Exodus 1 and 2: The Israeli People in Captivity. Where was the Promise of God?

When we left our friends at the end of Genesis, the whole clan of Jacob was reunited and prospering in the fertile land of Goshen, near the Nile delta, in Egypt. There were 70 of them. We pick up the story 400 years later and their situation changed drastically. Let’s dig in…

Exodus 1

In time, Joseph and all of his brothers died, ending that entire generation. But their descendants, the Israelites, had many children and grandchildren. In fact, they multiplied so greatly that they became extremely powerful and filled the land.

Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. He said to his people, “Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. 10 We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.”

11 So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. 12 But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became. 13 So the Egyptians worked the people of Israel without mercy. 14 They made their lives bitter, forcing them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were ruthless in all their demands.

15 Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: 16 “When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too.

18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives. “Why have you done this?” he demanded. “Why have you allowed the boys to live?”

19 “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women,” the midwives replied. “They are more vigorous and have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time.”

20 So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live.”

Exodus 1 NLT

Why did God wait 400 years?

Back in Genesis 15, God gave Abraham His covenant promise…

“You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. 14 But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. 15 (As for you, you will die in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.) 16 After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.”

Genesis 15:13-16 NLT

Points to Ponder

  • The Israelites went from a prosperous clan to a nation in captivity.
  • They were probably thinking — What happened to God’s covenant? Aren’t we supposed to get a Promised Land?
  • Pharaoh’s fear was that the Jews would organize and rise up against him. There were too many of them. Fear blinds you.
  • This Pharaoh, who didn’t know Joseph and all the good he did, gets the bright idea to kill all the male babies. This is genocide. It’s the first real antisemitism.
  • The Hebrew midwives feared God more than they feared Pharaoh. They didn’t have the 10 Commandments, yet they knew murder was wrong.
  • But there is hope in a baby boy!

Exodus 2

About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket (ark) and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. The baby’s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him.

Soon Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the river, and her attendants walked along the riverbank. When the princess saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it for her. When the princess opened it, she saw the baby. The little boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This must be one of the Hebrew children,” she said.

Then the baby’s sister approached the princess. “Should I go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” she asked.

“Yes, do!” the princess replied. So the girl went and called the baby’s mother.

“Take this baby and nurse him for me,” the princess told the baby’s mother. “I will pay you for your help.” So the woman took her baby home and nursed him.

10 Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses, for she explained, “I lifted him out of the water.”

Moses Escapes to Midian

11 Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. 12 After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand.

13 The next day, when Moses went out to visit his people again, he saw two Hebrew men fighting. “Why are you beating up your friend?” Moses said to the one who had started the fight.

14 The man replied, “Who appointed you to be our prince and judge? Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?”

Then Moses was afraid, thinking, “Everyone knows what I did.” 15 And sure enough, Pharaoh heard what had happened, and he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian.

When Moses arrived in Midian, he sat down beside a well. 16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters who came as usual to draw water and fill the water troughs for their father’s flocks. 17 But some other shepherds came and chased them away. So Moses jumped up and rescued the girls from the shepherds. Then he drew water for their flocks.

18 When the girls returned to Reuel, their father, he asked, “Why are you back so soon today?”

19 “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds,” they answered. “And then he drew water for us and watered our flocks.”

20 “Then where is he?” their father asked. “Why did you leave him there? Invite him to come and eat with us.”

21 Moses accepted the invitation, and he settled there with him. In time, Reuel gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to be his wife. 22 Later she gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, for he explained, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.”

23 Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. 24 God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25 He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.

Exodus 2 NLT

Points to Ponder

  • God is still working! He heard their cries. He doesn’t forget His promises! Even after 400 years!
  • You can see God’s hand in the saving of baby Moses.
  • Moses rescues a Hebrew man, but commits vigilante murder in the process. He flees to Midian.
  • Midian is about 125 miles away in what is today Saudi Arabia. Moses marries a Midianite woman.
  • Who were the Midianites? Midian was a son of Abraham and his 2nd wife whom we met in Genesis 25.
  • From the end of the Old Testament to the start of the New, there were approximately 400 years.
  • The promise of a Messiah was not lost then either.
  • Hope came again in a little baby boy – Jesus.
  • The fearful ruler at that time committed genocide also killing all baby boys.
  • God sent the Holy Family to Egypt and brought Him back when it was safe.
  • He kept His promise of salvation by sending His son to die for us.
  • Divine sovereignty is at work even in a world governed by chance.

Are You Free?

We are a people in captivityenslaved to sin or religion. We are not free until we let God rescue us – save us.

you can't be free if you're a slave to religion

If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven and that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…

Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.

  • Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever.
  • Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 in your life and surrender your life to Him.
  • Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
  • Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift and Confident Hope of Eternal Life…


Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

Top image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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