Lesson 3 of 5
In Progress

Background of Exodus

When interpreters move beyond the notion of a single author, such as Moses, writing in the manner of a reporter merely stating facts, then the background of Exodus becomes complicated. Some interpreters conclude that several complete narratives (now merged into one) existed behind the present composition. Such documents are given dates ranging from the early monarchy to the postexilic era. For example, the mountain and sanctuary mentioned in Exodus 15:17 are understood to be Mount Zion and the Temple, forcing a date many centuries after Moses. Interpreters who posit an extended period of editorial activity recognize the reflection of the concerns of multiple eras in Israel. For example, the ebb and flow of leadership within the tribe of Levi is understood to reflect subsequent shifts within priestly hierarchies. In both cases the concerns of the exilic and postexilic periods for identity as the covenantal people of God are represented in the narratives in their present form. The story of the Exodus was retold to shape identity and practice in later eras and some of that recasting has entered into the canonical form of the foundational narrative itself.