Exodus 1


The five books of Moses were collectively called the Pentateuch, a word of Greek origin meaning ‘the five-fold book.’ The Jews called them the Torah, i.e., ‘the law.’ It’s probable that the division of the Torah into five books proceeded from the Greek translators of the Old Testament. The names by which these several books are generally known are Greek. Genesis through to Deuteronomy is known as the Torah which means Law. In Greek the word Pentateuch is ‘Pente’ which means five and ‘uch’ which means Law.

The Book

The Book of Exodus is basically a follow on from the end of the Book of Genesis. The word, ‘exodus’ simply means ‘going out’, when we read through the book, we see that focus is on the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. Several years have gone by between the time of the events described in the closing chapters of Genesis and those of the beginning of Exodus, 430 years in total, Exodus 12:40-41.

At the end of the book of Genesis the Hebrews were living in the fertile land of Goshen and were being fed from the granaries of Egypt. In the beginning of the Book of Exodus the Hebrews are seen as slaves of the Egyptians, a nation without a country or a national totally unaware that this was part of God’s plan. Exodus shows the growth of Israel and the birth of a nation, and the promises of God to Abraham beginning to be fulfilled.


It’s commonly accepted that Moses is the writer of the Book of Exodus, Exodus 17:14 and in the New testament Jesus Himself says Moses wrote it, Mark 1:44 / John 5:46-47 / John 7:19-22 / Acts 26:22.

Moses’ live can be broken into three sections of forty years. He spent the first forty years of his life in Egypt preparing to carry out God’s plan to lead Israel out of Egyptian captivity. Because he was raised in the Egyptian palace by the daughter of Pharaoh, Moses was trained in all the skills of Egyptian leadership.

He spent the next forty years when he fled for refuge to the wilderness, it’s here he spent learning the skills of desert dwelling at the feet of his father-in-law, Jethro.

After being called by God to deliver Israel out of Egypt, Moses spent another forty years using his skills of leadership to lead free the nation of Israel and lead them to the promised land.


The sufferings of Israel. Exodus 1:8-7:7
A manifestation of God’s providential guidance of Israel, illustrated by the ten plagues. Exodus 7:8-13:16
The guiding of the people of Sinai. Exodus 13:17-18:27
The making of the covenant at Sinai, together with the reception of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 19:1-24:18
Directions for the building of the tabernacle. Exodus 24:18-31:18
The renewing of the covenant after the sinful actions of the Israelites in connection with the making of the golden
calf. Exodus 32:1-35:3.
The actual building and dedication of the tabernacle of the Lord. Exodus 35:4-40:38

The Text

In Exodus 1-7 we are introduced to Moses and the Israelites in bondage in Egypt. This setting is approximately 400 years after Joseph and his families were living in Goshen at the end of Genesis.

God protects baby Moses and spares his life, as Moses is adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and is raised as an Egyptian. God calls Moses with a special revelation, through a burning bush to release His people from slavery in Egypt. Moses obeys and with his brother Aaron, confronts Pharaoh to let God’s people go free, but Pharaoh ignores the warning.

The Israelites Oppressed

‘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.’ Exodus 1:1-7

The book begins by informing us about the twelve sons of Israel, and notice that God knows His people, He knows each of them by name, Exodus 6:14-26 / Genesis 35:23-26 / Genesis 46:8-26 / Matthew 30-31.

Coffman, in his commentary says the following regarding the number ‘seventy’.

‘All of the alleged difficulties regarding ‘the seventy,’ and Stephen’s ‘seventy-five’, Acts 7:14, disappear altogether when it is seen as evident that different frames of calculation were used, some included the family of Joseph, who were already in Egypt, and some evidently included children of Joseph born after Ephraim and Manasseh, some included wives of sons, or wives of grandsons, or counted certain deceased ones, or excluded them … etc. All Biblical references to this event are absolutely correct. The Septuagint reference to ‘seventy-five’ includes five of Joseph’s posterity not included in those who ‘went down into Egypt with Jacob.’ Also, the number ‘seventy’ is symbolical, and is designed to show the completeness of the Hebrew migration to Egypt.’

Joseph and his all those who lived in his generation, including his brothers had died and so we’re dealing with a new generation of Israelites. This new generation of Israelites multiplied greatly in number to such an extent that they filled the land. This was the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham concerning his descendants, Genesis 12:2 / Genesis 15:5 / Genesis 17:1-8.

When we get to time of the actual exodus from Egypt, there are 600,000 men in Israel, Exodus 12:37 / Numbers 2:32, which doesn’t include the women and children. Some commentators suggest there would have been around three million Israelites who left Egypt.

The KJV tells us that they were also ‘mighty’, this implies that they had become very strong as a people, Deuteronomy 26:5. If Israel have become strong and there are so many of them as to fill the land, we can begin to understand how they would became a threat to Pharaoh.

‘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 labour, 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 labour in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labour the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.’ Exodus 1:8-14

This new king of Egypt didn’t know Joseph, he didn’t know what Joseph did for Egypt in the past. This is probably because the Egyptians wouldn’t have written in their records that a foreigner helped them in times of trouble.

If this knew king knew Joseph and his brothers, he would have realised that Israel weren’t warriors, they were simply shepherds, who were no threat to anyone.

However, because there were so many Israelites, he instantly saw a threat, he was greatly intimidated by them and moved to try and oppress them. Pharaoh is so intimidated by Israel he has two cities built, ‘Pithom and Rameses’ were cities for storing provisions.

Make no mistake about it, these ‘slave masters’ were cruel, evil men who watched over the workers, making sure everyone worked hard for the Egyptians. What’s interesting here is that the more Israel was oppressed, the stronger they became and the more they begun to grow.

Under normal circumstances when people are oppressed they don’t get stronger, they don’t grow in numbers, but here Israel does. The Egyptians saw this and they came to ‘dread’ the Israelites because of it. It appears that the Israelites understood that God was working through them but the Egyptians saw them as a threat to their national security.

‘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.” Exodus 1:15-22

As it is with most cruel dictatorships, when they’re trying to oppress a large amount of people, if forced labour doesn’t work, and doesn’t stop them from getting stronger and growing numerically, then they go to the next level of cruelty which genocide of the infants, Matthew 2:16-18.

Pharaoh decides if he has all the male babies killed, then he could ultimately bring an end to the whole nation of Israel. If they kill all the Israelite males, this would force the next generation of Israelite women to intermarry with the Egyptian men.

Pharaoh’s plan was to get the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah to kill every male child, but Shiphrah and Puah being Hebrew, feared God more than they feared Pharaoh, Matthew 10:28.

After being summoned by Pharaoh, they inform him that Hebrew women are ‘vigorous’, they give birth to their children before they arrive. This would obviously give the parents time to hide their baby boys before their murderers arrive to kill them. Because Shiphrah and Puah feared God, the midwives were blessed by God with families of their own, 2 Samuel 7:11.

It’s clear that Pharaoh has become desperate, and so he commands that every Hebrew male baby be thrown into the Nile so that they will drown. Because God had caused the Israelites to continue to increase in number, these are separate measures, taken by a desperate man because he saw Israel as a great threat to his empire, Matthew 2:16.

Go To Exodus 2


"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."