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Scripture reading: Exodus 1-2

Exodus 1 – The Twelve Tribes of Israel in Egypt

A change in leadership can be a perilous time. Whether an institution, corporation, or nation, inexperienced leadership and a lack of appreciation for legacy and history will invariably lead to detrimental decisions and course changes.  Such was the case in the opening verses of Exodus when we read,  Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation…[and] there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph” (1:6, 8).

Joseph had been a gifted administrator, and God blessed his rise to power in Egypt, where he became second only to Pharaoh (Genesis 41:40-43). He was God’s man for the hour, and the tribes of Israel prospered under his care long after his death (1:7).

When we read that a new Pharaoh did not “know” Joseph (1:8), we understand he was ignorant of his legacy and the policies that had made Egypt prosper. Instead, the new king instituted his own policies, not those of the former leader. He was, however, concerned that the population growth “of the children of Israel” posed a threat to the nation (1:9-10). Therefore, Pharaoh issued a series of commands to limit the population growth of Israel and tasked the people with heavy burdens and hardships (1:11-14).  He then ordered the genocide of the sons born of Hebrew women (1:15-21). Finally, he demanded the drowning of every son born of a Hebrew mother (1:22).

Some might ask, “Why would God allow His people, His chosen ones, to suffer such calamity?”   My answer: The sufferings and sorrows Israel faced as a people were part of God’s plan to move the Hebrews from the comfort and riches of Egypt to the land, He had covenanted to give the descendants of Abraham.

Exodus 2 – Moses, Prince of Egypt

Exodus 2 introduced Moses, a man who was one of the great leaders in human history. However, while the tribes of Israel prospered in Joseph’s lifetime, those years of plenty became a distant memory when Moses was born. The children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt, and Moses was not only born in a slave’s household, but also under the threat of infanticide (1:15-22; 2:1-4).

Moses’ parents were pious believers of the priestly tribe of Levi. His mother, Jochebed, risked her life and “hid him three months” (2:2) after his birth. She eventually made a small vessel of reeds, and placed him in the basket, then set her son adrift on the Nile River, entrusting his life to God’s providential care (2:3-4).

We are reminded that God is sovereign, for the infant Moses drifted to where Pharaoh’s daughter was bathing. His cry pierced her heart, and Moses became the object of the princess’ favor and compassion (2:5-6). She realized the baby boy was a Hebrew, and at the suggestion of Moses’ sister, she employed Jochebed, his mother, to be his nurse (2:7-10).

In the providence of God, Moses spent the first forty years of his life in the palace as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and, therefore, a prince of Egypt. As a result, he was favored not only with the finest education of his day, but became a leader, “mighty in words and in deeds” (2:10; Acts 7:21-22).

Despite his Egyptian facade, the heart of Moses was knit with the suffering of the Hebrew people (2:11-15a; Acts 7:23-29a). Finally, there was a day when he became so incensed by the abuse his people suffered that he took the life of an Egyptian (2:11-13). Then, realizing Pharaoh would soon know his crime (2:14-15), Moses fled into the wilderness where he spent the next forty years of his life (2:16-22; Hebrews 11:24-27).

In the providence of God, Moses, the prince of Egypt, assumed the lowly role of a hireling shepherd to a Midianite named Reul (also known as Jethro). “Content to dwell with the man” (2:21); Reul gave his daughter Zipporah to be the wife of Moses, and she gave birth to two sons, Gershom (2:22) and Eliezer (18:4).

Closing thoughts – In their sorrows, the children of Israel began to cry out to God. He “heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (2:23-24).

God remembered Israel, and He had not forgotten Moses.

Questions to consider:

1) The names of Jacob’s sons were listed in the opening verses of chapter 1. What event changed the lives of the children of Israel? (Exodus 1:7-8)

2) What reason did Pharaoh give for commanding the deaths of sons born to Hebrew women? (Exodus 1:9-10)

3) Why did Moses flee Egypt? (Exodus 2:11-14)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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