Exodus One

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Exodus 1:1 Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.

Now. It is significant that Moses began Exodus with the common Hebrew conjunction waw (here translated “now,” but commonly translated “and”), thus indicating that Exodus was simply a continuation of Genesis, both books being actual historical records of real events.

these are the names. The similarity of this summary passage to the eleven toledoth (“generations”) passages of Genesis (Genesis 2:4; 5:1; etc.) suggests that Moses, who compiled and edited these earlier documents into the present book of Genesis, used this modified formula as a transition between the concluding chapters of Genesis (which must originally have been written by Joseph or Judah or someone else among Jacob's immediate descendants) and his own personal account. He thus linked his own “generations” to those that had gone before by using a similar formula, and yet altered it sufficiently to indicate that this would begin a distinctively new period in history and a new book in the divinely-authenticated record of history.

Exodus 1:2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,

Exodus 1:3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,

Exodus 1:4 Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.

Exodus 1:5 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.

souls. Compare this use of “souls” to Genesis 46:26, 27, and Acts 7:14.

Exodus 1:6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.

Exodus 1:7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.

increased abundantly. Populations can grow very rapidly under favorable conditions. For example, the seventy who came into Egypt could easily have multiplied to over five million in just ten generations, assuming only that the average family had six children who lived and reproduced, and that only two generations were living contemporaneously, at any one time. This was only half the size of Jacob's original family. Even an average family size of four would generate a population of over 100,000 in ten generations.

Exodus 1:8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

king over Egypt. Unfortunately, Egyptian chronology is still controversial among Egyptologists and Biblical archaeologists. Various schools of thought favor different identifications of this new Pharaoh, as well as others before and after. Until such arguments are settled, there is no need to attempt a precise correlation of the uncertain Egyptian histories with the divinely inspired and trustworthy Biblical records.

Exodus 1:9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:

Exodus 1:10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.

Exodus 1:11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.

Pithom and Raamses. Although various suggestions have been made, the exact locations of these ancient cities have not yet been confirmed by archaeologists.

Exodus 1:12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.

Exodus 1:13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:

Exodus 1:14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.

with rigour. A wall painting in the tomb of an Egyptian prime minister, dated in the mid fifteenth century b.c., shows slaves from Syro-Palestine forming bricks from mud, supervised by weapon-wielding Egyptian taskmasters.

Exodus 1:15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:

one was Shiphrah. The names of the two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, have been found to be typical names among women in northwest Egypt during the times of Moses.

Exodus 1:16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.

Exodus 1:17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

Exodus 1:18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?

Exodus 1:19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.

Exodus 1:20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.

dealt well with the midwives. The midwives had both disobeyed their rulers and lied to them, both of which actions are normally sinful in God's sight (e.g., 1 Peter 2:13; Ephesians 4:25), and yet God rewarded them. When situations arise in which the commands of rulers conflict with explicit commandments of God (in this case, the murder of innocent children conflicts with the commandment against murder and also His explicit commandment and promise to Jacob—note Genesis 46:3, 4), then God's word must be obeyed (Acts 5:29) rather than the unlawful orders of men. The midwives protected the infants at the risk of their own lives. What may seem superficially to have been a “false witness” was not “against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16), but in hazardous protection of their neighbor, just as was the case with those Christians who hid their Jewish neighbors during Hitler's pogroms.

Exodus 1:21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.

Exodus 1:22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

daughter. Pharaoh perhaps desired to have his own subjects marry their women.