford-Battersby, The Hexateuch, Oxford, 1900, especially ii. 79-143 (text of Exodus, with the sources distinguished typographically, and full critical notes); G. F. Moore, Exodus, in Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl. ii. (where further literature is referred to).E. G. H. S. R. D.

-Critical View II.:

The critical problems and hypotheses that Exodus shares with the other books, such as the historical value of the accounts; authorship; relation to the later books; age, origin, and character of the alleged sources, can not be discussed here now; the analysis of sources of Exodus can alone be treated. According to the critics of the Pentateuch, Exodus, like all the other books of the Torah, possesses no unity, having been compiled from different sources at different times, the various parts being then revised finally by one redactor (R); the same sources as those for Genesis furnish the material, namely, J (Jahvist), E (Elohist), and P (Priestly Code), in which again several strata must be distinguished, as P2, P3, P4, J1, J2, E1, E2, etc. It is not necessary to refer to all the suggestions that have been made; the analyses of sources by Kuenen and Cornill are chiefly treated here (Kuenen: Introduction; § 5; § 6, 2-15; § 8, 10-13; § 13, 12 et seq.; § 16, 12; Cornill: Introduction; § 7; § 11, 4; § 12; § 13, 2, 8; § 14, 1, 2, 3. To P2 is assigned, according to Kuenen: i. 1-7, 13, 14; ii. 23-25; vi. 2-12 (13-28 interrupt the course of the story and are by a later reviser; they are, according to Wellhausen, unskilfully inserted and amplified); vii. 1-13, 19, 20a (21c ?), 22; viii. 1-3, 11b, 12-15; ix. 8-12 (35 ?); xi. 9-10; xii. 1-20, 28, 40revision , 41revision, 43-51 (xiii. 20 ?); xiv. 1-4, 8, 9, 10 (inpart), 15-18, 21 (in part), 22, 23, 26, 27 (in part), 28, 29; xvi. ("this chapter has been subsequently revised and completed") (xvii. 1; xix. 2a ?); xxiv. 15-18a; xxv.-xxix. "follow in natural and regular order, and may have been arranged in this way by the author himself," but (§ 16, 12) contain many interpolations by R.

Ch. xxx., xxxi. 1-17, in which "the connection is looser, or is wanting altogether; and in which there are contained regulations that do not harmonize with what has preceded, and that are not presupposed later where they would naturally be mentioned . . . probably contain later additions, harmonizing in style with xxiv.-xxix., but not composed by the same author." To P4 are assigned ch. xxxv.-xl. (and also Lev. viii.), which "depend entirely on xxv.-xxxi., which the author must have had before him." They formed "originally a very brief account of the observance of the regulations laid down in xxv. et seq.; they seem to have been gradually worked out, and then made as similar to those regulations as possible. The striking variations found in the Greek translation of xxxv.-xl. lead to the assumption that the final redaction of these chapters was hardly completed-if indeed it was completed-when that translation was made, i.e., about 250 B.C." This entire theory regarding xxv.-xxxi., xxxv.-xl. is based on Popper's work, which the other critics also follow.

Cornill, who includes the later parts of P2 under the general designation Px, assigns to the Priestly Code the following portions: i. 1-5, 7revision , 13, 14 revision ; ii. 23revision, 24-25; vi. essentially (13-30 = Px): vii. 1-13, 19, 20a revision, 21b-22; viii. 1-3, 11a, b-15; ix. 8-12; xi. 9-10; xii. 1-20, 28, 37 revision, 40-41, 43-51 (15-20 and 43-50 = Px); xiii. 1-2; xiv. 1-4, 8, 9b, 10a, b, 15 revision, 16-18, 21-23essentially, 26-28aa, 28 revision, 29; xvi. 1-3, 6-7, 9-18 revision, 20, 22a, b-24, 32-35a; xvii. 1a; xix. 1 revision, 2a; xxiv. 15-18aa; xxv. 1-xxxi. 18a (xxviii. 41 belongs surely to Px, as do perhaps also other shorter additions to xxv.-xxix.; and xxx.-xxxi. entire); xxxiv. 29-35 (?); xxxv.-xl. (entirely Px).

It is much more difficult in what remains to distinguish between the closely related J and E. Passages relatively complete in themselves are: (1) ch. xxi.-xxiii., the so-called "Book of the Covenant"; it belongs to E, though dating from an earlier time, and was found by him and incorporated in his work; (2) the story of the golden calf (xxxii.-xxxiv.), J and E sharing about equally in the account; (3) the Decalogue and the preparations for it (xix., xx.), chiefly E, but J also has a Decalogue tradition, its Ten Commandments being found in xxxiv. 14-26 (Wellhausen). E1, originally composed in the Northern Kingdom, must be distinguished from E2; the latter was compiled about 100 years later for Judah, and was worked over with J to form JE, many passages of which can no longer be analyzed. E: Kuenen: Traces of E are found in i. (15-21, and apparently also 8-12, "is generally included in E"); in ii. "there is great difference of opinion" on the origin of verses 1-23 (according to Jülicher verses 1-22 are taken from E; according to Dillmann 1-14 from E and 15-23a from J. Wellhausen takes the story on the whole to be a combination from J and E.) This document appears especially clear, though not without admixture, in iii. 1-15, a section that, as complement to vi. 2 et seq. (P), also explains the use of "Elohim" in the account of the pre-Mosaic time taken from E. In the following "the traces are only with difficulty distinguished: in iii. 16-xii. only here and there with any certainty." (Dillmann includes in E: the greater part of iii. 16-22; iv. 17, 20b, 18, 21; the greater part of v.; vii. 15, 16, 17b, 20b, 21a, 23 in part, 24; viii. 16a, 21-24a, 25b; ix. 22, 23a, 24a, 25b (?), 31, 32, 35; x. 8-13a, 14 in part, 15 in part, 20, 21-27; xi. 1-3; xii. 31-33, 37b, 38. Jülicher includes: iv. 17, 18, 20b: v. 1, 2, 5; vii. 17 in part, 18, 20 in part, and 21, 24, 25a; viii. 21b, 22, 23; ix. 22, 23a, 24 and 28 in part, 35; x. 7, 8-11, 12, 13a, 14a, 15a, 20, 21-27, 28, 29; xi. 1-7; xii. 32, 35-38.) E is found again in: xiii. 17-19, 21, 22; xiv. 19a (19b ?); xv. 22-26; xvii. 1b-7, 8-16; xviii. Also xix. 9a, 10-17; xx. 18-21, 1-17 (in this order); this-the so-called "first"-the Decalogue, with the historical matter connected with it in xix.-xxiv., belongs to E2. From the Book of the Covenant xxiv. 1, 2, 9-14, 18a, and various other passages, belong to E, as does also the story of Israel's apostasy at Sinai, which appears enlarged and connected with other stories in xxxii.-xxxiv., belonging originally to E2.

Cornill: i. 11-12, 15-22 essentially; ii. 1-10 essentially; iii. 1-15essentially, 21-22; iv. 17, 18, 20b; vii. 15b, 17b-18, 20b-21a, 24; ix. 22-23a, 24brevision, 25b, 31-32, 35; x. 12-13aa, 14aa, b, 15b, 20-23, 25 (?); xi. 1-3; xii. 35-36, 37revision; xiii. 17-19; xiv. 7-9a,β, 10a, β, 19a, 20 (?); xv. 20-26essentially; xvii-xxiv.essentially; xxxi. 18b; xxxii.essentially; xxxiii. 1-11revision; xxxiv. 1a,4 revision, 28b revision (?). In xix.-xxxiv. only xix. 13b (perhaps); xxiv. 1-2, 9-11; and xxxiii. 7-10 belong to E1.

J, according to Kuenen, is represented in i.-xv. by accounts parallel with those of E, but which can not now be distinguished; "but it is doubtful whether J contributed anything to the account of the laws promulgated at Mount Sinai and of the defection of Israel, xix.-xxiv. and xxxii.-xxxiv." (Wellhausen finds J in: xix. 20-25; xx. 23-26; xxi.-xxiii.; xxiv. 3-8; Dillmann, in: xix. 9a, 20-25 [xx. 1-17, perhaps under a different form]; xxiv. 1, 2; xxxiv. 10-27; fragments in xxiv. 3-8, 9-11, 12 in part, 18b; xxxii. 1-14, 19b-24, 30-34; also in xxxiii. 1-6, 12, 13, 18-23; xxxiii. 14-17; xxxiv. 1-9.)

Cornill: i. 6, 7a,b, 8-10, 14a,β, 20b, 22 (?); ii. 11-23aa; iii. 16-20; iv. 1-12, 19, 20a, 24-26, 29revision, 30revision, 31; v.essentially; vi. 1; vii. 14-15a, 16-17a, 23, 25, 29; viii. 4revision, 5-7, 8revision, 9-11aa, 16-20, 21 revision, 22-28; ix. 1-7, 13-21, 23b, 24 revision, 25a, 26, 27 revision, 28-30, 33; x.essentially; xi. 4-8; xii. 21-27essentially, 29-39essentially, 42a; xiii. 3-16essentially, 21-22; xiv. 5-6, 9aa, 10ba, 11-14, 19b, 21a,β, 24-25, 27 revision, 28b, 30-31; xvi. 4-5, 16a,β, 18b, 21-22aa; 25-31essentially, 35b; xvii. 1a,b, 2, 7; xix. 2b, 7, 9-11, 18, 20-21, 22b, 25a; xxxiii. 12-23essentially (?); xxxiv. 1a revision, 2-3, 4 revision, 5, 6a, 8, 10-28essentially.


Editions (according to Cornill): In the first place J and E were combined into one book (JE) by one redactor (RJE). He greatly revised iii., and may have added the marching song xv. 1-19 ("it is entirely improbable that it was composed at the time the event itself took place"). He also did much editing of the pericope dealing with the legislation (xix.-xxxiv.). He used E2 throughout as foundation, supplementing it with J; he omitted entirely the second Decalogue in J, incorporating what he thought valuable in the Book of the Covenant, xxiii. 15-19, and reduced xxxii.-xxxiii., on the whole, to its present form. A second redactor then combined (the later) Deuteronomy with JE ( = JE + D). He added iv. 21-23; in the story of the Egyptian plagues (x. 2) "there is at least a Deuteronomistic, touch"; he also added viii. 18b and ix. 29b, and probably revised ix. 14-16. He greatly revised xii. 21-27, xiii. 3-16, xv. 26, xvi., and xviii. 20b. He transferred, according to Kuenen, the Book of the Covenant to Mount Sinai in order to get room for Deuteronomy, being responsible, therefore, for all the confusion caused thereby-for example, the transferring of xx. 18-21 from its original position before, to its present position after, xx. 1-17; the transition to the Book of the Covenant as found in xx. 22, 23; and the peculiar form of xxiv. 1-15a. Ch. xix. 3b-8 is also specifically Deuteronomic, as well as the revisions of the Book of the Covenant with the final admonitions in xxiii. 22b-25a, 27, 31b-33, and the revision of the second Decalogue, which RJE transferred to the Book of the Covenant.

A third redactor, who combined JED with P, thus practically producing the Pentateuch (RP), added iv. 13-16 and 27-28, revised 29-30, and in v.-x. added everywhere the name of Aaron (which was not includedat all originally!). He or Px (see ante) added vi. 13-30. It is more difficult to ascertain the method of his revision of xii. 40-42. To xvi. he transferred (in consideration of JE) a passage by P on the manna, which originally was placed after the revelation on Sinai (the reason assigned for this assumption on the part of the critics is that verse 34 presupposes the Tabernacle; but this verse is as much merely an anticipatory comment as is 35). He added to xvii. the fragment of the Jahvistic miraculous story of the spring in order to make room for P in Num. xx. He added finally the repeated phrase "the tables of testimony," xxxi. 18, xxxiv. 29, and in xxxiii. he omitted the Elohistic account of the making of the Ark of the Covenant. It is often doubtful whether a revision was made by RP or by P3, 4, 5-RP is himself a priestly redactor.

Errors of Critical School.

All these and similar analyses of the sources of Exodus and the conclusions based thereon are entirely wrong. However rich and many-sided may have been the traditions from which the author drew his material, the book from beginning to end is composed and arranged according to a predetermined plan. The fundamental errors of the critical views are these: (1) The distinction made between J and E is erroneous, resting as it does on the varying use of the divine names "Yhwh" and "Elohim"; this use does not indicate a difference in authorship, but is due to the different meanings of the two names, the choice of which is carefully considered in each case. The statement that E uses in iii. 15 the name "Yhwh" for the first time, is due to a wrong interpretation; it is based on the Alexandrian-Essenic-Christian-Gnostic common superstition of the power of names and mere words, which, going back to Egyptian antiquity, is strongly marked in the New Testament-and hence naturally influences modern scholars-but is entirely foreign to the Old Testament. The verses vi. 2 et seq. are likewise interpreted wrongly. (2) An entirely insufficient argument is the alleged further variations of the language; for this presupposes the point to be proved. This argument turns in a circle: the critics seek to prove different sources by the variations of language, and vice versa. Moreover, the vocabulary is too limited for such assertions. (3) The differences of style and treatment do not indicate different authors, but are called forth by the different subjects. The account of the Tabernacle demanded technical details; while the stories of the deliverance from Egypt and of the revelation on Sinai prompted a strong, energetic, and thoughtful style. A separation into JE and P is not admissible. (4) All suggestions of reduplications, differences, and contradictions show an insufficient insight into the spirit and intentions of the author. Ch. i.-vi., for example, appear, on close investigation, to be an indissolubly united passage, from which not one word may be omitted. The same holds good of the story of the Egyptian miracles (vii.-xi.), the arrangement of which the critics have entirely misunderstood. The critics have refuted their own argument by making as a criterion of the division of this narrative into J and E the very want of definite scheme which is, according to them, characteristic of J and E.

The Book of the Covenant (xix.-xxiv.) is a unified piece of work, with logical connections that are admirably established. The alleged double tradition of the revelation, and especially Wellhausen's so-called second Decalogue in ch. xxxiv., are mere figments of the brain. The inadequacy of these criticisms is most striking in the review of the account of the Tabernacle, in the sequence of the passages xxv.-xxxi. and xxxv.-xl. and their connection with xxxii.-xxxiv. (5) The theory that the book was compiled from previous works is not sufficiently supported; and the attempt to analyze it into its component parts is a hopeless one, for all the elements of the book are closely welded together into one harmonious whole. nullCompare Deuteronomy.

Emil G. Hirsch, Benno Jacob, S. R. Driver

Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.


The commentaries: M. Kalisch, 1855; A. Knobel, 1857 (2d ed. by A. Dillmann, 1880; 3d ed. by V. Ryssel, 1897); J. P. Lange, 1874; Rawlinson, 2d ed., 1882; H. L. Strack, 1894; B. Baentsch, 1899.

Criticism: Th. Nöldeke, Untersuchungen zur Kritik des Alten Testaments, 1869; Colenso, The Pentateuch and Book of Joshua, vi., 1872; A. Kayser, Das Vorexilische, Buch der Urgesch. Israels und Seine Erweiterungen, 1874; Wellhausen, Die Composition des Hexateuch und der Historischen Bücher des Alten Testaments, 1876-77, 2d ed. 1889; A. Jülicher, Die Quellen von Exodus, i.-vii. 7, 1880; idem, Die Quellen von Exodus, vii. 8-xxiv. 11, in Jahrb. für Protestantische Theologie, 1882, viii. 79-177, 272-315; A. Kuenen, in Theologische Tijdschrift, 1880, xiv. 281-302 (Ex. xvi.); ib. 1881, xv. 164-223, (Israel at Sinai, Ex. xix.-xxiv., xxxii.-xxxiv.); Cornill, in Stade's Zeitschrift, 1881, xi. (on the relation of Ex. xvii. 1-7 to Num. xx. 1-13); E. Bertheau, Die Sieben Gruppen Mosaischer Gesetze, etc., 1840; Bruston, Les Quatre Sources des Lois de l'Exode, in Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie, 1883, xvi. 329-369; idem, Des Cinq Documents de la Loi Mosaïque, 1892; J. W. Rothstein, Das Bundesbuch und die Religionsgesch. Entwickelung Israels, 1888 (designates Ex. xxi. et seq. as a commentary to the Decalogue); Budde, Die Gesetzgebung der Mittleren Bücher des Pentateuch, Insbesondere der Quellen J und E, in Stade's Zeitschrift, 1891, xi. 193-234; idem, Bemerkungen zum Bundesbuch, in ib. pp. 99 et seq.; B. W. Bacon, JE in the Middle Books of the Pentateuch, in Jour. Bib. Lit. 1890, ix a, 161-200 (Ex. vii.-xii.); ib. 1891, x b, 107-130 (Ex. i.-vii.); ib. xi b. 1892, 177-200 (Ex. xii. 37-xvii. 16); ib. 1893, xii a, 23-46 (Ex. xviii.-xxxiv.); idem, The Triple Tradition of the Exodus, Hartford, 1894; B. Baentsch, Das Bundesbuch, 1892 (Ex. xx. 23-xxiii. 33); L. B. Paton, The Original Form of the Book of the Covenant, in Jour. Bib. Lit. 1893, xii b, 79-93; Briggs, Higher Criticism of the Hexateuch, 1893, Appendix, vi.; idem, The Greater Book of the Covenant, etc., pp. 211-232; R. Kraetzschmar, Die Bundesvorstellung im A. T. 1896, pp. 70-99; Steuernagel, Der Jehovistische, Bericht über den Bundesschluss am Sinai (Ex. xix.-xxiv., xxxi. 18, xxxiv. 28), in Studien und Kritiken, 1899, p. 319. On the Decalogue in particular: Franz Delitzsch, Der Dekalog in Exodus und Deuteronomium, in Zeitschrift für Kirchliche Wissenschaft, 1882, iii. 281-299; O. Naumann, Der Dekalog und das Sinaitische Bundesbuch, ib. 1888, pp. 551-571; C. G. Monteflore, Recent Criticism upon Moses and the Pentateuchal Narratives of the Decalogue, in J. Q. R. 1891, xi. 251-291; Briggs, The Higher Criticism, Appendix, iii. 181-187; O. Meissner, Der Dekalog, 1893. On the question of the division of the Ten Commandments: Dillmann, l.c. p. 221. On the Tabernacle: J. Popper, Der Biblische Bericht über die Stiftshütte, 1862; Delitzsch, in Zeitschrift für Kirchliche Wissenschaft und Kirchliches Leben, 1880, i. 57-66, 622; Green, in Presbyterian and Reformed Review, v. 69-88; A. Klostermann, in Neue Kirchliche Zeitscrift, 1897, pp. 48-77, 228-253, 289-328, 353-383; introductions by Kuenen, Cornill, Strack, Driver, König, Baudissin, and especially Holzinger, Einleitung in den Hexateuch, 1893.B. J.

The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

This page - - - - is at
This subject presentation was last updated on - -

Copyright Information

Send an e-mail question or comment to us: E-mail

The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at: BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet