Study Notes

Exodus 1:1-2:25


The book of Genesis documented the creation of mankind, but soon began to focus in on a certain man's descendants. Abram, or Abraham, as he was later renamed by God, showed up in chapter 11. We saw everything about him - his times of faith and his times of failure. His times of righteousness and his times of disobedience. He was far from perfect, but God sovereignly chose the descendants of Abraham to make a covenant with and to bless.

In chapter 12, God promised Abram the land of Canaan. He promised to make Abram a great nation. He promised to bless those that blessed them, and curse those who cursed them.

In chapter 15, the Lord told Abram,

Gen. 15:13-16 "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. "But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions. "And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. "Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete."

Then God performed a two-man covenant by Himself, sealing the deal. Because God was the only one performing the covenant, nothing Abram did could break it.

Later, when Abraham and his wife Sarah had a son named Isaac, these promises were repeated to him. Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob was the one God had chosen to bear the descendants that would inherit this promise. God renamed him Israel.

Israel had 12 sons, but his favorite was Joseph. The other brothers became jealous. In Genesis 37, they took him and sold him to Midianite slave traders. These Midianites took Joseph to Egypt and sold him. When Joseph was falsely accused of attempted rape, he was thrown in prison. While there, God had given him the interpretation of some fellow prisoners prophetic dreams, both of which came true. When the Pharaoh of Egypt had two disturbing dreams, he was looking for someone to interpret them. The chief cupbearer said, "Pharaoh, when I was in prison, there was this guy Joseph..." Joseph was brought, and interpreted the dreams. They were a warning of seven good years followed by seven years of famine. Joseph told Pharaoh that they should store food during the next 7 years to provide for the famine.

Pharaoh was so impressed that he made Joseph second in command of all of Egypt. Nine years later, during the famine, his 11 brothers came looking for food to buy. After anonymously testing their hearts, Joseph forgave them for the evil they had done. He said, "bring my father Israel and all your families here to Egypt to live."

And at this point, we continue the saga in the book of Exodus.

1:1-6 The Israelites Come Down To Egypt

At Joseph's invitation, all the sons of Israel came to Egypt with their families. Counting Joseph, there were seventy people altogether who were descendants of Israel.

The years passed, and Joseph and his brothers died. But the Israelites continued to grow in number.

1:7-14 A New King Arose Over Egypt

A new king arose, one who did not know Joseph. In the book of Acts, Stephen was preaching to the council and referred to this occurrence:

Acts 7:17-18 "But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, until THERE AROSE ANOTHER KING OVER EGYPT WHO KNEW NOTHING ABOUT JOSEPH.

The Greek word "another" that Stephen uses here is "heteros," from which we derive words like "heterosexual". It means another, but another of a different kind, the other one of two. This king that arose over Egypt was not of the ancestry of the Pharaoh that appointed Joseph to power. We read in Isaiah that God says he was an Assyrian.

Isa. 52:4 For thus says the Lord GOD, "My people went down at the first into Egypt to reside there, then the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.

Affliction and Multiplication

This Pharaoh realized that there were more Israelites than there were Egyptians. If they combined with one of Egypt's enemies, like the Hittites, the Egyptians would be in a bad place. So he enslaved them - appointed taskmasters over them.

Exod. 1:12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied

This is a principle of God - that growth comes from affliction. When the Israelites went through affliction, they multiplied. When the church goes through affliction, it too multiplies.

Paul wrote from prison to the Philippians,

Phil. 1:12-14 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in {the cause of} Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

When the persecution broke out against the church in Acts 8, it spread the Christians into Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. There they preached Jesus and a large number turned to the Lord.

That is why the American church does not grow exponentially - because we "enjoy" freedom from affliction. But the day will come that tribulation hits the Christians in our country, as it has the Christians in the majority of the rest of the world, and people will have to make a stand. The religious fakers will be weeded out from the true followers of Christ. In that day, the church will begin to see real multiplication.

1:15-22 The Midwives

When Pharaoh saw that the labors and affliction weren't working, he decided to cut down their birth rate. He told the midwives to kill all of the newborn Hebrew boys as they were birthed.

"Shif-rah" and "Poo-ah" knew that killing the Hebrew children would be sin, and feared God enough to refuse. This was a good thing. But then when called to accountability by Pharaoh, they lied about it. This was a bad thing.

This brings up the question about obeying the authorities over us. Be they Pharaohs, dictators, presidents, or kings. The Bible teaches clearly, even from the book of Genesis, that we are to submit ourselves to the authorities over us. When Hagar was being mistreated by her mistress Sarai and ran away, the Lord told her,

Gen. 16:9 ..."Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority."

This continues into the New Testament, where the apostle Paul wrote,

Rom. 12:21-13:2 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.

So the standard is set: obey the authorities over you, even when it is uncomfortable, even when you don't agree.

So when is it okay to disobey? We read of some examples in Scripture.

In 1Sam 19, when Saul told Jonathan to kill David, he refused. That would be a sin.

In Esther 2, it was commanded that all bow down to Haman. Mordecai refused to bow. It would be a sin.

In Daniel 3, the people were ordered to worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. But Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego refused. That would have been a sin.

In Daniel 6, a law was passed saying that people could only pray to the king - no other god. Daniel continued to pray to the Lord. To not pray would have been a sin.

In Acts 4, the rulers and elders of the people put Peter and John in jail. They commanded the two apostles not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore.

Acts 4:19-20 But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard."

In each of these cases, followers of God disobeyed the authorities over them, when that authority would be causing them to personally sin. In each case, these people refused to sin, and were ready to suffer the consequences of their actions. And most of them did suffer for refusing.

The Hebrew midwives refused to sin, but they weren't ready to accept the consequences. They lied about what they had done. George Rawlinson wrote that they were "not of the stuff whereof martyrs are made; they did not scruple at a falsehood, believing it necessary to save their lives."

But God rewarded the midwives for their refusal to sin against Him, not for their lie.

Midwives were typically childless women, which was a great disgrace in this culture. God blessed them by establishing households for them - blessing them with children of their own.

Into The Nile

Pharaoh's plan having been thwarted by the midwives, he decides to enlist the help of every Egyptian citizen. "If you know of a male Hebrew child that is born, you are to cast it into the Nile River."

It is under these circumstances that Moses is born.

2:1-10 Amram and Jochebed

Remember that Levi was one of the twelve sons of Israel. Two of his descendants, Amram "ahm-rahm" and Jochebed "Yo-cheh-bed", married and had three children: Miriam, Aaron, and Moses. Aaron had been born three years earlier, before this edict of Pharaoh, and Miriam several years before Aaron.

Jochebed kept Moses for three months. But you can only hide a baby for so long, and suspicion got to the point that Moses was going to be safer on the river than he was in his home. Jochebed had Miriam put Moses in a basket and place it in the reeds.

A Divine Appointment

It just so happened that the pharaoh's daughter discovered Moses there. This was the one woman in the whole country that could have saved this baby. This was no coincidence, but a divine appointment. The Bibles shows us throughout that the Lord orchestrates events intricately.

Jesus pointed out,

Matt. 10:29-31 "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And {yet} not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows."

Coincidence should not be a serious word in our vocabulary. When you begin to live your life recognizing that there are no accidents, but only opportunities, you will begin to see the hand of God mightily in your life.

Amram Receives Moses Back

Miriam comes up and offers to find a Hebrew nurse for the baby. She gets her mother. Now, not only does Amram receive back her baby, but is being paid to raise him!

Pharaoh's daughter gave him the name Moses, and he was educated in the finest Egyptian schools. We don't read the details of his life, until he approached the age of 40.

2:11-14 Moses Kills An Egyptian

Stephen also tells us of this event:

Acts 7:23-29 "But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one {of them} being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him; but they did not understand. And on the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, 'Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?' But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, 'WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND JUDGE OVER US? YOU DO NOT MEAN TO KILL ME AS YOU KILLED THE EGYPTIAN YESTERDAY, DO YOU?' And at this remark MOSES FLED, AND BECAME AN ALIEN IN THE LAND OF MIDIAN..."

2:15-17 Into the Wilderness

When Pharaoh discovered that this adopted Hebrew in his household had killed an Egyptian citizen, he sought to have Moses put to death. Moses fled east into the wilderness and came to Midian.

Many times, difficulties in our lives drive us into a wilderness time. A time where it feels like we're in the middle of a desert. Things are hot, unbearable, and dry. But just as God orchestrates the blessings, so too He orchestrates the times in the wilderness. Jesus himself had a time in the wilderness. In Matthew we read,

Matt. 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

The Spirit Himself led Jesus into the wilderness. Maybe you're in a wilderness time in your life right now. Things are awful, they seem so dry and uncomfortable. Just like Jesus' wilderness times, if you resist the devil, if you resist the temptation to sin, He will bless you. After Jesus had resisted the devil's temptations, we read,

Matt. 4:11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

Moses Defends The Priest of Midian's Daughters

Moses is in the wilderness, and sits down by a well. Seven women came to draw water for their father's flock, but some shepherds came and chased them off. Moses stood up and defended them by himself. He was their knight in shining armor!

2:18-22 Moses Marries Zipporah

The family invites Moses over for dinner, and ends up marrying Zipporah "Tsih-po-rah". Together they have a son named "Gehr-shohm".

2:23-25 God Remembers

When we read that God "remembered", we must not think that God had forgotten. From the Israelites' point of view, God must certainly have forsaken them. But remember that the Lord had made this promise to Abram:

Gen. 15:13-14 ..."Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions."

This four hundred years of oppression was a time used by God to cause this large family to grow into a large nation. It is much the same for us. God uses times of affliction and oppression in our lives to cause us to grow. And just like the Israelites, He will soon deliver us.

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