Slaves in Egypt
Exodus 1-18 At the end of Genesis, Abraham’s grandson Jacob and family have moved to Egypt where they prosper and multiply. They are enslaved by Pharaoh until God raises up a deliverer to set the Israelites free. From Egypt they set out into the wilderness on the way to Mt. Sinai and the Promised Land.
Bondage and Midwives
In the last chapters of Genesis, Joseph the Vizier of Egypt brought his family down to Egypt due to the severe seven year famine. Jacob and his entire family settled in the land of Goshen in direct fulfillment of the covenant promise God gave Abraham:
Genesis 15: 12-16 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure”
God brought Jacob’s family to Egypt to create a nation from them. It is in Egypt they would become the nation of promise. Thus God fulfilled this promise to Abraham by bringing them to Egypt-to be strangers in a country not their own.
Genesis 12: 1-3 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Had they remained in Canaan the possibility of intermarriage with surrounding tribes would have diluted their identity as the chosen people of God. Godless faiths from spouses would have deterred God’s people from worship of the one true God. As a result of the move to Egypt, their identity as a nation was strengthened. Because Egyptians detested shepherds, the sons of Jacob/Israel were left to their own. As a result, they were able to maintain their own culture apart from the Egyptians. It was in Egypt, God blessed them drawing them to depend upon each other and from one family they grew strong in number and became the nation of Israel fulfilling the prophecy of God.
At the end of chapter 50 in Genesis-Joseph dies at age 110 and was embalmed. Because he believed the covenant promise that one day the Hebrews would return to the Promised Land, before he died Joseph made his family swear an oath to carry his body back with them when they left Egypt to return home. In this regard, if Joseph had not been embalmed, it would have been difficult to remove a dead body four hundred years old for a return trip through the desert. In every detail, God was in control and had designed a plan to carry out His covenant promises to Abraham.
Exodus 1-2: 10 click on the video below
In chapter one of Exodus, the names of the sons of Jacob are once again stated and counted as seventy in all coming to Egypt plus Joseph and his family who were already there. Joseph and all his brothers die and all their generation and a new king comes to power many years later as the Israelites continue to grow in number.
Exodus 1: 7-8 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them. 8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.
It was at this time, the enslavement prophecy is fulfilled.
Genesis 15: 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.
Exodus tells us that a new king who did not know Joseph was in power. There is much speculation as to this king’s identity. We do not know exactly who this king might be. Archeologist have found clues but do not agree. Some suggest 1) Hyksos kings were Semitic people similar to Joseph in background and in 1300-1250 BC brought Joseph to power. They were then expelled by the Egyptian Pharaoh and turned against the Hebrews. or 2) An Egyptian Pharaoh installed Joseph as vizier and when the Hyksos arrived they enslaved the Hebrews around 1450 BC
Why is it important to know when Joseph arrived in Egypt and Jacob’s family followed during the years of famine? Or is it?
Take the quiz below and see how much you know about Exodus 1-2: 10
1. Refer back to the Genesis 15: 12-16. How many years were predicted that Israel would be in a foreign land? How many years were the descendants of Jacob in Egypt from the time of Joseph to when Moses lead them out? What does this speak about God?
2. Why was Pharaoh fearful of the Israelites/Hebrews?
3. What did Pharaoh do to ensure the numbers would cease to increase? Did it work? Why?
4. Shiphrah and Purah disobeyed Pharaoh. Disobeying Pharaoh was punishable by death. Why did they take the risk?
5. List examples of people that have disobeyed rulers and governments for the kingdom of God.
6. Moses’ Mother recognized that her son was a special child. Indeed, he would grow to be a leader. Detail God’s intervention into the life of this child from the time he was born until he met God in the desert.