Online Texts for Craig White's Literature Courses

selections from

the Exodus story

in the

Old Testament of the Bible

click on links below for readings


Instructor's introduction:

The Exodus [Greek for “coming out of Egypt”] is the story of the Jewish people’s escape from slavery in Egypt to “the promised land” of Canaan. This story begins in Exodus, the second book of the Torah or the Old Testament of the Bible, but it continues in later books.

This reading's purpose for American Immigrant Literature is to establish a textual-historical model for Objective 4:

Objective 4. To identify the United States' “dominant culture” to which immigrants assimilate.

Examples of national migration and dominant culture for objective 4

  • Our deep historical model for “national migration” is the ancient Jews who migrated from Egypt to Canaan in the Bible’s Exodus story.
  • The standard immigrant story concerns families and individuals who strive to adapt to the prevailing culture. In contrast, the Jews moved to the Promised Land as a group and resisted assimilation and intermarriage with the Canaanites. American Jews have followed this pattern until recent generations, when intermarriage has increased.
  • Our American historical model for “national migration” is the “Great Migration” of English Pilgrims and Puritans to early North America, where they imitated the Jews in Canaan by refusing to intermarry or assimilate with the American Indians. This English culture became one basis for the USA’s dominant culture to which American immigrants assimilate.
  • A relatively recent internal example of “national migration” might be that of the Mormons in the 1800s from the Midwest to Utah, where they became the dominant culture.
  • Some elements of national migration and correspondence to Exodus may also appear in the “great migration” of African Americans from the Old South to the urban North during slavery times, in the early twentieth century, and in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

Instructor's notes regarding use of King James Version of Bible:

  • Students may read any translation. The King James Version (KJV) is our default translation because of its literary quality and influence. Also it's out of copyright.
  • Some spelling updates are made to simplify reading.
  • Highlights or bolds are by the professor and made for association with objectives, lectures, and discussions. No distortion of scripture is intended. Plenty of unmarked translations are available elsewhere.
  • Bracketed comments or information are minimal but intended to simplify reading or help with objectives.
  • Some of the extended events from the Book of Exodus connect only tangentially to this larger purpose, but Moses’s interactions with Pharaoh or the Ten Commandments are so famous as to defy cuts or condensations.

  • As for the cuts made, they are mostly for the sake of easing reading—no intention of disrespecting scripture. The passages cut seemed non-essential to our purposes. Consolation: if you miss the parts that were cut, they are easily available from other sources.

  • Not a critical or scholarly text but a reading text for a seminar

  • Gratefully copied and adapted from

  • Changes may include paragraph divisions, highlights, spelling updates, bracketed annotations, & elisions (marked by ellipses . . . )