Epistles of Thomas

January 28, 2009

Exodus 16-18

Filed under: Old Testament — Thomas @ 22:15
Tags: , , ,

The people began to grumble again: “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” (16:3). It is amazing how quickly they forgot their slavery in Egypt and only remembered the food that had been available. God then provided them with manna and kept sending it until their journey through the wilderness ended a generation later. They were given simple instructions about its collection and overnight storage only before the Sabbath. Of course, many of the people disregarded these instructions and tried to collect more of the substance on weekdays than they needed but found it went bad and was full of maggots. Of course some neglected to collect two days worth before the Sabbath and went out only to find that none was available that day. God was teaching them in very concrete terms that the Sabbath was a day of rest.

It is obvious from 16:33-35 that not all of the material in Exodus is in chronological order. Aaron places some of the manna in the ark with the tablets of the law, but of course the tablets have not been given yet and there is no ark in which to place either object.

Exodus 17 begins with another scene of complaint, this time it is once again lack of water. Moses is instructed to strike the rock at Horeb and water came out of it. The second half of the chapter records the attack of the Amalekites. Moses held up his arms with his staff aloft in order to secure victory for the Israelites. Joshua led the army to victory that day and an altar to God was built. This is also the first instance where Moses is commanded to write an account of the events of Israel: “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven” (17:14).

Jethro arrived with Moses’ wife and children and listened to an account of everything that had happened since Moses left him to return to Egypt. He was very excited at hearing what God had accomplished and said, “‘Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.’ Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God” (18:11-12). Jethro also gave Moses invaluable advice about leading the people. He saw that Moses was exhausted from acting as judge for the people and convinced him to appoint leaders over the divisions of the people to decide basic matters. Moses would then only need to judge matters of greatest important that could not be settled by one of these leaders. Jethro also provided a list of qualities for these leaders; they are to fear God, love justice, and hate dishonesty.

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