Princes and Gods and Kings of Egypt: A Review

A couple of years ago, I edited a commentary on Exodus. I had never taken the time to study the book that deeply before, and I enjoyed the experience. So when I heard that there was a new volume coming out in the Kregel Exegetical Library series on Exodus, I decided to pick it up.

A Commentary on Exodus is by Duane A. Garrett, who teaches at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has previously published Song of Songs in the Word Biblical Commentary, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs and Hosea, Joel in the New American Commentary, and A Modern Grammar for Classical Hebrew.

He states at the outset of the commentary, “I have intentionally written this work to fill certain gaps within the literature. To this end, I have been selective and have not dealt with every possible issue” (9). So, for example, he spends a good deal of space in his introduction acquainting his readers with ancient Egypt, since he sees a lack in other commentaries in that regard. He also deals with controversial issues like the date of the exodus (he argues that the data is inconclusive, though the event did happen), the genealogy of Moses, and the locations of the Reed/Red Sea and Sinai. Even when he argues for one side over the other, I thought he still presented the other side of the debate thoroughly, so readers are able to make up their own minds. I would definitely classify him as a maximalist when it comes to the relationship between the Old Testament and archaeology.

Each section of the commentary proper comes in five parts: an introduction, a translation of the passage with textual footnotes, the structure of the passage, a verse-by-verse commentary, and a theological summary of key points. Poems also include the Hebrew text and are broken up into stanzas. For pastors using this commentary, I think the theological summary of key points would be most helpful as they think of how to apply it to their audience. For example, in a section on the vestments of the high priest (28:1–29:37), he writes that “for Israel, the ordained means of approaching God is both personal (the Aaronic priest) and institutional (the whole Tent of Meeting complex). For Christians, analogously, the one access to God is the person of Christ and the one institution ordained by God for his worship is the church, as it was built by Christ himself (Matt 16:18)” (596). Comments like these are helpful for beginning the move from exegesis to application.

The only complaint I have about the commentary is that the table of contents and running heads are not as detailed as I would like; readers who are looking for a particular passage will have to do some flipping to find it. But when the only bad thing you can say about a book is about small formatting issues, you know it is a very good book. I am sure that, if I am called to preach on a passage in Exodus in the near future, this will be one of the first commentaries I consult.

Note: Thanks to the publisher, Kregel, for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.