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THE LITERARY STRUCTURE
OF THE BOOK OF EXODUS 1–18
AND THE STRUCTURE
OF THE SIX–BRANCHED LAMPSTAND

Menorah in Israel – the six–branched lampstand. Its shape is connected with the covenant made by the God with Israel during their passage between divided waters of the Sea of Reeds. Dr. Wojciech Kosek: The graph showing for each pericope of Exo 1–18 the percentage of the Hebrew words in the past tenses and in the future tenses. These pericopes are: 1,1–6,1; 6,2–11,10; 12,1–13,16; 13,17–14,31; 15,1–21; 15,22–18,27

Exo 25,31 “You shall make a lampstand of pure beaten gold – its shaft and branches – with its cups and knobs and petals springing directly from it. 32 six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand, three branches on one side, and three on the other. 33 On one branch there are to be three cups, shaped like almond blossoms, each with its knob and petals; on the opposite branch there are to be three cups, shaped like almond blossoms, each with its knob and petals; and so for the six branches that extend from the lampstand. 34 On the shaft there are to be four cups, shaped like almond blossoms, with their knobs and petals, 35 including a knob below each of the three pairs of branches that extend from the lampstand. 36 Their knobs and branches shall so spring from it that the whole will form but a single piece of pure beaten gold. 37 You shall then make seven lamps for it and so set up the lamps that they shed their light on the space in front of the lampstand. 38 These, as well as the trimming shears and trays, must be of pure gold. 39 Use a talent of pure gold for the lampstand and all its appurtenances. 40 See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

As it was shown on the earlier screen of this presentation, if in each of the six pericopes separately one examines the number of Hebrew words occurring in one of the two groups chosen in the comprehensive research:

  1. forms of future tenses, now then either in the imperfect or in the perfect with waw consecutive, or in the imperative,
  2. forms of past tenses, now then either in the perfect or in the imperfect with waw consecutive,

then it is obtained the above shown graph for the six pericopes, how similar in the shape to the six–branched menorah!: the longest branches and the longest bars are on both ends; the shortest branches and the shortest bars are in the middle.

It should be noted that there is a striking similarity between the above presented menorah, i.e. the six–branched lampstand, and the six–element literary structure of the Book of Exodus 1–18. This lampstand was one of the most important sacral elements required by God within the framework of the covenant which He made with Israel on the Mount Sinai. It had to be situated inside the Tabernacle – the Holy Sanctuary – in the holy place, outside the veil separating this place from “the Holy of Holies”, where the Ark of the Covenant was placed (cf. Ex 26,35). It can be concluded that similarly the Book of Exodus 1–18 is of the highest sacral rank as the covenant treaty built on the six–element literary structure. It plays such an important role because it is the witness of the first, original covenant between God and Israel – the covenant made, yet before the Sinaitic covenant, during the passage of the both partners between the halves of the divided Sea of Reeds (Red Sea). For that reason in the Sinaitic covenant the six–branched lampstand is to remind that everything what God ordered and to what He committed himself in the Previous covenant, has its irrevocable continuation in the next one (i.e. Sinaitic).

The relationship between the menorah and the covenant is testified also by:


It is worth to notice that there is in the Old Testament the law of continuation of the covenant commitments: if God makes one covenant, and afterwards He makes the next one, and then the next one… then in every new covenant not only gives He new requirements, but simultaneously He preserves what was obligatory in all earlier covenants. The God made the covenant with Abram (afterwards called Abraham) three times, about what the Book of Genesis says:

  1. Gen 15, in this 15,18.
  2. Gen 17, in this 17,2.9ff.
  3. Gen 22,1–18, in this 22,16–17.

The obligation of the circumcision, which was imposed upon Abraham and his descendants in the second of these covenants (cf. Gen 17:10–14), was and still is important for every Israelite who wants to remain in this covenant.

Therefore, in the covenant of the Passover / of the Exodus the God only reminds of the necessity of its preservation, and does it in the following manner:

  1. First, in that “mysterious” event described in Exo 4,24–26 – God didn't want to kill Moses but to remind him that really the every descendant of Abraham who hadn't obeyed the law of circumcision he couldn't have admitted to the next covenant with Him; now then and the uncircumcised son of Moses could not participate in the covenant of the Passover / of the exodus!
    It is necessary to notice in which pericope this scene takes place: in Exod 1,1–6,1, so in the pericope preceding the sequence of the four pericopes describing this 4–stage–history of the Israelites departure out of Egypt, the history being made present by the God's power of the 4–element rite of every annual Passover.
    Now then so as at present every Israelite may and should correct the possible neglect of circumcision of all the men of his house yet before the annual Passover,
    in the same way in those ancient days the God gave this possibility to Moses before the undertaking of the first of four steps of the process of liberation of Israelites out of Egypt (what is described in the Book of Exodus, in the passage from verse 6,2 to verse 15,21).
    This is also the answer to the question posed in the earlier stage of this presentation: Did the God want to kill Moses?
  2. Then the God, within the framework of the pericope of the covenant law (Exo 12,1–13,16), no longer in the “mysterious” way but through words addressed to Moses (cf. Exo 12,43.48), imposes the obligation of circumcision on every man who wishes to participate in the feast of the Passover lamb, and consequently to participate in the covenant of the Passover / of the exodus.

The same law of continuation must be perceived in the laws which God gave within the framework of the Sinaitic covenant.

Dr. Wojciech Kosek

15. April 2009
8. December 2010 – the day of publication of this translation to English

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