Richard Agee

Exodus 1-2: Moshe arises as the fulfillment of God’s promise

Richard AgeeTry your best to ignore the cartoons and movies that purport to tell the account of Moshe (Moses). They take many liberties with the real record, imposing their own story lines on him. Important elements at the beginning of the book of שְׁמוֹת Shem’ot, also called Exodus, are God’s faithfulness to the promise made to Abraham that his descendants would face hardship but become a numerous people and blessing to the nations.

The movies have not just colored the story, they outright lie about the story. For example, Moshe wasn’t a rebellious teenager who raced chariots around, breaking things and causing chaos.

Chapter 1

The book of Shem’ot, which means “names,” begins in about four generations after Joseph brought Jacob and his entire family to Egypt to save them from the famine. All of the original generation are gone now. 

The man who was Pharaoh of Egypt at his time most likely was not a great-grandson of the Pharaoh Joseph served.  A new dynasty is on the scene here, and the consequences of that were grave for the Israelites. 

“Now a new king arose over Egypt, ….” (Ex. 1:8)

This is a new dynasty, who was not interested in preserving those loyal to the prior dynasty. Since the children of Israel had prospered under the prior dynasty, the new Pharaoh saw these people as a direct threat to his success as Pharaoh. 

In some ways, current American society is just like this new king. Our history teachers now go out of their way to tell us how “evil” and “bad” our Founding Fathers such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were. They want the average American’s perception of the America’s national character by maligning our image of our historical heroes. 

This Pharaoh isn’t any different. He had to change the people’s perception of history to cement his authority to make the nation into the image he wished to make of it. 

As we go through this we meet another man as well, a man who might seem unimportant but this man is very, very important. 

The new King of Egypt consulted “his people” (possibly, his cabinet or advisers) on what to do about the multiplying Hebrews:

“Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.” (Ex. 1:9-10)

The King of Egypt appointed a “taskmaster” over the people of Israel. The word in Hebrew is שָׂרֵי מִסִּים sarey missim. A sar (Strong’s lexicon No. H8269) is a prince, chief or ruler, and missim (H8269) comes from מַס mas, defined as “tribute, tributary, levy, taskmaster, discomfited” (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament). 

The King of Egypt put fear into the cabinet members by stating that since the people of Israel are numerous than them, that it’s just common sense that they would join his enemies and conquer him. 

The authorities carry out his commission and and not diminishing the Israelite’s numbers, they increased. They pushed the Israelites into hard labor, helping to build “storage cities” such as Pithom and Rameses. The Egyptians conscripted Israelite leaders to keep the others Israelites in line. 

The initial difficulties did not work to suppress the Israelites, so the Egyptians humiliated and dealt even more ruthlessly with them. Neither of these oppressive regimes were working to reduce the Israelite.

Then the King of Egypt comes up with a novel idea. He brings in two Hebrew midwives, named Shiphrah and Puah, and asks them to kill any male newborns born among the Hebrew women but the midwives feared God more than they feared the King. These women were prominent knowledgeable women. 

The midwives had warned the people of Israel about the King of Egypt’s plan and God blessed their households because of their refusal to obey the King’s rule. 

But this didn’t work either because these Hebrew midwives weren’t killing the boys so he sent out his cabinet members and army to kill the Hebrew boys instead. 

Chapter 2

Exodus 2 starts with the phrase, “a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi.” 

First Chronicles gives us a genealogy of Levi’s family in Egypt, those four generations:

“The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath and Merari.  The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.  The children of Amram were Aaron, Moshe and Miriam. And the sons of Aaron were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.” (1st Chron. 6:1-3)

Amram, the father of Moshe, lived long enough to see his grandchildren. 

Amram had three children: Miriam, Aaron and Moshe. Moshe was the child born after the King’s edict to kill the Hebrew children. Miriam was Amram’s oldest child, most likely a child of a prior wife and doesn’t have the same mother as Aaron and Moshe. 

When Moshe was born, his mother saw something special in him and called him טוֹב tov (H2895), or “good.” What did she see in him? She tried to hide Moshe at home for a few months. When she could no longer, she made him a basket, placed it in the Nile and put him a very specific place. I think Moshe’ mother knew exactly where Pharaoh’s daughter bathed and placed Miriam there to watch the basket.

Pharaoh’s daughter most likely did not know of her King’s order. She does not kill the child or ask anyone else to do so. She does not act like a person who knows of a law and is trying to disobey a law. 

Miriam took Moshe back to be nursed by his own mother. When he was still very young, he went to live as the son of the daughter of Pharaoh and was educated as an Egyptian. 

“….when Moshe had grown up, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors…” (Ex. 2:11)

That was around the age of 40, which is a significant biblical number associated with trials or testing (40 years Yisrael wandered in the wilderness, 40 days Yeshua was tested in the wilderness). He killed an Egyptian man who was beating a Hebrew slave. When the Pharaoh found out, he placed a death sentence on Moshe, who then fled to Midian. 

Moshe ended up living in the house of a man named רְעוּאֵל R’eu’el, a descendant of Abraham and his wife Keturah. He knew who God was, he was not a pagan, he was not an idolator. He is a descendant of the same man Moshe was descended from. His name meant “friend of God.” He was a “priest,” or כֹּהֵן cohen, of Midian, which shows us he had a high position in the community. Reu’el gave his daughter Tzipporah in marriage to Moshe, and she gave birth to a son, גֵּרְשֹׁם Gershom, or “foreigner there.” 

The next event recorded is the death of the Pharaoh who had placed the death sentence on Moshe. The next king was even worse than his predecessor in the way he oppressed the Israelite people and this oppression lasts for 40 years. It’s at the beginning of this new king’s reign that the people of Israel cried out for deliverance.

“So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Yitzkhak, and Ya’akov.” (Ex. 2:24)

God didn’t start to deliver the children of Israel from bondage until Moshe was 80 years old. He is going to bring the covenant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to fruition. They will be a blessing to the nations, and that a multitude of people would come from them. 

I want you to keep in mind that God is going to bring about His covenant. We will recall the covenants that He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is what this is all about. The Apostle Paul tells us that the covenant of Mt. Sinai that God made with the people and the people made with God was added for other reasons. The most important covenants are the covenants God made with Abraham, Yitzkhak (Isaac) and Ya’akov (Jacob). This is the beginning of God’s implementation of the promises He made many generations before. 

“God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.” (Ex. 2:25)

The reason He took notice of them was for the sake of Abraham, Yitzkhak and Ya’akov. 

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.


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