Friday, June 2, 2017

READ IT! - Introduction to Exodus 1-3

Introduction to Exodus 1-3

The book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah. Its title means “going out” or “departure” and derives from the Greek translation of the Bible (The Septuagint). Most scholars trace the materials in this book to three literary sources – the Yahwist, the Elohist, and the Priestly source. The stories of the book of Exodus belong to the new kingdom period of Egyptian history, after the Egyptians expelled the Hyksos and regained control of their land.

The Book of Exodus has two main parts: the stories of Israel’s bondage and deliverance in 1–18 and the covenant between Israel and God at Mount Sinai in 19–40.

Chapter 1

At the beginning of Exodus, Israel’s sons have grown to become the people of Israel. The Israelites were made slaves by the Egyptians for over 400 years.

Historical records indicate that the ancient store-cities of Pithom and Rameses were built by foreign slaves, possibly Hebrews.

Ancient texts refer to a group of people living in the region at the time known as “Habiru.” Habiru were considered very lower class by the Egyptians. “Habiru” may or may not refer to the “Hebrews.”

Now Pharaoh saw that the Hebrews, whom he saw as a threat to his rule, were increasing in population, so he ordered that all Israelite baby boys be killed. But the text says that the Hebrew midwives “feared God” and did not kill the baby boys. When Pharaoh questioned them about the lack of infanticide, they lied and told him that Hebrew women were always poppin’ out kids faster than they could keep track of. And so God blessed the midwives.

But Pharaoh eventually sent his soldiers from house to house to kill all of the Hebrew baby boys. And the babies were thrown into the Nile River as an offering to the river god.

Chapter 2

Now Moses was born during this time of distress, and his parents hid him for three months. Eventually, his mother took him down to the Nile River, but instead of throwing him in she put him in a water-proof basket and hid him among the reeds, and His sister Miriam watched over him from a distance.

Later, Pharaoh’s daughter was bathing in the river nearby and found the basket with the baby inside. She wanted to keep the baby and when she saw Miriam, she sent her to go find someone to nurse him for her. Miriam got her mom, and Moses was able to stay with his family until he was weaned before Pharaoh’s daughter came and took him to live with her.

She named the baby “Moses” and he grew up in the Egyptian palace. “Moses” is an Egyptian name. It comes from “mose,” meaning “is born,” and is very similar to the name “Rameses,” which means “Ra is born.” It’s ironic that the man who would become the leader of the Israelites would have an Egyptian name.

When Moses was forty years old, he decided he wanted to identify with his own people and do what he could to free them. One day he saw an Egyptian beating a fellow Israelite, so he killed the Egyptian and hid the body. The next day he saw two Israelites fighting with each other and he tried to stop them. They retorted, “Are you going to kill us like you killed the Egyptian?”

When Pharaoh found out about what Moses did, he tried to kill him, and Moses fled Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian. In Midian, Moses married Zipporah, the daughter of a Midianite priest. They had two sons, and Moses lived as a shepherd in Midian for forty years.

Chapter 3

One day, while Moses was leading his flock near Mount Horeb, he saw a bush that was on fire but did not burn up. God spoke to him from the flames, telling him that he had heard the oppression of His people in Egypt, and so now he was going to send Moses to lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey.

But when Moses heard this, he made all kinds of excuses about why God shouldn’t send him back to Egypt. Moses said, “I’m nobody.” To which God said, “I will be with you.” Moses said, “I don’t even know your name.” To which God said, “Tell them 'I AM WHO I AM.' The One Who Is has sent you. This is my Name forever."

Read Exodus 1

These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.

Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.

Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”

So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

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