430 years later
FINALLY Exodus 1, bet that was how the Israelites felt too when they could say, “Finally the Exodus”. They had gone to Egypt (Genesis) to flee famine. Joseph provided for them, and God multiplied them so that the tiny band of 70 Israelites now numbered more than a million. The Egyptians were beginning to get nervous, for they had turned the Israelites into slaves, and who knew if the slaves would revolt or not. So they started making provisions to decrease the numbers of the Israelites. The funny thing about reacting out of fear is that so often that only makes the situation worse. We will see that that is the end result of the Egyptians’ attempt at population control.
Exodus begins with a listing of the sons -and the fact is noted that they came with their household into Egypt. Remember – Joseph had them mention that they were shepherds (something the Egyptians did not like to associate with), so that kept them set apart from the culture, and thus they did not become like the Egyptians, talk like the Egyptians or “Walk like the Egyptians” (sorry, couldn’t resist that Steve Martin song), or become part of their religion.
Verse 5 All those who were the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already).
Joseph dies all his brothers and all that generation. verse 7 But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty, and the land was filled with them.
There was a new king over Egypt (one who did not remember Joseph and what he did to save Egypt from the famine), verse 9 And he said to his people, “Look the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we, come let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and go up out of the land.”
There is some thought that this king was not a native Egyptian, but I am not 100% certain about that. What makes me think that he might not be an Egyptian is Isaiah 52:4b Then the Assyrian oppressed them without cause them being the Israelites. What I do know is that the Israelites were treated as slaves, and it would have been a good military strategy of any enemy of Egypt to have the slaves join them and revolt against their masters. That is some inkling of how the Israelites were treated, slaves that are treated well, that are like part of the family, that have respect and kind treatment are less likely to revolt. Slaves that are mistreated could be viewed with suspicion when they outnumber their masters. Sometimes those in power then afflict the slaves to keep them in subjection, but each person has that point where they draw the line and say – this far and no further.
The other thought that came to my mind is that sometimes kind treatment can be just as enslaving. You can get a person so complacent with kindness, that they do not seek to move on. An example could be a child who is spoiled to the point where they see no need to do anything for themselves. Satan spoils us sometimes with kindness and good things, that keep us blind from the fact that we might not be doing what God wants us to do. You can kill a person with kindness as much as with mistreatment. Guess we need to find that perfect balance.
The king’s first attempt to subdue the Egyptians and reduce their numbers was: verse 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses.(Ramses)
What is interesting is that so often when people are afflicted, the results are not what the abusers want. Look at the spread of Early Christianity – the affliction of the Christians spread the Word of God further than kind treatment would have done. Some of those who are in other countries where they are persecuted for being Christians have a stronger faith, for their faith is tested and flourishes in the fires of persecution.
Verse 12-14 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.
One other thing to consider is that the Egyptian king would have been influenced by satan, who wanted nothing more than to wipe out the tribe of Israel – because satan knows that Jesus would come from that line. If Pharaoh’s plan worked out, then there would have been no line of descent from Abraham to Jesus.
Sometimes when times are tough and we face rigors in our lives, it may seem that our oppressor is winning, but we will see that that rigorous service caused the Israelites to be in good shape for the long trek that they had ahead of them. Another example of what satan means for harm, God turns to good.
Verse 16 makes me so sad to see the depths that Pharaoh was willing to take to try and stop the multiplying of the Egyptians, “Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah: and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.”
A few name, PITHOM – City of Justice
The word rigor means with pain, harshness, severity and cruelty.
The fact that it was two midwives named might mean the same thing as out of the mouth of two witnesses. And we see that what they did was to act with absolute justice (preserve life) and their plan was considered splendid and brilliant by God, who blessed them very much for their resistance to Pharaoh’s orders.
This is an important message that comes next. We are to obey those who are over us, our rulers/president, congress, lawgivers, pastors, and wives are to obey their husbands, children their parents. But if someone gives an ungodly command, we are NOT under obligation to obey it. We are to do what God wants us to do. But, if we choose to rebel, we must be absolutely certain that it really is a God thing, not our own flesh coming up with an excuse not to obey.
Verse 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive.
Praise God for that rebellion of theirs. God protected his people through the courage of the midwives.
The king calls the midwives to him and asks why they haven’t done what he has commanded. They might have lied (we are not to lie) I suspect that if they had told the truth somehow God would have preserved them.
Verse 19 And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are lively, and give birth before the midwives come to them.”
This may be true, for the Egyptian women lived a life of luxury, and hard work probably made childbirth easier for the Israelites. Could be possible that what the midwives said here was true, but I suspect that they honestly would not take the children’s lives.
Verse 20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives and the people multiplied and grew very mighty.
In that we can see that God was really pleased with the midwives’ bravery.
Verse 21 And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.
God gave them children, family and households. He prospered them because they blessed the Israelites by preserving lives.
Verse 22 So Pharaoh commanded all his people saying, “Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.”
The joke is going to be on Pharaoh, for his worst enemy will be put on the river and ultimately raised by Pharaoh’s household.
I am so saddened by the thought of how many children died in this way. To think that Pharaoh would think so lightly of life as to think he could take it so liberally. Much the same as the rulers who legislate abortion take life lightly today.
I am so glad that for every evil plan of satan, God has a greater plan that just serves to bring satan to his ultimate end, the lake of fire.
Hope you have a great Monday. I am looking forward to my bed, the kids kept us up so late, but it was a good weekend, and they had a lot of fun.
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