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Literature / Book of Exodus
aka: Book Of Joshua

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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, Deuteronomy, and Joshua 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. This is the most famous of the four, getting adapted into six frescoes within the Sistine Chapel, Moses, Man of the Mountain, The Ten Commandments, 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.

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

Joshua is followed by the Book of Judges.


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 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.
  • 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' and Joshua's lifetimes.
  • 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. note  Bats are mammals, not birds (either this distinction wasn't known in those days or birds was a catch-all term for all vertebrates that could fly).
  • 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.
  • Artistic License – History: Depends who you ask. There is no archaeological evidence or written record of a mass migration of people (enslaved or otherwise) out of Ancient Egypt and into the Middle East. However, the ancient Egyptians never recorded their defeats and turned some of them into victories. It's believed that there's a historical core to the story since one of the oldest poems in the book titled "The Song of the Sea" is dated to the 12th century BC. These are two of various reasons why even scholars who aren't members of the Abrahamic faiths think there must have been a exodus (or several of them) of some sort whether or not it happened in the grander, supernaturally-enabled way the Bible describes it. Also, while 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 Bible also stipulates that the Hebrews didn't build the monuments, they did more menial tasks such as making bricks; the lowest of the low.
    • Another example. The most popular choices for Pharaoh of Exodus in the media are Ramesses II and his thirteenth son and successor Merneptah. This brings one small problem to the equation: Caanan was part of Egypt during the reigns of Ramesses and Merneptah, which would mean the Hebrews never left Egypt proper to begin with.
  • 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.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: In Joshua chapter 2, Rahab helps the two Israelite spies escape Jericho by letting them down the wall of the city with a scarlet cord tied to her window. The spies in return tell her to keep the cord tied to her window as a sign that everyone who is in her house at the time when the Israelites sack Jericho are to be spared.
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Israelites conquer Canaan but it's foretold the next generation will be unfaithful to God. Also Moses is told he can not enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience to God's word.
  • 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.
  • Blow That Horn: The Israelites destroy the walls of Jericho by sounding their horns outside it.
  • 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!: There is a command to not allow a "sorceress" to live.
  • 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." note 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Civil War: The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the eastern half of Manasseh almost bring the rest of their nation into this when they built an altar beside the Jordan River, until they explain that the purpose of the altar is to remind the people on the west side of the Jordan that the people on the east side are also God's people and will worship at the same altar that is in the place God had chosen. The other tribes seemed satisfied with the explanation and ceased from going to war with their brothers over the altar, calling it Witness.
  • 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.
  • Consummation Counterfeit: 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. (In theory, if she had an affair after the wedding, her lover(s) could face execution as well...though in practice, it wasn't always enforced equally.) She would be considered to have cheated on her husband before they'd even met, and her family would be forever shamed.
  • 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 intercedes with her husband's fight with another man by grabbing the other man by the genitals must have her hand cut off.
  • Curse:
    • In Joshua chapter 6, after Jericho is sacked, Joshua pronounces a curse on whoever rebuilds the city, saying that he will lose his firstborn with the foundations and his youngest child at the setting up of its gates. This came true during during the time of King Ahab in 1st Kings.
    • In Joshua chapter 7, Achan takes some things from the ruins of Jericho and thus curses the whole camp of Israel, causing them to be defeated by the men of Ai. The camp had to take Achan, his whole family, and everything that belonged to him to the Valley of Achor and burn them up in order to remove the curse.
    • In Joshua chapter 9, Joshua cursed the Gibeonites to be servants to the people of Israel when the Gibeonites deceived the Israelites into believing that they came from a far-off country and were only discovered to be living in the land of Canaan as neighbors after the Israelites made a pact with them before the Lord.
  • 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.
  • 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 by Sex: Probably the best known example of this was in Numbers chapter 25, as Zimri son of Salu brought a Midianite woman into the Israelite camp while God's people were joined with the Midianites at Baal-Peor. Phinehas son of Eleazar took the matter upon himself to stop the plague God sent upon His people by stabbing the couple when they were alone with each other in Zimri's tent.
  • 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.
  • Does Not Like Shoes:
    • God in the burning bush. "Remove your sandals, for the place where you are standing is Holy Ground."
    • The Commander of the Lord's Army also says similar to Joshua.
  • 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.
  • 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.note  On the way they manage to switch back several times, kill a large percentage of their own group in infighting of various kinds, and start fights with practically everyone in the region.
  • 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. He didn't drown, however.
  • Eye Scream:
    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.
  • 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 covering note , 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 ...but 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • Joshua in Joshua chapter 24 also gives one to the people of Israel, encouraging them to serve the Lord faithfully, before he dies.
  • 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 states that God will raise up a Prophet for His people 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.
  • God Test: More of a Prophet Test, but anyway Deuteronomy 18:22 states in regards to testing a prophet that claims to be of the Lord that "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."
  • God Was My Copilot: God (or a messenger thereof) shows up to help Joshua take down the city of Jericho.
  • 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.
  • Greed: This got the better of Achan in Joshua chapter 7 when he covets after a Babylonian garment along with some silver and gold from the ruins of Jericho. This plagued the whole camp of Israel, causing them to be defeated before their enemies until Achan along with his whole family and everything he owned was burned in the Valley of Achor.
  • 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.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Pharaoh, it is possible that there were multiple Pharaohs ruling Egypt over the course of the Exodus, which would also explain why he/they are never named.
  • 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, of course, 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.
  • Heroic BSoD: After Joshua's failed attack on Ai. Until God gives him a Quit Your Whining statement and tells him there's sin in the camp of Israel that needs to be dealt with.
  • 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.
    • Prior to the attack on Jericho, Joshua is visited by the Captain of the Lord's Host, and is also told 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-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 
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Rahab. She sheltered the Israeli Spies in her home, helping them to take the city of Jericho.
  • 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 included children, and ritual prostitution). This wasn't so much the case in practice.
  • 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.
  • 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, Numbers 36, and Joshua 17) 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 ’Em All: Well, all the first-born unprotected by lamb's blood. Also Pharaoh's (or one of the Pharaoh's) plan for the male Hebrew babies.
  • Kill It with Water: Drowning Pharaoh's army in the Red Sea.
  • Logic Bomb: 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.
  • 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: 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.
  • 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).
    "For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go."
  • 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.
  • 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. (In the Book of Ruth, this law extends to even the husband's living male relatives from his own family line.) 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 unsandaled."
  • 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, count: the plague of pestilence (which only affected livestock) and the plague of boils (skin disease).
  • 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.
  • Off with His Head!: Joshua decapitates a group of Canaanite kings he has defeated and captured.
  • 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?"
  • Only Fatal to Adults: Only those Israelites under the age of 20 make it to the Promised Land, the rest being wiped out by various means as a result of their complaining...and the fact that they were a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits wandering a vast expanse of desert for 40 years.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • The Power of Rock: In the book of Joshua, Joshua and the Israelites defeated the people of Jericho with music.
  • 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.
    • In Joshua chapter 7, Achan stole some cursed things devoted to destruction, and it ended up plaguing all the camp of Israel. When Joshua set his sights on conquering Ai and he sends a small contingent to deal with them, Ai responded by sending the contingent running, killing at least thirty-six of their men, causing the camp of Israel to mourn, and making Joshua whine to the Lord that they would be better off on the other side of the Jordan than trying to capture the land of Canaan if that's how they're going to be dealt with. The Lord ends up saying, "Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face?", telling them that Israel has sinned by stealing stuff that was devoted to destruction and that it must be dealt with or else the Lord will not continue to help them conquer the land.
  • 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, 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.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Moses sees an overseer whipping a Jew and is overcome with rage, killing him. Rather than immediately viewing him as an ally and savior, this makes the other Jews view him as a dangerous murderer — the next day, when he confronts one of the Jews about fighting with some other Jew, he asks if Moses is going to kill him, too.
    • 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.
  • 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:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. (Note that 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. (Women in this time and place were typically not educated, and were economically dependent on their husbands.) 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: Deuteronomy 24:16 says that sons must not be executed by sins of their fathers nor vice versa.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Take a Third Option: Joshua meets a stranger after prayer. He demands to know whether the stranger is an enemy or an ally. The stranger replies: "Neither, I'm here to command you." Joshua realizes Who he's talking to.
  • 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 Stands Still: In Joshua chapter 10, God caused time to stand still for a full day (though without freezing anything else besides the sun and the moon) so that the Israelites could have the victory over the Amorites.
  • Title Drop: The Jewish names for the various books (except Joshua) 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Widow Woman: From Exodus 22:22-24:
    You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you afflict them in any way and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry. And My anger will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives will become widows, and your children fatherless.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": The conquest of Canaan. The book more or less explicitly states that with a few exceptions, the Israelites systematically exterminated the population (including civilians, children, and livestock) of the country and did so righteously. Every tribe behaved back then like that.
  • 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 Leviticus, Book Of Joshua, Book Of Deuteronomy


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