Exodus 1:1-2:15

Sunday Morning Bible Study

November 18, 2007

Introduction

Our English title of this second book of the Bible is “Exodus”, which means “a going out”. The first half of the book deals with the nation of Israel “going out” of the land of Egypt. We place the year that Israel was delivered from Egypt to be the year 1446 B.C. It’s a book about deliverance. We’re going to see a people who have become slaves be set free. It’s about the birth of a nation. This family of slaves will go through a process that turns them into a nation.

Exodus 1

:1-7 Israelites in Egypts

In verses 1-5, we have a short recap of the 70 Israelites that made it down to Egypt

:1 Now these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt; each man and his household came with Jacob:

:2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah;

:3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin;

:4 Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.

:5 All those who were descendants of Jacob were seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already).

:6 And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation.

:7 But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.

We believe that when the time came for the Israelites to leave Egypt, there were close to two million of them. That’s being fruitful! If you start with 100 people and have a 5% growth rate, it only takes 215 years for a population to reach two million. This is close to three hundred hears later.

:8-14 Israel becomes enslaved

:8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.

During these years, the nation of Egypt was ruled over by various dynasties. After several hundred years, the good reign of Joseph over the land had long been forgotten.

:9 And he said to his people, "Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we;

:10 "come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land."

shrewdlychakam – (Hithpael) to show oneself wise, deceive, show one’s wisdom

The Egyptians will move the Israelites into being their slaves and take advantage of their labor potential, yet at the same time they will also try and curb their population growth.

I find it interesting that they weren’t afraid of the Israelites conquering and ruling over them. They were afraid they would leave.

This is a hint at Satan’s own heart.  He doesn’t want you to leave his kingdom.

:11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses.

afflict ‘anah – (Piel) to humble, mishandle, afflict; be humiliated; weaken oneself

This is the same word that was used in the ancient prophecy given to Abraham hundreds of years earlier:

(Gen 15:13 NKJV)  Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.

burdens[email protected] – burden, forced labor, compulsory service, burden bearing

PithomPithom – “the city of justice”

RaamsesRa‘[email protected] – “child of the sun”

:12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel.

afflicted ‘anah – (Piel) to humble, mishandle, afflict; be humiliated

in dreadquwts – to feel a loathing at, abhor; to feel a sickening dread

:13 So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor.

rigorperek – harshness, severity, cruelty

:14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage; in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.

Lesson

Affliction can bring growth

:12 the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew
We’ve seen it historically in the church:
In the days of the early church, when persecution started the church didn’t disappear, it grew.
We see it in countries like China and Iran, where it is not very safe to be a Christian, and yet the church hasn’t disappeared, the church has grown.
We see it in the physical world.
Affliction can build strength. This is how weight training works – you work to “afflict” your muscles through exercise, and they heal and grow back stronger. A beginning guitar player will have a difficult time after a few days of practice because their fingers become so tender from the guitar strings. But if you keep playing, your fingers develop calluses and the muscles grow stronger making it easier and easier to play.
We see it in our own spiritual, personal lives.
Paul writes,

(2 Cor 4:7-12 NKJV) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. {8} We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; {9} persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; {10} always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. {11} For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. {12} So then death is working in us, but life in you.

Paul’s point is that the difficulties of life only cause others to see less of us and more of Jesus.

For the Israelites, this time in Egypt was compared to an iron furnace:

(Deu 4:20 NKJV) "But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance, as you are this day.

As Christians, our difficulties are compared to a gold furnace:

(1 Pet 1:6-7 NKJV) In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, {7} that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

A furnace will heat the metal to a liquid state where the impurities rise to the surface and are skimmed off. The difficulties in life do this same kind of refining process in our lives, bringing all the crud to the surface, showing us the areas where we need to let God work in our lives.

But to be honest, difficult times don’t always help people. Some people are ruined by them. Some people become bitter, not better. Some people will walk away from the Lord. Jesus talked about how different people respond to the work of God in their lives and compared some people to a seed being planted in stony ground:

(Mat 13:20-21 NLT) The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. {21} But like young plants in such soil, their roots don't go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word.

My question to you is – just how deep do you want to go with the Lord? Are you here because you want God to take away everything that makes you uncomfortable or are you here because you want God to help you grow up?

A person with a severe headache can mask the pain with painkillers. But if what they really need is surgery to remove a tumor, they aren’t going to be healed by just masking the pain. They need surgery. Even if it’s painful.

I think whether you grow or are crushed is a choice you make. Will you choose to let God do whatever He needs to do through your difficulty, or will you continue to demand that He makes you comfortable?

:15-22 Midwives and baby killing

:15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah;

midwives – these were the gals who helped deliver the babies when a mother went into labor.  These gals were probably just the head midwives, probably not the only ones.

ShiphrahShiphrah – “fair”

PuahPuw‘ah – “splendid”

:16 and he said, "When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live."

Daughters were allowed to live because they could become wives to the Egyptians and assimilated into the culture.

:17 But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive.

:18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?"

:19 And the midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them."

This may not be an outright lie. It’s possible that the Hebrew women gave birth quickly because they were in better physical shape from all their hard work. It’s also possible that the Hebrew midwives showed up a little slower than they used to.

:20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty.

:21 And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.

Lesson

Fearing God not man

I have to confess I’ve known people over the years who actually felt that the midwives were bad people because they didn’t do what the Pharaoh asked them to do, or else they were bad because they had lied.
What I see is that the bottom line is that these gals feared God more than they feared the Pharaoh.
When Peter was arrested for telling people about Jesus, he was warned by the Jewish leaders not to speak anymore about Jesus.
(Acts 5:29 NKJV) But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men.
Jesus said,
(Mat 10:28 NKJV) "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
In America we don’t often face the threat of death for doing the right thing. But we face another kind of threat – the threat that people won’t like us, that we might be rejected, unless we do what everyone else does.
Cigarettes and drugs – how many people start because there are friends that pressure them?
Sex – though there are plenty of people who get caught in immoral sex because they just want to, there are some who are very aware they want to wait, but are teased because they’re still a “virgin”.
Abortion – A Los Angeles Times poll (3-19-89) found that most women choosing abortion—at least 70 percent—say they believe abortion is immoral. In David Reardon's book Aborted Women: Silent No More, one woman shares why she had an abortion even though she felt it was wrong:

My family would not support my decision to keep my baby. My boyfriend said he would give me no emotional or financial help whatsoever. All the people that mattered told me to abort. When I said I didn't want to, they started listing reasons why I should. I started feeling like maybe I was crazy to want to keep it…I finally told everyone I would have the abortion just to get them off my back. But inside I still didn't want to have the abortion. Unfortunately, when the abortion day came I shut off my feelings. I was scared to not do it because of how my family and boyfriend felt. I'm so angry at myself for giving in to the pressure of others. I just felt so alone in my feelings to have my baby.

Following Jesus – you may be coming to church because you sense something drawing you and you have heard about this God who loves you so much. But your friends tease you about becoming a Jesus freak. Who are you going to listen to?
Are you faced with a decision of whether or not to do something God’s way or the world’s way? Choose God’s way.

:22 So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive."

Pharaoh understands that the midwives aren’t helping him out, so he enlists the Egyptians to help him kill all the baby boys.

Note: the baby boys are supposed to be thrown into the river.

Exodus 2

:1-10 Moses is born

:1 And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi.

The man was named Amram (cf. 6:20), a grandson of Levi. His wife was named Jochebed.

:2 So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months.

beautifultowb – good, pleasant, agreeable

In the book of Acts, Stephen tells us

(Acts 7:20 NKJV)  "At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God…

The writer of Hebrews tells us

(Heb 11:23 NKJV)  By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command.

What Amram and Jochebed did in hiding Moses for the first three months was an act of faith.

:3 But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's bank.

ark – simply the idea of a container, here most likely a basket.

She’s doing just what the Pharaoh ordered, she’s putting her baby boy in the river. Except he’s in a floating, waterproof basket.

:4 And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him.

Miriam was Moses’ older sister. She watches over her baby brother.

:5 Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along the riverside; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it.

:6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children."

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

:8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go." So the maiden went and called the child's mother.

:9 Then 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.

Because of Miriam, Moses’ mother ends up getting to nurse her baby boy and gets paid to do it. She would most likely be nursing Moses until he was 3-5 years old.

:10 And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses, saying, "Because I drew him out of the water."

he became her son – some have suggested that this might have actually put Moses in line to become the next Pharoah.

MosesMosheh – “drawn”; Moses is given a Hebrew name.  It’s Pharaoh’s daughter that names him.

Moses was raised in the court of Pharaoh. He was educated in the schools of the Egyptians. Stephen tells us:

(Acts 7:22 NKJV) "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.

:11-15 Moses kills an Egyptian

:11 Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens.

Stephen tells us (Acts 7:23) that Moses was forty years old at this time.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that Moses was in the mindset of identifying with his true heritage:

(Heb 11:24-26 NKJV)  By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, {25} choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, {26} esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

It’s kind of like the Christian who gets caught up in the lifestyle of the world.  They get caught up in living to make money.  They get caught up in buying new cars, having lots of stuff.  Some get caught up in the darker things of the world – addictions to things like drugs, alcohol, or sex.

At some point you have to make a choice.  Are you going to live for God or are you going to live for the world?
What’s happening at this point in Moses’ life is that he’s realizing that he would rather be ridiculed for being a Christian than have all the treasures of Egypt.

:11 And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.

:12 So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

:13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, "Why are you striking your companion?"

:14 Then he said, "Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" So Moses feared and said, "Surely this thing is known!"

:15 When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.

Stephen gives us more insight again here:

(Acts 7:24-25 NKJV) "And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. {25} "For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.

In a way, you could say that Moses was the savior they didn’t recognize…

Illustration

Mistaken Identity

A man standing in line at a check out counter of a grocery store was very surprised when a very attractive woman behind him said, “Hello!” Her face was beaming. He gave her that “who are you look,” and couldn’t remember ever having seen her before. Then, noticing his look, she figured she had made a mistake and apologized. “Look,” she said “I’m really sorry but when I first saw you, I thought you were the father of one of my children,” and walked out of the store. The guy was dumbfounded and thought to himself, “What is the world coming to? Here is an attractive woman who can’t keep track of who fathers her children!” Then he got a little panicky. “I don’t remember her,” he thought, but MAYBE..during one of the fraternity parties he had been to when he was in college, perhaps he did father her child! He ran from the store and caught her in the parking lot and asked, “Are you the girl I met at a party in college and then we had a little too much to drink and spent the night together but I never called you again afterward?” “No”, she said with a horrified look on her face. “I’m your son’s Sunday School teacher.”

Moses had the impression that it would have been obvious that he was supposed to be the one to rescue his people from slavery and oppression. The problem was, the people didn’t see it that way.

Moses thought that killing an Egyptian was a start at delivering his people. But it didn’t work out that way.

Lesson

How to do the right thing

Moses is the right guy. He’s the one God will use to free the Israelites.
Moses is in the right place. These are God’s people and they need to be delivered.
But Moses is doing it the wrong way.
Moses is coming with the wisdom, the power, and the wealth of Egypt. But God isn’t going to use him until he finds the humility and poverty of living in the wilderness.
At forty years old, Moses is known as being “mighty in words” (Acts 7:22).

At eighty years old, Moses complained that he was no longer “eloquent” (Ex. 4:10).

At forty years old, Moses wanted to do it all by himself, making sure that no one was watching as he killed the Egyptian (Ex. 2:12).

At eighty years old, Moses cried out that he wouldn’t go any further unless God was with him (Ex. 33:15).

At forty years old, Moses was known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. (Heb. 11:24)

At eighty years old, Moses was known by his humility. (Num. 12:3)

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do things with wisdom and intelligence.
I am wondering whether or not we ever stop to ask if we are depending on our own strength or upon God’s.
God wouldn’t deliver Gideon (Judg. 6-7) from the Midianites until he cut his army from 12,000 down to 300. God wanted to make it clear to the world that He had done the work, not Gideon.
Who are you depending upon? Who are you counting on? Put your hope in God.