1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who, accompanied by their households, migrated with Jacob into Egypt: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; 3 Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; 4 Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. 5 The total number of the direct descendants of Jacob was seventy. Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Now Joseph and all his brothers and that whole generation died. 7 But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific. They became so numerous and strong that the land was filled with them.
8 Then a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt. 9 He said to his subjects, “Look how numerous and powerful the Israelite people are growing, more so than we ourselves! 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase; otherwise, in time of war they too may join our enemies to fight against us, and so leave our country.” 11 Accordingly, taskmasters were set over the Israelites to oppress them with forced labor.
Thus they had to build for Pharaoh the supply cities of Pithom and Raamses. 12 Yet the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread. The Egyptians, then, dreaded the Israelites 13 and reduced them to cruel slavery, 14 making life bitter for them with hard work in mortar and brick and all kinds of field work– the whole cruel fate of slaves. 15 The king of Egypt told the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was called Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you act as midwives for the Hebrew women and see them giving birth, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she may live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt had ordered them, but let the boys live. 18
So the king summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you acted thus, allowing the boys to live?” 19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women. They are robust and give birth before the midwife arrives.” 20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives. The people, too, increased and grew strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he built up families for them. 22 Pharaoh then commanded all his subjects, “Throw into the river every boy that is born to the Hebrews, but you may let all the girls live.”
1 Now a certain man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 who conceived and bore a son. Seeing that he was a goodly child, she hid him for three months. 3 When she could hide him no longer, she took a papyrus basket, daubed it with bitumen and pitch, and putting the child in it, placed it among the reeds on the river bank. 4 His sister stationed herself at a distance to find out what would happen to him. 5 Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river to bathe, while her maids walked along the river bank. Noticing the basket among the reeds, she sent her handmaid to fetch it. 6
On opening it, she looked, and lo, there was a baby boy, crying! She was moved with pity for him and said, “It is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8 “Yes, do so,” she answered. So the maiden went and called the child’s own mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will repay you.”
The woman therefore took the child and nursed it. 10 When the child grew, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her son and called him Moses; for she said, “I drew him out of the water.” 11
On one occasion, after Moses had grown up, when he visited his kinsmen and witnessed their forced labor, he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own kinsmen. 12 Looking about and seeing no one, he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out again, and now two Hebrews were fighting! So he asked the culprit, “Why are you striking your fellow Hebrew?” 14 But he replied, “Who has appointed you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses became afraid and thought, “The affair must certainly be known.” 15 Pharaoh, too, heard of the affair and sought to put him to death. But Moses fled from him and stayed in the land of Midian.
As he was seated there by a well, 16 seven daughters of a priest of Midian came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 But some shepherds came and drove them away. Then Moses got up and defended them and watered their flock. 18 When they returned to their father Reuel, he said to them, “How is it you have returned so soon today?” 19 They answered, “An Egyptian saved us from the interference of the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock!” 20 “Where is the man?” he asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him there? Invite him to have something to eat.”
Moses agreed to live with him, and the man gave him his daughter Zipporah in marriage. 22 She bore him a son, whom he named Gershom; for he said, “I am a stranger in a foreign land.” 23 A long time passed, during which the king of Egypt died. Still the Israelites groaned and cried out because of their slavery. As their cry for release went up to God, 24 he heard their groaning and was mindful of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 25 He saw the Israelites and knew….
3:1 Meanwhile Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. 3 So Moses decided, “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned.”
When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” 5 God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. 6 I am the God of your father,” he continued, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 7
But the LORD said, “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. 8 Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey, the country of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivvites and Jebusites. 9 So indeed the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 Come, now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” 11
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 He answered, “I will be with you; and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you: when you bring my people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this very mountain.” 13 “But,” said Moses to God, “when I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?” 14 God replied, “I am who am.” Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.”
God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. “This is my name forever; this is my title for all generations. 16 “Go and assemble the elders of the Israelites, and tell them: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me and said: I am concerned about you and about the way you are being treated in Egypt; 17 so I have decided to lead you up out of the misery of Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey. 18
“Thus they will heed your message. Then you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him: The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent us word. Permit us, then, to go a three days’ journey in the desert, that we may offer sacrifice to the LORD, our God. 19 “Yet I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go unless he is forced. 20 I will stretch out my hand, therefore, and smite Egypt by doing all kinds of wondrous deeds there. After that he will send you away. 21 I will even make the Egyptians so well-disposed toward this people that, when you leave, you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman shall ask her neighbor and her house guest for silver and gold articles and for clothing to put on your sons and daughters. Thus you will despoil the Egyptians.”
This talk is by Catherine Upchurch.
Reversal of fortunes / AKA the great reversal. OT and NT.
- Sons of Jacob / Israel are desperate for food – settle in Egypt and become prosperous.
- People of Israel are prospering in Egypt – but the Pharaoh changes. Slavery.
Sets the stage for the ultimate reversal theme of Exodus, Passover, OT, NT:
Oppression, divine intervention, freedom and covenant.
- Introduces a personal God to save Israel.
- Introduces the covenant, a mutual relationship between God and the people.
- Introduces our identity as God’s people
- Gives meaning to the eternal struggle between forces of good and evil.
Lessons within first 3 chapters:
- Role of seemingly minor characters in the early life of Moses
- God’s identity as revealed to Moses and Israel
- Being called and commissioned
Some of the seemingly minor characters (all happen to be women)
- Hebrew midwives:
Shiphrah and Puah. Ordered to kill Hebrew babies as threat. “The midwives, however, feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt had ordered them, but let the boys live.” Exodus 1:17
Fear of Pharaoh = merely fright or terror in the face of impending punishment
Fear of God = being in awe of God who is all-powerful and all-loving
- Mother of Moses:
Jochabed. Protected endangered child. Ended up as nurse-maid. Stories of ancestors.
Pharaoh’s daughter: mentioned only here. A figure of redemption. “She was moved with pity for him.” Ex. 2:6
It was not an envoy or a messenger,
but his presence that saved them.
Because of his love and pity
the LORD redeemed them,
Lifting them up and carrying them
all the days of old.
Jesus is “moved with pity” on several occasions.
Pharaoh’s daughter draws Moses from the water, prefigures God / Israelites in Red Sea
- His older sister Miriam
She is watchful and bold.
“Shall I go and summon a Hebrew woman to nurse the child for you?” Ex. 3:7
Exodus 15:20, 21
“Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, while all the women went out after her with tambourines, dancing; and she responded* to them:
Sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea. “
She is a prophet – speaks for God
Lessons from them?
Midwives: what it means to follow God even if it puts us in opposition to the powerful
Moses’ mother: nature of sacrificial love
Pharaoh’s daughter: what it means to have compassion
Miriam: boldness and creativity
What do we learn about God in these 3 chapters?
23 A long time passed, during which the king of Egypt died. Still the Israelites groaned and cried out because of their slavery. As their cry for release went up to God,
- Imperial leadership has been passing hands
- During that time nothing has improved for Israel
- They still identified themselves as people of the covenant.
Exod.: 2:24, 25
“He heard their groaning and was mindful of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 25 He saw the Israelites and knew.”
In most other religions of the times the gods were oblivious to the sufferings of the people. Needed to be bribed with sacrifices etc. God is moved to action on their behalf.
Ex: 3:7, 8
But the LORD said, “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. 8 Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey
Witness, hear, to know, to come down, rescue, lead
Moses in Ex. 3
Samuel in 1 Samuel 3
Isaiah in Isaiah 6
Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1
Basic pattern of calls:
An encounter with God
Divine speech of introduction
“There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed.”
“Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.
Note that Moses was not seeking out God, God came in search of Moses
Commission Exod. 3:10
“Now, go! I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
Moses objects 4 times: twice in chapter 3, twice in chapter 4
Not worthy. 3:11
God doesn’t require us to be holy in order to be called. Accompanied by God.
Israel is likely to question his authority
The force is not simply that God is or that God is present but that God will be faithfully God for them. Terence Fretheim
“God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.”
21 I will even make the Egyptians so well-disposed toward this people that, when you leave, you will not go empty-handed.
What God reveals is related to what Moses be3lieves he needs to know in order to do what he is called to do. God’s revelation is thereby tied directly to the human situation. Both God and Moses recognize that God is not demystified through further understanding. In fact, the more one understands God, the more mysterious God becomes. God is the supreme exemplification of the old adage: “The more you know, the more you don’t know’.” Terence Fretheim
Gowan p. 3: God is mentioned only once in chapters 1 and 2. This non-mention is likely deliberate. “This is an accurate reflection of many occasions in human history when it is not clear, even to those most sensitive to God’s work in our midst, what God may be doing, if anything.” Book of Esther is similar.
Larsson p. 6: “The very first letter of the book of Exodus actually expresses the profound link between what we should yet expect and what has happened before – the little word “and”: “And these are the names of the sons of Israel.” (NOT IN OUR TRANSLATION) Part of the promises to Abraham (descendants) have been fulfilled, now will come the fulfillment of the second one – liberation from oppression and the gift of their own land.
Pharaoh recognizes the Israelites as a people (first one). In the gospels it is the devil and demons who first recognize Jesus.
Schermann p. 293: “It was the first instance in history of what has become the familiar pattern of anti-Semitism. The Jews are too dangerous to keep and they are too important to lose.” Pharaoh’s solution is to enslave them. Same thing said of slaves in America
2 humble women outwit the Pharaoh. They are named – pharaoh is not. Larsson p. 12 argues that the Hebrew text does not mean “Hebrew midwives” but “midwives of the Hebrews”. And that they were likely Egyptian.
Slavery in Egypt and Rome not like slavery in America. In Egypt and Rome most slaves were not privately held by families / masters but owned by the state – Pharaoh and Caesar.
Slaughter of the innocents by Herod modeled on this. Gospel of Matthew has Jesus as the new Moses throughout. (goes to Egypt, teacher etc.)
Schermann p. 295: “The sages teach that Pharaoh had another reason for the infanticide. His astrologers told him that the savior of the Jews was about to be born, so Pharaoh ordered that all the newborn boys be killed. Indeed, Moses was born during the time this cruel edict was in effect.”
Parents un-named here. Ex. 6:20 genealogy says they are Amram and Jochebed. Levites serve in temple. A subset of Levites, descendants of Aaron, minister as priests.
Role of water: death or life? Baptism motif. In Hebrew same word for basket as for ark! Larsson p. 17: “When Moses is threatened with being drowned in the waters of the Nile but is rescued through the “ark” in order to become the deliverer of Israel, it is an event that will have far-reaching consequences.” Note: Moses is the new Noah, Jesus is the new Moses.
She knows it’s Hebrew – circumcision. Once again women intervene and God’s plan becomes possible. Names him “Moses”, in Hebrew mashah, “to draw out”. He will “draw out the Hebrew people from Egypt and the sea. He himself was drawn out from the Nile. In Egyptian was common as part of a name and meant “born”.
Larsson p. 18: There are 12 women mentioned in Chapters 1 and 2 which may be a parallel to the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel. The people may be saved by the work of the 12 women behind the scenes.
- The 2 midwives
- Moses’ mother and sister
- Pharaoh’s daughter
- 7 daughters of Jethro
:Larsson p. 19: “Assuming that Rameses II was the pharaoh of the Exodus, it is striking that among his six wives and 200 children, of whom 111 sons and 59 daughters are known to us, this is the only child who through determination and mercy, acted as an instrument to fulfill God’s plan.” (Pharaoh’s daughter). Note the “meses” part of Rameses, same root word as Moses. Note that everyone else in Egypt cooperates with Pharaoh’s evil plan but one. The power of one who cooperates with God!
Moses “grew up” “went out” and “he saw”. A person raised as a prince would have contempt for manual labor and those who did it.
The text and Jewish tradition is uncomfortable with the killing of the overseer.
Meeting at the well leads to marriage often in OT, Jesus and Samaritan woman. Moses saves and gives them water – foreshadowing.
Larsson p. 25: “We discern the features of a future leader and liberator: An Egyptian aristocrat who has left his high position, identified with the oppressed, and is now ready to intervene and translate his convictions into action..
Heard, remembered, saw, knew. He remembered the covenant he made with the Patriarchs. The time was right. Similar use of these words of God are in the psalms of lament. Gowan p. 5: “Here we find a cluster of such words,…, They tell us that God responded to the lament of Israel in bondage as Israel at worship over the centuries found God responded to their prayers for help.”
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why so far from my call for help,
from my cries of anguish?
My God, I call by day, but you do not answer;
by night, but I have no relief.
Gowan p. 8: Prior to the prophets the question of why God wasn’t there, wasn’t taking care of them is unanswered. Is a matter of bewilderment. The prophets interpret it as a result of their sin. But not here in early Exodus or in the psalms.
Reul earlier, here Jethro. Horeb then Sinai for the mountain. 2 or more traditions.
Larsson p. 26: “The first 2 chapters have made one thing perfectly clear: without God’s active interference, the enslaved people would be doomed. However, it is equally clear that God interferes by using human beings. Through these instruments God prepares and carries out the drama of liberation to its glorious end.”
Take off your shoes – this ground is holy. In other cultures this is still practiced in synagogues and churches and mosques as well as homes. It is considered disrespectful to keep them on.
Larsson p. 28: why would a mighty God appear in a bush instead of a majestic mountain or tree? Psalm 138:6 “For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly.”
Desert AND mountain – places for meeting the divine in tradition.
Gowan p. 27: “These chapters claim that not only a great religious leader like Moses, but that ordinary people, the Israelites, may be given access to a reality beyond anything we know in the everyday world. That is, they have had a personal encounter with God.”
Angel or the LORD? Angel would be the later tradition. Greater theological sensitivities wish to avoid anthropomorphisms (projecting human emotions, actions etc. onto the divine).
God initiates, calls.
Emphasis on “God of our fathers”? gives a guarantee on which we can rely – he keeps his promises, has saved us in the past. “our help in ages past is our hope for days to come”
15 Note the “I will be with you”.
God’s identity, continuity with the people and the promises very important.
Rabbis explain that Sinai was the mountain, Horeb was the region where the mountain of Sinai was.
Schermann p. 301: “By the time the Torah was given Moses had attained a level of holiness that permitted him to ascend the mountain, but at this early stage of his prophecy, he was not yet permitted to do so.”
Schermann p. 303: “The key to Moses’ hesitation may be found in verse 10, where God commanded him to go to Pharaoh and take Israel out of Egypt, thus implying that the task was Moses’ to perform. Consequently, he assumed that the liberation was to be performed not through God’s miraculous intervention, but through his own skills of persuasion and inspiration, in keeping with the general rule that one should not rely on miracles.”
With regard to Moses and the flocks: midrash (Jewish bible teaching): “when a sheep went astray Moses went after it until he found it, laid it across his shoulders, and carried it back to the flock. Thereupon God said ‘Because you have mercy in leading the flock of a mortal, you will for sure tend my flock Israel.”