Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Thomas J. Egger
Scripture References in this Resource
Exodus 18:1-27; Exodus 1-40
This dissertation argues that Exod 18:1–27 functions literarily and theologically as the key transitional midpoint in the Exodus narrative. As such, the chapter’s function is both retrospective (recalling key features of chapters 1–17) and prospective (anticipating key features of chapters 19–40) at the midpoint of the book. The characterization of the chapter’s most prominent figure, Jethro, the priest of Midian, the father-in-law of Moses, offers a first strong indication of the chapter’s retrospective and prospective interest as Jethro and Jethro’s daughter, the wife of Moses, and the sons of Moses reappear in the narrative of the book in this chapter only (cf. the early prominence and only other appearance of the same characters in Exodus 2:16–22; 3:1; 4:18–20, 24–26). On a first day, Jethro comes from Midian to the mountain of God where Moses is encamping. Moses recalls the events of the recent past as he tells Jethro how, through Moses, Yahweh delivered Israel from the hand of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, so that Yahweh might dwell with his people, and his people might dwell with him. Jethro comes to “know that Yahweh is greater than all gods.” Jethro confesses and worships Yahweh by taking a burnt offering and sacrifices to Yahweh and eating bread with Aaron and all the elders of Israel in the presence of Yahweh. On a second day, the father-in-law of Moses offers Moses good counsel regarding the future responsibility which Moses will have as the mediator of the word and will of Yahweh to Israel. Moses heeds Jethro. Through Moses, Israel will be called upon to heed Yahweh. And Jethro returns to Midian. Thus, Exod 18 draws to a close a first narrative movement in the first half of the book in which Yahweh is seen and known through his mighty acts of deliverance. Through Moses, Yahweh delivers. Exodus 18 also signals a shift in the second half of the book to a self-revelation of Yahweh which will feature Israel’s need to heed the word and will of Yahweh as mediated through Moses. Through Moses, Yahweh will govern. Through Moses, Yahweh will dwell with his people, acting in extraordinary terms to preserve them from the threat which they will be to themselves for the sake of his equally extraordinary purposes for them and through them. A close literary and theological reading of the book shows that Exod 18 (rather than other options which have been proposed) is the book’s key transitional midpoint and recommends to the reader of the book a way of reading the book in keeping with these themes.
Kumpeeroskul, Noppawat, "Exodus 18: Its Literary Unity and Its Key Transitional Role in the Exodus Narrative" (2022). Doctor of Philosophy Dissertation. 112.
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