Book of Exodus

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This page will also discuss Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua for convenience.

Exodus: 400 years after the Israelites' migration to Egypt at the end of Genesis, a new pharaoh subjects them to slavery and has all their newborn children killed. One baby escapes and is found by pharaoh's daughter and named Moses. As an adult, he kills an overseer for beating an Israelite and flees to the desert. He settles down into the life of a shepherd when he is called by God to liberate his brethren.

Leviticus: The guide book about how the Israelites are to properly worship God.

Numbers: The Israelites are on their way to The Promised Land. Moses, with God's help, guides his people to the land flowing with milk and honey while battling hostile nomadic peoples and internal dissension. It Gets Worse

Deuteronomy: Moses' last instructions to the new generation of Israelites about to enter Canaan.

Joshua: Moses and the previous generation of Israelites are dead and its up to Joshua to lead the new generation in conquering the Promised Land.

Joshua is followed by the Book of Judges.

Not to be confused with Exodus, a 1958 novel by Leon Uris about the founding of the state of Israel.

These books contain the following tropes
  • Ambiguously Jewish: In rabbinical tradition, Moses was never circumcised, hence why he wasn't allowed into the Promised Land. Freud theorized that Moses wasn't Jewish at all, but Egyptian royalty that for some reason threw in with their lot.
    • According to Exodus Moses was not allowed into the promised land because of his disobedience to God in his leadership of the Israelites. Circumcision had nothing to do with it. Also, he was ethnically Jewish to begin with, he was adopted into the Eqyptian royal court regardless.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Israelites conquer Canaan but it's foretold the next generation will be unfaithful to God. Moses only sees a bit of the Promised Land and dies soon after.
  • Church Militant: Contrary to what you see in The Ten Commandments, the worshipers of the golden calf were not swallowed up by the earth. God had Moses command the Levite priests to slaughter them.
    • A priest named Phineas took it very personally when the people of Moab tempted his people into defying God's will and decided to take out the leader of the problem with a Blade On A Stick. God made a point of personally praising Phineas for this.
  • Crazy Prepared: A close reading of the laws for sacrifices shows there were multiple contingencies in place depending on how well off the party needing to make a sacrifice was. There were also quite detailed contingencies for purification from uncleanliness, resolution of financial disputes, proper religious ceremonial customs, and much care is taken to address every issue that would be potentially relevant to the Israelites socially, politically, and culturally.
    • A rather interesting bit of foresight was intended long before they even entered the Promised Land, where if they found someone dead outside a town there and they didn't know who the killer was, an entire detailed ritual is proscribed in advance to exonerate themselves of the guilt of bloodshed if they ever encountered that situation.
  • Deadpan Snarker: God gets a classic one when it's doubted even he can provide meat for the people of Israel out of thin air:

Is the Lord's arm too short?

  • Description Porn: The section concerning regulations for the Israelites and for religious worship get incredibly intricate in detail.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: A lot of God's things you weren't supposed to do came with death penalties, and God often added this trope to the end in the hopes said things would not be done so he wouldn't have to enforce them.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Pharaoh in sharp contrast to two Hebrew midwives identified by name.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Exodus describes an exodus. Deuteronomy means "second law".
  • Eye for An Eye: Many laws for restitution concerning personal injury specified this was an appropriate punishment, though payment was allowed as an alternative in some cases. Also, as opposed to The Code of Hammurabi, such punishments were equal without regard for any class or social standing, so a rich and poor man would lose an eye if they destroyed the eye of someone else in equal measure.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: The Gibeonites suckered the Israelites into sparing them from the sword by pretending to be from far away and not local to Canaan, extracting a promise of protection from the Isrealites shortly before they discovered the ruse. The Gibeonites were still protected, as they had been given a promise, but their punishment for the deception was that they were to be the vassal people of the Israelites ever since.
  • Foreshadowing: Deut. 17:14 was about how to choose a good Israelite king, centuries before anyone even thought this was a good idea.
  • Good Parents: Moses' father-in law visits him briefly to give his son some good advice on how to not wear himself out being responsible for so many people, then returns to his homeland, but not before it's confirmed he has fully adopted the faith of his son-in law and has decided to spread it to his own people.
  • Heroic Blue Screen of Death: After Joshua's failed attack on Ai.
  • Heel Face Door Slam: Done to the Israelites who rebel against God's command to take Canaan. He punishes those who dissent by saying all who dissented will die in the desert, their children will be the ones to enter Canaan, the only exceptions being those who supported God's decision the whole time. Despite attempts to change their ways when he levels this punishment on them, God makes this punishment stick.
  • Heel Face Revolving Door: Pharaoh.
  • Kill It with Water: Drowning Pharaoh's army in the Red Sea.
  • Kill It with Fire: God wasn't above doing this to punish those who defied him a few times. One place where the Israelites had some dumb enough to do this was named after this trope.
  • Lawful Good: It's made very clear that the application of justice should be done in a morally upright manner, but the meting out of punishment should be strictly without bias towards either side.
  • Loophole Abuse: Despite God making a lot of Rules Lawyer antics flat out impossible, Aaron still found a loophole around the law saying he could not publicly mourn his dead sons, refusing his portion of the sacrificial offerings that day. When Moses called him on not doing what God said, Aaron countered the sacrificial offering was for the priests, but never specified any penalty for opting out of eating their share, merely saying the priests could have it if it was available. It was Aaron's way of mourning in such a way he never broke any actual rules, and even Moses had to admit that was pretty clever.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The song of Moses (Deut. 32:1-43) which was sung as the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land. In the passages beforehand, God had flat out told Moses that his people were going to mess up badly in the end, and gave the song to Moses as a reminder of what they needed to do once that day came to repent. Nevertheless, it's about as uplifting as a kick in the balls.
  • Moses in the Bulrushes - The Trope Namer.
  • Neat Freak: GOD. Granted, he did have a lot of good reasons to insist on cleanliness like prevention of disease and filth.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Moses pretty much screwed himself out of the Promised Land by doing the right thing (providing the people with water from a rock when they were thirsty) while doing so the wrong way (taking credit for God's hand in the matter). God punished him by saying he would never enter the Promised Land, only being able to get a brief look at it before he died.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: In the books after Exodus come some amendments to earlier laws to resolve problems like inheritance issues the original inheritance laws didn't cover, fixing problems like letting unclean people still keep God's commandment to observe the Passover when the original rules made that impossible to honor, and other flaws in earlier laws were fixed or tweaked as circumstances dictated they needed to be.
  • Properly Paranoid: The Levites were encouraged to be incredibly exact in how they performed their duties to God, otherwise God made it very clear they WOULD die if they did not, so being this trope was integral to long life as a Levite.
  • Take That: The ten plagues called down on Egypt were this to the Egyptian gods. It was basically God teabagging them and proving them powerless against himself.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The Israelites are horribly prone to this, immediately lashing out when they are slightly concerned things will go bad for them, prompting many a Face Palm from Moses and especially God.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: A justified example in-universe, as a lot of the material concerning the laws the Israelites had to follow is oft repeated because, as God and Moses accurately forsee, they will need constant reminders.