Great earthquakes (Lk 21:11-21:11)

“There will be

Great earthquakes.

There will be


And plagues

In various places.

There will be


And great signs

From heaven.”


σεισμοί τε μεγάλοι καὶ κατὰ τόπους λοιμοὶ καὶ λιμοὶ ἔσονται, φόβητρά τε καὶ ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ σημεῖα μεγάλα ἔσται.


Luke indicated that Jesus said that there would be great earthquakes (σεισμοί τε μεγάλοι).  There would also be famines (καὶ λιμοὶ ἔσονται) and plagues (λοιμοὶ) in various places (καὶ κατὰ τόπους).  There also would be terrors (φόβητρά τε) and great signs from heaven (καὶ ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ σημεῖα μεγάλα ἔσται).  Luke was the only Greek biblical writer to use the term φόβητρά, that means a cause of terror, a terrible sight, or an object of fear.  There is something similar in Mark, chapter 13:8, and in Matthew, chapter 24:8, almost word for word at times.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that there would be earthquakes in various places (ἔσονται σεισμοὶ κατὰ τόπους) and famines (ἔσονται λιμοί).  All of this was the mere beginning of the end (ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων ταῦτα).  Matthew indicated that Jesus said there would be famines (καὶ ἔσονται λιμοὶ) and earthquakes in various places (καὶ σεισμοὶ κατὰ τόπους).  All of this was like birth-pangs (πάντα δὲ ταῦτα ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων).  These comments and the idea of birth pains were in the Hebrew prophetic tradition of the apocalyptic literature, the Day of Yahweh, the judgment day.  Jesus was speaking like many of the ancient Israelite prophets who warned about the coming of the divine judgment at the end of days, the end times.  However, Luke did not emphasize the beginning of the end here.  What do you think that the end of the world will be like?

Problems caused by sinful humans (Sir 40:8-40:11)

“With all human creatures,

With all animal creatures,

But with sinners seven times more,

Come many problems.

There is death.

There is bloodshed.

There is strife.

There is the sword.

There are calamities.

There are famines.

There are afflictions.

There are ruins.

There are plagues.

All these were created

For the wicked.

On their account,

The flood came.

All that is of earth

Returns to earth.

What is from above,

Returns above.”

Sirach points out that all creatures, human and animals, have problems, but the sinners have 7 times as many problems as the non-sinners. What are these problems? They are death, bloodshed, strife, the sword, calamities, famines, ruin, and plagues. The reason that we have all these problems is due to the wicked ones who caused God to send the flood. In other words, we might have been okay except for the sinful humans who brought all these problems to our earthly existence. The things of this earth return to this earth, while the things from above return to above.

God is rigorous (Wis 12:23-12:27)

“Therefore those who lived

In an unrighteous way,

In a life of folly,

You tormented

Through their own abominations.

They went far astray

On the paths of error.

They accepted as gods

Those animals

That even their enemies despised.

They were deceived like foolish infants.

Therefore as though like children,

Who cannot reason,

You sent your judgment to mock them.

But those who have not heeded

The warning of light rebukes

Will experience the deserved judgment of God.

When in their suffering,

They became incensed

At those creatures

That they had thought to be gods,

They were punished by means of them.

They saw the true God.

They recognized the true God

Whom they had before refused to know.

Therefore the utmost condemnation

Came upon them.”

Once again, we are reflecting on God’s actions in Egypt. The unrighteous ones (ἀδίκους) were tormented by their own abominations. They had accepted various animals as gods (θεοὺς) as if they were unknowing little infants. When they reached the age of reason you mocked their gods with mild rebukes or the so-called plagues. But they did not heed these mild rebukes or plagues. Finally they recognized the true God (Θεὸν ἐπέγνωσαν ἀληθῆ) and thus they received the ultimate condemnation at the end. This was an attempt to justify the killing of the first born of Egypt. The Egyptians should have known better.

Achior explains the Israelite history in Egypt (Jdt 5:10-5:16)

“When a famine spread over the land of Canaan, they went down to Egypt. They lived there as long as they had food. They became so great a multitude that their race could not be counted. So the king of Egypt became hostile to them. He exploited them. He forced them to make bricks. They cried out to their God. Their God afflicted the whole land of Egypt with incurable plagues. So the Egyptians drove them out of their sight. Then God dried up the Red Sea before them. He led them by the way of Sinai and Kadesh-barnea. They drove out all the people of the wilderness. They took up residence in the land of the Amorites. By their might they destroyed all the inhabitants of Heshbon. Then they crossed over the Jordan and took possession of all the hill country. They drove out before them the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Shechemites, and all the Gergesites. They have lived there a long time.”

Achior tells the story of how these Israelites went to Egypt and came back.   Once again, there is no mention of a specific leader like Joseph, Moses, or Joshua. The Israelites were in a famine and went to Egypt, where they became a great race. However, the king of Egypt turned on them and forced them to make bricks. In their struggle, they cried out to their God, who then inflicted the Egyptians with plagues. Then the Egyptians drove them out as their God dried up the Red Sea. They even drove out the people in the wilderness. They took the land of the Amorites around Heshbon. Then they crossed the Jordan and defeated the traditional enemies, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Shechemites, and all the Gergesites. This is the Exodus story with an emphasis on how they got to Egypt and who they wiped out along the way. Apparently, they had lived in Canaan a long time.


The first plague – The Nile River pollution with blood (Ex 7:14-7:24)

“Then Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh’s heart is hardened.  He refuses to let the people go.  Go to Pharaoh in the morning, as he is going out to the water.  Stand by at the river’s brink, and take in your hands the staff that was turned into a snake.  Say to him, `Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, say, ‘Let my people go, that they may worship me in the wilderness.  But until now you have not listened.’   Thus says Yahweh, ‘By this you shall know that I am Yahweh.  See with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall be turned to blood.  The fish in the river shall die.  The river itself shall stink.  The Egyptians shall be unable to drink water from the Nile.’  Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Say to Aaron, Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over its rivers, their canals, and their ponds, and all its pools of water, so that they may become blood.  There shall be blood throughout the whole land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’”

Here comes the gory stuff, the ten plagues. Yahweh knew that Pharaoh had a hard heart, so he kept pounding away at the Egyptians.  Moses, this time alone, met Pharaoh at the Nile River bank with his staff.   You will not let my people go so I am going to show you with my magic wand.  He turns the Nile River into blood.  Then Aaron was told to stretch out his hands over all the waters in Egypt turn them into blood.  So we have a bloody mess.

“Moses and Aaron did just as Yahweh commanded.  In the sight of Pharaoh and his officials, he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile River, and all the water in the Nile River turned into blood.  The fish in the Nile died.  The Nile River stank so that the Egyptians could not drink its water.  There was blood throughout the whole land of Egypt.  But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts.  So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as Yahweh had said. Pharaoh turned and went into his house.  He did not take even this to heart. All the Egyptians had to dig along the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink the water of the Nile River.”

However, the Egyptian magicians were able to do the same thing.  Everyone had to dig water wells for drinking water.  A natural explanation may have been the fact that the Nile River has red particles of earth in it.  Anyway, remember, it’s a miraculous story. Pharaoh was unmoved, as the water supply was polluted.

Outline of the Book of Exodus

Exodus General Structure (per Jerusalem Bible)


 I.    Deliverance from Egypt

a.      Israel in Egypt

The prosperity of the Israelites in Egypt (Ex 1:1-1:7)

The oppression of the Israelites (Ex 1:8-1:22)


b.      The youth of Moses

The birth of Moses (Ex 2:1-2:10)

The flight of Moses to Midian (Ex 2:11-2:22)


c.       The calling of Moses

God remembers Israel (Ex 2:23-2:25)

The burning bush (Ex 3:1-3:6)

The mission of Moses (Ex 3:7-3:12)

The revelation of God’s name (Ex 3:13-3:15)

The instructions about the mission of Moses (Ex 3:16-3:20)

The plunder of Egypt (Ex 3:21-3:22)

Moses’ first miracles (Ex 4:1-4:9)

Aaron as interpreter for Moses (Ex 4:10-4:17)

Return of Moses to Egypt and his departure from Midian (Ex 4:18-4:23)

The circumcision of Moses’ son (Ex 4:24-4:26)

The meeting with Aaron (Ex 4:27-4:31)

The first encounter with Pharaoh (Ex 5:1-5:5)

The instructions for the supervisors (Ex 5:6-5:14)

The complaints of the Israelite supervisors (Ex 5:15-5:18)

The recriminations against Moses (Ex 5:19-6:1)

Another passage about the vocation of Moses (Ex 6:2-6:13)

The genealogy of Moses and Aaron (Ex 6:14–6:27)

The continuation of the vocation and mission of Moses (Ex 6:28-7:7)


d.      The plagues in Egypt and the Passover

The staff changes into a snake (Ex 7:8-7:13)

The first plague – The Nile River pollution with blood (Ex 7:14-7:24)

The second plague – frogs (Ex 7:25-8:15)

The third plague – mosquito/gnats (Ex 8:16-8:19

The fourth plague – flies (Ex 8:20-8:32)

The fifth plague – the sick livestock (Ex 9:1-9:7)

The sixth plague – festering boils (Ex 9:8-9:12)

The seventh plague – hail and thunderstorm (Ex 9:13-9:35)

The eighth plague – locusts (Ex 10:1-10:20)

 The ninth plague – darkness in Egypt (Ex 10:21-10:29)

The tenth plague – death of the first-born (Ex 11:1-11:10)

The Feast of Passover (Ex 12:1-12:14)

The Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Ex 12:15-12:20)

The prescriptions for the actual Passover (Ex 12:21-12:28)

The death of the first-born (Ex 12:29-12:34)

The plunder of the Egytpians (Ex 12:35-12:36)

The departure of Israel (Ex 12:37-12:42)

Prescriptions about who can participate in the Passover (Ex 12:43-12:51)

The consecration of the first born (Ex 13:1-13:2)

The unleavened bread (Ex 13:3-13:10)

The first-born males (Ex 13:11-13:16)


e.       The passage of the Red Sea

The departure of the Israelites (Ex 13:17-13:22)

From Etham to the Red Sea (Ex 14:1-14:4)

The pursuit of the Egyptians (Ex 14:5-14:14)

The passage of the Red Sea (Ex 14:15-14:31)

The victory chant (Ex 15:1-15:21)


II.       The desert march

Marah (Ex 15:22-15:27)

Manna and quails (Ex 16:1-16:36)

Water from the rock (Ex 17:1-17:7)

The battle with Amalek (Ex 17:8-17:16)

The meeting of Jethro and Moses (Ex 18:1-18:12)

The institution of the judges (Ex 18:13-18:27)


III.     The covenant at Sinai

a.      The covenant and the Ten Commandments

Arrival at Sinai (Ex 19:1-19:2)

Promise of a covenant (Ex 19:3-19:8)

Preparation for the covenant (Ex 19:9-19:15)

The theophany (Ex 19:16-19:25)

The Decalogue (Ex 20:1-20:21)


b.      The code of the covenant

The law about altars (Ex 20:22-20:26)

The laws relative to slaves (Ex 21:1-21:11)

Homicide (Ex 21:12-21:17)

Fights and injuries (Ex 21:18-21:27)

Oxen and open pits (Ex 21:28-21:36)  

Stealing animals (Ex 22:1-22:3)

Dealing with your neighbor’s animals (Ex 22:4-22:15)

Seducing a virgin (Ex 22:16-22:17)

Religious and moral laws (Ex 22:18-22:28)

The first-born (Ex 22:29-22:31)

Justice and your enemy (Ex 23:1-23:9)

The Sabbath year (Ex 23:10-23:13)

The feasts of Israel (Ex 23:14-23:19)

The promise and the instructions for the entrance into Canaan (Ex 23:20-23:32)


c.       Conclusion of the covenant

The conclusion of the covenant (Ex 24:1-24:11)

Moses on the mountain forty days (Ex 24:12-24:18)


d.      Prescriptions about the construction of the sanctuary and their ministers

The contributions for the sanctuary (Ex 25:1-25:9)

The Ark of the Covenant (Ex 25:10-25:22)

The golden table (Ex 25:23-25:30)

The golden lamp stand (Ex 25:31-25:40)

Curtains covering the tabernacle (Ex 26:1-26:14)

The wood frame (Ex 26:15-26:30)

The curtain (Ex 26:31-26:37)

The holocaust altar (Ex 27:1-27:8)

The court of the tabernacle (Ex 27:9-27:19)

The oil for the lamps (Ex 27:20-27:21)

The priestly vestments (Ex 28:1-28:5)

The ephod (Ex 28:6-28:14)

The breastplate (Ex 28:15-28:30)

The blue robe (Ex 28:31-28:35)

The headpiece turban, tunic and sash (Ex 28:36-28:39)

The priestly clothing for Aaron and his sons (Ex 28:40-28:43)

Preparation for the consecration of Aaron and his sons (Ex 29:1-29:3)

Washing, clothing and anointing of Aaron and his sons (Ex 29:4-29:9)

Offering of the bull and rams (Ex 29:10-29:21)

Investiture of priests (Ex 29:22-29:30)

Sacred meal (Ex 29:31-29:34)

Consecration of the altar of holocausts (Ex 29:35-29:37)

Daily holocausts (Ex 29:38-29:46)

The golden incense altar (Ex 30:1-30:10)

The ransom fee (Ex 30:11-30:16)

The bronze basin (Ex 30:17-30:21)

The anointing oil (Ex 30:22-30:33)

The incense (Ex 30:34-30:38)

The skilful sanctuary workers (Ex 31:1-31:11)

The Sabbath rest (Ex 31:12-31:17)

The tablets of the law (Ex 31:18-31:19)


e.       The failure of the Israelites and the renewed covenant

The golden calf (Ex 32:1-32:6)

Yahweh sends Moses (Ex 32:7-32:10)

The intercession of Moses (Ex 32:11-32:14)

Moses breaks the stone tablets of the law (Ex 32:15-32:24)

The zeal of the Levites (Ex 32:25-32:29)

Another intercession of Moses (Ex 32:30-32:35)

The order to depart (Ex 33:1-33:6)

The meeting tent (Ex 33:7-33:11)

Conversation of Moses and Yahweh (Ex 33:12-33:17)

Moses and the glory of Yahweh (Ex 33:18-33:23)

The new stone tablets (Ex 34:1-34:5)

The Divine proclamation (Ex 34:6-34:9)

The renewed Covenant (Ex 34:10-34:28)

Moses descends the mountain (Ex 34:29-34:35)


f.        Construction of the sanctuary

The laws for the sabbatical rest (Ex 35:1-35:3)

Collection of materials (Ex 35:4-35:29)

The workers at the sanctuary (Ex 35:30-35:35)

Stopping the collection (Ex 36:1-36:7)

The curtains of the tabernacle (Ex 36:8-36:19)

The frames for the tabernacle (Ex 36:20-36:34)

The entrance curtain (Ex 36:35-36:38)

Making the Ark of the Covenant (Ex 37:1-37:9)

The golden table (Ex 37:10-37:16)

The golden lamp stand (Ex 37:17-37:24)

The incense altar (Ex 37:25-37:29)

The holocaust altar (Ex 38:1-38:7)

The bronze basin (Ex 38:8-38:8)

Construction of the court (Ex 38:9-38:20)

Counting the materials (Ex 38:21-38:31)

The ephod (Ex 39:1-39:7)

The breastplate (Ex 39:8-39:21)

The blue robe (Ex 39:22-39:26)

Priestly clothing (Ex 39:27-39:29)

The diadem turban (Ex 39:30-39:32)

The delivery to Moses of all that was done (Ex 39:33-39:43)

The erection and consecration of the sanctuary (Ex 40:1-40:15)

The execution of the divine orders (Ex 40:16-40:33)

Yahweh tales possession of the sanctuary (Ex 40:34-40:35)

The cloud guides the Israelites (Ex 40:36-40:38)


My understanding of Exodus