PERICOPES EXO 1,1–6,1 AND EXO 15,22–18,27

The identical structure of both external pericopes also points out on the necessity of understanding them as parallel elements, as a clamp containing the other four elements of the literary structure of Exodus 1–18.

Also to the same conclusion leads the following specification in the below table:

תַּעַבְדוּן אֶת־הָאֱלֹהִים עַל הָהָר הַזֶּה

Pericope 1,1-6,1

תַּעַבְדוּן אֶת־הָאֱלֹהִים עַל הָהָר הַזֶּה

תַּעַבְדוּן אֶת־הָאֱלֹהִים עַל הָהָר הַזֶּה

Pericope 15,22-18,27

תַּעַבְדוּן אֶת־הָאֱלֹהִים עַל הָהָר הַזֶּה

God said to Moses during the first revelation at Horeb that the proof for him that it was God who had sent him to lead Israel out of Egypt would be their worship service for God on this mountain (i.e. on Horeb – 3,1) (3,12):

עַל הָהָר הַזֶּה אֶת־הָאֱלֹהִים תַּעַבְדוּן

Israel was camping beneath the Mount Horeb, the mountain of God (cf. 3,1;17,6: brexo; 3,1.12;18,5: rh;) when Jethro arrived. Jethro took a burnt offerings and sacrifices for God. Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to eat bread with Moses’ father in law before God (18,12):

לֶאֱכָל־לֶחֶם עִם־חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה

לִפְנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים

Jethro took care of the Moses-escapee, and allowed him to eat daily bread (לֶחֶם – 2,20)Jethro made offerings to God, and it is a sacrificial bread (לֶחֶם) that Moses, Aaron and the elders of Israel ate with him (18,12)
Jethro gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to be his wife, and she bore him two sons (2,21; 4,20).Jethro brought to Moses his wife Zipporah and his two sons, whom Moses had sent back to him (18,2) probably for that reason not to expose his family to a risk of death during the departure out of Egypt. Their arrival shows that now it has already come the time of peace, after the time of fight for the life of the nation.

The name of the first son of Moses was Gershom (גֵּרְשֹׁם), for he said, “I am a stranger in foreign land (2,22)”. The name of the second son wasn’t here given.

The name of the first son of Moses was Gershom (גֵּרְשֹׁם), for he said, “I am a stranger in foreign land (2,22)”. The name of the second son was Eliezer (אֱלִיעֶזֶר), for Moses said, “My father’s God is my helper; he has rescued me from Pharaoh’s sword” (18,4).

These names represent the extreme situations: the situation described in the first pericope is characterized by the name of the first son, the situation described in the last pericope is characterized by the name of the second (i.e. the last) son.

Jethro allowed Moses to go to Egypjvp t after this, when God had appeared to Moses on Horeb and ordered him to go and lead Israel out of Egypt; Jethro wished him well (4,18).Jethro came to know what God had done for Israel. He gratefully praises God for the Israel’s liberation from the hand of Pharaoh and for the care of the People in the time of the whole way (18,1.8-12).
The bickering Israelites call in question the right of Moses to be their mediator (2,14: לְאִישׁ שַׂר וְשֹׁפֵט – Who made you a ruler and judge over us?).Moses judges (שׁפט – 18,13. 16) the Israelites. Moses appointed superiors (שַׂר – 18,21. 25), granting them the right to judge (שׁפט – 18,22) every small matter.
Pharaoh “1” and Pharaoh “2” oppresses Israelites, gives them task (חֹק – 5,14) of work above man’s power, commands (צוה – 1,22; 5,6;) them so to annihilate them (1,10.16.22).God gives laws (חֹק – 15,25.26; 18,16.20) to Israel; He commands (צוה – 16,16. 24. 32. 34; 18,23) her for her good; He wants to be her healer (15,26).

Pharaoh “2” orders to gather (לקח – 5,11) straw (תֶּבֶן – 5,7ab.10., stubble (קַשׁ – 5,12) to make bricks. These were bricks for the Pharaoh’s building.

God commands to gather (לקח – 16,16) food: מָן – manna: 16,31.33.35ab, i.e. לֶחֶם – bread: 16,; שׂלָו – quails: 16,13, i.e., בָּשָׂר – flesh: 16,8.12.

It was food for the people.

God cared not only for the food but also for the drinking water for the People (15,22-25.27; 17,1-7).

Pharaoh “2” gives Israelites a cruel, murderous daily norm (דְּבַר־יוֹם בְּיוֹמוֹ – 5,13.19) of gathering.

God gives for the People the natural daily norm (דְּבַר־יוֹם בְּיוֹמוֹ – 16,4) of gathering – according to what everybody can eat.

Pharaoh “1” and Pharaoh “2” torments the People with the daily work, with the work without a break (1,8-14; 5,6-19). Pharaoh “2” forbids the People to celebrate a feast to God, adjudging the cult as the sign of their laziness, as taking them away from their work (5,4-5. 8-9. 17). By forbidding the supply of straw he makes the work impossible to do (5,7-8. 10-11. 13. 16).God commands the People to rest every seven days, and He gives them opportunity to fulfill that order (16,23-30). This free time has to be the Sabbath to the God.

The analysis carried out in the above table revealed that the pericopes Exo 1,1-6,1 and Exo 15,22-18,27 are elements referring to each other regarding their content and concentric structure.

In the literary structure of Exo 1-18, these pericopes-elements constitute the frame for the whole text, that is to say the inclusion – so typical element of Hebrew rhetoric!