Sailhamer, John H. The Pentateuch As Narrative. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.
Chapter 2, “Exodus” pp. 241-322.
Part 4 “The Deliverance from Egypt (5:1-6:30)” pp. 249-272.
In the section of Exodus detailing the plagues and the departure of Israel from Egypt, Sailhamer sees a strong theme of God making himself known to the Egyptians (Sailhamer 1992, 249-250). Exodus 5 shows the oppression upon Israel increasing, demonstrating that it is only God who can rescue them. Chapter 6 steps back and shows the history of Moses’ family and relationship in Israel. God is the one who has given promises and will keep them.
In chapter 7 we turn our attention to the way God shows himself to Egypt. “Though God’s ‘signs’ to the Egyptians are sometimes called ‘plagues’(e.g., 11:1), they are cast throughout this narrative as signs of God’s power over nature” (Sailhamer 1992, 252). As Pharaoh was considered divine the signs were illustrations of his inability compared to God. Sailhamer treats the signs in order, always observing a purpose of revealing God to Egypt. As the last plague, the death of the firstborn, is coming, the author provides a description of the Passover rites.
Sailhamer asserts that the commemoration of the new year changed at the institution of Passover. The date was clearly prescribed, as was the practice to be retained (Sailhamer 1992, 259). “The Feast of Passover was inaugurated to commemorate the birth of the nation of Israel. That this feast marked a new beginning can be seen in the inauguration of a new calendar shaped around this event as the first event of the year” (Sailhamer 1992, 259). Sailhamer goes on to detail some of the traditions which have arisen around the Passover, specifying that many practices have arisen since the first Passover. In Exodus 12 the people of Israel, along with many Egyptians who believed God, prepared to leave. Again in chapter 13 the author emphasizes that observance is to be passed down from generation to generation. Chapters 14 and 15 recount the crossing of the Red Sea by Israel and the destruction of the Egyptian army behind them. Sailhamer points out the differences between the historical narrative in chapter 14 and the prophetic and reflective poem in chapter 15 (Sailhamer 1992, 271-272).