You will find an introduction and outline for Exodus, here.
From the Book of Common Worship, a prayer to use before reading the scripture.
Gracious God, we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your mouth. Make us hungry for this heavenly food, that it may nourish us today in the ways of eternal life; through Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven. Amen.
I. Exodus 1:1-15:21 Narrative of Liberation
II. Exodus 15:22-18:27 The Journey to Sinai
III. Exodus 19:1- 24:11 Covenant at Sinai
IV. Exodus 25:1-31:18 Tabernacle and Worship
V. Exodus 32:1-34:35 Breaking and Renewal of the Covenant
A. 32:1-35 The Incident of the Golden Calf
B. 33:1-23 God’s presence among the people
C. 34:1-35 Renewal of the Covenant:
VI. Exodus 35:1-40:38 Israel’s Obedient Work: These chapters are thought to be Priestly texts about the tent that will hold God’s glory. We see that Israel is obedient. God gives the plan to Moses on the mountain ( ch 25-31) but Israel does the work. This obedience is in sharp contrast to the “golden calf” incident.
A. 35:1-36:7 Materials for the Tabernacle: The word in verse one translated as “assemble” and “assembly” are religious words. This is a religious (rather than political, state) gathering. Notice that the Sabbath is once again mentioned. Why do you think that is?
Notice how the request for the offering is phrased and how the giving of the offering is phrased. This language and the response in Exodus closely resemble the language and response found in 1 Chronicles 28-29 when David collects the materials that Solomon will use to build the Temple.
Once again notice how the craftspeople are described. Notice that God is the source of their abilities and talents. Notice that both men and women are involved. Notice how often the word “all” is used. Recall that Israel “plundered” Egypt when they left as poor escaping slaves. Now Israel has something to give to God. They are no longer taking but giving.
In 36:3-7 we learn that the generosity of Israel was too much!
B. 36:8-38:31 The Work of Construction: These verses closely follow the commands in chapters 25-31. Chapters 36:8-38:20 tell us about the construction of the Tabernacle. 38:21-31 tell about the expenses. While reading all this detail can be “boring” for modern persons, take some time to consider what an effort this construction must have been. And reflect on what this might tell us about the importance of worship space.
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.