Bible_as_Literature_Lecture_3_Exodus_to_Samuel - Bible as...

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Bible as Literature Lecture 3: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1&2 Samuel If Genesis ends with the death of Joseph, the first 7 verses of Exodus, chapter 1, establish a link, a transition between the two books of the Torah. A brief nod to Jacob and his sons is recounted, and Joseph’s death is reiterated. This technique is called resumptive repetition. It differs from an envelope structure that frames a block of narrative, because it literally repeats a phrase, like “And Joseph died.” This signals the continuation in Exodus which then quickly contrasts the finality of death with God’s earlier command to “be fruitful and multiply.” This second book lays a foundation for the rest of the Bible, consisting of two major sections: chapters 1-15 and 16-40. Moses becomes the central hero, as the law giver, the man who delivers Israel from bondage. The compositional strategy addresses the two stage plot of liberation and Covenant. It concerns the physical and spiritual birth of Israel. We move from the domestic, moral and psychological realism of the Patriarchal cycle to a more stylized scheme of the hero. We will note elements of folk tales: the birth of Moses, his status in Egypt as a princely figure, his flight to a foreign land, eventual calling, and confrontation with Pharaoh. It is also a character study of Moses as a chosen, though often reluctant national leader. Like Abraham, he is dispatched to a land that is unknown to him, the land promised to Abraham and his descendants. Like Abraham he is bound to a sense of justice, however, unlike his forefather, he has a quick temper, feelings of inadequacy, and moments of circumspection whose lapse of total confidence in God’s commands, prohibits him from entering the Promised Land. God’s dynamic in Exodus changes considerably from Genesis as well. Contrasting parallels between the unseen, all powerful and abstract God in Exodus contrasts the occasional glimpse of God walking in the garden of Eden; the focus on individual characters and families now shifts to the surge of Hebrews in Egypt. The literature too evolves and achieves more developed prose and poetry, and the familiar theme of barrenness in the matriarchs as a barrier, subsumes in different kinds of barriers, such as architecture (the instructions for the tabernacle) and physical barriers (the Red/reed Sea). Chapter 2 presents an allusion to the flood story in Moses’ journey to safety in a basket. It also suggests a foreshadowing of the parting of the sea (yam suf). Interestingly, baby Moses weeps— a distinction that occurs here only once in the Bible, where the verb is otherwise reserved for adults. We can observe the character of Moses, the hero, the deliverer, with greater psychological realism. What is the nature of his reluctance to speak? Why does he falter? What is
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This note was uploaded on 01/19/2012 for the course CIT 230 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at Oakland University.

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Bible_as_Literature_Lecture_3_Exodus_to_Samuel - Bible as...

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