JEF Sunday School Lesson 13

Lesson 13: Exodus 1-3, 5-6, 11-14
Before looking in detail at the scriptures for this week, consider these parallels between the story of Moses’s life and the story of Israel’s experience:

Moses life:

       A:   Moses is born.

              B:   Moses is introduced into a life in two communities (Israel and Egypt) via an act of violence, the killing of the children.

C and D: Moses is a member of both communities, but the dominant community is that of Egypt.

                            E:   Moses is cast out of both Egypt and Israel by an act of violence, killing the Egyptian taskmaster.

                                    F:   Moses’s tends sheep in the wilderness.

                                           G:   Moses discovers who he is when he is called to lead Israel in a vision of God on Mount Horeb.

     &#16                              F’:   Moses travels through the wilderness to return to Egypt.

                            E’:  Moses reenters Egypt and Israel by an act of violence, the circumcision of his son (Exodus

D’ and C’: Moses is a member of both communities, but the dominant community is that of Israel.

              B’:  Moses leaves his life in two communities via an act of violence, the killing of the Egyptian firstborn.

       A’:  Israel is born as a nation.

Israel’s life:

        A:    Israel has its beginnings (is born) as the children of Jacob.

                B:    Israel is introduced into a joint citizenship through an act of violence, the kidnapping of Joseph and the famine.

C and D: There are two communities, Israel and Egypt, but Egypt is the dominant community.

                                E’:   Israel leaves its dual citizenship and goes into the wilderness by an act of violence, the killing of the Egyptian firstborn.

                                        X:    Israel crosses the Red Sea on dry land, delivered by God.

                                                F:    Israel wanders in the wilderness.

                                                        G:    Israel is constituted as a community, given the Law, in a vision of God on Mount Sinai.

                                                F’:   Israel wanders in the wilderness.

                                        X’:   Israel crosses the Jordan River on dry land, delivered into the Promised Land by God.

                                E’:   Israel is born as a nation with a homeland through an act of violence, the destruction of the Canaanites.

D’ and C’: Israel takes up dual citizenship; though it dominates, it is also Canaanite.

                B’:   This element is not in the story, but given what we’ve seen in the story of Moses, what might we infer belongs here?

        A’:   This is also not in the story, but given what we’ve seen in the story of Moses, what might we infer here?

Now think about how this pattern might be a type or figure of other things. For example, is it a type of Christ’s life?

       A:   Birth

              B:   Execution of the innocents

                     C and D:       In this world, but not of it

                            F:   Ministry

                                    G:   Transfiguration

                            F’:   Ministry

                     D’ and C’:     In this world, but not of it

              B’:  Crucifixion

       A’:  Resurrection

Can we see the pattern as a figure of every human life?

       A:   Birth in innocence

              B:   Coming to accountability—the violence of sin

C and D: Life in Babylon and the Kingdom

                            E:   Despair at our failings ?

                                    F:   Wandering in the wilderness

                                           G: Epiphany: conversion

                                    F’:   Wandering in the wilderness

                            E’:  Death

                     D’ and C’: Life in the Spirit World

              B’:  Judgment

       A’:  Entrance into the Father’s Kingdom

There are other types in the story of Moses and Israel. For example, the law of Moses is a type of Christ: Mosiah 13:31; Alma 13:36, 25:15. You might wish to look at parts of that law to try to understand how they are a type of Christ. Some of the laws of sacrifice are obvious, but what about the other laws, such as the laws concerning leprosy? The only way to read Leviticus or Deuteronomy is typologically. Though they do not read those books looking for types of Christ, Jews read them typologically.

One lesson of the story of Moses and Israel—and of Christ’s life—may be that we cannot escape suffering, but must bear it. Our suffering can be a type of Christ’s. (See Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 2:19-23 and 4:13; and Jacob 1:8.) Could that typology be a comfort to someone who is suffering? How?

Before you read the story of Moses and Israel and the exodus from Egypt, read 1 Corinthians 10:1-6. How does Paul read this story What does that suggest about how we can or should read it?

Exodus 1

I am indebted to a friend, Arthur Bassett, for the inspiration of many of these question. I would be happy also to share any blame they bring, but that wouldn’t be fair, so I’ll keep that for myself. I’ve also had less time to look at secondary source for questions and ideas. My apologies.

Verse 1: In Hebrew, the first six words of this verse are an exact quotation of the first six words of Genesis 46:8: “These are the names of the children of Israel that came into Egypt.” Why does Moses make that rhetorical connection?

Verse 5: Is it significant that in Genesis 10, the nations of the world numbered 70 and in this verse, the people of Israel number 70? What might that suggest about the relation of Israel to the world? Within the story of Israel that begins here, what does knowing that 70 persons came into Egypt tell us about the Israelites? Compare verse 7.

Verses 8-10: What does it mean to say that the new king did not know Joseph? Why does the new Pharoah fear the Israelites? Why does he say “let us deal wisely with them”? What does the word wisely suggest?

Verse 11: What was the first solution to the “Israelite problem”? How would that have been a solution to their fears?

Verses 15-16: Why is Pharaoh willing to allow the women to live, but not the sons?

Verses 17-21: What does this tell us about the Hebrew midwives? How is the midwives’ reward (see the footnote to verse 21) appropriate considering what they have done?

Verse 22: Does the way that Pharaoh kills the children foreshadow what will happen to his army?

Exodus 2

Verse 3: The Hebrew word translated “ark” is used only here and in the story of Noah. How is this ark a type of Noah’s ark? How is Moses a type of Noah? How is each of them a type of Christ?

Verses 9-10: What kind of household was Moses raised in, Israelite or Egyptian? When did he become a son of the pharaoh’s daughter? When did he get the name “Moses”? What does the name mean in Egyptian? (See the footnote for verse 10.) What does it mean in Hebrew? How is each of these meaning significant to the story?

Verses 11-15: It is apparent that Moses knew he was a Hebrew. Why does he kill the Egyptian? How are the Egyptian smiting the Hebrew and the Hebrew smiting another Hebrew parallel? How do you explain the difference in the way that Moses handled each? What does the man mean when he responds to Moses in verse 14? Why does he seem bitter towards Moses? What does the beginning of verse 15 tell us about the man who threatened Moses in verse 14? Why did Pharaoh want to kill Moses? When Moses sits down by the well, what stories ought we to remember from Genesis? Are there any parallel stories in the New Testament? How does each help us understand the other?

Verses 16-22: Why does Moses begin this part of the story by telling us that he was dealing with the family of the priest of Midian? Why is his priesthood significant? (See D&C 84:6.) In verse 18, the priest of Midian is called “Ruel,” meaning “friend of God.” We will see him called “Jethro,” “excellence,” in chapter three, verse 1. Why the two names? Might there be a reason for using one name in some places and the other name in other places? Is it significant that Jethro is not in the household in which the covenant descends? What does that tell us about the covenant and the priesthood? Why do we hear nothing or almost nothing about Moses’ children later? Why does Moses tell us so little about his life in Midian? Where is Midian? Who are the people of Midian? (See Genesis 25:2 and 37:28).

Verses 22-25: Of what significance is it that the Lord remembered the covenant? How is the covenant relevant to their bondage and to the Lord’s response to that bondage? What does Moses mean when he says “God had respect unto them,” meaning “the children of Israel”?

Exodus 3

Verses 1–6: The JST says that “the presence of the Lord” appeared in the burning bush. What does that mean? Why say “presence of the Lord” rather than “Lord”? Is there a difference? What is the significance of Moses removing his shoes? Why do we remove our shoes in holy places? Why does the Lord introduce himself as he does: “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? Why is Moses afraid to look at God?

Verses 7-10: How does what the Lord says here relate to the covenant that he made with Abraham?

Verse 11: How would you put Moses’ question in your own words?

Verse 12: How is this an answer to Moses’s question, “Who am I?” What sign does the Lord tell Moses will be a sign that the children of Israel have been delivered by God’s power? What is the significance of that sign?

Verses 13-14: Why does Moses ask about the name of God? Why does the Lord answer, “I am”? What does that title signify? How is it meaningful to this situation? Is it partially a response to Moses’ question, “Who am I?” (Verse 11)?

Verses 15-16: The Lord repeats his instructions here. Why?

Verses 18-19: Does the Lord tell Moses to misrepresent his intentions when he tells him to tell the pharaoh that the Israelites are going to go three days into the wilderness to sacrifice? Why does the Lord tell Moses that the pharaoh will refuse his request? Why have Moses make the request if the Lord knows that the pharaoh won’t grant it?

Verses 20-22: What does the Lord mean when he says “I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians”? Does he mean that the Egyptians will like the Israelites? Why does the Lord promise the Israelites treasure? They won’t be able to use it in the wilderness. What does he mean when he says, “Ye shall spoil the Egyptians”?

Exodus 5

Verses 1-19: What does Moses ask Pharaoh to do for the Israelites? How does the pharaoh respond?

Verses 20-21: How do the people respond to Moses and Aaron? Is this, perhaps, what Pharaoh was hoping for?

Verses 22-23: What is Moses’ complaint? What prompts the complaint? How does this compare to such things as Abraham’s bargaining with the Lord (Genesis 18:23-32)? What does this suggest that Moses had expected? What do you think he hopes to gain by this complaint? Why did the Lord put Moses in a position to cause the people to be burdened and to complain about him?

Exodus 6

Verse 3: What does the change that the JST makes teach us?

Verses 6-8: The promises that the Lord makes to Israel in verse 6 and 8 are reasonably clear, but what is he promising in verse 7? What does such a promise mean?

Verse 9: Why do the children of Israel not listen to Moses? What does it mean to say that they didn’t listen to him? Why does the word “hearken” mean and why is it the verb so often used to describe our relation to the Lord and his prophets

Verses 9-13: What does Moses mean when he says that he has uncircumcised lips (verse 12)? Why is the charge to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt to both the children of Israel and to Pharaoh rather than only to Pharaoh?

Exodus 11

Verse 2: Why does the Lord instruct the Israelites to borrow jewels and gold from their

Verse 3: What is the import of this verse? What does it mean to say that the Israelites were
favored in the sight of the Egyptians and that Moses was a great man in Egypt?

Verse 4: Is it significant that the plague will come at midnight?

Verse 5: Why is the firstborn the one to be killed? What does that signify? How is this related to the sacrifice of Christ?

Verse 7: How do you explain this verse given that the scriptures also teach that God is no respecter of persons?

Exodus 12

Verse 2: Why does the Lord make this month the beginning of months for Israel? What is the significance of this change of the calendar? What does it signify with regard to Christ?

Verses 3-6: Can you explain in your own words what the instructions are for the Passover lamb? Do these instructions have any typological significance

Verse 7: Why was the blood to be put on the door post and on the lintel?

Verse 8: What does the unleavened bread symbolize? (See verse 34.) Is it a type of something in Christ’s life or service? What about the bitter herbs?

Verse 11: Why must they eat the Passover lamb with their loins girded, their shoes on, and their staffs in their hands? Why must they eat it in haste?

Verse 14: This verse says that the covenant people must celebrate the Passover forever. Why don’t we celebrate it? How is the ordinance of the Sacrament related to the Passover feast? What do the differences between the two ordinances teach us?

Verse 31: At what time of day does the Pharaoh tell Moses and Aaron that the Israelites can go? So what?

Verses 37-40: How many Israelites leave Egypt? Were there nonIsraelites with them? Do you suppose that they, too, had put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts? What might that teach us? How long had the children of Israel been in Egypt? Look back at Genesis 15:12-14. What do you make of that prophesy Why did it occur in “an horror of great darkness”?

Verses 48-49: What does verse 48 describe? What does it mean to say that one law shall be to the homeborn and the stranger? Who is the stranger?

Exodus 13

Verse 2: What does it mean to “sanctify” the firstborn? Why should they be sanctified? How would one sanctify a firstborn child? How is the sanctification of Israel’s firstborn related to the deaths of the firstborn in Egypt? What is the typological significance of sanctifying the firstborn?

Verses 21-22: What might the cloud the fire signify?

Exodus 14

Verse 5: Why does the pharaoh change his mind about letting the Israelites go?

Verses 11-14: Explain the Israelites complaint in your own words. Put Moses’ response in your
own words. What does he mean when he says, “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord”? Does this interchange between Israel and Moses typify anything that we see in our own lives?

Verse 15: Does the Lord rebuke Moses in this verse for telling the Israelites to stand still?

Verse 28: Is there a relation between this drowning and the drowning of the Israelite children in chapter 1 (verse 22)?

19 comments for “JEF Sunday School Lesson 13

  1. A second problem with this method concerns the question of whether or not experience is a sufficient foundation for theological knowledge. Experience is relative, in that each individual has a unique experience of the same object or action; experience is unstable, in that an individual’s experience of an object or action changes over time, sometimes dramatically; experience is also subjective, and therefore comes with all the conscious and unconscious, genetic and dynamic trappings of the individual psyche.

    Just read that and it made me think of you.

  2. Jim,

    Your lesson outlines for Sunday School are often the highlight of my week. My wife and I work in the nursery so we normally miss Sunday School – but I don’t mind, because I am almost always guaranteed a great lesson from you.

    Thanks so much for your hard work, I doubt you know how much many people appreciate it.

  3. Sheldon, thank you very much. I produce these for myself, but having produced them, it makes sense to share them. I’m always glad to hear that someone else can use them.

    Stephen M (Ethesis): I’m curious about what in that made you think of me, but I’m flattered. I think that experience is sufficient for theological knowledge, but I don’t think merely individual experience is. Unlike the 12-steppers, I’m not a pragmatist, though there is considerable overlap between pragmatism and Heidegger’s thinking, which I find more useful and coherent.

  4. Regarding Ex 6:7: Based on a discussion in Nehama Leibowitz’s book, I wrote out a possible chiastic reading of Ex 6:2-8. The end of verse 6 and beginning of verse 7 form the focal point of the chiasm:

    “I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: And ye shall know that I am the Lord your God. . . .”

    Since there are several LDS scriptures that use the image of an outstretched arm in a welcoming/embracing gesture, I was wondering about the phrase “I will take you to me” in verse 7 and a possible connection to the “stretched out arm” in verse 6. I think the most solid reading is the stretched out arm representing God’s threatening Israel’s enemies (like Moses extends his arm during the plagues and crossing of Red Sea). My question is whether or not it’s beyond the context of this verse in Exodus to also view the outstretched arm as a welcoming/embracing gesture.

    Of course this would deepen the significance of this entire passage to an LDS reader, but I feel like it’s a bit forced b/c the outstretched arm seems to be consistently used as a threatening gesture in Exodus and throughout the Old Testament. I was a little surprised that I couldn’t find any verses in the Old Testament, esp. Isaiah, where an outstretched arm was used in a non-punitive way. The closest exceptions I could find were Isa 52:10 where “The Lord made bare his holy arm” is parallel to “see the salvation of our God”, and Ps 136:12 which looked promising at first, but seemed pretty weak upon closer examination. Can anyone help me here? Are there OT passages I’m overlooking? Cultural history, apocryphal works, rabbinic literature??

  5. Robert C: You’ll have to hope that one of the readers who knows a lot more about these things than I can help you out. Like you, I can’t find the figure used in the OT except as a kind of threat.

    I liked the chiasm you draw in Exodus 6. It seems reasonable to me–but don’t let Kaimi find out that we’re discussing such things. He doesn’t believe in them.

  6. Jim, in regard to comment #7, let me be clear that Leibowitz draws the chiasm, I only try to refine it a bit, perhaps erroneously.

    The next issue I’ve been wondering about is in regard to the phrase in Ex 3:14, “I AM THAT I AM.” My thoughts aren’t very well formed on any of this, but since I’ve been thinking about it a fair amount, let me try to articulate a few thoughts and see if anyone here has any insights or suggestions to offer (esp. regarding the questions touching on philosophy that make my head dizzy):

    John Durham, in the Word Biblical Commentary, translates this phrase as “I AM the One Who Always Is”, or “I am the Is-ing One,” emphasizing the imperfect aspect of the Hebrew verb. This translation makes me wonder about a possible relation to philosophical conceptions of being. I guess I’m thinking about it in terms of Kierkegaard’s writings, particularly “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing,” though I’m not sure how or if this religious work really has anything to do with other philosophical conceptions of being. I see God’s statement relating to K.’s concept of willing one thing because the phrase (at least according to Durham’s translation) intimates that God’s attributes (his perfection and power in particular) are related to his immutability; thus, an essential and defining characteristic of God is his lack of double-mindedness. Or, in more familiar Mormon vernacular, God is perfect, whole, and full of integrity (which also relates to the unity of the Godhead, the Father and the Son being one, and the commandment for us to also be one, which all relates to the at-one-ment…).

    I realize Durham’s translation is only one of many. William Propp, in The Anchor Bible, suggests God is being evasive about his name here (“I will be who I will be” or “I may be who I may be”), emphasizing that God’s power transcends that of humans (since the naming of the animals showed dominion over them), or that God is beyond a the scope of a simple, confining name (effectively saying “I can be and can do anything”). But these translations also suggest, at least to my philosophically uneducated mind, a connection with philosophical conceptions of essence, existence, and being. How then can understanding the nature of being help us understand the nature of God? Does God transcend the kind of being that we apprehend for all nameable beings? Is there a relation to the Taoist concept of the uncarved block, the power inherent in simplicity and/or shapelessness? (About now is when my head really starts spinning….)

    I also think it’s interesting (and I think somehow related) that there are so many religions that focus on the mysteriousness of God’s name (this is a key passage regarding the tetragrammaton), whereas Mormon theology seems less concerned about the name of God and associated mysteries and more concerned about the name we take upon ourselves (at baptism and in the temple).

  7. Robert C: I don’t have anything that will aid you, but would like to say I appreciate your questions. Comment #6 sent me on a lengthy project researching the Hebrew words involved in the phrase “stretched out arm.” In the end, I came to the same conclusion you and Jim reached (that it is a warning), but the process of studying it out was very rewarding.

    During that study, I looked into the word “ga’al,” which is translated “redeem” in Ex 6:6. This word is also translated revenge, avenge, ransom, and kinsman-redeemer. That last definition stood out to me: what is a kinsman-redeemer? Quoting the lexicon, “by marrying a brother’s widow to beget a child for him”; in other words, what Tamar was expecting from her brothers-in-law. To be clear, this word study doesn’t add to my understanding of the Atonement, but it does give me some appreciation of the ancient law of marrying a brother’s widow (something I used to cringe at).

  8. wouldnt the ga’al also be associated with the story of Ruth and Boaz.. He is her kinsman redeemer. One that makes it possible for a widow to return to her former status of security and to have seed (See Chapter 2—) Think about the Divine Redeemer. What He does to restore us to our proper status with God and how He gives us future security and seed….

  9. Patty, great question! The word “ga’al” is used in 10 verses in the book of Ruth. In the Book of Ruth, it is usually translated as “kinsman,” “the kinsman’s part,” or “the part of the kinsman.” I like how you phrase it, “…return to her former status of security…” I think you just wrote my future Gospel Doctrine lesson.

  10. Thanks for these comments on “ga’al,” I’ve always read redeem with the “rescue, recover, deliver from” definition in mind (cf. Webster’s 1828 dictionary, definition 3). But the “avenge” connotation of the Hebrew word adds a whole new flavor to my understanding (note, it’s also this word that’s used in Job 19:25, which the oft-sung hymn is based on…).

    Somewhat ironic, but I find the avenge connotation helpful in terms of forgiving others and letting go of injustices. That is, when thinking of the problem of evil and the great injustices in the world, it’s comforting fo me to think that God will not only pay for these injustices, but he will avenge them. Either way of course, I should trust God’s justice and not worry about trying to steady the scales myself, but somehow avenge makes it easier for me to let go of, knowing God will avenge wrongs that are deserving of such (like he avenged Israel’s bondage with the plagues against a very stubborn and hard-hearted Pharoah).

    I also find this notion of an avenging God more humbling. That is, I know my own sins make me worthy at times of his vengeance, so I am more apt to “work out my salvation with fear and trembling” before him—that is, truly humble myself. In this sense, I think it’s dangerous to only focus on the the New Testament characteristics of God, that he’s loving, forgiving, kind, and merciful. He is all all these things, but he’s also great and mighty and there are times when we need to be fearful of him. This helps deter me from the “oh, God understands that I’m weak” rationalizing of sins that I really have the power to overcome….

    suggests a meaning that helps motivate me to turn everything over to God. That is, I don’t have to worry about holding on to grudges or worrying about justice being done, because God will avenge all injustices.

  11. (Note, the last half-paragraph above should’ve been deleted.)

    [And since I’m not sure where else to express this, I have the following complaints about the new format of the site: (1) the font of the comments is now uncomfortably small, (2) the “view all Sunday school lessons” link is now missing from the main page, and (3) the formatting of some posts is now messed up, like in the chiasm above. But I appreciate the effort to change/improve the site—I like that all the links at the bottom of the page are gone b/c now I can hit the “end” button on my computer and quickly jump to the most recent comment on a thread.]

  12. Jim–I figured it’s not fair to keep using your marvelous questions without at least giving you some e-thanks. I usually prep my GD lessons late at night when I’m feeling tired and sluggish, but after a few minutes thinking about your brilliant questions, I’m wide awake and deeply interested–sometimes far into the wee hours.

  13. Amay C: You are too kind. I’m glad you find these helpful.

    Robert C: I’m also frustrated by some of the features in the new look, but since all of those who have the ability to make changes also have to work full-time (a problem I’m sure you understand, given your involvement with FeastUpontheWord and the many helpful comments you make here), I’m not sure when the problems will be corrected.

    BrianJ: Thank you also for the many interesting and helpful comments that you post. My notes are much improved by the discussions that follow several of them.

  14. Robert C: concerning your complaints about the new format: I don’t see that the chiasmus above is messed up. There is something weird going on with the fonts, but other than that, it looks fine to me. Also I still find “view all” under Sunday School lessons (the only one of the possibilities that works right, by the way). Are these things that got taken care of betweeen your post a couple of weeks ago and now, or are you still having problems? I’m viewing with Firefox rather than IE. Does that make a difference?

  15. Jim F. (#16): That’s the beauty of your lessons, they make it so easy for the rest of us to steal all the best ideas from your hours of hard work and seem really smart (or spend the time looking at other, new issues—you’ll notice I never make more than a handful of comments in comparison to your dozens and dozens of points being made each week).

    On a separate note, I did a search for “Balaam” in the LDS online search engine and found this real gem of an article by Kevin Barney (who’s been posting some great textual studies of Bible phrases at the BCC blog). In the article, which is about poetry in the scriptures, he uses Numbers 23 as an example of parallelism (the recurrent Jacob and Israel structuring). Not related to this lesson, but the article also has a fascinating section analyzing the terms heart and soul, esp. as used in the Psalm of Nephi.

  16. [Oops, comment #17 should’ve been posted to Lesson #16 instead of here….]

    #16: The site format change I was complaining about was only temporary, things are working fine for me now (I use Maxthon, which I think is just an enhanced version of IE), though this lesson seems to be in bold typeface or something.

  17. Robert C: Using either Firefox or IE, the typeface in this lesson is larger, though not bold. At least that it how it is for me. I am using Firefox and I just checked using IE. The font looks like it is 12 or 14 point. I’m not sure why, but I think it is because, in order to get the chiasmus to fit, I though I wluld use a smaller font. However, in setting up the page, I assume that I did something that really just made the font for everything else larger. Anyway, I think the problem is an effect of how I formatted this page rather than of WordPress or your reader. But I am such a novice at formatting pages in html, that I’m loathe to go back and fix whatever the problem is for fear of only making things worse.

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