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Session 5: Exodus, Law and Covenant

00:00 / 00:28


By the end of this session you should be able to: 

  • understand the significance of the liberation of Israel from Egypt

  • understand the nature of law in the Old Testament

  • describe the four different Covenants between Yahweh and the Hebrews

  • Reflect on the implications of these issues for doctrine and spirituality.


Zoom Link and Programme

Please make sure your screen name is set to your proper name and please be in the meeting by 9.00am. The room will be open from 8.45am. Many thanks.

The programme for the day can be found here

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 883 2976 7813

Passcode: 619070

You will need: a bible and a mobile phone or tablet. We're going to try using Mentimeter again(!) so, just before you log into Zoom, please go to and type in the code ??? or scan this barcode:


Please prepare by studying everything on this page and noting down your thoughts on the exercise ready for discussion in brekout groups. You need only watch the first 20 minutes of the Hayes lecture (to the end of the section 'The Exodus as a Paradigm for Collective Salvation') if you don't have time to watch it all.


00:00 / 00:41

When we think of the book of Exodus we automatically associate it with Moses and often, perhaps subconsciously, think that Moses was its author. As we shall see, this is highly unlikely and it is quite possible that the book may well not have been written until much later in Israel's history. Whoever wrote it, Exodus is one of the most important books in the Old Testament and deals with themes that came to dominate Israel's history and relationship with God for centuries.  Watch the short Youtube video and then watch Hayes Lecture 8.


00:00 / 03:16

The book of Exodus is full of stories that are not so much history but rather of the myth & legend genre. They are full of miraculous incidents, demonstrating the power of God. As Hayes notes, the date of writing is likely to have been no earlier than the Babylonian exile, 700 years after the events it describes and the purpose of the book was not so much to recount historical events but rather to remind people of their obligation to worship God and to do this properly, and that, crucially, God cares and has a purpose for them and the whole of creation. This is what deliverance is all about in the OT - not personal deliverance from sin, but God’s physical deliverance of the nation from her enemies. This redemption is for a purpose which will become clear at Sinai: Israel is to become Yahweh’s people bound by Covenant (Hayes, 2012).

Relationship and God interacting with humanity is demonstrated throughout the book of Exodus.

God acts through women at the outset of the book. Then God depends on Moses’ obedience in carrying out certain tasks. When Moses equivocates, God adapts by choosing Aaron to be co-leader, rather than dismissing or even worse, annihilating, Moses or even doing something to override Moses and his frailties.

There is compassion shown here too. God is responsive - altering the outcome of the faithlessness of the Hebrews that God had originally planned.  The order of events is also important in Exodus. God first redeems the people, saves them and brings them into a new land where they are free from the oppression of Pharaoh and calls them to worship him and to be a sign to the whole world. Only then does God give the law; ‘The law is a gift to an already redeemed community. The law is not the means by which relationship with God is established. God redeems regardless of human obedience.’ (Pownall-Jones, 2017).


This is grace - not something that immediately springs to mind when we think of the OT. However, the law is a gift, not a burden in the OT. The law is given as part of the Covenant which is the primary purpose of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt as we will discover in part two of this session. There are however, some problems with book of Exodus, particularly in its use of violence in order to conquer and the oppressed later becoming the oppressor. You can explore these ideas further by visiting the links in the Resources section if you would like to, or bookmark them to keep for later if you'd like to explore more but don't have time now.



Take the short quiz here.

What do you think about the similarity of the language of 'The Song of the Sea' in Exodus 15 to Cananite myths and Hayes' thoughts about how the Israelites have transformed these ideas?


What might we take from the message of the book of Exodus for today and how can we use it in our own faith journey?

Make notes of your thoughts for discussion on the study day.

Recordings & Extra Information

Recordings & Slides from the Study Day and Links to extra information.

Exodus 1.jpg

Recordings from Study Day

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