You will find an introduction and outline for Exodus, here.
A prayer from the Book of Common Worship to use before you read,
God of mercy, you promised never to break your covenant with us. Amid all the changing words of our generation, speak your eternal Word that does not change. Then may we respond to your gracious promises with faithful obedient lives; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
I. Exodus 1:1-15:21 Narrative of Liberation
A. 1:1-7:7 Israel in Egypt
7:1-7 This is the beginning of the account of the struggle between God and Pharaoh. Verses 1-7, God responds to Moses doubt expressed in 6:30. Why do you think the text tells us God will both “harden Pharaoh’s heart” and do “miraculous signs and wonders”? McCarter suggests “If the only objective in Yahweh’s dealings with Pharaoh were to obtain the release of the Israelites, this hardening of the heart would seem capricious or self-defeating. Its necessity only becomes clear when we take account of the second objective, namely, the public demonstration of Yahweh’s power.” (McCarter, 128)
B. 7:8-15:21 The Plagues, Passover and Crossing the Red Sea
Verses 7:8-13: “snake” means more like “sea monster” or “crocodile”. (See also Gen 1:21 and Psalm 148:7). The slaves (Israel) have access to a power that overcomes the power of the Empire.
Verses 7:14-25 The Plague of Blood:The Nile is Egypt’s source of life, lifeblood if you will. Now turned to blood, a source of death. Notice Pharaoh’s response in v 23. Why does 7 days pass (v 25)?
Verses 8:1-15 The Plague of Frogs: Once again Pharaoh’s magicians perform the same wonder. But this time, Pharaoh is ready to make a deal (v8). Pharaoh doesn’t keep his part of the deal. What do you think happened? Did Pharaoh never intend to keep the deal, or once the crisis was over, did he change his mind?
Verses 8:16-19 The Plague of Gnats: This time Pharaoh’s magicians cannot match God’s action but Pharaoh does not listen to his own advisors.
Verses 8:20-23 The Plague of Flies: This time Aaron’s staff in not needed and the magicians are not used. Also God now makes a distinction between the Egyptians and God’s people. Notice how the negotiation changes on Pharaoh’s part. He is willing to allow Israel to sacrifice to their God- rather than acknowledge Pharaoh. But via Moses, God isn’t interested in compromise. Pharaoh also acknowledges God’s power when he asks Moses to pray for him. But once again, Pharaoh doesn’t keep his word.
Verses 9:1-12 The Plague on Livestock and the Plague of Boils: Once again God acts directly ( without Aaron’s staff) and God makes a distinction between the Egyptians and Israel. Then in verse 11 even the magicians are unable to avoid the boils.
Verses 9:3-35 The Plague of Hail: Why do you think God gives the Egyptians a choice to believe God will act or to ignore him? Once again Goshen is spared. In verse 27-28, is Pharaoh beginning to understand? What does Moses think?
Verses 10:1-20 The Plague of Locusts: Verse 2 gives another reason for the plagues. Pharaoh’s advisors understand the cost of disobedience to God (v7). Pharaoh still wants to make a deal, even at the risk of destruction of the entire land. Pharaoh wants to keep the children, Moses will not leave without the children. Is this discussion over the children a debate about who controls the future?
Verses 10:21-29 The Plague of Darkness: In this plague there is no demand made of Pharaoh. Again the Israelites are spared. Can you imagine such darkness? Recall the Egypt worshiped a Sun god. Pharaoh still wants to negotiate. Moses will not negotiate. Pharaoh sends Moses away. Now what?
Read More About It.
The following are several good general reference works to aid your reading of the Torah.
Anderson, Bernhard W. “Exodus” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books Metzger, Bruce M., Roland E. Murphy, eds.(New York: Oxford University Press) 1994.
Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.
Brueggemann, Walter, “The Book of Exodus” in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 1 Keck, Leander E., ed. (Nashville”Abingdon Press) 1994.
McCarter, P. Kyle, Jr. “Exodus” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.
Plaut, W. Gunther, “Exodus” in The Torah: A Modern Commentary Plaut, W. Gunther, ed. (New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations) 1981.