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Exodus 1-3

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

Exodus Chapter 1

The Israelites had been welcomed into Egypt under very favorable circumstances. One of their own, Joseph, was the ruler of the country (see The Grain Merchant of Egypt), second only to the Pharaoh himself. The Israelites prospered in Egypt, so much so that they eventually began to be viewed as a potential security threat by the government.

The Nile River

"Then Joseph died, and all his brothers [see Children of Jacob], and all that generation. But the descendants of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong; so that the land was filled with them.

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war befall us, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land." (Exodus 1:6-10 RSV)

The new Pharaoh resorted to increasingly deadly means to reduce the population of the resident aliens; first slavery, then male infanticide. Neither worked.

"Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens; and they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel." (Exodus 1:11-12 RSV)

"When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, she shall live." But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live." (Exodus 1:16-17 RSV)

Then came the Pharaoh's "final solution," a general order to the entire population.

"Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, "Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live." (Exodus 1:22 RSV)

Exodus Chapter 2

With the entire Egyptian population involved in the reporting and killing of male Israelite infants, there was no where to hide. A Levite woman who had just given birth to her third child (her older children, Aaron and Miriam, were not affected by the Pharaoh's order to kill only newborn males) came up with a unique plan of obeying the Pharaoh's order to cast the babies into The Nile River.

Miriam

"Now a man from the house of Levi went and took to wife a daughter of Levi. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could hide him no longer she took for him a basket made of bulrushes, and daubed it with Bitumen and pitch; and she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds at the river's brink. And his sister stood at a distance, to know what would be done to him." (Exodus 2:1-4 RSV)

It worked. Not only did her baby survive, but he was adopted by the Pharaoh's daughter, while the mother herself got to raise the child.

"Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, and her maidens walked beside the river; she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to fetch it. When she opened it she saw the child; and lo, the babe was crying. She took pity on him and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children."

Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?"

And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go." So the girl went and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child away, and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages." So the woman took the child and nursed him."

And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son; and she named him Moses, for she said, "Because I drew him out of the water." (Exodus 2:5-10 RSV)

Moses grew to adulthood, but found himself with legal troubles, forcing him to flee into the wilderness of Sinai.

"One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together; and he said to the man that did the wrong, "Why do you strike your fellow?"

He answered, "Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?"

Then Moses was afraid, and thought, "Surely the thing is known."

When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh, and stayed in the land of Midian" (Exodus 2:11-15 RSV)

Exodus Chapter 3

Moses learned to become a Sinai shepherd, in the very place where he would later shepherd a far greater flock (see The Education Of Moses). His father-in-law Jethro watched over Moses, but The Lord too was watching. One day, Moses became aware of why he had been saved out of the river.

The Burning Bush

"Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of The Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, "I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt."

When The Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!"

And he said, "Here am I."

Then He said, "Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." And He said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." [see also Why Did Christ Put Moses To Death?]

And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then The Lord said, "I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites [see The Land Of Canaan], the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt." (Exodus 3:1-10 RSV)

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