National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series


The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Old Testament and continues the narrative of the Israelites’ journey from slavery in Egypt to the wilderness and their eventual establishment as a nation. Here is a summary of the key events and themes found in Exodus:

1. Oppression in Egypt: Exodus begins by describing the significant increase in the population of the Israelites in Egypt and their subsequent enslavement under a new Pharaoh who feared their growing numbers. The Israelites endure harsh bondage and oppression.

2. Birth and Early Life of Moses: In the midst of the Israelites’ suffering, Moses is born. He is hidden by his mother and later adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. As an adult, Moses kills an Egyptian taskmaster who was mistreating an Israelite and flees to the land of Midian.

3. Call of Moses: While tending sheep in Midian, Moses encounters God through a burning bush. God reveals Himself as Yahweh and commissions Moses to return to Egypt as His chosen instrument to deliver the Israelites from slavery.

4. Plagues of Egypt: Moses confronts Pharaoh and demands the release of the Israelites. However, Pharaoh refuses, prompting God to send a series of ten plagues upon Egypt, including turning the Nile into blood, infestations of frogs, gnats, flies, the death of livestock, boils, hailstorms, locusts, darkness, and finally, the death of the firstborn.

5. Passover and Exodus: In preparation for the final plague, God institutes the Passover feast, instructing the Israelites to mark their doorposts with the blood of a lamb. The angel of death passes over the homes with the blood, sparing the firstborn. Pharaoh finally relents and allows the Israelites to leave Egypt.

6. Crossing the Red Sea: As the Israelites depart, Pharaoh has a change of heart and pursues them with his army. God miraculously parts the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to cross on dry land. When the Egyptians follow, the waters close, drowning them.

7. Wilderness Wanderings: The Israelites enter the wilderness, and God leads them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They receive manna and water miraculously, and Moses ascends Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments and other laws from God.

8. Tabernacle and the Covenant: God instructs the Israelites to build the Tabernacle, a portable sanctuary where His presence will dwell among them. They construct it according to God’s specifications, and Moses consecrates the Tabernacle. God establishes a covenant with the Israelites, promising to be their God and guide if they obey His commandments.

The Book of Exodus highlights themes of liberation, faithfulness, divine intervention, and the establishment of the Mosaic covenant. It lays the foundation for the subsequent books of the Old Testament, which continue the story of the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land and their relationship with God.