The Exodus Pattern In Scripture And History

Here’s a chart I’ve been working on for scripture study that illustrates a pattern that seems to repeat itself fairly frequently in the history of God’s people:


Exodus Jeremiah 35 1st Maccabees 2 Dead Sea Scrolls 1 Nephi 2 2 Nephi 5 Omni 1 Mosiah 23-24 Alma 27 Ether LDS Pioneers

–Rechabites –(apocryphal) –Essenes

Truth Restored
1- Righteous

minority 2:23-25 35:3,18-19 2:20,28 CD I: 6-10 2:4 5:6 X X X 1:41-42 pg. 90-92

2- Wicked

society 3:19-20 35:14-16 2:6-7 CD I:1-10 2:1 5:1 1:10 X 27:2 1:33 pg. 97

3- Saints

persecuted 1:10-14 35:11 2:17-19,31-32 CD I:21-II:2 2:1 5:2 X 23:1 27:2 X pg. 97

4- Commanded

by Lord 3:8 X X CD I:11-13 2:2 5:5 1:12,16 23:1; 24:23 27:12 1:41-42 pg. 85

5- Led by a

prophet 3:10 X X 1QpHab II:2-3 2:2 5:5 1:12 23:1 27:5 1:42 pg. 88

6- Depart into

wilderness 13:17-20 35:7,9-11 2:27-29 1 QH XII:6-9 (?) 2:2,4 5:5 1:12,16 23:3; 24:20,24 27:14 2:5 pg. 87

7- Take few

provisions 12:39 35:7-9 2:28 X 2:4-5 5:7 X 23:1; 24:18 27:14 1:41-42 pg. 87

8- Practice

religion strictly 19:5-6; 24:3 35:18 2:19-22 1QS I:16-20 2:7 5:10,27 1:13 23:5; 24:21-22 27:27 X pg. 101-103

9- Temple


important 25:1-30:38 35:19, NIV note 2:8,12,23-25 11Q19 XXIX:7-9 2:7-”altar” 5:16 X X X X pg. 131-134


(Hopefully, the formatting works here!)

My interest here is that the exodus occurs so often in ancient history but, in modern history, only among the early Latter-day Saints.  (Of course, this pattern could be applied to several periods of early LDS history, but I’ve chosen to focus on the most famous event–the pioneer companies of Brigham Young.)

Of course, this pattern can easily be seen as a metaphor for our own spiritual condition in the 21st century.  As we have been counseled to live “in the world but not of the world,” we need to be spiritually disconnected from our surroundings so that we may follow the prophet, live strictly, and work in the temple (as Elder L. Tom Perry teaches here).

Exodus and Jeremiah are, of course, from the Bible.  1 Maccabees is easily found online, such as here.  My Dead Sea Scrolls quotes are from Vermes’s The Dead Sea Scrolls In English, which you would do well to add to your library (though some good excerpts, including some I use in my chart, are found here).  Rather than arrange the books chronologically, as per my instinct, I’ve grouped the Book of Mormon texts together, which makes more sense logically.  As it is, this sequence provides a vivid visual lesson on the subject: the strongest examples of the pattern occur at the beginning of Biblical history (Exodus), the beginning of Book of Mormon history (1 and 2 Nephi), and the beginning of LDS history. 

Once again, let me add that I am an amateur, and this chart is a work in progress, meaning it may well have errors.  Corrective feedback is welcome.


6 comments on “The Exodus Pattern In Scripture And History

  1. You really need to check this book out:

    Exodus and Revolution, by Michael Walzer

    I think you’ll find that Exodus pops up in a lot of modern narratives besides those of Mormonism. The Founding Fathers of the United States, for instance, frequently framed their own struggle in terms of Exodus. Not to mention Rev. Martin Luther King. And then there’s the whole “liberation theology” movement in Latin America in the second half of the twentieth century…

  2. Seth, that sounds interesting. I’ll try to check it out. I just checked my library district’s inventory and, sadly, it isn’t there. Maybe the university has it.

    At least two of your three examples only seem to work at the level of metaphor, though, not having the large-scale movement involved, much less most of the nine items I identify. The best one is the Founders reference–that really might be something. Like the strongest of my examples, it initiates a new national identity, and (if you consider the colonizing of America as a literal element of physical removal–England as Egypt here?) it works for most of these points. The biggest problems are the lack of a temple (a literal house of God, not just a metaphorical “place of learning”) or a prophet (again, a literal mouthpiece chosen by God, not just an “inspired leader”). Still, it does work on several points and, especially as a Latter-day Saint, I agree that America’s founding was divinely guided. I hadn’t thought of this before; thanks for the input!

  3. Hi There,

    Cool chart. As of this reading of the Book of Mormon, I am in 3 Nephi and have counted 9 groups who have taken their things on short notice and fled into the wilderness. (I think it’s 9, I might have lost count- how about “at least 8.”

    While the pioneers are the most obvious example of Latter-day groups of people moving, there are many more. One such example, the people being called to gather in from Haun’s Mill, is a tragic example of what happens when the people choose to ignore the counsel of God’s prophet. President Eyring gave a talk on that in 1997 called “Find Safety In Counsel.” It has been reprinted in the June 2008 Liahona. He speaks of a future gathering of the saints which will come as an invitation from the prophet.

    I believe a future gathering will take place which will be to places of refuge for safety from the devastations of war, disease, natural disasters & such that have been prophesied to come before the Second Coming.

  4. Hello-

    Nice blog by the way. The way I read the scriptures changed greatly after I started thinking about this, then came across an article by George Tate called “The Typology of the Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon.” I got the paper through FARMS.
    After this, I started paying more close attention to symbols and deeper meaning in the stories.
    Keep up the good work!

  5. The Mormons are dupes. They like to dance and sing, though! Man! Can they dance and sing! But Smith was a false prophet. The fact that the Mormons prosper is only a testimony to Plato’s judgement that democracy is the worst form of government because the mass of mankind are unable to think critically, making them susceptible to charlatans. But boy can the Mormons dance and sing!. Problem is, they serve Satan.

  6. Ralph, thank you for that amazing analysis. The only question that remains after your withering, definitive rebuttal of every facet of our religion is this: Do we sing and dance for Satan because we’re unable to think critically, or are we unable to think critically because we sing and dance for Satan?

    Or is that kind of a “chicken or the egg” question for ya?

    And hey, thanks for commenting!

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