Lesson 1:
Exodus Chapter 1
Israel in Egypt

Beloved God of the Patriarchs,

Just as You called Abraham out of Ur and his descendants out of Egypt, so have You called each of us out of the moral decay of this world to live in righteous and to know, to love, and to serve You as children who have been reborn into Your holy covenant family through our Savior, Christ Jesus. As Your holy Christian people You have called us to renounce this world, to take up our crosses and to follow Your beloved Son in the same way You called Israel to renounce Egypt and to accept a journey that would ultimately lead them to the "Promised Land."  The children of Israel witnessed Your great and terrible love in the miracles You worked on their behalf and the blessings You bestowed upon them for covenant obedience, but our rewards are much greater, not temporal blessings and possession of a physical land but eternal blessings that will bring us to the banquet table of our divine Father in the presence of our Savior Jesus in the "Promised Land" of heaven.  Guide us, Lord, in our study of the story of Israel's exodus out of Egypt, and help us to learn from the experiences of the children of Israel so that we will trust You on our journey of faith in our exodus out of this life as we journey toward the Gates of Heaven.  We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

+ + +

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture passages are quoted from the New Jerusalem Bible translation.  For information on the question of the Mosaic authorship of Exodus, please see the Genesis study, Lesson 1 and the chart "Evidence of Moses as the Inspired Writer of the Pentateuch in Scripture and the Testimony of the Church Fathers" in the appendix to this lesson.


FOCUS Redemption Revelation
COVENANT The Abrahamic Covenant The Sinai Covenant
SCRIPTURE 1:1--------------2:1-----------------5:1---------------15:1---------------19:1---------------32:1------40:38
DIVISION Need for redemption Preparation for redemption Israel's redemption Israel's preservation Revelation of the Sinai Covenant Perpetuation of the Sinai Covenant
TOPIC Narration Legislation
-Subjection of Israel
-The birth & early life of Moses in Egypt
-The 40 years in Midian
-The call of Moses
-The return to Egypt
-The 9 Egyptian plagues
-The 10th plague and the first Passover
-Crossing the Red Sea
-The Wilderness Journey to Mt. Sinai/Horeb
The Law & Instruction
-Birth of the Old Covenant Church – First Pentecost
-The Ten Commandments
-Israel accepts the Covenant
-Establishment of Sacrifice and Liturgy
-Yahweh takes possession of the Tabernacle
LOCATION Egypt - Midian - Egypt Wilderness
Red Sea
and Mt. Sinai
Mount Sinai in Midian
rendezvous with God on the 50th day after crossing Red Sea (as ancients counted)*
TIME 430 years
(Ex 12:40)
48 days
(Ex 19:1)
Stayed almost 2 years
(Num 9:11)

* The ancients counted without the concept of a 0-place value.  The first day in a sequence counted as day #1; this is why Scripture records that Jesus rested in the tomb a total of three days instead of two days as we count.  Hebrew months were lunar months of 29 or 30 days.


World Power: Egypt-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2000 BC             1600 BC                                           1350 BC                  1000 BC
Abraham ?                       ?----------EXODUS----------?                                  King David
                                                                                                                           conquers Jerusalem

The Pentateuch (Torah) is one book in five parts.  The purpose of the Pentateuch is to record the history of the origin of Israel's relationship with Yahweh and to demonstrate that the God of Creation, who is the God of the Patriarchs, is also the God of the children of Israel who called His covenant people out of slavery in Egypt to holy nationhood at Mt. Sinai. 

Identity is one of the central themes in the Book of Exodus. The book begins with an Egyptian Pharaoh who enslaves the Israelites because he no longer recognizes their identity as descendants of Jacob/Israel who had a covenant with the Egyptians established by Jacob's son Joseph. The book then reveals the true identity of the God of the Patriarchs to the children of Israel through Moses, and finally ends with the Israelites' new identity as a free people called into a covenant relationship to serve Yahweh, their one God and Divine King

The themes of Genesis are repeated in the Book of Exodus:

The Hebrew title of the second book of the Pentateuch (Torah) is Sefer ve'eleh shemot [pronounced: sah-far wa-all-a sa-mot].  Taken from the first line of Scripture in the Book of Exodus, sefer ve'eleh shemot means: "And these are the names."(1) The English title "Exodus" is derived from the title of this book in the Greek Septuagint translation, Exodos Aigyptou, (Latinized as "Exodus"), meaning "the way out of Egypt," or "departure out of Egypt."(2) "Exodus" is a word that indicates one of the principle themes of the book, which is Israel's physical "departure" or "way out" from slavery in Egypt.  However, the exodus of Israel from Egypt is not only a physical departure.  It is also the children of Israel's spiritual departure from an ordinary people to a holy covenant nation, called by God out of the other nations of the world.   In the Greek translation of the Gospel of Luke 9:30-31 the text uses the word "exodos."  In that passage Moses and Elijah "appeared in glory" and met with Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration: ... and they were speaking of his exodus which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem (New Jerusalem Bible )In the context of Luke 9:30-31, the Fathers of the Church saw Moses leading the children of Israel on their "exodus" from slavery in Egypt into a covenant relationship that allowed them to inherit the Promised Land in Canaan as a foreshadow of Jesus the Messiah, the "greater than Moses," leading the children of God on an "exodus" out of slavery to sin and into a covenant relationship with Yahweh that promised the possession of the true Promised Land, eternal life with the Most Holy Trinity in Heaven.(3)

The exodus out of Egypt was the defining historical experience of the children of Israel.  In a crucible of suffering, living under Egyptian bondage, God took the descendants of His servant Jacob/Israel and formed them into a unified people destined to be His holy covenant nation, the vehicle of salvation for the other nations of the world and the people from whom the promise of the coming of the Redeemer Messiah was to be fulfilled.  It is a story that has captured the imagination of Jews and Christians down through the centuries because it has the elements of all really good stories: It is a love story with a villain, a conflict, a hero, and the rescue of a heroine.  The villain is the Egyptian Pharaoh, and the conflict is Israel's enslavement and her desire to be set free.  There are two heroes in this story: God and his agent, Moses, and the heroine is, of course, Israel, Yahweh's beloved. It is a story that has been lovingly retold at every Jewish Passover Seder down through the centuries since Israel's exodus out of Egypt.  But we must keep in mind that God's choice of the children of Israel in this drama was not an arbitrary choice, nor was their experience in Egypt an accident of history. The events of the Exodus liberation and the great themes of judgment, sacrifice, and redemption will be replayed in the redemption of mankind in the coming of the Redeemer-Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth the climax of which begins with the remembrance celebration of the first Passover experience.

The Story of the Exodus Begins with the Promises Made to Abraham

Abraham, the great ancestor of a host of nations, no one was ever his equal in glory.  He observed the Law of the Most High, and entered into a covenant with him.  He confirmed the covenant in his own flesh, and proved himself faithful under ordeal.  The Lord therefore promised him on oath to bless the nations through his descendants, to multiply him like the dust on the ground, to exalt his descendants like the stars, and to give them the land as their heritage, from one sea to the other, from the River to the ends of the earth.  Sirach 44:19-21 (20-23)

Question: When God called Abram/Abraham to leave the land of his birth to settle in Canaan, what did God promise to give to Abram/Abraham as a reward for his faithful obedience?  See Genesis 12:1-3. Were these promises ever fulfilled in Abraham's lifetime?

Answer: God promised to give him: 1) land, 2) many descendants, and 3) a world-wide blessing (Gen 12:1-3).  No, the promises were not fulfilled in Abraham's lifetime.

In the first part of the covenant formation ritual of the Abrahamic three-part covenant, God repeated His promise to give the land of Canaan to Abraham's descendants after they had been oppressed and enslaved as exiles in a foreign land for a period of about four hundred years.  God promised that in the midst of the judgment of that foreign nation, at a period when the sins of the inhabitants of Canaan had reached its height, the children of Israel would be redeemed and given possession of the "promised land:" Then Yahweh said to Abram, 'Know this for certain, that your descendants will be exiles in a land not their own, and be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.  But I shall bring judgment on the nation that enslaves them and after this they will leave, with many possessions.  For your part, you will join your ancestors in peace; you will be buried at a happy old age.  In the fourth generation they will come back here, for until then the iniquity of the Amorites will not have reached its full extent.'  (Gen 15:13-16).

Question: What reason was given for the delay in giving the descendants of Abraham possession of the "Promised Land?"

Answer: The inequity of the Amorites (the majority of the inhabitants of Canaan) had to reach its height, the point at which repentance was unlikely if not impossible (in human terms). 

In other words, God was not going to arbitrarily disposes the Canaanites, even though the land was promised to Shem the righteous son of Noah and his descendants (Gen 9:25-27).  In the passage in which Noah blessed his righteous firstborn son Shem and named him as "God's man" (Gen 9:26), Noah's grandson Canaan was called a "slave" three times: 'Accursed be Canaan, he shall be his brothers meanest slave.'  He added: 'Blessed by Yahweh, God of Shem, let Canaan be his slave!  May God make space for Japheth; may he live in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his slave!'  (Note: in this passage "brothers" is used as we would use the word "kinsmen."

A slave does not own land but serves a master.  Shem and Japheth were to be masters over their nephew Canaan, and Shem was designated the son of Noah who would carry the authority of the Noahide covenant, serving as the mediator between God and the covenant family.  Shem was to share the Noahide covenant blessings with his younger brother Japheth, who dwelt in the "tent/tabernacle" (worshiped Yahweh under the authority of) Shem.  God's promise to Abraham was that when the sinfulness of the Canaanites reached its height, God would call his covenant family, the descendants of the faithful remnant of the line of Shem descended through Abraham's grandson, Jacob/Israel (see the genealogy in Gen 11:10-26), out of Egypt to take possession of the land of Canaan.

Question: What inequity of the Amorites/Canaanites was most abominable to God?  See Leviticus 18:21; 20:2-5.

Answer: Child sacrifice.

Leviticus 18:21: You will not allow your children to be sacrifice to Molech (passed to Molech), thus profaning the name of your God, I am Yahweh.  Molech is not the name of a god.  In Hebrew mlh = "molech/moloch" ("he who rules") or molech mur ("he who rules over live sacrifice"), was a title for the god Hadad, also called "Lord" or "Baal."  In the ritual of human sacrifice, children between three and five years old were "made to pass" through fire, being burned alive as a sacrifice to Baal in order for the parents to receive Baal's blessings of prosperity.(4)

After arriving in the land of Canaan and receiving God's promises of land, descendants, and a world-wide blessing (Gen 12:1-3), Abraham made a spiritual conquest of the "promised land" by traveling from one end of Canaan to the other (Gen 12:6-9).  Later, during a time of famine in Canaan, Abraham and Sarah journeyed into the land of Egypt where Sarah was forced to serve in the Egyptian ruler's harem.  It was only through God's intervention that Abraham's bride was returned and they were permitted to make their "exodus" out of Egypt (Gen 12:10-20).  Abraham and Sarah's Egyptian adventure prefigured their descendants (the children of Israel) experiences after they immigrated to Egypt, also during a time of famine in Canaan (Gen 41:57; 42:1-2, 5). 

There are three parallel episodes in Genesis concerning the peril of a bride of the Patriarchs Abraham (Sarah/Sarai) and Isaac (Rebekah) at the hands of a foreign ruler.  In each case the "bride" was the woman destined to bear a child that was to continue the line of the "promised seed" of Genesis 3:15 (He who is destined to defeat the power of Satan over humanity), remaining in covenant with Yahweh. 

Question: Name those three episodes in Genesis beginning with Sarah's abduction in Egypt. 


Episode #1: Sarah's abduction into the harem of the Egyptian ruler (Gen 12:10-20)

Episode #2: Sarah's abduction into the harem of King Abimelech of Gerar (Gen 20:1-18)

Episode #3: Rebekah's thwarted abduction by King Abimelech (Gen 26:1, 7-17

(God intervened to prevent Rebekah's abduction because she was already pregnant and the legitimacy of the "promised seed" had to be protected).

Question: Compare Abraham's and Sarah's experiences in Egypt, the abduction of Sarah (Sarai) by King Abimelech and Rebekah's thwarted abduction by King Abimelech with what you know of the Exodus experience of their descendants.  Are there similarities between these three episodes involving the brides of the Patriarchs and the experience of Abraham and Isaac's descendants who, in the formation of the Sinai Covenant, became the Bride of Yahweh?  Name five points of comparison.

Answer: Each story has 5 elements, including the story of the Exodus experience:

  1. A migration (Gen 12:10; 20:1; 26:1; Ex 46:6-7)
  2. An abduction or threatened abduction (Gen 12:15; 20:2; 26:8-10; Ex 1:8-14)
  3. God's intervention (Gen 12:17; 20:3-7; 26:2-5; Ex 3:7-10)
  4. A deliverance (Gen 12:19; 20:14; 26:11; Ex 12:29-14:31)
  5. A conclusion (Gen 12:20; 20:15-18; 26:12-14; Ex 15-21)

Repetition in Scripture often points to God's providence in the unfolding history of mankind.  A three-time repetition is usually the signal that a fourth event, very similar to the previous three events, has great significance in God's plan for man's salvation.  In the case of the three events recounted in Genesis, where a bride of a patriarch and the preservation of the "promised seed" became endangered, the fourth more significant event is the peril of Yahweh's Bride, Israel, suffering under the Egyptian oppression.  While there are parallels between all three Genesis accounts and the account of Israel's Egyptian experience, the links between the abduction of Abraham's bride and her rescue from Pharaoh's harem in Genesis 12:17-13:2 with Israel's enslavement in Egypt and Israel's rescue in Exodus 11:1-12:38 are truly remarkable.

In the following chart, note the repetition of the experiences in the Scripture passages describing Abraham and Sarah's experience and the experiences of their descendants, the children of Israel.  One Pharaoh possessed Abraham's bride Sarah, and another Pharaoh possessed God's Bride, Israel, who like Sarah was destined to be the bearer of the "promised seed" and one day bring forth the promised Redeemer-Messiah.  In both cases, God's plan for man's redemption was threatened and in both cases God intervened to safeguard the "promised seed."

Abraham and Sarah's Sojourn in and Redemption from Egypt
(Gen 12:10-13:2)
Israel's Sojourn in and Redemption from Egypt
(Gen 42:5; Exodus 1:11, 16; 11:1-12:38)
Gen 12:10: There was a famine in the country, and Abram went down to Egypt Gen 42:5: Thus the sons of Israel were among the other people who came to get supplies, there being famine in Canaan
Gen 12:12: they will kill me but leave you alive Ex 1:16: If it is a boy, kill him; if a girl, let her live
Gen 12:15: the woman was taken into Pharaoh's household Ex 1:11: they put taskmasters over the Israelites to wear them down by forced labor
Gen 12:17: Yahweh inflicted severe plagues on Pharaoh and his household Ex 11:1: Yahweh then said to Moses, 'I shall inflict one more plague on Pharaoh and Egypt


Gen 12:18: Pharaoh summoned Abram and said Ex 12:31a: Pharaoh summoned Moses and said
Gen 12:19b: Take her and go! Ex 12:32: And take your flocks and herds as you have asked, and go!
Gen 12:20: Pharaoh gave his people orders about him; they send him on his way with his wife and all his possessions Ex 12:33: The Egyptians urged the people on and hurried them out of the country...
Gen 13:1: From Egypt Abram returned to the Negeb with his wife and all he possessed Ex 12:37: The Israelites left Rameses for Succoth [..]. 
Gen 13:1: and Lot with him Ex 12:38: A mixed crowd of people went with them
Gen 12:16: And Abram ... received flocks, oxen, donkeys, men and women slaves, she-donkeys and camels.  13:2: Abram was very rich with livestock, silver, and gold. Ex 12:35: The Israelites did as Moses had told them and asked the Egyptians for silver and golden jewelry and clothing.   [..].  12:38... and flocks and herds, quantities of livestock.
M. Hunt © copyright 2009

Psalm 105 recounts the history of children of Israel from the covenant formation with Abraham to the conquest of Canaan.  In Psalm 105:6-23, the psalmist recalled the promise God made to Abraham concerning his descendant's inheritance of the "promised land," and then he summarized the events that resulted in Abraham's great-grandson becoming the Vizier of Egypt and bringing the children of Israel into the land of the Egyptians, descendants of Noah's dispossessed son, Ham (Gen 10:6). 

Please read Psalm 105:6-23:
105:6Stock of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob whom he chose! 7He is Yahweh our God, his judgments touch the whole world. 8He remembers his covenant for ever, the promise he laid down for a thousand generations, 9which he concluded with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. 10He established it as a statute for Jacob, an everlasting covenant with Israel, 11saying, 'To you I give a land, Canaan, your allotted birthright.' 12When they were insignificant in numbers, a handful of strangers in the land, 13wandering from country to country, from one kingdom and nation to another, 14he allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he instructed kings, 15'Do not touch my anointed ones, to my prophets you may do no harm.' 16He called down famine on the land, he took away their food supply; 17he sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, sold as a slave. 18So his feet were weighed down with shackles, his neck was put in irons. 19In due time his prophecy was filled, the word of Yahweh proved him true. 20The king sent orders to release him, the ruler of nations set him free; 21he put him in charge of his household, the ruler of all he possessed, 22to instruct his princes as he saw fit, to teach his councilors wisdom. 23Then Israel migrated to Egypt, Jacob settled in the country of Ham.*

* The "Table of nations" lists Mizraim (Egypt) as the second son of Ham and brother of Canaan (Gen 10:6).

Question: According to Psalm 105:6-15, Genesis 12:1-3; 22:15-18 and 26:3-6, for what reason were the sons of Jacob/Israel and their descendants selected to fulfill God's plan to create a holy covenant nation?

Answer: This family was destined for greatness because of God's oath to their ancestor Abraham, an oath renewed through Abraham's descendants Isaac and Jacob/Israel.

Question: What man did God used to fulfill the prophecy in Genesis 15 that Abraham's descendants would be exiles in a foreign land?  What was his relationship to Abraham and what position of importance did he occupy?  See Genesis 30:22-23; 41:41-43.

Answer: Joseph was the son of Jacob/Israel by his wife Rachel; he was the grandson of Isaac, and great-grandson of Abraham.  He became the Vizier (royal governor) of Egypt.

Most biblical historians assign the years Joseph ruled in Egypt to the historical period of the Hyksos.  The Hyksos were foreign invaders who conquered Lower Egypt (northern Egypt) from the 18th century to the early 16th century BC.  It is possible that the Hyksos were Semites like the Israelites, which would explain their willingness to make the Israelites their allies.  In c. 1550 BC, the Egyptian rulers of Upper Egypt (southern Egypt) managed to defeat the Hyksos and to drive them out of Egypt.  Very little is known about the years of Hyksos domination since the newly established Egyptian dynasty successfully erased as much as possible from the historical records concerning the hated foreigners.  Some inscriptions, however, have been discovered from the Hyksos period.  There was, for example, a Hyksos pharaoh who was named yeqbhr; the shortened form of which would have been the same as the name of the Patriarch "Jacob" (Anchor Bible Commentary: Exodus, vol. II, page 742).(5)

Egyptian scribes from the era of Pharaoh Rameses II, almost three centuries after the expulsion of the Hyksos, recorded that the Hyksos were fanatics who ruled without the approval of the Egyptian gods and who worshipped the god of violence.  The Hyksos had adopted the Egyptian god Seth, the god of war, as their deity.  Some Egyptologists have suggested that this inscription, taken literally, may indicate that the Hyksos were monotheists. The Israelites, who were themselves monotheists, would have been the Hyksos' closest allies during their domination of Egypt.  Scripture records that Joseph chose to settle his people in Goshen near the royal city of his pharaoh.  The Israelite's circa 400 year stay in Egypt, according to Genesis 15:13 (Ex 12:40 gives the more exact date of 430 years), may be linked to the Egyptian tradition that the god Seth ruled Egypt for 400 years (Ancient Near Eastern Texts, pages 252-53).  Another connection between the Hyksos and Israel is found in Numbers 13:22 where the founding of the Egyptian Delta city of Tanis is used as a time reference.  The city was called Avaris in the days of the Hyksos.  Avaris was the Hyksos summer capital and the closest royal city to where the Israelites were living in Goshen (Anchor Bible Commentary: Exodus, vol. II, page 742).

God's plan to call Abraham's descendants from the family of his grandson Jacob/Israel into covenant, forming for the first time in salvation history a corporate covenant nation, was not an accident of history.(6) It was a definitive plan set in motion by God's selection of Abraham as the father of His future covenant people.  God established a three-fold covenant with Abraham upon which all future covenants were to be based, including the New Covenant in Christ Jesus where God's promises to Abraham of dominion over the land/kingdom (expanded to promise of a kingdom in Gen 17:5-6, 16), a multitude of descendants, and a world-wide blessing were perfectly fulfilled.

The Historical Accuracy of the Book of Exodus

Historically is there evidence that the Israelites were ever slaves in Egypt?  Is there any evidence to support the Bible's claims that Canaanite immigrants who were the descendants of Jacob/Israel son of Isaac, son of Abraham lived in Egypt several hundred years before they were dramatically liberated from bondage to the Egyptians sometime between the Middle (2100-1550 BC) to the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 BC)?   While it is true that there is no "definitive evidence" that ultimately proves the story of children of Israel's sojourn in Egypt, there is an abundance of what a defense attorney might call "circumstantial evidence."  Some examples of this evidence include:

Dating the Exodus

Most modern scholars date the Exodus to the period of the 21st Dynasty, to the rule of Pharaoh Rameses II (the Great), settling on an official date for the Israelite conquest of Canaan as between 1230-1220 BC.  Part of the argument for the Exodus taking place in this period in Egyptian history is the assumption that mention of the "store-cities of Pithom and Rameses" in Exodus 1:11 refers to Pharaoh Rameses II, who is believed to have ruled sixty-seven years (1290-1224 BC; first year of reign counted as year #1 even if it wasn't a complete year; scholar's dates vary).  The date can't be set forward any later than that since a stele was discovered, erected by Rameses' son, Pharaoh Merneptha (1224-1204 BC), and dated according to the tablet itself to the 5th year of the pharaoh's reign, which as the ancients counts would be c. 1220 BC. On the tablet the Pharaoh boasted of a victorious military invasion into the Levant including the land of the Israelites.(9)  Scholars who support an earlier date point out that the name "Rameses" was a common name in Egyptian history and is found among Egyptian records dating to earlier dynasties.  Then too, the name "Rameses might not refer to a person but to a region in the Delta.  In Genesis 47:11 the name "Rameses" is used as a place-name to describe the Nile Delta region of Goshen were Jacob's family settled.

Sacred Scripture points to an earlier date for the Israelites return to Canaan in five different passages (Gen 15:13; Ex 12:40; 1 Kng 6:1; Judg 11:26; Acts 13:19-20), suggesting the Exodus out of Egypt occurred sometime in the mid 14th century BC, with the conquest of Canaan forty years later.  If once accepts the oral tradition that places Abraham in Canaan c. 2000 BC, and using the dates for his death, as well as the deaths of his heirs who inherited the covenant promises, together with the prophecy of the return in the fourth generation from Abraham, after 430 years in Egypt, the date for the migration into Egypt was in the 18th century BC, the Exodus in the mid 1300's and the and the conquest appears to have occurred forty years later in the late 1300's:


As we study the Book of Exodus, remember the biblical themes from Genesis that are revisited in Exodus and look for the new themes that are introduced:

As in the study of Genesis, there are certain key Hebrew words that express the various themes in Exodus and reoccur to unify the book: abad (serve/worship), 'es (fire), kabod (connoting heaviness, glory, wealth and firmness), yad / yamin (hand-arm/ right hand), zeroa (arm), and shem (name), and yada' (knowing/knowledge).

Abad: This verb and its root 'bd provides a link to Genesis.  Abad, meaning "serve/work, or worship" and its derived nouns 'ebed (slave), and 'aboda (labor/ worship), provides a link to Genesis chapter two where God commanded Adam to abad (serve) and samar (guard) the garden Sanctuary: Yahweh God took the man and settled him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate (abad) and take care of (samar) it (New Jerusalem translation)St. Augustine made the observation: Although man was placed in paradise so as to work and guard it, that praiseworthy work was not toilsome.  For the work in paradise is quite different from the work on the earth to which he was condemned after the sin.  The addition "and to guard it" indicated the sort of work it was.  For in the tranquility of the happy life, where there is no death, the only work is to guard what you possess (Two Books on Genesis Against the Manichaeans, 2.11.15; quoted from Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, O.T. vol I, page 60).(10)

This word takes us back to Adam's covenant duty before the Fall which was to perform the joyous labor of serving God in the earthly garden Sanctuary, the only place on earth where earthly and heavenly liturgy was joined in worship of Yahweh-Elohim.  After the Fall, however, Adam was exiled from Eden and, as a slave to sin living outside the Edenic Sanctuary, he was condemned to do hard labor (Gen 3:17-19, 23).  In the first chapter of Exodus we discover that living outside the Promised Land the children of Israel are forced to serve (abad) the Pharaoh in hard labor as his slaves (Ex 1:13, 14; 2:23; 5:9, 11; 6:5, 6, 9; 14:5, 12), even though the children of Israel continually petition the Pharaoh to allow them to leave to "worship" (abad) their God (3:12; 4:23; 7:16, 26; 8:15, 16; 9:1, 13; 10:3, 7, 8, 11, 24, 26; 12:31; 13:3, 14; 20:2).  However, after their redemption from Egypt, at God's command the children of Israel will, like Adam, serve/ worship God in an earthly Sanctuary when they build the Tabernacle which becomes, for the first time since the Edenic Sanctuary, the one place on earth where God will commune with His people who will serve/worship (abad) Him (Ex 27:19; 30:16; 35:21, 24; 36:1, 3, 5; 38:21; 39:32, 40, 42).

'Es (fire) is the visible manifestation of the Divine Presence in the Book of Exodus.  God first appears to Moses in the Burning Bush that is not consumed by the fire that engulfs it (Ex 3:2), in the Pillar of Fire (Glory Cloud) that guides the children of Israel on their journey (Ex 13:21-22; 14:24), in the fire at the summit of Mt. Sinai (Ex 19:18; 24:17), and in the fire upon the Tabernacle when God took possession of the sacred space of the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant rested (Ex 40:38).

Kabod (connoting heaviness, glory, wealth and firmness) and its root kbd, is a word used to describe Moses' "heavy" mouth (Ex 4:10), Pharaoh's heaviness or hardness of heart (Ex 7:14; 8:11, 28; 9:7, 34; 10:1), and the "heavy" labor Pharaoh imposes upon his Israelite slaves (Ex 5:9).  In judgment for Pharaoh's "heavy heart" God sends "heavy" plagues (Ex 8:20; 9:3, 18, 24; 10:14).  God's mighty signs and miracles on Israel's behalf "glorify" God above the Pharaoh who worships false gods (Ex 14:4, 17, 18). The climax of God's victory is when Yahweh's fiery Kabod (Glory) is manifested upon Mt. Sinai (Ex 19:16; 24:16-17; 29:43; 33:18, 22) and later upon the Tabernacle (Ex 40:34-38).

Israel is delivered by the yad/ yamin (hand/ arm/ right hand), zeroa (arm) of God (Ex 3:20; 6:6; 7:4-5; 14:31; 15:6, 9, 12, 16, 20; 16:3; etc.).  In Hebrew these are words connote power and mighty acts (Moses' rod becomes an extension of God's "hand" in parting the Red Sea).  In the victorious "Song of the Sea" (Ex 15:1-18), these Hebrew words describe the limbs of Pharaoh, Egypt, Moses, Aaron and God.  The Scripture passage that sums up this expression of God's mighty deeds is found in Exodus 14:31: And Israel saw the great arm that Yahweh made in Egypt, and the people feared Yahweh and trusted in Yahweh and in Moses his slave (literal translation, Exodus, The Anchor Bible Commentary, page 463).

The Hebrew word shem (name) is another link to Genesis in which the authority of God's "name" is carried by Noah's righteous son Shem (Name) and a faithful remnant of his line.  The men who built the Tower of Babel attempted to usurp that authority to make a shem/name for themselves (Gen 11:4), but God intervened to protect His faithful remnant and the "promised seed" in the line of Shem, electing a descendant of Shem named Abram, whose shem God changed to Abraham and his descendant Jacob, whose shem God changed to Israel.  In Exodus, God reveals His Shem to Moses (Ex 3:13, 15).  Biblically one's name connotes one's essence, one's true nature, the complete person.  Yahweh's Shem connotes His fame, His posterity, His godly essence (Ex 5:23; 6:3; 9:16; 15:3; 20:7, 24; 33:12, 17, 19; 34:5, 14).  The use of this word in Exodus begins in the Hebrew title: Sefer ve'eleh shemot (shemot is the plural of shem), and climaxes in the revelation to Moses of God's divine attributes in which Moses receives the fullest revelation of God's name and qualities (Ex 33:12, 17, 19; 34:5-7).

The verb yada' points to a prominent theme word in Exodus, connoting knowledge, experience, duty, and covenant.  The new Pharaoh does not "know" Joseph son of Israel nor does he "know" the God of the Israelites (Ex 1:8; 5:2).  Yahweh "knows" Israel and "knows" their suffering (Ex 3:7; 32:22).  The Egyptians, the Israelites, and Moses' Midian chieftain  father-in-law learn to "know" Yahweh and His Shem (Ex 2:25; 6:3, 7; 7:5, 17; 8:6, 18; 9:14, 29; 10:2; 11:7; 14:4, 18; 16:6, 12; 18:11; 29:46; 31:13; 33:12, 13, 16, 17), and Yahweh makes Himself "known" to His covenant people above the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant (Ex 25:22).   This word speaks to covenant intimacy in "knowing" God in the same way physical intimacy in Scripture is described using the same word.

There may also be a link to Genesis in the use of the word yada in the free will chose of Adam and Eve to take the fruit from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They had "knowledge" of what was "good" in their covenant relationship with God, but they desired to "know" evil, a knowledge which ruptured their covenant relationship with God.  The kind of "knowledge" Adam and Eve chose is at the heart of man's struggle with God in His desire for covenant unity and His gift of salvation: to desire to "know" that which leads sin at the expense of "knowing" God is a knowledge that can come at the cost of one's eternal life.  This was also the Israelites' struggle, despite covenant "knowledge" of God, many Israelites continued to remember their "knowledge" of the Egyptian fleshpots and the pagan ceremonies of the false gods of the Egyptians and to yearn for what they had left behind in Egypt.

EXODUS [Sefer ve'eleh shemot]

He made his people increase in numbers, he gave them more strength than their enemies, whose heart he turned to hate his own people, to double-cross his servants.  Psalm 105:24-25

Please read Exodus 1:1-7: The Israelites who migrated into Egypt
1:1These are the names of the Israelites who went with Jacob to Egypt, each of them went with his family: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah, 3Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin, 4Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5In all, the descendants of Jacob numbered seventy persons.  Joseph was in Egypt already. 6Then Joseph died, and his brothers, and all that generation. 7But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they became so numerous and powerful that eventually the whole land was full of them.

Exodus 1:1: And these are the names of the Israel's sons coming to Egypt... [literal translation] may be an intentional repeat of Genesis 46:8: And these are the names of Israel's sons coming to Egypt... (Exodus: Anchor Bible Commentary, page 120).  The first words in the Hebrew text serve as the title of this part of the Pentateuch in Hebrew: Sefer ve'eleh shemot (And these are the names).

The toledot (generational list) found in Exodus 1:1-4 is the link between Genesis and Exodus in the same way that the toledot of Jesus' genealogy in Sts. Matthew and Luke's Gospels is the bridge that links the Old Testament to the New.

Question: Compare this list of Jacob's sons in Exodus 1:1-7 with the birth order list of Jacob's sons in Genesis 29:31-30:24 and 35:19 (birth of Benjamin), the list of sons in Genesis 35:23-26, and the list of the sons of Jacob who immigrated to Egypt in Genesis 46:8-27.  How is the list of Jacob's sons in Exodus the same as the list of the sons who migrated to Egypt in Genesis 46:8-27, and how is it different?  Also see the chart on Genesis 46:8-27 in the Genesis study Lesson 19 where Jacob's sons are listed according to their mothers.

Answer: The list in Genesis 46 is by birth order for each of the mothers (Leah's sons in birth order, the sons of her slave girl Zilpah in birth order, Rachel's sons in birth order, and the sons of her slave girl Bilhah in birth order).  The Genesis 46 list also includes the children of Jacob's twelve sons and a daughter and granddaughter who made the journey to Egypt.  The Exodus list only gives the names of the twelve sons and the order is Leah's six sons, followed by Rachel's younger son Benjamin, then the two sons of Rachel's slave girl Bilhah, followed by the two sons of Leah's slave-girl Zilpah. Joseph, Rachel's firstborn son, is named last.  Both lists in Exodus and Genesis 46 give the total number of immigrants who made the journey as seventy sons (and grandsons) of Jacob/Israel.  In naming order the Exodus list most closely resembles the list in Genesis 35:23-26.

Question: What is significant about the number seventy?  Where else is this number prominent in a toledot (generational list) in the Book of Genesis?  

Answer: In the so-called "Table of Nations," the toledot (generations) of the sons/grandsons of Noah, seventy names are also recorded (Gen 10:1-32).

The number seventy is the multiple of the "perfect numbers" ten and seven.  In Scripture three, seven, ten and twelve are the numbers of perfection.  Seven is most often associated covenant and with spiritual perfection, while ten is the number of perfection of divine order (i.e.: the Ten Commandments).   The number seventy is prominent at important events in salvation history: the seventy members of the family of nations descended from Noah (Gen 10:1-31); the seventy elders chosen to assist Moses as the hierarchy of the Old Covenant Church (Ex 24:1, 9; Num 11:24-25), the seventy years of Judah's exile in Babylon (Jer 25:11-12), and the seventy disciples chosen by Jesus as ministers to announce His Kingdom and to spread the Gospel of salvation (Lk 10:1, 17).

Joseph was in Egypt already.  Joseph was the firstborn son of Jacob's beloved wife Rachel, and he was the eleventh son in the birth order of the brothers.

Question: How does the statement that Joseph was already in Egypt provide a link back to Genesis?  What themes of Genesis does Joseph's history bring to mind?

Answer: The statement reminds the reader that Joseph was the catalyst God used to bring his family to live in Egypt, fulfilling the prophecy God made to Abraham in Genesis chapter 15.  It was Joseph, sold as a slave by his jealous brothers, who rose from his condition of servitude to become the Vizier (governor) of the great nation of Egypt.  Joseph's good fortune placed him in the position of being able to save his family from the famine in Canaan by bring them to live in Egypt and giving them best grazing land in the Nile Delta.  Recalling the story of Joseph's life brings to mind all the major themes of Genesis: God's plan for man's salvation through the preservation of the faithful remnant, God's divine election of individuals to fulfill His plan for man's salvation, the selection of a younger brother over an elder,  God's gift of salvation in the midst of judgment/chaos, but especially the theme that God can take what was intended to be an evil and turn those circumstances to the good for those like Joseph who fear and love the Lord.

Exodus 1:6-7 is a transition passage, explaining the passing of the generation of the migration from Canaan to Egypt and bringing the reader into the time of the present generation who were fruitful and prolific; they became so numerous and powerful that eventually the whole land was full of them (Ex 1:7).   A more literal translation is: But Israel's son bore fruit and swarmed and multiplied and proliferated greatly, greatly, so the land was filled with them (Interlineal Bible: vol. I, page   141; Exodus: Anchor Bible Commentary, page 119).  The Hebrew word translated as "numerous" or "swarmed" (sherets from the prime root sharats, meaning to "wiggle" or "swarm") is most often used in Scripture to describe the proliferation of fish or insects (see Hab 1:14) and is used in Scripture only for humans in this verse and in Genesis 9:7.  The wording in Hebrew may reflect the Egyptian's negative view of the Israelites who were "fruitful" like a swarm of insects (perhaps like fruit flies around fruit).  If so, harsh this judgment of the Israelites will be turned against the Egyptians in the third and fourth plagues.

Question: What is the link between Exodus 1:7 in describing the Israelites' fruitfulness in producing children and the Book of Genesis? What is the connection to Abraham?

Answer: God blessed the children of Israel with the first blessing given to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28 (Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it), which was repeated as a covenant blessing to Noah and his family in Genesis 9:1, and to Abraham and his descendants in Genesis 15:5; 17:2; 22:17; 26:3-4; and 28:14.  In their many children, the children of Israel had visible and physical proof that God remembered His promises to Abraham.

Please read Exodus 1:8-14: The enslavement of the children of Israel
1:8Then there came to power in Egypt a new king who had never heard of Joseph. 9'Look,' he said to his people, 'the Israelites are now more numerous and stronger than we are. 10We must take precautions to stop them from increasing any further, or if war should break out, they might join the ranks of our enemies.  They might take arms against us and then escape from the country.' 11Accordingly they put taskmasters over the Israelites to wear them down by forced labor.  In this way they build the store-cities of Pithom and Rameses for Pharaoh. 12But the harder their livers were made, the more they increased and spread, until people came to fear the Israelites. 13So the Egyptians gave them no mercy in the demands they made, making their lives miserable with hard labor: with digging clay, 14making bricks, doing various kinds of field-work, all sorts of labor that they imposed on them without mercy.

According to the Exodus account the Egyptian king bore the title "Pharaoh."  The Egyptian word per-aa, which means "the great House," designated the palace or court of the Egyptian ruler, but from the beginning of the 18th Dynasty (16th century BC) onwards it became a designation referring to the king's own person and hence comes to us from Hebrew to English as "pharaoh."

Literally, in the Hebrew text, the new pharaoh "did not know" Joseph.  In biblical terminology "to know" often indicates sexual intimacy or covenant intimacy (Gen 4:1, 17, 25; 19:5; Jer 31:31-34).  This verse may mean that a new dynasty arose that did not have a covenant relationship with the Israelites who had been allies of the previous dynasty.  If Joseph and his family had supported the foreign Hyksos rule over Egypt, the new Pharaoh, who was from the Theban aristocracy who defeated the Hyksos, would have viewed the Israelites as the allies of his enemies.

The Egyptian Pharaoh became alarmed over the large Israelite population in the Delta.  It is ironic that the wives of the Patriarchs, Sarah (Gen 21:7), Rebekah (Gen 25:21) and Rachel (Gen 29:31), who struggled with their lack of fertility, were now the "mothers" of such a prolific people.

Exodus 1:11: Accordingly they put taskmasters over the Israelites to wear them down by forced labor.  The Israelites were a free people, living as legal resident aliens in Egypt, until they were illegally enslaved.  In the ancient world slavery was usually the result of one becoming a casualty of war, being born of a slave parent, being sold into slavery as a child by a parent, or selling oneself into slavery. 

Question: Of whom does the Israelites' unjust enslavement remind you from the book of Genesis?  What is ironic about their enslavement by the Egyptians?

Answer: The Israelite illegal enslavement is similar to Joseph's illegal enslavement when he was sold into slavery by his brothers in the family of Jacob/Israel.  Ironically, like Joseph the Israelites were falsely enslaved by their Egyptian "brothers" in the human family.

Question: What did the Pharaoh fear concerning the Israelites?

Answer: He feared their vast numbers could pose a threat, perhaps in an insurrection in support of the previous rulers, or that the Israelites would revolt and attempt to flee from Egypt.

They might take arms against us and then escape from the country.  It may seem problematic that the Pharaoh would want the Israelites to remain in Egypt.  After all, if they left wouldn't their leaving provide the solution to his fears about their vast numbers, which was evidently greater that the Egyptian population in the Delta? 

Question: What necessary function did the Israelites serve in Goshen?  See Genesis 46:31-47:5/6.

Answer: According to the Genesis passage, the Egyptians' didn't have men who were experience as herders of flocks of animals (perhaps for religious reasons).  Herding animals was the Israelites' principle occupation and they provided a necessary service for the Egyptians.

Question: Exodus 1:10 expresses Pharaoh's fear that the Israelites might overpower his forces and join with his enemies or that they might try to escape from Egypt.  Was it ever the intention of the Israelites to permanently remain in Egypt?  For how long did God tell Abraham they were to remain in Egypt?  For how long did the Israelites live in Egypt before their liberation?  See Genesis 15:13, 16; 50:24-25; Ex 12:40; Gal 3:17.

Answer: It was always their intention to return to Canaan.  They were to return in the fourth generation, approximately 400 years after going into Egypt.  Exodus 12:40 and St. Paul give the more exact date of 430 years.

Joseph had wisely settled his family in Goshen to keep them separate from the Egyptians (Gen 47:1-12).  Notice that the Egyptian Pharaoh is never named.  According to the Egyptian religion to have one's name remembered was to live forever.

It is Moses whose name is remembered in salvation history, not the name of the oppressive Egyptian Pharaoh.

Question: What is ironic concerning the suffering the Pharaoh intended to inflict upon the Israelites recorded in Exodus 1:8-11 compared to what resulted in 1:12?

Answer: Ironically, the harder the Egyptians made the lives of the Israelites in an attempt to reduce their numbers, the more their population grew.

Archaeological evidence from the records of the artisan community that worked on the tombs of the Egyptian Pharaoh's at Deir el Medina reveals that the Egyptian infant mortality rate was extremely high.  In this model community of skilled craftsmen 1 out of every 3 women and/or their babies died in childbirth.

Question: What was the Egyptian Pharaoh's first attempt to gain control of the Israelites?  What was the result of the Pharaoh's attempt to reduce the perceived Israelite threat?

Answer: The Israelites were forced to build the Pharaoh's store-cities of Pithom and Rameses in the hope that merciless treatment would reduce their numbers/quench their fertility.  But God continued to bless His people by increasing their numbers, and the Egyptians continued to be afraid of the Israelites.

Forced labor of communities as well as forced labor of prisoners of war/slaves was a common practice in Egypt.  The two cities of Pithom and Rameses have been located in the Nile Delta.  Egyptologists claim the store city of "Rameses" (Ex 1:11) is a royal name which was only in use during the thirteenth-twelfth centuries BC.   However, in Genesis 47:11 and Numbers 33:3-5 the word "Rameses" appears as a region not a place-name in the Delta (Anchor Bible Commentary: Exodus, vol. II, page 738).

Please read Exodus 1:15-22: Pharaoh's evil plan for population control
1:15The king of Egypt then spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was called Shiphrah, and the other Puah. 16When you attend Hebrew women in childbirth,' he said, 'look at the two stones.  If it is a boy, kill him; if a girl, let her live.' 17But the midwives were God-fearing women and did not obey the orders of the king of Egypt, but allowed the boys to live. 18So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, 'What do you mean by allowing the boys to live?' 19The midwives said to Pharaoh, 'Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women, they are hardy and give birth before the midwife can get to them.' 20For this, God was good to the midwives, and the people went on increasing and growing more powerful; 21and since the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. 22Pharaoh them gave all his people this command: 'Throw every new-born boy into the river, but let all the girls live,'

Exodus 1:16:When you attend Hebrew women in childbirth,' he said, 'look at the two stones.  If it is a boy, kill him; if a girl, let her live.'  The "two stones" may refer to the birthing stool upon which the pregnant woman was placed while giving birth, or the reference may be to the sexual organs of the child.

Question: What was the Pharaoh's second plan to control the population of the Israelites?   What was the result of this plan? See Genesis 1:15-19

Answer: Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill the Israelite boy babies.  However, the women refused to obey and made the excuse that the healthy Hebrew women gave birth to their babies before the midwives arrived. 

It is significant that Scripture relates the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, feared God, and therefore they were willing to risk their lives in refusing to kill the Israelite boy babies.  Like Queen Esther, the "daughter" of Israel who outwitted the wicked Persian official Haman (Book of Esther) who planned the destruction of her people, Shiphrah and Puah outwitted the Pharaoh and then when questioned by him provided a plausible answer for why they had not killed the boy babies born to Israelite women.(11)

Question: How did God bless these women for saving the lives of Israelite children?

Answer: God blessed these women by giving them families.

Question: How did Joseph son of Jacob, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, describe himself to his brothers when they thought he was the Vizier of the Pharaoh in Genesis 42:18?  Why is it "healthy" to fear God? 

Answer: Joseph identified himself to his brothers as "a man who fears God."  A man/woman who fears offending God carefully avoids sin and strives to live righteously, offering God the pleasing sacrifice of a holy life.  Men and women who have no fear of God live dangerously (spiritually); they lack wisdom, court disaster, and put their eternal salvation at risk.

In the Bible, the expression "fear of Yahweh" not only expresses the fear of offending God but also expresses one's devotion to God in putting Him first and above all other things and relationships in one's life. 

Question: Read Sirach 1:11-2:18/22.  How does Sacred Scripture define "fear of God?"

Answer: "Fear of Yahweh" is both the basis of and highest expression of the type of wisdom which encourages a personal covenant relationship with God in which fear and love, submission and obedience, and faith in the promises of both God's judgments and His blessings are all in complete accord.

Some other passages that speak of "fear of the Lord" as an attribute of believers in covenant with Yahweh, who live according to His commandments:

Exodus 1:22: Pharaoh them gave all his people this command: 'Throw every new-born boy into the river, but let all the girls live,' Now the Egyptian people, and not just the Pharaoh, are implicated in the wholesale murder of Israelite children.  This passage and Exodus 1:9 suggests that the Egyptians were willing partners with their ruler in the oppression of the Israelites.  The Egyptian's fear of the foreigners may demonstrate the distain and unease many populations feel toward immigrant populations, but those feelings may also have been encouraged by a regime that was trying to solidify its power by focusing the people's attention on the manufactured threat of a minority population instead of on the political and economic problems of the government.  This was the same ploy the Nazis employed against the Jews in Germany in the 1930's.  That program of discrimination and hostility also led to a slaughter of innocents. 

Question: Defeated by the midwives, what was Pharaoh's third plan for controlling the increasing population of the Israelites?

Answer: He commanded the Egyptians to throw every newborn boy baby into the Nile, but to let the girl babies live.

The Nile River was, for the Egyptians, a symbol of the source of life, but the Pharaoh intended to use the river as an instrument of death.  Ironically, in the first Egyptian plague God will render a judgment that recalls Pharaoh's evil plan that polluted the Nile with the blood of Hebrew boy babies.

Question: If the Pharaoh wanted to reduce Israelite births, why didn't he order the girl babies to be killed instead of the boys? It was the fertility of the female Israelites that caused the population explosion among the Israelites, reducing the female population was the most effective means of reducing births.  What policy initiated by Joseph during the Egyptian famine may have played a role in the Pharaoh's decision to spare the girl babies?  See Genesis 47:20-27.

Answer: Since the time of Joseph, all Egyptian land belonged to the ruling Pharaoh except the land controlled by the Egyptian priests and the land owned by the Israelites.  If there were no men for Israelite girls to marry, they would marry Egyptians and without male heirs, the Egyptians would inherit the property owner by the Israelite families, thus effectively forcing the Israelites to be assimilated into Egyptian society and at the same time ending Israelite control over the fertile Delta region of Goshen.

Note: Joseph was intimately connected to both the Israelites and the Egyptian priesthood, his wife was the daughter of the Priest of On (Gen 41:45).

Despite the Pharaoh's best efforts, none of his plans brought about what he desired.  The irony present in the biblical narrative of Exodus chapter one continues into chapter two.  The more the Egyptians tried to inflict hardship on God's people, the more the Israelite's blessings increased. The inspired writer's point in revealing these ironies is that God was at work in these events and no one, no matter how powerful, not even the king of the most powerful nation in the world at that time, is capable of disrupting God's plan for the salvation of His people.

Questions for group discussion

Question: Pharaoh's harsh treatment was meant to weaken the Israelites.  How did God take these difficult conditions and turn them to the Israelites' advantage for the dangerous journey they were to face? What theme from Genesis is repeated in the passages recounting the suffering the Pharaoh inflicted upon the Israelites?

Answer: They were not a soft people unused to hardship.  Their poor treatment by the Egyptians only served to harden them and to produce a rugged population that would be able to endure the hardships of the wilderness journey to Mt. Sinai.  Once again God took what was intended to be an evil and turned it into a good for His covenant people. 

Question: Is the biblical theme of God taking an evil and using that intended evil to sustain and bless the faithful in order to expand His earthly kingdom by bringing more men and women to salvation still in evidence today in the Church?  How can we take hope from the example of Israel's suffering and God's faithfulness in the Exodus story?  What assurance did St. Paul give the Roman Christians in Romans 8:28 (note: when St. Paul wrote "everything" he was including suffering)?  What promise did St. James give Christians in James 1:12?  How can we apply what Sts. Paul and James wrote to encourage 1st century AD Christians to our lives? See CCC #312-313

Question: How can the Israelites' exile in Egypt and the Exodus journey be symbolically compared to our individual faith journeys?


1. The Jewish Study Bible, Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler (editors), Michael Fishbane (consulting editor), Jewish Publication Society (Tanakh Translation), Oxford University Press, 2004,  page 102.

2. Ibid., Exodus, William H. C. Propp, The Anchor Bible, Doubleday, 1999, page 31.

3. i.e.: Venerable Bede, Homilies on the Gospels 1.24; Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 12.16; Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 51.

4. Roman historians Plutarch and Diodorus Siculus both wrote about the practice of child sacrifice offered to Baal (Plutarch, De Superstitions 171, Diodorus, Histories 20.14).

5. The 1st century AD Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, writes about what he understood to be the history of Hyksos rule in Egypt according to the Egyptian historian Manetho and wrongly interprets that the Israelites were the Hyksos in Against Apion 1.91-104.

6. Corporate: Unified in a body, as a number of individuals who are empowered to transact business as an individual; formed into a body; united; collectively one (The New Webster Dictionary, page 192).

7. The Hebrew language is a Canaanite dialect.  What separates Hebrew from the other Canaanite and Phoenician dialects are its words with Egyptian roots, which comprise about ¼ of the ancient Hebrew vocabulary.  While it is true that ancient Egyptian loan words are found throughout the various peoples of the Levant as a result of extensive trade with Egypt, none of the other languages presents so many Egyptian loan-words (Anchor Bible Commentary: Exodus, vol. II, page 739).

8. Most of the Bible's Egyptian names are found among the tribe of Levi, for example: Moses, Phinehas, Hophni, Pashhur, Merari, Miriam, etc.   Moses' name is from the Egyptian word mose or mese "born" or "is born," as in Rameses (Ramesses), meaning "the god Ra is born," or Thutmose, "the god Thoth is born," while the other Levitic names are from Egyptian derivations or are half Egyptian and half Hebrew like the name Miriam, which may be from the Egyptian word for "beloved," or the name Hur (Ex 31:2), the father of Joshua, which may be derived from the name of the Egyptian deity Horus, or the combined Egyptian-Canaanite names Hanamel, "Khnum is El (god)," and Putiel, "Given of El (god)."  (Anchor Bible Commentary: Exodus, vol. II, page 741, 781, n. 107; Evidence that Demands a Verdict, page 385). 

9. Pharaoh Merneptah's tablet was discovered in 1906 by famed archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie.  It is a slab of black syenite 10 feet high by 5 feet wide that lists a record of Merneptah's victories in the 5th year of his reign.  The word "Israel,"  referring to a unified "people" occupied land in Canaan, occurs in the middle of the second line from the bottom.  The text reads: Plundered is Canaan.  Israel is desolated; his seed is not.  Their land is become a widow for Egypt.  Merneptah's claim that the Israelites were devastated by his army is probably not entirely accurate since the ancient Egyptians were masters of the "political spin."  The stele is in the Cairo Museum.

10. The English word "cultivate" and the phrase "take care of" in Genesis 2:15 of the New Jerusalem Bible translation is rendered in the Hebrew by two verbs which are more accurately translated as "to serve" (abad) and "to guard" (samar).  The Hebrew verb abad is a prime root meaning "to work, to serve or keep"; while the verb samar (shamar) means to "hedge about" (as with thorns), "to guard", "to protect."  In most English translations where these words are used in other Scripture passages, the Hebrew verb abad is often translated as "to serve," "of service," "to do duty," "to perform duties," "to minister," and the verb samar is often translated as "to guard," "to protect," "to keep," "to minister," "to keep charge of," and "to attend" (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon).  Biblical scholar John Sailhamer interprets the commands using the verbs samar and abad to be more accurately translated as "worship and obey" (The Pentateuch as Narrative, page 101).  Outside of the Genesis 2:15 passage these two verbs are only used together in the Pentateuch in passages dealing with the Levitical priesthood's service to/worshiping in and guarding God's Holy Sanctuary: i.e., see Num 3:7-8; 8:26; 18:5-6 (Letter & Spirit, vol. I, "Worship and the Word," Scott W. Hahn (page 107), St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, 2005.

11. Sometime between 1881 and 1896 American Egyptologist Charles Wilbour purchased a papyrus scroll which was a legal document containing a long list of slaves that were to become the property of the new owner's wife.  Each slave was identified as Egyptian or Asiatic (Semetic).  Among the thirty Semitic slaves with Northwest Semitic names, there was a female slave named Shiphrah, the same Hebrew name as one of the mid-wives who refused to harm the Israelite male babies (Ex 1:15). Another non-Egyptian slave had the feminine form of the name Issachar (name of one of the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel and one of the twelve tribes of Israel).  Among the other Semitic names were names related to the Hebrew names Menahem and Job.  The papyrus was dated to 1740 BC. Today the papyrus is the property of the Brooklyn Museum (William F. Albright, "Northwest Semitic Names in a List of Egyptian Slaves from the Eighteenth Century BC," Journal of the American Oriental Society 74 (1954), pp. 222-233; Hershel Shanks, "A Name in Search of a Story," Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 1998 page 6, 72).


Evidence of Moses as the Inspired Writer of the Pentateuch in Scripture and
the Testimony of the Church Fathers

Moses put all Yahweh's words into writing... Exodus 24:4a

Do not imagine that I am going to accuse you before the Father: you have placed your hopes on Moses, and Moses will be the one who accuses you.  If you really believed him you would believe me too, since it was about me that he was writing..  ~ Jesus addressing the Jews of Jerusalem in John 5:45-46

Evidence From Within the Pentateuch

Passages in the books referring directly to Mosaic authorship -Exodus 17:14; 20:22-23:33; 24:4, 7; 34:27
-Numbers chapter 32; 33:2
-Deuteronomy 31:9, 24-26
Legal documents within the Pentateuch attributed to Moses -Exodus 12:1-28; chapters 20-31; chapter 34
-Leviticus chapters 1-7; chapter 8; chapters 13-25; chapter 27
-Numbers chapters 1, 2, &4; 6:1-21; 8:1-22; chapters 15 & 19; 27:6-23; chapters 28-30; chapter 35
-Deuteronomy chapters 1-33

Evidence from Other Old Testament Books

Evidence from the historical writings: -Joshua 1:7, 8; 8:31-32; 23:6
-1 Kings 2:3
-2 Kings 14:6; 23:25
-1 Chronicles 22:13
-2 Chronicles 5:10; 23:18; 25:4; 30:16; 33:8; 34:14; 35:12
-Ezra 3:2; 6:18; 7:6
-Nehemiah 1:7, 8; 8:1, 14; 9:14; 10:30/29; 13:1
Evidence from the wisdom books and the prophets -Ecclesiasticus [Ben Sira] 24:22/33
-Daniel 9:11, 13
-Malachi 4:4 /3:22

Evidence from The New Testament Books

Evidence found in the Gospels *= Jesus' testimony
-Mark 12:19
-Luke 2:22; 5:14*; 16:29-31*; 20:8; 24:27*, 44*
-John 1:17, 45; 5:45-47*; 7:19*, 23*; 8:5; 9:29
Evidence from Acts, the Epistles of Paul and Revelation -Acts 3:22; 6:14; 13:39; 15:1, 21; 26:22; 28:23
-Romans 10:5
-1 Corinthians 9:9
-2 Corinthians 3:15
-Hebrews 9:19; 10:28
-Revelation 15:3

Evidence from the testimony of the Church Fathers

Origen, c. 185-254 AD: theologian and Biblical scholar; head of the Catechetical School in Alexandria, Egypt You have heard that Moses wrote this down by the word of the Lord.  Why did the Lord want him to write it down?  [..].  He wrote them down, then, "by the word of the Lord" so that when we read them and see how many starting places lie ahead of us on the journey that leads to the kingdom, we may prepare ourselves for this way of life.  Homilies on Numbers 27.2, 7
St. Athanasius, c. 295-373 AD: Bishop of Alexandria On the contrary, through His Word, God made all things to exist our of what did not exist and out of what had no previous existence, as He said through Moses: "In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth... Treatise on the Incarnation of the Word, 2.3
St. John Chrysostom, c. 344/354-407 AD: Bishop of Constantinople Notice this remarkable author, dearly beloved, and the particular gift he had, I mean, while all the other inspired authors told either what would happen after a long time or what was going to take place immediately, this blessed author, being born many generations after the event, was guided by the deity on high and judged worthy of narrate what had been created by the Lord of all from the very beginning.  [..].  Since we therefore listen to these words not as the words of Moses but as the words of the God of all things coming to us through the tongue of Moses... Homilies on Genesis 2.5
St. Basil the Great c. 330/357-379 AD: Bishop of Caesarea We are proposing to examine the structure of the world and to contemplate the whole universe, not from the wisdom of the world but from what God taught his servant when he spoke to him in person and without riddles.  Hexaemeron 6.1
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2009 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Catechism references for this lesson:

The promise of a future Redeemer after the Fall: the "promised seed" of "the Woman" CCC 70, 410, 489
God's covenant with Noah CCC 56, 58, 71
God's covenant with Abraham and his descendants CCC 59-61, 2570-73
Joseph was God's vehicle of salvation for the family of Jacob CCC 312

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2009 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.