No experience had a greater impact on ancient Israel than the Exodus from Egypt.1 So central was this event to Israel’s self-understanding that it formed the basis of Israel’s covenant with God at Mount Sinai. When giving Moses the Ten Commandments, for instance, God begins by explaining, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt ... You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2–3). The Exodus experience also provided the moral impetus behind many of Israel’s laws. Concerning the proper treatment of foreigners,
Leviticus 19:34 commands: “You shall treat the stranger who lives with you as a fellow citizen. You shall love him as you love yourself, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.” And regarding those most vulnerable in society, Deuteronomy 24:17–18 instructs: “Do not withhold justice from an outsider or an orphan, and do not take the cloak of a widow in pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God redeemed you from there. Therefore, I am commanding you to do this.”
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