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Why Were The Israelites Made Slaves In Egypt?
The Israelite Exodus was not merely an isolated event. It was a fulfillment of a prophecy, given by the LORD to Abraham (see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM'), not only centuries before the Israelites entered Egypt, but also centuries before there were any Israelites (the Israelites originated from Abraham's grandson Jacob, who the LORD renamed as "Israel" - see The Origin Of 'Israel'):
"15:13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
Did the Israelites know of that prophecy? The Scriptures do not say, but a historical record (and therefore a history of prophecies that were made) of everything that happened from the time of Creation existed in the hands of someone, or Someone (i.e. the LORD - see Christ The Creator), prior to Moses who took possession of it at Sinai, after the Exodus (see also The Night Crossing), after which they came to be called "the Books of Moses."
"Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly ... and the land was filled with them"
The Israelites entered Egypt under the best-possible of circumstances. They were delivered from a great drought, in their own homeland, into the well-watered Nile Delta region, known as "Goshen," (see also The Delta Drought). One of their own was the actual ruler of the country (see Joseph, Prime Minister Of Egypt) and the Israelites were blessed to be living in Egypt. They in fact grew from a family group of about seventy people to a multitude, a great nation, while they were in, and because they were in, Egypt.
"1:1 Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob. 1:2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 1:3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 1:4 Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. 1:5 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.
That's why, when the Israelites "increased abundantly" and grew to be "exceeding mighty" that the Pharaoh came to fear the Israelite foreigners who were teeming within his own national borders.
"1:8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. 1:9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: 1:10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land." (Exodus 1:8-10 KJV)
For some reason, although the people of Israel were "more and mightier," the more-powerful Israelites allowed themselves to be made into slaves. It wasn't a matter of the stronger oppressing the weaker; it was a matter of the weaker ruling over the stronger because the stronger permitted it.
"1:11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. 1:12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. 1:13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: 1:14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour." (Exodus 1:11-14 KJV)
As the Israelites continued to grow in numbers and power, despite the oppression, the Pharaoh's slavery became a simmering genocide. In an attempt to reduce the military potential of Israel, the Pharaoh ordered the killing of male infants.
"1:15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: 1:16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. 1:17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. 1:18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?
Fact Finder: How were the plagues at the time of the Exodus not only a fulfillment of a prophecy given to Abraham, but also a greater prophecy for the time just prior to Christ's return?