Lectionary Year A
September 19, 1999
Step III: Immediate Context
(JFC) A. IMMEDIATE CONTEXT
Pre - The first month and a half out of Egypt, the wilderness wanderers get on between Shur and Sin and Sinai. They encounter bitter water and God instructs Moses how to purify it - with a stick. He does so. Then God tells them to obey and they’ll travel safely.
Post - The remainder of chapter 16 records the Israelites’ gathering, first, too much bread and, then, the prescribed amount and how the overage spoiled before it could be saved for another day. They finally learn their lesson as God had instructed. Having found good water and ample food, in chapter 17, they begin wondering whether God were with them. Thereafter, they fear the attack of hostile forces.
(JFC) B. COMPOSITIONAL WHOLE
The Book of Exodus documents Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (chapters 1-15), their
wanderings in the wilderness of Sinai (chapters 16-18) and their encounter with Yahweh on Mt. Sinai (chapters 19-40). In this book, Israel becomes a people, distinctively a people in covenant with their God. Here, they become primarily a theologically oriented people and secondarily a politically organized people.
(JFC) C. ISSUES OF AUTHORSHIP
These verses are the product of both the Yahweh school and, at least, Priestly
editing. Verses 2f, 6f, 9-13a and 15b appear to be Priestly while verses 4f, 8 and 13b-15a are attributed to the Yahwists. The Yahwist recorded the earliest traditions of the people which remained current and fluid down to the tenth century BCE. “J” exhibits positive attitudes, especially, regarding agricultural experiences, referring to the deity in bold anthropomorphisms in a charming, if simplistic and in rather clearly distinguishing literary features. The Priestly editors evidently come from the Priestly circles in about the 6th century BCE. “P” emphasizes God’s regulations with little regard for humans’ reflections on or struggling to obey them. Their style is ponderous, pedantic and wordy, long-winded and even redundant.
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