Exodus is linked to Genesis

In spite of the four hundred years of silence that separated the patriarchal times in Genesis 12 – 50 from the Mosaic era, the theology hardly misses a beat. For example, the brief review of Jacob’s family concludes in Exodus 1:7 with seven words deliberately piled one on another. These evidence the fulfillment of God’s promise that Jacob’s seed had indeed been “fruitful,” “increased greatly,” “multiplied,” and “grown exceeding strong.” It was a clear allusion to the “blessing” promised in Genesis 1:28 and 35:11.

But the seed was now more than a mere family; it would soon be a people — indeed, even a nation. There lies the new distinction for this era. And their experience of the gracious acts of God was more than a collection of personal interventions for selected individuals. Here, as part of their confession, God’s acts would be reaffirmed by the whole nation: “Yahweh delivered his people from Egypt.” Nevertheless, it would all be traced back to the same comforting assurance: “I will be with you,” for that was God’s name and character. His name was “I am,” that is, Yahweh, the God who would be dynamically, effectively present when he was needed and when people called on him.

The loyal love and dependable grace of this covenant-making God to his promises dominated the transition between these ages. He had heard Israel’s groanings in Egypt, and his interest in them and action on their behalf were summed up as a “remembering” of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (2:24).

The God of the deliverance was one and the same as “the God of your fathers” (3:13); “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (vv. 15 – 16). Previously, God had appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the character and nature of El Shaddai; but now he would manifest himself as “Yahweh” (6:3) by delivering Israel and leading her into the land he had sworn to give to the three great patriarchs (6:8; 33:1). Again, all this divine activity could be subsumed under one concept: it was a “remembering” of his covenant (6:5). To “remember” in biblical terms was not a mere cognitive function of calling something to one’s mind, but it also involved actively carrying out and responding to what one had just recalled to mind.

Hence, Moses connected the patriarchs and the exodus periods directly; for him the Sinaitic covenant was theologically and historically a continuation of the Abrahamic promise. Rather than treating Egypt and Sinai as an interruption to the previous promises, their needs became a new opportunity for another manifestation of God’s divine loyalty to his oft-repeated promise- plan. Indeed, the book of Exodus, as do a good number of other books of the Old Testament, begins with the Hebrew letter waw, which means “and” and is left untranslated in most translations. But this surely was a sign that the book of Exodus is closely linked with the plan of God set forth in Genesis.

In fact, Exodus 1:1 begins, “And these are the names of the sons of Israel,” which is a virtual repetition of Genesis 46:8, where Israel’s journey to Egypt was announced. Thus, the message of the Torah is one; we cannot separate promise from redemption, or promise from law, or promise from worship!

C/f: The Promise-Plan of God, Walter C. Kaiser Jr. 2008

Categories: Theology

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