Exodus 1-4 - Bible Study Daily (2023)


January 18, 2022

Exodus, Gen-Rev

What I Noticed Today (Exodus 1-4)

There is a short introduction available for the book of Exodus. You canread it here.

Exodus 1-11

Even though Exodus tells the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt, the first eleven chapters detail the oppression of the people while still in Egypt.

Exodus 1

Chapter 1 summarizes Genesis 37-50, the oppression of the Israelites, and the birth of Moses.

In verses 1-7, a summary of Genesis 37-50 listing the sons of Jacob, who came to Egypt.

  • A total of 70 of Jacob’s descendants came to Egypt;Joseph and his family were already there.
  • Joseph died, but the people multiplied and filled the land.

In verses 8-22, a new Pharaoh comes to power in Egypt who oppresses the Israelites:

  • A new king (pharaoh) came to power who did not know Joseph. He was concerned that the Israelites had multiplied and would take over because they had become powerful. He decided to deal shrewdly with them.

Note: This is the first time the Israelites are referred to as a “people.”

  • So the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites by making them into forced laborers. They were forced to build the store cities of Pithom and Ramses.
  • But the more the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites, the more they multipliedand became even more of a concern to the Egyptians.
  • So the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites even more. They worked them even harder, forcing them to make bricks, and do all kinds of field work.
  • The Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew midwives (Shiphrah and Puah) to kill the boys when they were born, but let the girls live.

Note: There were likely many more midwives than these two. Since they appeared before Pharaoh, it is probable that they were the leaders of the group of midwives.

  • The Hebrew midwives feared God and did not kill the boys, and when asked, they said the Hebrew women gave birth before they arrived.
  • So God was good to the midwivesand gave them families.
  • Pharaoh then commanded his people to throw all the boys into the Nile, but let the girls live.

Note: Pharaoh intended to deal “shrewdly” with the Israelites, but when his initial plans did not succeed, he simply escalated the oppression of the Israelites from forced labor to infanticide to be carried out by his own people.

Exodus 2

Chapter 2 describes the birth of Moses and his early years in Midian.

In verses 1-10, the birth of Moses, and his adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter:

  • A Levite manmarried a Levite woman and had a son. She hid him for three months. Then, after three months, when she could no longer hide him, she placed him in a basket and put him in the Nile river, while the baby’s sister watched from the shore.
  • Pharaoh’s daughter spotted the basket among the weeds, had a servant get the basket, and opened it. When she saw the baby, she felt sorry for it because she knew it was a Hebrew boy.
  • The baby’s sister called out to Pharaoh’s daughter, asking if she wanted a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for her. Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, promised to pay the woman wages to nurse the baby, and named him Moses because she drew him out of the water.

Note: In both Egyptian and Hebrew, the name Moses bears a similar meaning, “to draw out,” or “bring forth.”

In verses 11-25, Moses grows up, kills a man, and flees to Midian:

  • Years later, Moses had grown up and was out watching his own people being oppressed by an Egyptian.

Note: Moses was 40 years old at this point (Acts 7:23).

  • Seeing no one around, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.
  • The next day he saw two Hebrews fighting and asked the one in the wrong why he was attacking his neighbor. The man responded, asking who made you judge over us? Are you going to kill me as you did the Egyptian?

Note: Apparently, the man Moses saved in verses 11-12 told others what Moses had done because, by the next day, others knew he had killed the Egyptian.

  • Fearing Pharaoh would kill him, Moses fled to Midian and sat down by a well.

Note: The Midianites were a nomadic tribe founded by Midian, the son of Abraham, with his wife Keturah (Genesis 25:1-6). They lived in what is modern-day Saudi Arabia on the east side of the Gulf of Aqaba.

  • The priest of Midian had seven daughters who came to the well to draw water for their father’s flocks, but other shepherds drove them away. Moses rescued them and watered their flocks.
  • The daughters returned to their father, Reuel, and told him an Egyptian had rescued them and watered their flocks.

Note: Reuel is referred to as Jethro in Genesis 3:1, and 18:1.

  • Reuel told the daughters to invite the man to dinner, and Moses stayed with them.
  • Reuel gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses as his wife, and she bore him a son, which he named Gershom, saying he had been a foreigner in a foreign land.

Note: Zipporah means “little bird,” and Gershom means “resident alien,” referring to the fact that he was born to Moses while Moses was banished in a foreign land.

  • After a long time, the pharaoh died.
  • The Israelites were suffering under severe oppression, and they cried out to God. He heard their cries and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Note: Exodus 2: 23-25 represents a turning point in the narrative. The Israelites had been oppressed for many years, but now God was about to deliver them from their oppressors.

Exodus 3-4:17

This section records God’s call to Moses on Mount Horeb.

Exodus 3

Chapter 3 details the appearance of God in the form of a burning bush before Moses.

In verses 1-3, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses:

  • While Moses was shepherding his father-in-law’s sheep, he led them to Horeb and the Mountain of God.
  • Moses saw a burning bush that was not consumed, so he went over to look at it.
  • A voice called out from the bush, “Moses, Moses.”
  • The voice told Moses not to come closer and to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground.
  • The voice said, “I am the God of your father Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.

Note: The burning bush is the first instance of the Lord identifying himself as God (Ex 3:4). God tells Moses what lies ahead, the signs and wonders, as well as the opposition.

  • Then the Lord said he had seen the misery of the people of Israel and heard their cries. He said He had come to rescue them from the oppression of the Egyptians and take them to a land flowing with milk and honey: the territory of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.
  • God then commanded Moses to go to Pharaoh so that he could lead his people out of Egypt.
  • But Moses was concerned, asking who am I that I can do this? God reassured him that He would be with them, lead them out of Egypt, and they would worship Him at this mountain.

Note: The Hebrew word for worship, ābad̠, is the same word as “to be a slave.” The Hebrews had been slaves in Egypt to Pharaoh and were now being called to serve the Lord.

  • Then Moses asked when I go to the Israelites, and they ask who sent me, who should I tell them sent me.
  • God answered, “I AM WHO I AM.” Say “I AM” sent me. Say, “YAHWEH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, sent me.” This is My name forever.
  • God then told Moses to go and gather the elders of Israel and tell them He had heard their cries and would bring them up out of Egypt as He had promised, and take them to a land flowing with milk and honey.
  • Moses was then to take the elders of Israel and go to Pharaoh and tell him that Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, had met with them and told them to go into the wilderness to make sacrifices to God.
  • However, said God, I know Pharaoh will not let you go until I strike Egypt with miracles. After that, he will let you go.
  • I will give you favor with the Egyptians, so you will not leave empty-handed. You will plunder the Egyptians.

Note: Plundering the Egyptians fulfills Genesis 15:14.

Exodus 4

Chapter 4 describes the three miraculous signs God gave to Moses, Moses’s return to Egypt, and Moses' reunion with Aaron.

In verses 1-17, God gives a reluctant Moses three miraculous signs to help him convince the Israelites:

  • Moses still didn’t believe that the people would believe the Lord had sent him.
  • Sign 1. The Lord told Moses to take his staff and throw it on the ground, and it became a snake. Moses grabbed the snake by its tail, and it became a staff again.
  • Sign 2. The Lord told Moses to put his hand in his coat and pull it out, and it was diseased, white as snow (leprosy). Then he put his hand back in his coat and pulled it out, and it was healed.
  • Sign 3. God said if they don’t believe these signs take some water from the Nile, pour it on the ground, and it will turn to blood.
  • Moses was still reluctant, saying he was not an eloquent speaker. God told him, I made your mouth, I will help you speak and teach you what to say.
  • Moses, still reluctant, asked God to send someone else.
  • The Lord’s anger burned against Moses. God said He would guide Moses in what to say to his brother Aaron, and I will teach both you and Aaron what to do. Aaron will be your spokesman to the people.

In verses 18-23, Moses returns to Egypt:

  • Moses asked Jethro, his father-in-law, for permission to return to Egypt to see his relatives, and Jethro permitted him.
  • The Lord comforted Moses again, saying all the men who wanted to kill you are dead.
  • So Moses took his wife and children and God’s staff and returned to Egypt.
  • God told Moses to do all the miracles before Pharaoh he had given him, but God would harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the people go.

Note: The reference to God hardening Pharaoh’s heart causes some confusion. It appears God is over-riding Pharaoh’s free will, causing him to sin against God, but this is not the case. Three Hebrew words are used for hardening in these passages. In this case, the word is a prediction of what Pharaoh would do; Pharaoh stubbornly refused.

  • Then, said God, you are to tell Pharaoh Israel is My firstborn, let them go so they may worship Me, but you refused, so now I will kill your first-born son.

In verses 24-26, Moses’ sons are circumcised:

  • During the trip to Egypt, while they were camped overnight, God determined to put Moses to death because he had not circumcised his sons (one or both) as required by God’s command (Genesis 17:10). Zipporah, his wife, circumcised the boys, and God healed Moses.
  • Zipporah threw the foreskin at Moses’ feet and said, you are a bridegroom of blood to me!

Note: Scholars are not in agreement as to the meaning of the phrase, “you are a bridegroom of blood to me.” Some suggest this is a derogatory way to show she did not approve of circumcision but did it to save Moses. Others suggest she saw it as an act of redemption, restoring Moses to God and her. In any case, Moses sent Zipporah and the boys back home (Genesis 18:2-3).

In verses 27-31, Moses and Aaron are reunited:

  • The Lord told Aaron to meet Moses in the wilderness, so Aaron went out to meet Moses at the Mountain of God (Horeb)
  • Moses told Aaron everything God had told him to say and do.
  • Moses and Aaron assembled all the elders. Aaron performed all the signs God had given them and repeated all that God had told Moses.
  • The people believed that God had heard their cries, had seen their misery, and bowed down and worshipped Him.

Some thoughts for additional consideration:

  • How often do we sin in private and think we will not be found out? How often do we beg God to call us and use us, but then when God does call, we are reluctant to answer the call? As with Moses, when God calls us for His service. He will always be with us, protect us, and equip us for whatever work lies before us.

What did you notice in your study today?Feel free to visit the website and leave a question or a comment.

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Tomorrow: Exodus 5-7

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