Exodus in Genesis
One is impressed with the ways in which the Book of Genesis prepares its readers for the Book of Exodus. This should not be surprising, because the contents of Exodus were probably more important to Ezra and the other biblical editors than were the stories in Genesis. Exodus, after all, contains the beginning of the first of the laws given to Israel at Mount Sinai.
It is worth remarking, in this respect, that our reading of the Bible today differs considerably from that of the ancient rabbis who assembled and edited the Sacred Text. Many modern readers, who delight in the exciting stories throughout Genesis, sometimes find themselves getting rather bored and bogged down when they encounter all the rules and ordinances that fill the second half of Exodus. Indeed, those numerous regulations in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, if not skipped altogether by modern readers, are often read with little interest.
This was not the case for Ezra and his editorial associates. Doubtless the ancients loved those narratives in Genesis, but their major interest was in the rules and regulations that followed them. For them, the important thing was the Law, the Torah, the expression of God’s will and mind revealed on Mount Sinai.
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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