A Quick Exodus: A Brief Response

The following question, and my answer, emerged from readings on the Book of Exodus:

Student:

“It is interesting that the meaning of the word “exodus” means quick exit (1), why is it called a quick exit when it really was not?”

My brief response:

The Israelites had to be dressed to leave in a hurry (Exod. 12.11). They had to make bread without adding yeast (which required time for yeast to work; Exod. 12.15-20) and instead end up even taking their bread un-yeasted with them (Exod. 12.34).

Further, Yahweh had told them ahead of time that Pharaoh and the Egyptians would compel them to leave “quickly” (Exod. 11.1). Moses repeated this message to Pharaoh and the Egyptians (Exod. 11.8). And Pharaoh and the Egyptians did precisely this, by compelling the Israelites to leave “quickly” for fear of all dying in Egypt (Exod. 12.31-33).

It is kind of like when a mom says, “You need to be ready to go whenever it is time to go” which means have shoes on, jacket handy, etc., so that as soon as it is time you are ready and can leave quickly.

Also, the forty years does not occur until the people fail in the book of Numbers after leaving Sinai and spying out the land. The days of the Festival of Unleavened Bread ending with Passover and the sudden leaving of Egypt in the night is what the “quick” exit points to.

As an aside, this seems to speak to some of the idea of the “quick” coming of the Lord mentioned later in Scripture (including especially the Gospels and the Revelation) where he will come suddenly (“quickly” or “soon”, Rev.22.7, 10, 12, 20) and thus issues calls to always be “ready” or prepared for that sudden dawning of a new day of liberation into life.

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1. Bill T. Arnold and Bryan E. Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015), 78.

Haggadah for Passover according to the Spanish rite (the ‘Brother Haggadah’)
1350-1374 CE, Catalonia, Spain

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