Centre for Continuing Education

Jewish Culture Course: Shemot II (Exodus) - Revelation to Revolution

Jewish culture. Learn about Jewish culture with us.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses both online and in-person. Please check the delivery format for each class before you enrol.

Please note that course materials for all classes (excluding prescribed textbooks) are shared electronically within 48 hours of a course starting. Printing is not available.

In partnership with the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies
Course materials developed by The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning - a project of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For specific enquiries regarding the program, please contact Hinda Young on 0432 567 917.

This course involves a deep exploration of the second half of the book of Shemot (Exodus) in the Torah (The Five Books of Moses) showcasing the voices of traditional Jewish commentators, classic and modern midrash (parables), and artistic understandings. This multi-layered study exposes participants to the development of interpretation, historical influences, and contemporary perspectives from which they can draw deep levels of meaning.

Join our Jewish culture courses at CCE and acquire Jewish literacy in an open, trans-denominational, intellectually stimulating learning environment.


The aim of this course is to engage participants in a close reading of the biblical text of the book of Shemot (Exodus) with an eye towards discovering its nuances, debating its meaning, and unearthing its many messages.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • identify questions, ambiguities, and existential dilemmas that arise in the biblical text
  • describe different approaches to interpreting the biblical text through commentaries and art
  • explain how the layers of interpretation throughout the ages and through a range of perspectives address central questions on the human condition
  • distinguish between the positions of the major Jewish thinkers on selected topics through the study of original texts
  • analyse the key moral and ethical messages of the texts studied, the historical realities at the time of their composition, and the contemporary implications of these perspectives on your own life.


This course focuses on the human condition; the questions, ambiguities and existential dilemmas arising in the biblical text; its key moral and ethical messages; the historical realities at the time it was composed; and the contemporary implications of these perspectives.

We will follow and discuss the development of the emerging Jewish nation from their awe-inspiring encounter at Mount Sinai through the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness. The high points of divine revelation in “Ten Commandments,” “Encountering God,” and “Face to Face with God” are sharply contrasted with the low points of the “Golden Calf: Revolt or Reversion.” The text addresses some of the specific laws and regulations that were to become part of Jewish living as well as the meaning, purpose, and relevance to our lives today.

The topics covered are:

Lesson 1 – Preparing for Revelation SHEMOT 19: 1 – 25

We will examine the developing covenantal relationship between God and Israel, focusing on the issues of who was meant to receive the Torah and the new relationship with God.

Lesson 2 – Aseret Hadiberot (The Ten Commandments) SHEMOT 20: 1 – 17

During lesson 2, we scrutinise the text of the Utterances (Diberot) and considers some of the nuances of each of the Diberot through the eyes of the commentators.

Lesson 3 – Luchot HaBrit (Tablets of Covenant) SHEMOT 31: 18, DEVARIM 9:11

Join us as we conduct a general study of the appearance, organisation, and general purpose of the Aseret haDiberot as understood by scholars throughout the centuries.

Lesson 4 – Take Responsibility SHEMOT 21: 18 – 27

In this lesson, we attempt to try to arrive at the legal and ethical principles that may lie at the root of the cases presented by the Torah.

Lesson 5 – For You Were Strangers in the Land of Egypt SHEMOT 22: 20 – 26

Lesson 5 is an examination of how national memory of the experiences of the Israelite ancestors serves to formulate Jewish doctrine from here on in.

Lesson 6 – God, The Warrior and Conqueror SHEMOT 23: 20 – 33

This lesson involves an examination of the impending conquest of the land of Canaan and investigation of the potential meanings and ramifications of this episode of the text.

Lesson 7 – Encountering God SHEMOT 24: 1 – 11

In this lesson, we will discuss issues of chronology in the recording of biblical events, obedience to Divine will, the role of ritual, and the human experience of God.

Lesson 8 – Golden Calf SHEMOT 32: 1 – 28

In this lesson, we will attempt to understand the nature of the sin of the golden calf and explore the impact of this event on the relationship between Moshe and the Israelites.

Lesson 9 – Face to Face with God SHEMOT 33: 7 – 23

We will discuss the relationship between God and Moshe, and how they clarified their commitment to each other and jointly to the Israelites.

Lesson 10 – Giving from the Heart SHEMOT 35: 1 – 29, 36: 1-7

This lesson takes participants through a description of the outpouring of gifts to the tabernacle from the Israelites. We will then reflect on and discuss the messages the Torah wishes to convey through the details provided.

Intended audience

Suitable for anyone wishing to explore Jewish biblical texts and analyse multiple interpretations, ranging from Rabbinic commentary to contemporary perspectives from across the Jewish spectrum.

Delivery style

This ten-lesson course focuses on textual analysis and discussion between participants and the facilitator.


A course booklet is available in two formats:

  1. Complimentary online booklet (PDF) accessible via an online portal.
  2. Printed booklet (additional fee of $24) available for purchase here. Your booklet will be available to collect at the first or second class, depending on the date of purchase.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

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