The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Exodus 1

Exo 1:1

Exo 1: The first "Final Solution" for the Jews!

"Egypt represents the power of opposition to God's people, for the spirit of anti-Christ, and worldliness. Jacob and his family were forced to seek for food in Egypt -- as we are forced to seek sustenance in the world as we await the day of deliverance. We suffer under the Pharaoh taskmaster of Sin, as did those in the days of Moses. But deliverance is inevitable. It will come at the set time to favour Zion. A greater than Moses will appear in due time to fulfil the divine covenant to the people of Joseph. Exo 1 commences in exile, and reveals the cry of pain (Exo 1:23). It is the beginning of the national creation of a family, the revelation of the divine Name, and the deliverance of an enslaved people. So the record continues to reveal the wonderful story of divine redemption from Sin and Death: [1] OPPRESSION: Introduction with the death of Joseph: Exo 1:1-6; [2] A new king and a new policy: vv 7-14. [3] The faithful defiance of the midwives: vv 15-21. [4] Pharaoh's ruthless decree: v 22" (GEM).

"Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions" (Gen 15:13,14; cp Gen 46:3,4; 50:24,25). The inclusion of the names at this point forms a literary connection to the Book of Genesis. It indicates that the Israelites living in bondage had retained a knowledge of their ancestry, and with it, a knowledge of God's promises.

"The Egyptians, even before the Greek philosophers, were the first to propound the doctrine of an immortal soul" (Herodotus).

Exo 1:2

Vv 2-4: The tribal order is not chronological, but rather reflects Gen 35:23-26: the sons of Leah first, then the sons of Rachel, next the sons of Bilhah (Rachel's handmaid), and lastly the sons of Zilpah (Leah's handmaid). Within this structure the various sons ARE presented in birth order.

Exo 1:5

SEVENTY: Cp Gen 46:8-27. From Leah 33, Zilpah 16, Rachel 14, and Bilhah 7.

God frames the nation of Israel from these original 70, just as Gen 10 describes the population of the world originating in 70 families. And so Israel stands as a type of all nations, and a representative: Israel's experiences and relationship with God are typical both of man and of God's way of dealing with man in general (cp Deu 32:8).

Cp also the 70 disciples sent out by Jesus (Luk 10:1)

Exo 1:7

FRUITFUL... MULTIPLIED GREATLY... EXCEEDINGLY NUMEROUS... THE LAND WAS FILLED WITH THEM: Repetition upon repetition. In itself, this was a fulfillment of promises in Genesis: Gen 1:20,28; 9:1; 12:2; 13:16; 15:5; 17:4-6,16; 22:17; 26:4; 28:3,4,14.

Exo 1:8

THEN A NEW KING, WHO DID NOT KNOW ABOUT JOSEPH, CAME TO POWER IN EGYPT: A change of dynasty in Egypt. Not so much that the new Pharaoh had not heard of Joseph, but that he did not acknowledge any obligation to him, and perhaps also he disapproved of that system of government which Joseph had established. Probably he refused to acknowledge the obligations under which the whole land of Egypt was laid to this eminent prime minister of one of his predecessors.

History suggests that there was indeed a new dynasty -- intensely Egyptian, which would hate former Hyksos rulers -- and would strive to blot them out of all history (along with Joseph too) (Arch Expl 20). This introduces a major theme in the early portion of Exodus, as a later Pharaoh will claim not to know who Yahweh is. The LORD, however, will work to make sure that Pharaoh and all Egypt will know that he is the true God!

"Our world does not know who Joseph was, or any of the other Bible characters, any more than the new king did... These details are apt evocations of a worldly mindset we are naturally inclined to serve. The world is always changing; there is always some new thing, and today's ways and values will be passe by tomorrow. for all our education, we live in a world of ignorance, a world in which the lessons of the past and the ways of God have not been learned" (MV, Tes 71:37).

Exo 1:10

WE MUST DEAL SHREWDLY WITH THEM: On an ancient victory monument called the "Elephantine Stele", there is recorded a rebellion in which a renegade Egyptian faction bribed Asiatics living in Egypt to assist them. Although the rebellion ultimately failed, it does confirm that in the same time period when the Israelites were in Egypt, the Egyptians would very likely counsel care and prudence in dealing with a slave population.

Exo 1:11

TO OPPRESS THEM WITH FORCED LABOR: The Heb words for "oppress" (anah) and "forced labor" (abad) are the same as those used in Gen 15:13. This verse thus explicitly demonstrates the fulfillment of that prophecy.

Exo 1:12

Chastisement brings forth fruit.

Exo 1:15

These may have been Egyptian women, who feared God, and thus were made to have "houses" in Israel: cp Rahab (cp v 20). Or they may have been Hebrews themselves; their names can be explained on Heb etymologies. It is fascinating that we are given the names of the two Heb midwives, but not that of the Pharaoh himself; surely this is a selective history with a purpose!

Exo 1:16

DELIVERY STOOL: The word literally means "two stones" (the sw is used to denote the potter's wheel). Apparently it was the practice for mothers to give birth by sitting on two stools with a gap between them (cp Gen 30:3; 50:23; Job 3:12, which mention giving birth on someone else's knees, involving a similar process).

IF IT IS A BOY, KILL HIM: Perhaps contriving to make it look like a natural death. (Boys only were to be killed; the Heb girls would be extra women for the Egyptians!)

Exo 1:17

THE MIDWIVES, HOWEVER, FEARED GOD...: God works through small and great alike to achieve His purpose.

Exo 1:19

The Israelite women were healthy and strong, by ct to the Egyptian women.

As if to say: 'How can we kill the Heb boys and make it look natural? they are so obviously lively and strong!"

Exo 1:21

FAMILIES OF THEIR OWN: KJV has "houses", but here understood as families. These midwives were so faithful in caring for others' children than God richly blessed them in children of their own.

Exo 1:22

EVERY BOY... YOU MUST THROW INTO THE NILE: And so, by a divine irony, the Egyptians themselves would suffer because of the Nile, and the army esp by drowning!

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