When was the book of Exodus written?

The book of Exodus gives detailed information about how God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and the first year in the wilderness until the building of the tabernacle. Here, we will discuss when this book of Exodus was compiled and written down as the single book we have today.

After the term ‘prophet ‘ instead of ‘seer’ (After 1095 BC)

Exod 7:1 So the LORD said to Moses: “See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet.

Exod 15:20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

1Sam 9:9 (Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: “Come, let us go to the seer”; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.)

1Chr 29:29 Now the acts of King David, first and last, indeed they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer

The book of Exodus never contains the word ‘seer’. Instead it contains ‘prophet’ and ‘prophetess’  Samuel and Gad were referred as seer but Nathan was referred as prophet.

2Sam 24:11 Now when David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying

The book of 2nd Samuel goes to and fro between seer and prophet for Gad as in 2 Sam 24:11 where both are in the same verse. Nathan was never mentioned as a seer but always as a prophet. Hence, the term prophet came into usage sometime before the reign of king David (1065 BC). Since Nathan who was referred as a prophet confronts David for his sin of adultery and murder, he must be at least 30 years. Hence, the term prophet might have been in usage for a few decades before 1065 BC, which could be around 1095 BC.

After the Sanctuary was established (after 1028 BC)

Exod 15:17 You will bring them in and plant them In the mountain of Your inheritance, In the place, O LORD, which You have made For Your own dwelling, The sanctuary, O LORD, which Your hands have established.

Exod 25:8 “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.

The children of Israel had just crossed the red sea and they may have no clue about the ‘sanctuary’ or God’s dwelling place, yet Moses and the children of Israel seems to be singing it as a song. This clearly suggests that the ‘Song of Moses’ was sung much later after God had established His sanctuary. The clue comes from the Psalm 78, An Instruction of Asaph.

Ps 78:68-69 But chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved and He built His sanctuary like the heights, Like the earth which He has established forever.

The above verse is sung after David was chosen to be king over all Israel and God’s sanctuary was established. This means, the book of Exodus must have been compiled after king Solomon built the Temple, which is after 1028 BC.

How did year end became seventh month?  (1468 BC)

Exod 23:15-16 “You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.

Exod 34:22 “And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.

Deut 16:16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.

Lev 23:34 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.

If we can understand how and when the feast of Ingathering at year’s end becomes the feast of Tabernacles in seventh month, we can precisely date the book of Exodus.

Exod 12:2 “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. … Exod 13:4 “On this day you are going out, in the month Abib.

It is also important to note that God is changing the beginning of the year. However, we don’t know what month was Abib prior to becoming the first month.

Exod 9:31-32 Now the flax and the barley were struck, for the barley was in the head and the flax was in bud. But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they are late crops. (NKJV)

Exod 9:31-32 (The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed [H24 אָבִיב ‘abiyb (aw-ɓeeɓ’)] and the flax was in bloom. The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later.) (NIV)

The NKJV translation of late crops is wrong because Egyptians divide their year into three seasons namely Inundation, Emergence and Harvest, and grow crops based on Nile flooding and not based on rain. Hence, there are no late crops in Egypt. In ancient Egypt, all crops were planted simultaneously in the Emergence Season after the Nile had receded and fertile land had emerged. The final season is the harvest.

Below are the three Egyptian Seasons. Each season has 4 months with each of 30 days. Refer (Egyptian_calendar)

  • Inundation or Flood (Ꜣḫt or Akhet)
  • Emergence (Prt or Peret)
  • Low Water or Harvest (Šmw or Shomu)

The below values were taken from heirloom-organics.com.

  • Barley ripens in 40 to 55 days
  • Flax ripens in 90 days to 120 days
  • Wheat ripens in 120 days
  • Spelt (days to harvest): 110-130 days

If all the 4 crops were simultaneously planted in the first month of Emergence, when did hail happen if we have the following clues?

  • barley had headed (ready to be cut)
  • Flax was in bloom

The hail happened approx. 40 days after the beginning on the Emergence Season. In other words, this was the 6th month of Egyptians.

Exod 9:31-32 (The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed [H24 אָבִיב ‘abiyb (aw-ɓeeɓ’)] and the flax was in bloom. The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later.) (NIV)

Exod 12:2 “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. … Exod 13:4 “On this day you are going out, in the month Abib.

Now the name Abib means ready to be cut and here it is referring to the wheat. Hence, this must be 120 days after the Emergence season. In other words, Abib is the beginning of the Low Water or Harvest season for Egyptians to harvest wheat. Abib must be 9th month for Egyptians, which God changed to 1st month.

Exod 34:22 “And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.

In ancient Israel, wheat harvest begins in the 3/4th month (as per Readers Digest book entitled Jesus and His Times, pages 100-101. This means, Feast of Weeks must be sometime around 5/6th month (after 7 Sabbaths) and Feast of Ingathering must be at the end of the harvest season (3 months later) which is 6/7th month.

So, why is Feast of Ingathering mentioned as year end when it is actually on 7th month by name Feast of Tabernacles in other books of the law? The answer is simple. The feast of Ingathering or Tabernacles occurs on 7th month in the calendar given by God based on seasons in ancient Israel. However, the feast of Ingathering occurs at year end in Egyptian calendar based on the seasonal cycles of river Nile. This simple fact after much decoding and investigation gives immense confidence that the content written in the book of Exodus must be as old as Exodus itself for it preserves a truth that can only be written by someone who was following the Egyptian calendar. Hence, the earliest content written in the book of Exodus must be as old as 1468 BC.

This particular section is also posted separately as How did year end became seventh month? focusing only on the subject.

Conclusion

The book of Exodus preserves the truth about the scribe’s familiarity about Egyptian calendar by mentioning the feast of Ingathering in year end using Egyptian based on the seasonal cycles of river Nile while the other books in the law mentions it as feast of Tabernacles in seventh month using the calendar given by God based on the seasons in ancient Israel. This means, the earliest content written in the book of Exodus must be as old as 1468 BC. Possible later revisions could have occurred during the reign of king David in 1028 BC.