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The Mixed Multitude in Exodus 12:38: Glorification, Creation, and Yhwh’s Plunder of Israel and the Nations

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image of Horizons in Biblical Theology

Abstract The “mixed multitude” of Exodus 12:38 is a curious detail who are included amidst the departure of God’s people from Egypt. Yet close attention reveals that the mixed multitude holds a key concerning Israel’s deliverance and their nature as God’s people. Exodus 12:35-39 is a hinge device, and the one place in the narrative of chapters 1-15 in which its liturgical elements, plunder and creation motifs, and primary theme of God’s glorification converge. This makes 12:35-39 both a structurally and thematically key moment in the larger narrative, wherein God’s plunder from Egypt is an Israel who is constituted of both the “sons of Israel” and the “mixed multitude” of 12:38. And in view of Israel’s deliverance in their crossing of the sea in chapter 14, this composite people is identified as God’s new humanity who is brought forth in his new act of creation.

Affiliations: 1: Roanoke College 221 College Ln, Salem, VA 24153 USA sherwood@roanoke.edu

10.1163/187122012X627821
/content/journals/10.1163/187122012x627821
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/content/journals/10.1163/187122012x627821
2012-01-01
2016-12-05

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