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Literature / Book of Exodus

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Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews: Let My people go, that they may serve Me.’”
Exodus 9:13

Following from the events of the Book of Genesis, the Jewish people have left Israel, only to find misfortune. Eager to return to the Promised Land, the Israelites must re-order their society and reconcile with God in their decades long campaign to re-claim their home. This page will cover the Books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy alongside Exodus for the sake of 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 boys 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.

This shepherd, Moses, frees the Israelites by the power of God and provides the Israeli people with Ten Commandments handed down by God, which would go on to be the basis of their law and morality.

One of the (if not the) most famous biblical stories, it has been adapted into many works including six frescoes within the Sistine Chapel, Moses, Man of the Mountain, The Ten Commandments (1923), The Ten Commandments (1956), Moses the Lawgiver, The Prince of Egypt, and Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Leviticus: The guide book about how the Israelites are to properly worship God and manage their society.

Numbers: The Israelites are on their way to The Promised Land while battling hostile nomadic peoples and internal dissension. Things do not go entirely to plan.

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

Deuteronomy (and the whole Torah) is followed by the Book of Joshua.

Structure of the books:

  • The Israelites enslaved by the Egyptians (Exodus chapter 1)
  • The early years of Moses' life (Exodus chapter 2)
  • Moses called by God (Exodus chapter 3 and 4)
  • Moses confronts Pharaoh and the ten plagues (Exodus chapters 5 to 12)
  • The Israelites' exodus from Egypt (Exodus chapters 12 to 15)
  • Journey to Mount Sinai (Exodus chapters 16 to 19)
  • The Ten Commandments and the law of God (Exodus chapters 20 to 23)
  • Moses confirms the covenant with God's people (Exodus chapter 24)
  • Instructions for the construction of God's sanctuary and holy items (Exodus chapters 25 to 31)
  • The golden calf (Exodus chapter 32)
  • Moses' further meetings with God (Exodus chapters 33 and 34)
  • Contributions for the sanctuary (Exodus chapters 35 and 36)
  • The construction of the sanctuary and the holy items (Exodus chapters 36 to 39)
  • The sanctuary is set up (Exodus chapter 40)


  • The various types of offerings to God (Leviticus chapters 1 to 7)
  • The consecration ceremony of Aaron and his sons as priests (Leviticus chapter 8)
  • The Lord accepts Aaron's offering (Leviticus chapter 9)
  • The death of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus chapter 10)
  • Clean and unclean animals (Leviticus chapter 11)
  • Purification rites following childbirth (Leviticus chapter 12)
  • Laws about dealing with leprosy, skin diseases, and mildew (Leviticus chapter 13)
  • Laws for cleansing lepers and cleansing houses (Leviticus chapter 14)
  • Laws about dealing with bodily discharges (Leviticus chapter 15)
  • The Day of Atonement (Leviticus chapter 16)
  • The place of sacrifice (Leviticus chapter 17)
  • Unlawful sexual practices (Leviticus chapter 18)
  • Various laws (Leviticus chapter 19)
  • Punitive actions for unlawful sexual practices (Leviticus chapter 20)
  • Laws about priests and acceptable offerings (Leviticus chapters 21 and 22)
  • The feasts of the Lord (Leviticus chapter 23)
  • The lamps, punishment for blasphemy, and "an eye for an eye" (Leviticus chapter 24)
  • The Jubilee Year and laws about property and redemption of people (Leviticus chapter 25)
  • Blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience (Leviticus chapter 26)
  • Laws about things that are part of vows (Leviticus chapter 27)


  • The first census of the twelve tribes of Israel (Numbers chapter 1)
  • Arrangement of the camp (Numbers chapter 2)
  • The sons of Aaron and the duties of the Levites (Numbers chapter 3)
  • Duties of the Kohathites, Gershonites, and Merarites (Numbers chapter 4)
  • Confession and restitution, and a test for adultery (Numbers chapter 5)
  • The Nazirite vow (Numbers chapter 6)
  • The offerings of the twelve tribes of Israel (Numbers chapter 7)
  • The cleansing of the Levites (Numbers chapter 8)
  • The Passover celebrated, and the cloud covering the sanctuary (Numbers chapter 9)
  • The silver trumpets, and Israel leaves the Sinai Desert (Numbers chapter 10)
  • The Israelites complain about the food (Numbers chapter 11)
  • Miriam and Aaron complain about Moses (Numbers chapter 12)
  • The spies sent into the Promised Land and their report (Numbers chapters 13 and 14)
  • Laws about sacrifices and unintentional sins (Numbers chapter 15)
  • Korah's rebellion (Numbers chapter 16)
  • Aaron's staff buds (Numbers chapter 17)
  • The duties of the priests and Levities (Numbers chapter 18)
  • Laws for purifcation (Numbers chapter 19)
  • The deaths of Miriam and Aaron, and the waters of Meribah (Numbers chapter 20)
  • The Israelites defeat Kings Sihon and Og (Numbers chapter 21)
  • God deals with the evil prophet Balaam (Numbers chapters 22 to 24)
  • The Israelites worship Baal at Peor (Numbers chapter 25)
  • The census of the new generation (Numbers chapter 26)
  • The daughters of Zelophehad, and God appoints a successor to Moses (Numbers chapter 27)
  • Offerings to God (Numbers chapters 28 and 29)
  • Laws about making vows (Numbers chapter 30)
  • The Israelites take vengeance on Midian (Numbers chapter 31)
  • Reuben and Gad settle in Gilead (Numbers chapter 32)
  • The record of the Israelite's journey (Numbers chapter 33)
  • The borders of the Promised Land (Numbers chapter 34)
  • Cities for the Levites, and the cities of refuge (Numbers chapter 35)
  • Laws about the marriage of female heirs (Numbers chapter 36)


  • The first address of Moses (Deuteronomy chapters 1 to 4)
  • The second address of Moses (Deuteronomy chapters 5 to 26)
  • The third address of Moses (Deuteronomy chapters 27 to 30)
  • The final days of Moses (Deuteronomy chapters 31 to 34)

These books contain the following tropes:

  • Accidental Murder: In case an accidental death happens, God's Law provides such a person protection from the "avenger of blood" by having the person responsible for the accidental death remain in a designated "city of refuge" until the case is fully examined and also until the death of the high priest, to make sure that there's no intended malice on the part of the one responsible for the death toward the victim. Three such cities were set up on the east side of the Jordan in the territory occupied by the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the eastern half of Manasseh, while three more cities were set up on the other side in the land of Canaan occupied by the other nine-and-a-half tribes.
  • Accomplice by Inaction:
    • In Leviticus chapter 20, if a person within a community sacrifices their children to Molech, and the community knows about it but does nothing to punish that person for doing so, God will hold the whole community responsible for their inaction, demanding that they would be killed along with the person.
    • In Numbers chapter 30, if a woman makes a vow while in her father's house or married to a husband, and the father or husband hears the vow being made but says nothing, then by his silence he confirms the woman's vow and causes it to stand, but if on the day he hears the vow he annuls it, then everything that she had vowed will not stand, and the Lord will forgive her. However, if the father or husband makes void the vow sometime after she has made it (outside of his hearing about it), then he must bear the penalty for breaking it.
  • Adapted Out: Moses' brother Aaron always has most of his deeds taken over by Moses himself.
  • After-Action Report: According to tradition, these books were written near the end of Moses' lifetime.
  • All Flyers Are Birds: In the Long List of laws detailing what animals are and are not OK to eat,note  bats are listed among the unclean birds, despite being mammals.note  Either this distinction wasn't known in those days or "birds" was a catch-all term for all vertebrates that could fly. Likely both. invoked
  • Amputative Sentencing: One of the tenets of the Law of Moses is that if someone maimed someone else, including limb loss, then the punishment was to have that same injury be inflicted upon them.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: The Israelites waste no time singing praises to the Lord when they see that the Pharaoh and his army was killed by the flood of waters that God unleashes on them after the Israelites safely cross through the Red Sea. This soon turns into Mood Whiplash for them as they go from rejoicing to complaining about the bitter water at the first place in the wilderness where they stop.
  • Asteroids Monster: According to one Jewish interpretation of Exodus, the plague of frogs started with just a single frog, which split into two every time it was hit. The Egyptians nevertheless were so annoyed they couldn't stop hitting it, ending with the whole Egypt being inundated.
  • Because I Said So: Invoked many times by God, or by leaders like Moses and later kings, who would claim that the edicts were issued directly by God.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Any person who is caught having sex with an animal is to be executed. The animal too, is considered Defiled Forever by this act and must be slaughtered.
  • Big Blackout: One of God's plagues upon Egypt was to plunge it into thick darkness. Only the Egyptians were not able to see in this supernaturally-created darkness while the Israelites were able to see light.
  • Big Bad:
    • The Pharaoh, enslaving the Israelites and doing everything he can to defy the will of God, even after accepting defeat. Serving as the greatest opposition to Moses and God outside of the personal flaws of the people of Israel, the horrid Pharaoh serves as the Ur-Example of the Big Bad, predating most examples of the trope by centuries or millennia. The age shows, as the Pharaoh is killed long before the end of Exodus, which details the travels of the Israelites from the Red Sea and God's revelation of the Mosaic Law, as opposed to more contemporary Big Bads who tend to provide conflict for the entire work.
    • While it's less clear from the written text, The Talmud and Midrash seem to set up the sorcerer Balaam as the main Big Bad of the Torah's overall narrative, with Pharaoh as more of an Arc Villain. There are midrashim that state that Balaam not only advised Pharaoh to oppress the Israelites in the first place, he also fought a war against Moses during the period of Moses' exile (before he encountered the burning bush) and had the same prophetic potential of Moses himself. He also gets his own Villain Episode near the end of Numbers, and is ultimately killed in the Final Battle before the Israelites enter the Land of Israel. Some even claim that he was a reincarnation of Laban, giving him some parts during Genesis as well.
  • Blood Magic: Not magic per se, but God does tell the Israelites to paint the doorposts of their houses with lamb's blood so that when the destroying angel comes by and sees the blood, he will pass over and thus spare the household.
  • Blood Oath: In the book of Exodus, after Moses read the Law of God to the people of Israel, he sprinkled the book of the Mosaic Covenant with the blood of calves and goats as well as the people, thus putting that covenant God made with the people of Israel into effect.
  • Bloodstained Defloration: If a woman's new husband (or in-laws) accuse her of not being a virgin on her wedding night, and she is able to produce a bloodstained sheet or garment, then the accuser is to be publicly flogged (and if it is the groom or his family making the accusation, he loses the right to divorce her). However, if the bride and her parents are not able to produce "evidence" that she was a virgin, she is to be stoned to death by the men of her community right on her father's doorstep (or at least her body was to be left on his doorstep after the fact). This is the same punishment she'd face if she had an affair after the wedding, although in this case it only applied to her — if she had an affair after the wedding, her lover(s) was supposed to be executed as well. She would be considered to have cheated on her husband before they'd even met, and her family would be forever shamed.
  • Bookends: The first 25 chapters book of Leviticus before the conclusion in the final two chapters follows a mirror structure:
    • The first and last section discusses rituals Israel is to follow. Chapters 1-7 discusses sacrifices they are required to make and chapters 23-25 discusses the observance of feast days.
    • The following and preceding sections discusses the priests. Chapters 8-10 records Aaron and his sons being ordained as priests and 21-22 establishes the qualifications of the Levitical priesthood.
    • The next set of sections discusses purity. 11-15 establishes cleanliness guidelines and 18-20 establishes legal principles of morality and integrity.
    • The middle section in chapters 16 and 17 establishes the Day of Atonement.
  • Breeding Slave: Averted in the Law of God as outlined in Exodus, where a female slave is betrothed to her master's son, that she must be treated in the same way as a daughter.
  • Brown Note: The voice of God, according to the Israelites that heard Him speak from the mountain, as recorded in Exodus and Deuteronomy. After hearing Him the first time, they tell Moses to have God speak to him and then him speak to the Israelites because if they heard the voice of God speak any more, they would die. Whether the voice of God can actually kill or just that the Israelites thought the voice is so terrifying that it can cause heart attacks is unknown.
  • Burn the Witch!: Exodus 22:18, which commands one not to allow a "sorceress" or "witch" to live. The original Hebrew word is m'khashepah, which specifically means "someone who casts harmful spells". Some translations simply say "You shall not tolerate a sorceress". Context, however, is partially lost in modern English as to the ancient Hebrews someone who poisons others with dangerous but perfectly mundane substances was considered a sorcerer or witch.
  • Bury Your Gays: Leviticus 20:13 states: "If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.". This interpretation has been challenged as many scholars have pointed out the wording is very tricky to translate from Hebrew to English.
  • Cargo Cult: In Exodus chapter 32, the people of Israel got anxious waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain, and seeing that he had been gone, figuring he must have been gone forever, tell Aaron the priest to make for them gods that will lead them. Aaron tells them to give him their gold, so they did, and he melts the gold, fashions it into a golden calf, and calls it their god (or God). The one true God brings this to Moses' attention, and when he sees the people worshiping the calf with pagan revelry, he got so mad that he broke the tablets containing the Ten Commandments, and he also crushed and ground the golden calf to powder. He had those involved in the worship of the golden calf (except for Aaron his brother) be slain before the Lord to get rid of those that would worship other gods.
  • Character Filibuster: The first thirty-three chapters of Deuteronomy make up Moses's final, longest testament to the people of Israel, summing up their history in the forty years after the Exodus and all the laws God has given them. The speech lasts until Moses is dead and gives reason for the book's other title, Debarim, the Hebrew word for "words."
  • Chekhov's Skill: Both used and averted with Moses and the burning bush. God teaches Moses how to turn his staff into a serpent, and how to turn the skin of his hand leprous (as well as cure it), both in order to demonstrate that he is a prophet of the Lord. He performs the former, but the latter never shows up again.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: An interesting case in the book of Exodus: after Moses has led the Israelites out of Egypt, he sets himself up as a judge, with people coming to him all day long, day in and day out, to get his advice on their problems. Eventually, his father-in-law Jethro berates him for this, pointing out that he's not serving the people well by exhausting himself. Jethro then gives him a lecture on hierarchical delegation, leading Moses to set up what we might recognize today as an appellate court system.
  • 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. The swallowed-up-by-earth event happened later, in a separate incident involving the rebellion of Korah.
  • Circumcision Angst: In Exodus chapter 4, as Moses and his family head toward Egypt, the Lord meets him on the way to kill him because he had forgotten to circumcise his child, and Zipporah takes a flint knife, circumcises the child, and throws the foreskin at Moses' feet (euphemism or not), saying, "You are a bridegroom of blood to me." This puts her on a bus until later on when Moses' father-in-law visits him after he has led his people Israel out of Egypt.
  • The Commandments: In Judaism, Christianity, and Western civilization, the Ten Commandments God gives to Moses on Mount Sinai are often considered the Ur-Example. The numbering of the commandments is a little muddled, as the seventeen verses which describes them don't actually line up when one commandment ends and another one begins.
  • Conscription: In Deuteronomy chapter 20, when Israelite men are being called to war, they are commanded to be excused from military duty if (1) they have built a house and they have not yet dedicated it, (2) they have planted a vineyard and have not yet eaten of the grapes, (3) they are betrothed to a wife and have not yet married, or (4) they are genuinely fearful of heart, and their fearfulness could potentially discourage their fellow soldiers from fighting at their best. Another law in Deuteronomy says that a newly-married man of Israel should be excused from military duty for one year so that he may "cheer his wife".
  • Cool Old Guy:
    • Moses was 80 when he was called to bring out God's people Israel from Egypt, and 120 when he died. Joshua finally became leader, at 80.
    • Caleb, the other faithful spy along with Joshua, states outright that he's 85 years old but doesn't feel a day over 40 and asks that his inheritance be a mountain fortress filled with Anakim, and confidently expresses his belief that God will give him victory over them. The name Anakim means giant and many Bible scholars think Goliath was one of the last Anakim. Eighty-five-year-old Caleb was asking to go fight a fortress full of giants.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The laws of Moses. Covers civil law, criminal law, public sanitation, religious rituals... It even gives some case studies for unusual events.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Deuteronomy 22:5 flat out says that wearing the garments of the opposite sex is an insult to God.
    The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.
  • Crippling Castration: Deuteronomy 23:1 says that those who are emasculated or had their male organs torn off are excluded from the assembly of the Lord. Another law from the same book says that a woman who intervenes in her husband's fight with another man by grabbing the other man by the genitals must have her hand cut off.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Deuteronomy 21:22-23 states: "If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God." This law was given so that the nation of Israel would not behave like the other nations in regard to their treatment of criminals deserving death. This was actually carried out by the Israelites during their conquest of the land of Canaan in the Book of Joshua. This is also later referred to by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians when he said God redeemed us from the curse by having His Son Jesus be a curse for us, taking on the sin and shame of humanity by His being hung on a cross.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The nation of Israel would seem to qualify. When they found themselves trapped between Pharaoh's army and the Red Sea, the people cried out to Moses, "What—there were no graves in Egypt, so we had to die here instead?"
  • Death by Falling Over: Deuteronomy 22:8 tells the Israelites that if they build a new house, they should include a parapet or a low wall around their roof to prevent this from happening and thus be charged guilty of bloodshed.
  • Death by Gluttony: In Numbers chapter 11, the people of Israel were craving for meat because all they had to eat was just manna. God decides to fulfill their desire by giving them so much meat for a month that it would come out of their nostrils and they would get sick of it. However, the death part comes when the Israelites are in the process of gorging themselves on the meat via God striking them dead with a sickness. note 
  • Death of a Child: The Pharaoh commands that the baby boys of the Hebrews must be killed, even when they are born. This leads to Moses' parents sending their child away in a floating basket in the hopes that he would be spared.
  • Defector from Decadence: Moses lived as a prince of Egypt, until he saw the abuse his fellow Hebrews suffered as slaves of the Pharaoh. He tried to join them early on in his life when he defended an Israelite being beaten by an Egyptian taskmaster by killing the taskmaster, but when he tried to break up two Israelites fighting with each other, and one of the two answered, "Who appointed you as a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you did the Egyptian?", Moses ended up becoming a fugitive in the land of Midian for forty years. It wasn't until the Lord called him with the burning bush that Moses' next attempt to rejoin his people worked out better, and eventually he led them to salvation.
  • Defiled Forever: There are several rules regarding purity and defilement. Deuteronomy, chapter 22 for example, demands the death penalty for various forms of sex outside marriage, but notably clears the woman if rape is proven (she was heard crying for help) or assumed (there's no way to prove she wasn't crying for help), making this a slight yet notable aversion.
  • Deus ex Machina: Whenever the people of Israel are in need, God provides.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: ...unless they've been cheating on Him with other gods or idols, then it's punishment time.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Pharaoh and those unfortunate Egyptian soldiers caught in the Red Sea at the wrong time.
  • Don't Say Such Stupid Things!: This is how God sharply tells Moses to accept his assignment in leading His people out of Egypt, since Moses was still recalcitrant despite God performing miracles to show what He can do/use them to convince Pharaoh.
  • Emissary from the Divine: God gave Moses and Aaron a lot of tasks, plus they had to be leadership roles for the Israelites. The role of a prophet is an emissary from God.
  • Enigmatic Empowering Entity: This role is fulfilled by God as He shows Himself to Moses in a burning bush.
  • Epic Fail: It takes 40 years to walk to Judea, less than 200 miles away. Initially they made good progress and are soon near Canaan. God tells Moses to send spies into the land. All but Joshua and Caleb are afraid to enter, so they stay in one place for much of those years while they die off. Of the adult males of that time, only Joshua and Caleb live to see the promised land.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Pharaoh in sharp contrast to two Hebrew midwives identified by name. Some speculate that there were several different Pharaohs during Moses time in Egypt (it's clear there are at least two different Pharaohs; the one reigning when Moses was taken in and the new one who did not know him when he first approached the throne regarding freeing his people). Unfortunate (or very suspicious) given that this information would finally establish a base time to anchor all of these events to.
    • There is some speculation as to his/their identity, with Thutmose II being the best candidate for the Pharaoh Moses contended with, especially since his mummy is covered in cysts and his successor Hatshepsut, or someone connected to her, went out of their way to deface his monuments and erase records of his reign. Perhaps this is why there is scant evidence of the events outside the Scriptures.
  • Express Delivery: The excuse that the midwives give to their Egyptian superiors when they are told to kill the Hebrew baby boys on the delivery stool but they refuse to do so: "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women. They are so healthy that they have their babies before a midwife arrives." (from Exodus 1:19)
  • Eye Scream:
    • One of God's Laws in Exodus chapter 21, combined with The Tooth Hurts:
      If a man strikes the eye of his male servant or the eye of his female servant so that it is destroyed, then he must let him go free on account of his eye. If he knocks out his male servant's tooth or his female servant's tooth, then he shall let him or her go free on account of the tooth. (Exodus 21:26-27)
    • What Dathan and Abiram said to Moses in the rebellion of Korah in Numbers chapter 16, believing that Moses and Aaron were getting too big for their britches as far as being leaders:
      "Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land that flows with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness because you make yourself a prince over us? Moreover you have not brought us into a land that flows with milk and honey nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men?"
  • Face–Heel Turn: The Egyptians here have none of the kindness and respect that their ancestors did for the Israelites and instead force them into grueling slavery and murder most of their baby boys out of paranoia that their growing race will become large enough to overrun Egypt.
  • A Family Affair: In the book of Leviticus, several paragraphs are dedicated to admonishing the Israelites not to have sex with family members, including stepparents/stepsiblings/in-laws/etc. Doing so was punishable by the parties involved being burned alive.
  • Fatal Flaw: Continuing a theme from Genesis, no matter how respected or holy they are, no human is without a serious flaw that hurts their relationship with God. They include:
    • Moses' anger.
    • Pharaoh's arrogance.
    • Aaron's weak leadership.
    • Miriam's jealousy of Moses.
    • Joshua's overconfidence
    • Balaam continuing to antagonize the Israelites even after experiencing God's power.
  • Faux Flame: An angel of the Lord speaks to Moses from a bush that burns but is not consumed.
  • Fidelity Test: If a man suspects that his wife is cheating on him, but can't absolutely prove it, he is to take her to the Temple, remove her head coveringnote , make an offering of coarse flour, and have her drink bitter, cursed water. If she's been faithful, the water will have no ill effect on her.note  However, if she hasn't, "her belly will swell and her thighs will waste away."note , and she would be either killed or ostracized from her community. There was no test for a man accused of cheating, because a) for a man, it was only considered adultery if the woman he slept with was married or engaged to someone else, even if he was married and b) it functioned as a way to keep the jealous husband from acting rashly and having his wife executed in a case where she was only Mistaken for Cheating. invoked
    • The woman could confess if she had been cheating, or find a way to produce evidence that she hadn't, rendering the test moot. (If she had cheated, however, she could face the death penalty if her husband so chose.) If her husband were to just divorce her, she wouldn't have to undergo the test, even if she had cheated. Whether she was tested in this way or not was up to him.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: In the book of Numbers, God gives His people Israel the opportunity to take over the Promised Land that they sent twelve spies to check out, but after ten of the twelve spies discourage the Israelites by telling them that the land is full of giants, and they decided to head back to Egypt, God punished them by having the Israelites trek through the desert for 40 years until all the generation from 20 years and older have perished, except for Joshua and Caleb.
  • Final Speech: As a Call-Back to Genesis, Moses gives one to the tribes of Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 33, giving them his blessings before he climbs the mountain and sees the Promised Land prior to his death. Strangely, though, of all the family tribes mentioned, Simeon isn't among them.
  • Fire Purifies: Numbers 31:23, after the Israelites return from their war with the Midianites, regarding the booty they have taken:
    Every thing that may abide the fire, you shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that stays not the fire you shall make go through the water.
  • Foreshadowing: Deuteronomy 17:14 was about how to choose a good king, centuries before any Israelite even thought this was a good idea. Also, Deuteronomy 18:15 and 18:18 state that God will raise up a Prophet for His people from among the Israelites that will be like Moses. Muslims interpret that as the foretold coming of Muhammed, while Christians interpret that as the foretold coming of Jesus.
  • Gendercide: The Pharaoh ordered his men to kill all the newborn male infants of the Jews to prevent them from becoming large enough to escape from slavery. Moses only survives thanks to the cleverness of his mother and fortune/God.
  • Geo Effects: Taken advantage of by the Israelite army (and occasionally it also gets the better of them because they weren't right with God).
  • Get Out!: In Exodus, after the final plague of God hits and the Pharaoh loses his firstborn child, he tells Moses to get the Israelites out of his country. So do the rest of the Egyptians, as they also lose their firstborns to the destroying angel.
  • God Is Good: This Book sees God offer the stuttering, exiled Moses the chance to free his Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. Even after these same Hebrews abandon God and worship a golden statue in return, God guides the Hebrew people and provides them with bread and water as they travel through the desert to the land God promised them, even giving them quails when they complain about a lack of variety in their food.
  • Going in Circles: Some Bible students believe God purposely led the Israelites around the same mountain over and over until most of the generation that came out of Egypt, those twenty and older that refused to enter into the Promised Land due to unbelief, had died in the wilderness, and when there was only Moses, Joshua, and Caleb left, God told them to start moving to the Promised Land, with Moses being the one who would die before the others would enter in.
  • Good Is Not Soft: After Pharaoh disregarded the previous Plagues, God didn't have any qualms in killing Egypt's firstborn in order to free the Israelites from slavery. He continues to have little doubts when punishing the Israelites for breaking their covenant.
  • Groin Attack: Deuteronomy 25:11-12 forbids this:
    When a man and his brother fight one another, and the wife of the one draws near in order to deliver her husband out of the hand of him who fights him, and reaches out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you must cut off her hand. You must not pity her.
  • Happiness in Slavery: In Exodus 21:5-6 and Deuteronomy 15:16-17, if a Hebrew slave refuses to leave after his six-year period of indentured servitude ends because he says that he loves his master, the master will bring the slave to the judges, then he shall also bring the slave to the door or to the doorpost, and his master shall bore the slave's ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him forever. In the Exodus account, this law can be used if the servant is married to the master's daughter and he doesn't want to leave her and any children he produced through her when his time of servitude ends.
  • Heir Club for Men: Usually, the Law of God would dictate that a father's property would be passed on to his sons as their inheritance, but in the book of Numbers, when the daughters of Zelophehad came to Moses to say that their father has no sons that he could pass the inheritance onto, God comes up with a solution: if a father has no sons, then the daughters will inherit the property (provided that they marry only within their family tribe so that the inheritance does not pass from one tribe to another), or it can pass onto the father's brothers if he has no sons or daughters, or it can pass onto his own father's brothers if he doesn't have any brothers, or, as a last resort, it can pass onto any male member of his family tribe who is nearest of kin to him.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: God. He appears in a burning bush, a cloud, and a pillar of fire, but He tells Moses that no one can see His face and live. As a consolation, He allows Moses to see His back.
  • A Hero Is Born: After Exodus chapter 1 sets up the situation with the Israelites becoming slaves to the Egyptians, chapter 2 follows it up with the birth of Moses, who becomes the main protagonist for this book and its three sequels.
  • Hero of Another Story: While these books focus on the history of Israel, in one passage from Deuteronomy, the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites and Caphtorim (Philistines) could qualify. In Deuteronomy 2, Moses mentions in passing these nations driving out the Emims, Zamzummims, Horims, and Avims, other tribes or names for giants that were found in Caanan.
  • Holy Backlight: Moses became glowy from spending so much time in God's direct presence and actually looking upon God Himself.
  • Holy Ground: Trope Namer. Moses sees a burning bush, which tells him to remove his shoes, because he is standing on Holy Ground.
  • Holy Is Not Safe:
    • Exodus 33:20 provides the page quote. Moses asks to see God's face, but He replies that seeing it would kill Moses. God arranges for Moses to see His back instead.
    • There were laws concerning protecting the holy things in the sanctuary from being seen by certain groups of Levites who were working in the area around the sanctuary, so that they will not die.
  • Honor Thy Parent: In Exodus 20:12, the Fourth or Fifth Commandment (depending on the classification) is: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you."
  • Honor-Related Abuse: What the law requires against sexual misconduct of a woman (Leviticus 21:9 and Deuteronomy 22:13-21) and irredeemably rebellious children of age (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).note 
  • Human Sacrifice: Wedged in between the commands of various forbidden sexual practices in Leviticus chapter 18, there is also the command to not sacrifice your children to Molech. Apparently, infanticide to God is just as bad as those sexual practices that He deems immoral.
  • Ignored Expert: The Egyptian magicians can replicate the first few tricks and plagues, but when it gets to the gnats, they are unable to replicate them and tell Pharoah that it's genuine divine power after all. He ignores them.
  • Illegal Religion: The various pagan religions of the Promised Land. In theory, they were to be not only not practiced by the Israelites, but wiped out by them as well (the reasons for this include the pagan religions' recurring practices of Human Sacrifice by fire, said sacrifices including children, and ritual prostitution). This wasn't so much the case in practice.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: In Deuteronomy chapter 28, Moses says that the curses of God against His people Israel for disobeying His commands would be so great, that famine would drive them to eat their children, and the most delicate woman in the world would not hesitate to eat the child she bears as well as the afterbirth.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In Numbers chapter 25, Phinehas son of Eleazar took a javelin and pierced through the bodies of Zimri son of Salu and Cozbi the Midianite woman as they were alone in his tent together, thus stopping the plague God sent upon the Israelites for their idolatry and sexual immorality by joining themselves with the Midianites at Baal-Peor.
  • Invisible to Normals: The Angel of the Lord that appeared in the road three times to stop Balaam. Only his donkey was able to see the Angel with His sword drawn and reacts in a way that makes Balaam think he has a Stubborn Mule. It's only after the third time when God causes the donkey to speak that "Balaam's eyes were opened" and he saw the Angel standing in the road.
  • Irrevocable Order: In Balaam's second blessing to Israel, he prophesied "I have received commandment to bless; God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it."
  • Jewish Complaining: The Israelites, but this didn't please God whatsoever. Bad water, lack of food, lack of water, eating the same food over and over, having to go around Edom on their journey...
  • Jews Love to Argue: Especially in Numbers, the Jews have to keep sending the new laws back to God via Moses for revision. For example, one story (which appears three times: Numbers 27, and Numbers 36) has a group of five sisters (including the other biblical Noah) point out that the current way land division is planned cuts their family out on a technicality. Moses takes this to God who declares those plans be revised and the patriarchal tradition be amended.
  • "Just So" Story: These books explain the origins of the names of places known only to Middle Easterners.
  • Kill It with Water: Drowning Pharaoh's army in the Red Sea.
  • Loan Shark: Commandments in Exodus and Deuteronomy are to prevent God's people from being this when they lend money out to those that are poor among them, not even as to go as far as taking the very robe that they sleep in, for that is their only covering.
  • Lost in Imitation: Some of the perceived historical inaccuracy in Exodus come from adaptions and Pop-Cultural Osmosis, not the actual text.
    • Media often depict the enslaved Israelites as building pyramids and similar monuments, even though in real life, most (if not all) of Egypt's monuments were built not by foreign slaves, but by Egyptian day-laborers (often farmers in the off-season). The actual Bible stipulates that the Hebrews didn't build the monuments, they did more menial tasks such as making bricks; the lowest of the low.
    • It's also popular to specify the pharaohs as Ramesses II and his thirteenth son and successor Merneptah, even though Caanan was part of Egypt during the reigns, which would mean the Hebrews never left Egypt proper to begin with. The Bible itself never names either pharaoh. Also, a campaign during Merneptah's reign wiped out Israel, not referred to as a country but a tribe/people.
  • 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.
  • Lysistrata Gambit:
    • Moses called for a mandatory sexual fast among the Israelite couples prior to their meeting with God in Exodus chapter 19.
    • Exodus 21:10-11 says that if a man takes to himself another wife besides the maidservant he married, he shall not deny his first wife her food, clothing, or "marital rights", and if he refuses to do these three things to her, then she is allowed to leave without any payment of money.
  • Magical Abortion: Implied in the Fidelity Test placed upon the woman in the book of Numbers, that, if she drinks the bitter water and has failed being faithful to her husband, then the bitter water would cause "her belly to swell and her thigh to waste away" — meaning whatever child she might have had with the other man would become a miscarriage, as possibly will all her future pregnancies.
  • Magic Is Evil: "There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you." (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
  • Magic Staff:
    • Moses' and Aaron's rods, although there was nothing magical in the rods themselves, since they were just used by God to perform His miracles through. Aaron's rod turned into a serpent, which then later ate up the other rods when the Egyptian magicians of Pharaoh turned their rods into serpents with their secret arts. In the book of Numbers, Aaron's rod had almonds blossoming out of it as a sign to the Israelites that Aaron is the designated high priest anointed of God and that nobody should question his authority.
    • The bronze snake on a pole that Moses had made in Numbers to cure the Israelites who had been bitten by poisonous snakes, that they could look at the pole and thus be healed. Like Moses' and Aaron's rods, there was nothing magical in the bronze snake on a pole; it was God using it as a means of healing His people.
  • Make an Example of Them:
    • In Exodus 9:15-17, God directly states this as one of the intentions behind His Signs and Wonders (AKA the Plagues of Egypt). Instead of wiping out all of the Egyptians, God is making an example of some of them despite the way they allowed the Hebrews to suffer (with the slavery and killing their male babies).
      "I could have stretched forth My hand and stricken you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been effaced from the earth. Nevertheless I have spared you for this purpose: in order to show you My power, and in order that My fame may resound throughout the world. Yet you continue to exalt yourself over My people, and do not let them go!"
    • In the various laws God lays down for His people Israel, the prescribed punishments for certain transgressions, such as a daughter "playing the harlot" in her father's house when it cannot be proven whether she was truly a virgin when she was given in marriage, was meant to be seen by the other Israelites to make them fear God and not follow after that person's bad example.
  • Malicious Slander: Leviticus 19:16 states that "you shall not go around as a slanderer among your people."
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage:
    • Moses and his Cushite/Ethiopian wife, as mentioned in Numbers chapter 12. Miriam uses that as an excuse to question Moses' authority, dragging Aaron along with her, and this resulted in Miriam coming down with leprosy which lasted for a week. Notably, God does not consider Moses' marriage a problem.
    • An Israelite with a Midianite woman in Numbers chapter 25, which is part of what caused a plague to come down on the Israelites from God. Phinehas the son of Eleazar decided to put an end to this and stuck a javelin through the couple while they were in their tent together. Though it is specified the problem wasn't the marriage, but that the husband had given up his beliefs to follow the occult ways of his wife.
    • Strongly implied with the unnamed blasphemer from Leviticus 24 whose father is an Egyptian.
  • Mandatory Fatherhood: In Deuteronomy 25:5-6, if a woman's husband dies without leaving her any child, and if the husband has an unmarried brother living close by, then the brother must marry the widow and father a child through her, so that her dead husband's name would not be blotted out from Israel with the first child (ideally a son) that is sired.note  If the husband's brother refuses to marry her, verses 7 to 10 says that he must be brought before the elders of the city, and if he still declares that he isn't going to marry her, then the widow may pull off his sandal, spit in his face, and say, "So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother's house." And that man's house from then on will be referred to as "the house of the man whose sandal was pulled off."
  • Meaningful Echo: The generation after Moses crosses the Jordan river in a manner similar to how their parents crossed the Red Sea.
  • Mediation Backfire: In Exodus chapter 2, when Moses was forty years old and sees two Israelites fighting with each other, he tries to break it up through mediation, and one of them ends up shouting, "Who appointed you as a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you did the Egyptian?" That resulted in Moses running for his life and hiding out in the wilderness of Midian for forty years.
  • Merciful Minion: Pharaoh orders the midwives of Egypt to kill any male Hebrews that are born. They refuse to do so, and get away with it by lying to Pharaoh that, in Hebrew culture, they don't wait for midwives to show up to give birth, or that they go through the labor-and-delivery process long before the midwife shows up.
  • Miracle Food: The manna that God provides for His people Israel for 40 years until they enter into the Promised Land, where it stopped upon their celebration of the Passover at Gilgal, as mentioned in Joshua.
  • Moses in the Bulrushes: The Trope Namer; as the Pharaoh's men slaughter the children of the Jews, one of them is saved by being thrown into a basket carried away by the river. Thankfully, the daughter of the Pharaoh found it, who took pity on the child and decided to raise it as her own son: Moses.
  • Mystical Plague: A couple of the Plagues of Egypt, which God called to force the Pharaoh to free his Jewish slaves, are "plagues" in the disease sense: the plague of pestilence (which only affected livestock) and the plague of boils (skin disease).
  • Never My Fault: In Exodus chapter 32, when Moses comes down from the mountain to see the Israelites having a worship party before the golden calf Aaron had made from the gold that the Israelites gave him, Moses asked Aaron what he did to make the people of Israel sin against God, and Aaron was like, "Don't blame me! They just gave me the gold, I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!"
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: In Exodus 7:8-13, Aaron and Moses confront the Pharaoh and his priests and Aaron's staff becomes a "tannin" when he is commanded to throw it forth. Some translations have the animal Aaron's staff becomes in a confrontation with the Phaorah's priests not be a snake, but a nile crocodile as the original Hebrew word, "tannin" can mean either. Some scholars favor the crocodile scenario as it symbolically takes a dig at Egyptian royals using crocodilians in their imagery and being compared to the "dragons of the reeds and rushes" note  by establishing God's dominion over such powerful animals.
  • Nocturnal Emission: Leviticus chapter 15 covers the issue of how the people of Israel were to deal with various bodily discharges, including that of the "seed of copulation". Deuteronomy 23:9-11 specifically deals with this issue when an army goes out against their enemies, which can also fall under Jizzed in My Pants.
  • Offing the Offspring: Deuteronomy 21:18-21 lets parents bring their disobedient children to elders to be stoned to death if their own corrective measures aren't enough to bring them back into line.
  • The Omnipotent: In Numbers chapter 11, when God declares that He will give the Israelites so much quail for a month that it will come out of their nostrils and they will be sick of it, Moses asks the Lord how He will provide such meat for about six hundred thousand people, and the Lord replies, "Is the hand of the Lord shortened?"
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The Anakim. Numbers 13:33 describes them thusly "we saw the Nephilim there—the Anakites are part of the Nephilim—and we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them." Which, if true, would make them big enough to qualify as Kaiju. Granted it is made pretty abundantly clear the scout reporting this was lying through his teeth.
  • Pals with Jesus: Moses talks to God all the time and spends a lot of time in His presence. He also got to see God's back.
  • Parental Favoritism: Deuteronomy 21:15-17 prevents this in the case of a man having two wives, that, if he has sons of those two wives, and his first is from that of his unloved wife, then he cannot allow the firstborn of his loved wife to have the firstborn rights of inheritance in preference over his actual firstborn from his unloved wife, since that firstborn is considered "the beginning of his strength". Scholars cite this as a measure against what happened with Jacob and his sons.
  • A Party, Also Known as an Orgy:
    • In Exodus chapter 32, the Israelites' worship of the golden calf quickly turns into an orgy while Moses was away on the mountain talking with God. God brings this to Moses' attention and has him come down the mountain to destroy the idol and to order a massacre of the people responsible, save for Aaron the high priest, who was spared from God's wrath.
    • The Israelites also have a worship party with the Midianites at Baal-Peor in Numbers chapter 25 that becomes an orgy when Zimri the son of Salu brings into his tent a Midianite woman, and Phinehas picks up a javelin, goes into the tent, and impales the couple, thus stopping God's plague on the camp.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: In God's Law, the command of "eye for eye and tooth for tooth" was originally meant as a restriction for exacting vengeance on people rather than a total advocacy for it, meaning that the person exacting revenge cannot go beyond the amount of injury that was inflicted upon him by the other person.
  • Phony Psychic: Deuteronomy 18 warns against false prophets and occultists, and gives an easy test for determining whether someone is really speaking for the Lord:
    When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
  • Playing with Fire: God destroys Israelites who rebel against Him by sending forth holy fire to consume them whole. He first does this to Aaron's two sons who offered him "strange fire" in direct violation of the Levitical law, and later burns up the 250 of those who join in the rebellion of Korah against Moses.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!:
    • Moses intercedes with God for Israel after they built and worshiped the Golden Calf (Exodus 32) and when they refused to enter the Promised Land after the spies' report (Numbers 14). In both cases, God relents from destroying the whole nation but still punishes them severely.
    • When Moses' sister Miriam contracts leprosy for daring to speak out against her brother's authority all on account of his marrying a Cushite woman, Moses and Aaron plead with the Lord to spare her life so that she would not be like a child whose flesh is half consumed coming out of the womb. The Lord tells Moses to have her stay outside the camp for seven days until she is healed and then bring her back in.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The Hebrew newborn males. At first they were to be killed at the moment they were born, but since the Hebrew midwives feared God and refused to follow that command, the newborn males were to be thrown into the river. Thus, in the latter situation, Moses was born.
  • Plunder: In Exodus, God has His people Israel plunder the Egyptians by simply having them ask for silver and gold and clothing during the time when the Egyptians suffer during the last plague upon them, since the Egyptians would be in such distress that they would do or give anything to be rid of the Israelites.
  • Polyamory: Discouraged in the law of Deuteronomy regarding the requirements of the Israelites setting up a king over themselves, that they shouldn't multiply wives for themselves, though it hasn't been followed through in actual practice. However, there are some laws God had put in place in the situation where an Israelite man may have more than one wife.
  • Property Line: Deuteronomy 19:14 states that "In the inheritance which you will hold in the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess, you shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set."
  • Punished for Sympathy:
    • Aaron's two sons, Nadab and Abihu, were burned to death by God because they were offering "strange fire". After this, God invokes this trope by warning Aaron not to mourn their deaths or He will kill him along with the rest of the Israelites.
    • The Israelites complained to Moses about God burning 250 of the other Israelites for burning incense. As a result, God becomes enraged and kills 14,700 more of the Israelites.
  • Put on a Bus: Moses' wife Zipporah, most likely, as we don't hear of her between Exodus chapters 4 and 18, all over the issue of Moses not circumcising one of his children that almost caused his death.
  • Quit Your Whining: In Exodus chapter 14, God, for some reason, responds to Moses as if he was whining — "Why do you cry out to Me?" — when all he was really doing was trying to instill confidence in his people Israel by telling them what the Lord was going to do for them regarding the Egyptians coming for them.
  • Radish Cure: In Numbers chapter 11, the Israelites complain that all they have is manna to eat, and vocally rant that they want to have some meat to go with their manna. This gets irritating to both God and Moses, so God tells Moses that He's going to give the Israelites meat to eat, and not just for a day, a few days, or even a few weeks, but for a month — in fact, so much meat that it will come out of their nostrils, and they will begin to hate it.
  • Rain of Something Unusual:
    • In (Exodus 16) the Hebrews subsisted on a bread-like substance that rained from the heavens while they wandered the desert. They called it manna (literally "what is it?") so it must have been pretty nondescript as a foodstuff.
    • One of the Ten Plagues of Egypt was a rain of frogs.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn:
    • What would happen to the Israelites if they didn't keep God's commands.
    • In Deuteronomy 21:10-14, if the Israelites go to war against a nation or village that God delivers into their hand, and one of them sees a beautiful woman they want to marry, then she must put off her clothes of captivity, shave her head, trim her nails, and be given a full month to mourn for her family before the Israelite can go and make her his wife. And if he isn't pleased with her, then he is to let her go and not sell her off for money, because he has humbled her.
  • Refusal of the Call: Moses tries to talk his way out of having to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but God won't take no for an answer.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Moses is effectively literature's first bio-terrorist, and takes out his aggression against the government on the civilian population.
  • Rhetorical Request Blunder: In Numbers, the Israelites were too frightened to conquer Canaan, even with God on their side, and declared that they wished they'd died in the desert rather than face this battle. So God ended up leading them in circles in the desert until every man who had said that had actually died in the desert, leaving only the following generation (except for Caleb and Joshua from the previous one) to be the ones God would lead into Canaan in Deuteronomy.
  • Rivers of Blood: The first plague upon the Egyptians was to turn the waters of the Nile into blood. This failed to impress the Pharaoh, as even his magicians could perform the same plague with their secret arts.
  • Rock of Limitless Water: In one of the earliest examples of this trope, Moses strikes a rock with his staff, and by God's power, a waterfall begins spewing out. This shows up twice, once in Exodus and once in Numbers. The second time it appears, God tells Moses to speak to the rock in order to bring out water. However, Moses gets angry with the Israelites and instead strikes the rock twice. For that action, God tells Moses that he will not be allowed to lead the people into the Promised Land.
  • Rule of Three:
    • The plagues were in sets of three. The first is introduced with "Go to Pharaoh in the morning", the second with "Go in to Pharaoh", and the third has no forthcoming warning. There are three sets following this pattern, before the climatic plague.
    • In Numbers, the Angel of the Lord stands in the way of Balaam and his donkey three times to get him to stop.
    • Shortly after, Balaam tries to curse Israel three times, but instead blesses them three times.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Various clans get cursed for not extending it, Israel gets in trouble for being stupid about it (they made a promise they shouldn't have because they didn't consult God), and the laws of the new nation codify being kind to strangers, extending sanctuary for escaped slaves, etc.
  • The Scapegoat: The Trope Namer, as in Leviticus chapter 16, during the Day of Atonement, one goat is sacrificed while another goat which is appointed "to Azazel" (the literal scapegoat) would carry the sins of the people out into the wilderness by a designated person who would escort the animal away from the camp.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • The people of Israel in the book of Numbers, when they hear from ten of the twelve spies sent into the Promised Land that, though the land is a good and fertile land, it has fortified cities and people that make the people of Israel look like grasshoppers, decide they would be better off returning to Egypt than trying to go in to conquer the land even with God's help. For this act of cowardice, God punishes them by having them wander around the wilderness for forty years until everyone that is twenty years and older (save for Joshua and Caleb) had died off, leaving only their children to be the ones who will enter the Promised Land. A group of them try to go in to conquer the land themselves after being told God's judgment against them, but without God's protection, they were chased away by the Canaanites.
    • Before that, in Exodus, God chose to bring His people into the Promised Land by a longer route through the Red Sea and the desert, since with the shortest route there being through the Philistine territory, God didn't want the Israelites to have this in mind when confronted with war and turn tail and head back to Egypt.
  • Scry vs. Scry: Moses against Pharaoh's priests. They turned their staffs into serpents; Moses's staff became a serpent which devoured the others.
  • Self-Harm: God's Law warns the Israelites not to do this as part of their mourning rituals, or their religious rituals, as many of the cultures around them did.
  • Sex Is Evil: More to the point, certain sexual practices as outlined in Leviticus chapter 18 (including incest, extra-marital affairs even among in-laws, homosexuality, bestiality, and sacrificing children to Molech) are defined as evil, with chapter 20 indicating the various punitive actions to be taken for those who are caught committing such practices.
  • Shotgun Wedding: If a man slept with a woman who was not betrothed to someone else,note  and someone found out, he was to pay her father the bride price he would have received if she were a virgin and marry her... and he was never allowed to divorce her. (This also applied to some cases of rape, not just instances of consensual sex.) This was to provide for any child they may have conceived (a very real possibility in an era with no reliable birth control), and to protect the reputation of the woman's family. It also ensured that the woman (who would be considered Defiled Forever) would have someone to provide for her.note  It was also designed to help curb temptation: if the man was caught, he was stuck with this woman for life, whether he wanted to be or not; he'd have to decide if it was really worth it. It may have also helped (via Loophole Abuse) women have some say in who their marriage partners were: have sex, tell Daddy what you did, and marry someone of your own choosing (instead of whoever your parents picked out for you).
  • Sinister Minister: A warning from Deuteronomy 13:1-5:
    If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass concerning that which he spoke to you, saying, "Let us go after other gods," which you have not known, "and let us serve them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You must follow after the Lord your God, fear Him, and keep His commandments, obey His voice, and you must serve Him, and cling to Him. That prophet or that dreamer of dreams must be put to death because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to entice you away from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you must put the evil away from your midst.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Defied; Deuteronomy 24:16 says that sons must not be executed by sins of their fathers nor vice versa.
  • The Slacker: The Israelites as a whole are accused of being this by Pharaoh's men when they are told to go and find straw for themselves to make bricks without reducing the number of bricks they must produce each day, only for Pharaoh's men to be told they are at fault for not providing the Israelites with straw for making bricks.
  • Slave Brand: In Exodus and Deuteronomy, if an indentured Hebrew servant does not wish to go free on the day that his term of servitude has ended, he would be brought to the judges, and then have his ear pierced with an awl as a sign that he is now a bondservant for life.
  • Slave Liberation: Moses and God give an initial warning, before sending ten plagues that inflict harm on the Egyptians but not the isrealites. At each plague the Pharoh promises to release them, but then changes his mind. When the firstborns are killed, the Isrealites escape, with the Pharoh sending his army to reclaim the slaves at the Red Sea only to get defeated by having their army stuck and covered by waters.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: In Numbers 11:15, Moses tells God to just kill him if he has to deal with the people of Israel complaining about eating only manna in the desert.
  • Stubborn Mule: The prophet Balaam being hired out to curse the Israelites struggles with a stubborn mule, until the mule is granted the ability to speak and reveals that she was trying to protect her master from a vengeful angel.
  • The Swarm: God brought swarms of gnats, flies, and locusts upon Egypt as part of the ten plagues in Exodus.
  • Symbolically Broken Object: When Moses comes down from the mountain in Exodus with the first set of tablets containing the Ten Commandments and learns that his people were violating God's commandments by having a wild party worshiping a golden calf, he gets so mad that he smashes the tablets on the ground.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Moses sees an overseer whipping a Jew and is overcome with rage, killing him. Later on, when one of the other Jews asks if Moses is going to kill him too, he realizes that he might be punished as a dangerous criminal, so he flees to Midian as soon as he can.
    • The Pharaoh let the Israelites go after the 10th plague killed his son. However, once the people are gone, Pharaoh and other officials realized that they just let go all their workers and now they're economically screwed, so he leads his army after them. (And cue the Red Sea falling to drown said army after the Israelites cross.)
  • Take That!: The Plagues were this to the Egyptian Pantheon.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Well, forty years for Moses, but to God it might as well have been 10 minutes.
  • Time Skip: Exodus does a few time skips in relation to Moses: in Chapter 2, between the time when Pharaoh's daughter adopted him as her son and when Moses was about forty years old; and in Chapter 3, when God called out to Moses in the wilderness when he was about eighty.
  • Title Drop: The Jewish names for the various books are simply a word that appears in the first line of each book. The book Exodus for example in Jewish is called שמת (pronounced sh'moth), which translated simply means "[the] names". The first line of Exodus is "And these are the names of the sons of Yitzra'el."
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The crowds have a tendency to get a little volatile whenever things don't go exactly their way.
  • To the Pain: Leviticus 26:14-39 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68 has a list of unpleasant things that God will do to His people if they don't obey His commandments.
  • Undead Author: Like Genesis, Jewish tradition holds that Moses wrote the rest of the Pentateuch. However, even the most orthodox of scholars admit that he hardly could have written the last 8 verses of Deuteronomy which report his own death. Thus, those verses were attributed to Joshua instead.
  • Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: Many of the laws deal with ritual (and physical) impurity, and the two tend to be linked.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • "Uncovering one's nakedness", used prominently in Leviticus chapter 18, is one for having sex.
    • "The beginning of a man's strength", used previously in Genesis and also in Deuteronomy to indicate a man's firstborn son being the beginning of his procreative power. Although it can also be used in correlation to what Psalm 127 says, that "As the arrows in a warrior's hand, are the children [literally sons] of a man's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."
  • Villain Episode: While most of the Five Books of Moses focus on the journey of the Israelites, Numbers 22:2–25:9, or Parshat Balak, instead centers on the perspective of the Moabite king Balak and the Midianite diviner Balaam, who join forces in an effort to formulate an effective curse against the unstoppable Israelite nation and their terrifying God.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Deuteronomy 25:11–12 says to cut off the hand of a woman who intervenes in a men's fight and grabs her husband's opponent by his private parts.
  • Virgin Tension: God's Law dictates that Israelite women should remain virgins until they're married. If a man entices a virgin to have sex with him, then he must pay the father the price of dowry and marry the virgin, or else if he chooses not to marry her, then he only has to pay the dowry to offset the damage he has caused her when it comes to her not being able to marry. For Israelite priests, they can only marry virgins: no divorced women, no widows, no women who lost their virginity, and no prostitutes. Also, when an Israelite man marries a woman and then finds something displeasing about her, accusing her of not being a virgin, the woman's father must produce evidence that his daughter was a virgin or else she would be stoned for "playing the harlot" in her father's house. Finally, when the Israelites went to war with Midian in the book of Numbers and brought back plunder, they were told to slay the women who have "known a man by lying with him" and to keep alive only the women who have "not known a man" (i.e., virgins).
  • War God: Moses describes God as such in his song on Exodus 15:3.
    The LORD, the Warrior— LORD is His name!
  • Where Is Your X Now?: Invoked by God Himself in Moses' song in Deuteronomy 32:36-38, as a taunt against His own people:
    For the Lord will judge His people,
    and relent in regard to His servants,
    when He sees that their power is gone
    and there is no one left, whether restrained or free.
    He will say, "Where are their gods,
    their rock in whom they trusted,
    which ate the fat of their sacrifices
    and drank the wine of their drink offerings?
    Let them rise up and help you
    and be your protection."
  • Wizard Duel:
    • Aaron duels against the Pharaoh by turning his Magic Staff into a snake, and the Pharaoh sends his own sorcerers to turn their staves into snakes. However, Aaron's snake swallowed the Pharaoh's snakes.
    • The Ten Plagues incident also involves Moses dueling against Egyptian sorcerers, but it only lasts until the plague of lice, when the Egyptian magicians try to mimic the plague but prove unable to.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • God's killing of the firstborn of Egypt. Then again, this was God's retribution for the Egyptians having the Israelite male babies being killed.
    • The laws in which children are to be stoned to death for being incurably disobedient to their parents.
    • The Pharoah who ordered the male babies of Hebrew slaves killed; the reason Moses' parents to had to hide him in the basket of reeds in the first place.
    • Moses himself orders every male children among the Midianite captives to be killed.
  • Yo Yo Plot Point: The people anger God, He decides to exterminate them, Moses convinces Him to be merciful. The Israelites soon sin again...

Alternative Title(s): Exodus, Book Of Numbers, Book Of Leviticus, Book Of Deuteronomy


Prince of Egypt- Red Sea

Moses uses his staff to do God's wonders.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (33 votes)

Example of:

Main / PartingTheSea

Media sources: