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Exodus (Shemot) Introduction

Exodus (Shemot)

Exodus is the second book of the English Bible and it’s base Hebrew text corresponds to the second book of Torah called Shemot שְׁמוֹת . I have found three differnt ways to spell or enunciate it – Shemot, Shemoth, Shemos. All of them are correct.

The first time “Exodus” is used to refer to this text was by the seventy-two Jewish translators of the Greek Septuagint (LXX). Later Jerome, using the Septuagint, used this name in his Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible.  William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale depended heavily upon the Latin Vulgate and Luther’s German translations; so continued the tradition of calling this text “Exdous”.  I am sure you know Exodus means “to exit” or “The Departure

Exodus ChaptersParshaiotCopyright
Shemot– Exodus 1:1 – 6:1
Halftorah: Isaiah 27:6 – 28:13; 29:22,23; Jer 1:1-2.3
Brit: 1 Cor. 14.13-15
Vaeira– Exodus 6:2 – 9.35
Halftorah: Ezk. 28:25-29:21
Brit: Rev. 16:1-21
Bo – Exodus 10:1 – 13:16
Halftorah: Jer. 46:13-28
Brit: Ro. 9:14-29
Beshalach – Exodus 13:17 – 17:16
Halftorah: Jud 4:4-5:31
Brit: Rev. 10:1-20:6
Yitro – Exodus 18.1-20:26 (23)
Halftora : Isa 6:1-7:6; 9:6-7 (5-6)
Brit: Mt. 5:8-20
Mishpatim – Exodus 21:1-24:18
Halftorah: Jer 34:8-22; 33:25-26
Brit: Mat. 17:1-11
Terumah – Exodus 25:1 – 27:19
Halftorah: 1 Ki 55:26-6:13
Brit: 1 Co. 9:1-15
Tetzaveh – Exodus 27:20 – 30:10
Halftorah: Ezk. 43:10-27
Brit: Heb. 13:10-16
Ki Tisa – Exodus 30.11 -34.35
Halftorah: 1 Ki 18:1-39
Brit: 2 Cor. 3.1-18
Vayakhel – Exodus 35.1 – 38.20
Halftorah: 1 Ki 7.13-26, 40, 50
Brit: Heb. 9.1-11
Pekudei– Exodus 38.21 – 40.38
Halftorah: 1 Ki 7.51 – 8.21
Brit: Heb. 8.1-12
KJV – Public Domain
1917 JPS – Public Domain

The Rabbis refer to the first book of Torah as “Shemot” שְׁמוֹת because its opening phrase, “and these are the names” Ve-elech shemoth. The earliest name for this book is “the Book of the Going out of Egypt”.

Understanding Exodus (Shemot):

The events recorded in Exodus (Shemot) are the foundation of the remainder of the Bible. Until the 1950’s these things were seen as absolute truth. Since then, theories abound about the Pharaoh, the location of Mount Sinai, and the ark of the covenant. We are not given enough details to know for sure without a shadow of doubt about these topics. However, the belief in these things have shaped the world we live in today.

The Pharaoh

I have found at least twelve different proposed Pharaohs named as the Pharaoh of the exodus. The most popular and most accepted by mainstream scholars is Ramses II. However, no evidence has been discovered to prove this claim. Due to this, most scholars call into question the validity of the exodus.

The other Pharaohs who have been named are listed below.

  1.  Pepi I
  2. Dedumose II
  3. Ahmose I
  4. Hatshepsut
  5. Thutmose II
  6. Akhenaten
  7. Ramesses I
  8. Ramesses III
  9. Memeptah
  10. Setnakhte
  11. Bakenranef

It must be concluded we are uncertain of the name of the Pharaoh of the exodus. This is difficult to accept as most names on this list has an agenda attached to them. Whither that agenda is to disprove the Bible text or to disprove those who disagree with the text.

In the Talmud, the Pharaoh is proposed to be Joseph’s Pharaoh. So the question remains who is the Pharaoh

Mount Sinai

The location of this mountain has been searched for by archaeologist, film makers, and curious people. The traditional site has been called into question.

The Ark of the Covenant

The ark is a great mystery many have sought to locate. Like mount Sinai, many have searched for it included are governments and world leaders. Although the Bible provide some details about it there remain many questions about its appearance. This includes its actual size and the angels on the top. Search any search engine and many drawings will appear. Most of these are very large and are impractical in their designs.

Exodus (Shemot) Themes, Content, and Keywords

There are two major themes in Exodus (Shemot) they are redemption and revelation.

The content of this book is the nation of Israel leaving Egypt and the Mount Sinai experience culminating to the construction of the Mishkan, the tabernacle. It is mostly a narrative with some legal components and some poetry.


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Exodus (Shemot) Stats:

Exodus (Shemot) is the second book of the Torah of Moses.

KJV English Stats 1

Chapters: 40
Letter Count: ?
Word Count: 32,692
Verse Count: 1,213

Additional English Stats:
Shortest Chapter: 11 (with 10 verses)
Longest Chapter: 12 (with 50 verses)
Commands: ?
Promises: ?
Predictions: ?
Distant Messages from God: 73
Prophecies: 131

Hebrew Stats 2

Parsha Count: 11
Letter Count: 63,527
Word Count: 16,714
Verse Count 3: 1209
Double Count 4: 14
Shortest Parsha: See Chart Below
Longest Parsha: See Chart Below

Unique Hebrew Stats:
Scribal Practices 5: 4

  • Enlarged: 0 (0)
  • Diminished: 0 (0)
  • Dotted: 0 (0)
  • Raised (erect): 0
  • Others: 0 (0)

Number of Mitzvot: 106 | 108

  • Positive: 45
  • Negative: 61 | 63
בְּרֵאשִׁית — Parashot Shemot
Exodus Torah Stats
# Hebrew English # of Letters # of Words # of P’sukim
# of Lines in
Torah Scroll
13 (1) שְׁמוֹת Shemot 6,762 1,763 124 215
14 (2) וָאֵרָא Vaeira 6,701 1,748 121 222
15 (3) בֹּא Bo 6,149 1,655 106 207
16 (4) בְּשַׁלַּח Beshalach 6,423 1.681 116 216
17 (5) יִתְרוֹ Yitro 4,022 1,105 75 ?
18 (6) מִּשְׁפָּטִים Mishpatim 5,313 1,462 118 185
19 (7) תְּצַוֶּה Terumah 4,692 1,145 96 155
20 (8) תְּצַוֶּה Tetzaveh 5,403 1,412 101 179
21 (9) כִּי תִשָּׂא Ki Tisa 7,424 2,002 139 245
22 (10) וַיַּקְהֵל Vayakhel 6,181 1,558 122 211
23 (11) פְקוּדֵי Pekudei 4,432 1,182 92 159

The source of these stats: Akhlah: The Jewish Children Learning Network

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Exodus (Shemot) Outline:

While studying the various outlines for Exodus (Shemot) I read the following quote from Everett Fox, in his The Schocken Bible: Volume I: The Five Books of Moses. I believe all students would be wise to keep this in mind.

“When we turn to a closer consideration of the structure of Exodus, we must proceed on the assumption that a work of art stems from both artful and unconscious design. Therefore, any structuring of such a book can only be hypothetical and must not limit itself to ironclad categories.”

The outline used on this website for Exodus (Shemot) comes from the greatest Jewish scholar of the 20th Century Rabbi/ Professor Umberto Cassuto. His work was translated by Professor Israel Abrahams from the University of Cape Town. The book A Commentary on the Book of Exodus is published by Varda Books in Skokie, Illinois.

Part 1: Bondage and Liberation (1.1 – 17.16)

See Detailed Sections for Bondage and Liberation

Section One: The bondage (1:1-22)

  1. First Paragraph: The children of Israel become a people (1.1-7)
  2. Second Paragraph: The first two stages of bondage (1.8-14)
  3. Third Paragraph: Pharaoh’s command to the midwives (1.15-21)
  4. Conclusion of the Section (1.22)

Section Two: The birth of the savior and his upbringing (2:1-22)

  1. First Paragraph: The birth and rescue of Moses (2.1-10)
  2. Second Paragraph: Moses and his brethren (2.11-15)
  3. Third Paragraph: Moses in Midian 2.16-22)

Section Three: Moses’ Mission (2:23-4.31)

  1.  The Exordium: “God’s in His Heaven” (2.23-25)
  2. First Paragraph: The theophany on Mount Horeb (3.1-15)
  3. Second Paragraph: The instructions (3.16-22)
  4. Third Paragraph: Moses’ doubts and how they were resolved (4.1-17)
  5. Fourth Paragraph: Moses’ journey (4.18-23)
  6.  Fifth Paragraph: The encounter at the lodging place (4.24-26)
  7. Sixth Paragraph: Moses and Aaron before the children of Israel (4.27-31)

Section Four: The first attempt and its failure (5:1-6.1)

  1. First Paragraph: Moses and Aaron before Pharoah (5.1-5)
  2. Second Paragraph: Edict upon edict (5.6-9)
  3. Third Paragraph: The new burden imposed on the people (5.10-14)
  4. Fourth Paragraph: The complaint of the foreman (5.15-19)
  5.  Fifth Paragraph: The encounter with Moses and Aaron (5.20-21)
  6. Sixth Paragraph: Moses’ remonstrance and the Lord’s reply (5.22-6.1)

Section Five: Prelude to successful action (6:2-7.7)

  1. First Paragraph: The Lord’s declaration (6.2-9)
  2. Second Paragraph: Moses and Aaron are commanded to go Pharaoh (6.10-13)
  3. Third Paragraph: The genealogy of Moses and Aaron (6.14-27)
  4. Fourth Paragraph: The narrative is resumed (6.28-30)
  5.  Fifth Paragraph: Detailed instructions to Moses and Aaron (7.1-5)
  6. Conclusion of the Section (7.6,7)

Section Six: The plagues (7:8-11.10)

  1. Prologue: The presentation of credentials (7.8-13)
  2. First Paragraph: Blood (7.14-25)
  3. Second Paragraph: Frogs (8.1-15 [Hebrew 7.26-8.11])
  4. Third Paragraph: Gnats (8.16-19 [Hebrew 8.12-15])
  5. Fourth Paragraph: Swarms of flies (8.20-32 [Hebrew 8.16-28])
  6. Fifth Paragraph: Pests (9.1-7)
  7. Sixth Paragraph: Boils (9.8-12)
  8. Seventh Paragraph: Hail (9.13-35)
  9. Eighth Paragraph: Locusts (10.1-20)
  10. Ninth Paragraph: Darkness (10. 21-29)
  11. Tenth Paragraph: The warning regarding the plague of the first-born (11.1-8)
  12. Epilogue (11.9-10)

Section Seven: The exodus from Egypt (12:1-42)

  1. First Paragraph: Instructions on the observance of Passover in Egypt (12.1-13)
  2. Second Paragraph: Directives for the observance of Passover in the future (12.14-20)
  3. Third Paragraph: The instructions are conveyed to the people and Passover is celebrated in Egypt (12.21-28)
  4. Fourth Paragraph: Plague of the first-born (12.29-32)
  5. Fifth Paragraph: Preparations for the exodus (12.33-36)
  6. Sixth Paragraph: The exodus (12.37-42)
  7. Appendixes to the Section (12.43 – 13.16)
    1. First Appendix: The ordinance of Passover (12.43-50)
    2. Second Appendix: The laws of the firstborn and a memorial to the exodus (12.51 – 13.16)

Section Eight: The division of the Sea of Reeds (13:17-15.21)

  1. First Paragraph: The journey in the wilderness (13.17-22)
  2. Second Paragraph: The encampment by the Sea of Reeds (12.1-13)
  3. Third Paragraph: The pursuit by the Egyptians (12.1-13)
  4. Fourth Paragraph: The meeting of the two hosts (12.1-13)
  5. Fifth Paragraph: The way of salvation (12.1-13)
  6. Sixth Paragraph: The Israelites pass through the midst of the sea (12.1-13)
  7. Seventh Paragraph: The discomfiture of the Egyptians (12.1-13)
  8. Eighth Paragraph: The punishment of the pursuers (12.1-13)
  9. Ninth Paragraph: The deliverance (12.1-13)
  10. Tenth Paragraph: The song of the sea (15.1-21)

Section Seven: The travails of the journey (15:22-17:16)

  1. First Paragraph: The waters of Mara (15.22-27)
  2. Second Paragraph: The manna and the quails (16.1-36)
  3. Third Paragraph: The waters of Meribah (17.1-7)
  4. Fourth Paragraph: War with the Amalekites (17.8-16)

Part 2: Torah and its Precepts (18.1 – 24.18)


Part 3: The Mishkan and its Initiation (25.1 – 40.38)

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Exodus (Shemot) Scribal Practices:

This is a visual introduction to the scribal practices in the Hebrew text. The Hebrew language contains 22 letters plus 5 additional final forms. I have been able to confirm from a trained scribe that each of these letters are both enlarged and diminished throughout the TaNaK. In Genesis (Bereshit), we have three enlarged letters (two which are final forms) and three diminished letters.

Scribal Stats in Genesis
Enl – enlarged letters – 4 appearances in Genesis | 3 are final forms
Dim – diminished letters – 3 appearances in Genesis
11 Torah Portions – Only 5 Torah portions contain scribal markings

Letter Name Enl Dim  Hebrew Trans Location  Parsha
נ Nun 1 0 נֹצֵ֥ר keeping 34.7 Ki Tisa
ט Tet 1 0 ט֣וֹב good 2.2 Shemot
צ Tsade 1 0 0 0 11.8 Bo
ק  Qof 0 1 0 0 32.25 Ki Tisa
ר Resh 1 0 אַחֵ֑ר other 34.14 Ki Tisa
שׂ Shin 1 0 0 0 34.11 Ki Tisa
ץ Tsade Sofit 1 0 0 0 28.36 Tetzavah

The source for this this is linked here. The italicized lines are not listed in the online Jewish Encyclopedia.

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Exodus Resources:

The Schocken Bible: Volume 1, The Five Books of Moses | Schocken Books | Everett Fox
The Pentateuch & Haftorahs | The Soncino Press | Dr. J.H. Hertz
The Living Torah | Maznaim Publishing | Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
The Steinsaltz Humash | Koren Publishers | Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz

The Parsha with Rabbi Juravel: Sefer Shemos | MC Publications | Rabbi M. Feinzeig
Covenant & Conversation Commentary | Schocken Books | Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Exploring Exodus: The Origins of Biblical Israel | Schocken Books | Nahum M. Sarna
A Commentary on the Book of Exodus | Varda Books | Umberto Cassuto

Hebrew Resources
The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon | Hendrickson Publishers | Francis Brown

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Next Steps:

Since you have finished reading all the background information about Exodus. Select a chapter and begin.


  1. KJV English Stats at taken from the Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible. Finnis Jennings Dake . © 1961 . Lawrenceville
  2. Hebrew Stats are pulled from various sources: Kefirah of the Week, Wikipedia, and other sources. Provided here are the total numbers. The specific numbers may be found on each parsha post. See the Parsha List for links to each post.
  3. Verses In the Hebrew text are called “pesukim”. Translated it means “sentences“.
  4. Hebrew Double Stats: “In the Hebrew, words are sometimes found duplicated. It is often the end of one sentence bumped up against the beginning of the next. E.g. “… was Noah. Noah began to…”.

    In any other language or philosophy, such doubling would go unnoticed. But Chabad philosophy seeks meaning in every detail, so they include this in their statistics,” says David Negley (member of a closed Messianic group on Facebook) Each double word instance has several teachings related to them. Listed here are the verses with the Double Counts in Exodus. (2.19; 3.4; 7.17; 8.10; 15.1,21,25; 16.5,21; 23.30;30.7; 34.6; 36.3,4)

  5. Scribal Practices: Are unique to the Hebrew language and are something that can’t be translated. They are enlarged letters, diminished letters, dotted letters, raised, and other unique features of the Hebrew language. Although they have practical applications additional meaning have been given to each of these instances. Much of the following information had been gathered from the Jewish Encyclopedia