Bob Marley’s “Exodus” Lyrics Meaning
“Exodus” is not the type of word you hear on a daily basis. And when most people come across the term, their minds instantly and logically harp back to its most common usage, i.e. as the title of the second book featured in the Bible. And of course Bob Marley, a very religious man himself, had such in mind when writing this song.
More specifically, getting right down to the nitty-gritty, Rastafarians can be counted amongst the religious sects who generally believe that Black people are the descendants of the ancient Israelites.
Relatedly, to them the Transatlantic Slave Trade and subsequent oppression of Black people, especially in places like the Caribbean and North America, is considered to be symbolically akin to the Babylonian captivity of the Israelites in the Old Testament.
Thus they also view descendants of the African diaspora returning to the Motherland as being like the Hebrews returning from Babylon to Israel. And ideologically speaking, the center of Black Africa is Ethiopia. This is apparently due to its associations with the late Emperor Haile Selassie.
Furthermore, according to Biblical tradition, Ethiopia would have been the first part of the continent to adopt Christianity.
Lyrics of “Exodus”
Thus when Bob Marley defines this “exodus” as an envisioned “movement of Jah people” who are “leaving Babylon”, what he is likely speaking to is the overall back-to-Africa ideology which helped inspire Rastafarianism.
But beyond that, it is also pretty obvious that he is speaking to some type of “movement” on a more personal level. That is to say, he never explicitly mentions anything like jumping on a plane and returning to Africa. And the reason he is encouraging an exodus from Babylon in the first place is based on the notion that the locality is unjust, especially towards the intended addressees of this song.
So if you’re one of those types of analysts who interprets a term like “Jah people” as applying to righteous folk in general, then this song takes on a broader meaning.
Or rather let’s say that, as presented, Exodus is not race specific. And what Marley and the crew are calling for is “another brother Moses”. Simply put, they are looking for a modern prophet, to lead the people “across the Red Sea” and back to “our Father’s land”.
So one has to presume that, Rastafarian beliefs aside, Bob intentionally left a considerable degree of personally-interpretable terms in the lyrics. And what he is envisioning, most simply put, is that those who feel oppressed in their current settings make some type of definitive, divinely-enabled move to get physically away from it.
Facts about “Exodus”
This is the title track from Bob Marley and the Wailers seventh-studio album. The said album was put together in the UK. This move was inspired by an attempt on Bob’s life in Jamaica a few months earlier.
It is also almost unanimously considered to be the band’s best project. For instance, it is amongst three of the group’s undertakings that made the 2020 edition of Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. It placed within the top 100 of that list.
Exodus was an album in which Bob and the Wailers took on a more pop, even to some degree punk-inspired approach to their music. And interestingly enough, initially some of the traditional fans of the band weren’t feeling it.
Exodus was written by the late Bob Marley (1945-1981). Bob also produced it alongside the Wailers.
And this song was officially issued by the Marley family’s Tuff Gong record label, in conjunction with its distributor, Island Records.
It’s release date occurred on 3 June 1977. And that very year it also came out as a single on its own. It’s most notable chart performance was breaking the top 20 of the UK Singles Chart. It actually reached position 14 in Britain.
Marley had already chosen “Exodus” as the name of the album before even penning the song itself.
Marley’s escape from Jamaica to England likely inspired “Exodus”. Exodus actually means the movement of a group of people from a particular location. This is exactly what Marley and his crew did after the attempt on his life.
The backup singers on this track were a subunit of the Wailers known as the I-Threes who remained active even after Bob’s passing. The most widely-recognized member of the trio would be Bob Marley’s widow, Rita. And she was joined by singer Marcia Griffiths. Marcia had already established a notable solo career before being down with Jah Bob.
The final member of the I-Threes was Judy Mowatt. Judy also put out a number of solo albums throughout the years.
The “Exodus” Singles
“Exodus” was officially the second single from its album. The first was “One Love/People Get Ready“. In addition to these, 4 other singles were officially released from this iconic album. They are:
- “Waiting in Vain”
- “Three Little Birds”
- “Turn Your Lights Down Low”
Besides the above, other notable songs from “Exodus” include:
Marley penned all the songs on the album.