The story of the Israelites exodus from Egypt
and their journey to the Promised Land
as recorded in Exodus to Deuteronomy
When a new pharaoh rules who had not known Joseph, the persecution of the Israelites begins, including preventing survival of male babies. After some years, Moses is born, hidden in a basket and placed on the river to preserve his life. After being discovered and brought up by Pharaoh’s daughter, at the age of forty Moses kills an Egyptian in defence of a Hebrew, then has to flee to Egypt. He goes to Midian where, in time, he marries the priest Jethro’s daughter.
It’s possibly about this time that Job suffers terribly at the hands of the devil. He disputes with his friends, who say his condition is the result of some sin he must have committed. Job holds fast to his innocence, but questions God’s actions. He is eventually reproved by God and graciously restored to his former state, with interest.
At Sinai, God appears to Moses in a burning bush and directs him to return to Egypt, taking his brother Aaron with him, to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt.
When Moses approaches Pharaoh, he naturally refuses to let the Israelites go. It takes ten plagues imposed on the Egyptians to persuade him, the last being the death of all the firstborn. Israel’s firstborn are saved by the sacrifice of a lamb and the daubing of the households’ door posts and lintel, a sign for the angel of death to pass over the house. This event was later to be celebrated as the Passover.
The Israelites are now able to leave with great riches given by the Egyptians. But Pharaoh has a change of heart and pursues them, catching up with them at the sea of reeds. Here the Israelites are able to cross the river by the miracle of the parting of the waters, but as the Egyptians try to follow them, the waters are released and they are all drowned.
Directed by a pillar of smoke, they travel on towards Mount Sinai. Suffering from hunger and thirst on the way, they are relieved by divine intervention with the provision of manna for food, and water when Moses is instructed by God to strike a rock to bring forth the water. Along the way, they are attacked by the Amalekites, but defeat them in battle whilst Moses, looking over the battle scene, holds his staff up high.
They arrive and camp at Mount Sinai. Here Moses is summoned by God three times to go up the mountain where he receives the ten commandments, then the law by which the Israelites are to live. On the third occasion, the law is provided on stone tablets, and instructions for the building of the tabernacle are given.
Because he has been on the mountain for so long, the people lose hope in Moses and persuade Aaron to make a golden calf and altar, which they then used for worship followed by partying. When Moses comes down from the mountain and sees their behaviour, he breaks the stone tablets in anger, then administers punishment to them before returning to the mountain to make atonement for their sin and receive new tablets.
The tabernacle is now constructed.
The Israelites are given all the laws that are to govern their lives. They are told that if they obey all God’s commandments they will be blessed in all things, but if they do not, then the consequences would be terrible and increased all the time they did not repent, until they would eventually be taken captive by their enemies.
It has now been thirteen months since the Israelites left Egypt.
A Census is taken of all the men of twenty years or older who are able to serve in an army, and the numbers recorded by tribe. The Levites are excluded from the census as they are to be responsible for the tabernacle and its furnishings, for the erection and disassembly of it, and for carrying it from camp to camp. The order of which the tribes are to camp around the tabernacle, and the order for marching is given, with the twelve tribes assembled in four groups of three headed by Judah, Reuben, Ephraim and Dan.
Before leaving Sinai, offerings from each tribe are given for the dedication of the tabernacle.
The Israelites then start their journey from Sinai to Kadesh, but within days complain about the manna, kindle God’s wrath and are plagued. After this they travel on to Hazeroth where they camp for a while before travelling on to the Desert of Paran, in the region of Kadesh.
When at Kadesh, twelve men are sent to explore Canaan. On their return, ten of them report that the people are very powerful and their cities large and fortified. Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb try to persuade the people that God will deliver the land and its people into their hands, but they become fearful and rebel. Consequently, God condemns them to wander and die in the wilderness; only their children will enter the Promised Land.
Korah and his companions rebel against Moses and Aaron and are executed by God. The priesthood is then confirmed to Aaron and his family by the budding of his rod in favour of others. They are then given instructions for priests’ duties, for the support they are to receive from the Levites, and some laws relating to oblations and purifications.
After the people again complain to Moses about lack of water, Moses offends God by striking a rock to produce the water instead of speaking to it as instructed.
Having been refused passage through Edom, they travel on to Mount Hor where Aaron dies and is succeeded by his son Eleazar.
Following an incident with some Canaanites, then subsequent victory over them, the camp heads south to avoid Edom, in the opposite direction to the promised land. The people are discouraged and again complain about the lack of water and food. As a consequence, they are plagued by serpents, but healed by looking upon a fiery serpent on a pole held up by Moses.
They continue on their way then, after having been refused passage through the Amorites’ land, their king goes to war with the Israelites, but is defeated. Consequently, they are able to stay in the land of the Amorites for a time.
Balaam, at Balak’s request, three times attempts to curse the Israelites, but God, using the voice of his donkey and an angel, instructs him to bless them and announce destruction upon their enemies.
Many of the Israelites have now been seduced by Moabite women and enticed into worshipping their gods. God’s wrath is kindled and a plague brought upon the people, until a priest, a grandson of Aaron, deals with two of the offenders.
A second census is now taken in preparation for invading the promised land.
A law concerning inheritance when a man dies without sons is given.
From Mount Abarim, God shows Moses the Promised Land, but he will not be permitted to enter it and Joshua is formally proclaimed his successor.
Required offerings and feasts are restated and the law concerning vows given. Vengeance is taken on the Midianites as Moses’ last act before his death.
The tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh request to have the land east of the Jordan as their inheritance. The boundaries of inheritance west of Jordan, the towns and pastures for the Levites, and the six cities of refuge for those who caused death by accident, are all now allotted.
Moses recalls the wilderness wanderings and calls the Israelites to obedience, warning them that if they are not faithful, they would be scattered amongst other peoples with only a remnant surviving to return in later days. He tells them they are to possess the land, not because of their righteousness, but because of God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for they are a stiff-
Another covenant is entered with a promise from God that if they are dispersed from the land for their disobedience, they will later be restored with circumcised hearts.
At the age of 120 years, Moses announces Joshua as his successor. He blesses all the tribes, then climbs Mount Nebo where God shows him the land for the last time before he dies. Moses is buried by God in a place not known by any man.
The Conquest of the Promised Land
as told in the book of Joshua
Now Moses successor, Joshua, sends spies to Jericho. Having been aided by Rahab, a harlot, they return with a favourable report. The Israelites cross the Jordan in a miraculous manner, the men are circumcised, and the Passover observed. Jericho is then conquered with a strategy given by God. Following their success, Achan is punished for stealing things from Jericho meant for the Lord’s treasury.
Ai is taken next, again with a strategy given by God.
Following a deceitful approach from the Gibeonites, a treaty is made with them.
Having spent six years conquering Canaan, Joshua divides the land by lot to the tribes. The tabernacle is set up at Shiloh, and cities of refuge appointed. However, in numerous cases, there are still some Canaanites living there, some of whom, but not all, become slaves to the Israelites.
The Reubenites, Gadites, and half-
Joshua convenes the tribes of Israel and reminds them of God’s favour to them, and their responsibilities to God. If they do not follow His commandments and are unfaithful to Him, they will quickly be driven from the land He has given them.
Joshua dies at the age of 110, and is buried at Mount Ephraim.