Exodus 1 (NRSV)
The first verses of Exodus reach back some 430 years. The story of the Exodus begins where the story Genesis ends: a large family with a crucial place in God’s plan of the ages and their migration to Egypt.
The Hebrew title for the Book of Exodus is taken from its first words: And These are the Names Of. In the original language, the first word of Exodus is and, marking its continuity from the Genesis account.
To really enjoy the book of Exodus, we need to look for Christ in it. Moses, the Passover lamb, the rock, and the tabernacle are only a few of the types (symbols) of the Lord Jesus, many of which are referred to elsewhere in Scripture (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews chapters 3-10). May the Lord do for us what He did for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus—interpret to us “in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).
These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.
John 10:3 (NIV)
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
5The total number of people born to Jacob was seventy. Joseph was already in Egypt.
6Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that whole generation. 7But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.
Bruce Feiler: Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses (Book II, Chapter 2 “And They Made Their Lives Bitter”).
When the children of Israel were set to slave labor they built many of the great cities and monuments in Egypt — though not the pyramids, which were built much earlier.
The Israelites Are Oppressed
8Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”
11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.
The nation could not grow this way in Canaan, because it was practically impossible to avoid intermarriage with the pagan and wicked inhabitants of Canaan. Egypt was so racially biased and had such an entrenched system of racial separation that Israel could grow there over several centuries without being assimilated.
13The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, 14and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.
Genesis 15:12-14 (NIV)
As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.”
Pharaoh meant the hard bondage for evil, but God meant it for good. It helped prepare the Jews for their arduous journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.
15The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16“When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.”
17But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. 18So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?”
19The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”
20So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.
One person respectfully honoring God — matters.
Proverbs 11:18 (ESV)
One who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.
22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”
If the battle were just between Pharaoh and the people of Israel, Pharaoh would have clearly won. But the real battle included God in the equation, and that changed everything.
David Guzik says: The method Pharaoh commanded for the death of the male children of Israel became the divine provision for training the deliverer of Israel.
HERE is a ballad — Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open” won the Grammy Award in 2001 for Best Rock Song. The song celebrates the good news that a child is on the way. “With arms wide open, I’ll show you love, I’ll show you everything. . . ”
And God already had in mind the child who was coming to rescue Israel from the Egyptians!
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.