1. What were the years of the Egyptian stay? Total stay was 430 years (Exodus 12:40). Historians place it as 1760 BCE (corresponding to arrival of Hyksos from Syria)until 1330 BCE (corresponds to fall of Jericho). Slavery (oppression years less than that.
2. Who were the Pharaohs? Akhenaten thought to be Pharoah during the Oppression (corresponding to the mudbrick temples built). Not sure who succeeded him but young Tutankhamun (Tut) soon rose to the throne and thought to be Pharaoh of the Exodus.
3. Antisemitism began with death of Jacob, who had great merit, but died 17 years after arrival in Egypt. Joseph was 39 when brothers arrived, died 71 years later.
January 19, 2019 | by Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld
How long did the actual slavery of Egypt last? When the Children of Israel first descended to Egypt, they were treated with honor as Joseph’s family, and only after he died did the slavery begin. Do the Sages state anywhere exactly when that occurred, and how many years before the Exodus it was?
The four hundred years of Israel’s stay in Egypt were divided into two unequal periods, in the first and longer period, they were prosperous and favored, while in the second, but shorter period they were oppressed. Both periods had their uses and place in the shaping of the nation and its preparation for the Exodus. Both with permanent lessons.
I. The long days of unclouded prosperity. These extended over centuries, the whole history of which is summed up in two words: death and growth. The calm years went by peacefully, and the shepherds in Goshen had the happiness of having no recorded history. All that needed to be recorded was that, one by one, the first generation died off, and that the new generations ‘were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty.’ The emphatic repetitions recall the original promises:
Genesis 12:2, I will make you a great nation (to Abram)
Genesis 17:4,5 I will make you the father of many nations (to Abraham)
Genesis 18:18. You will be a great, powerful nation, nations blessed through you (to Abraham)
The number of the original settlers (70 per Genesis 46:27) shows the small beginnings and the rapid increase.
One by one men pass from life to death, and so gradually does this happen, that we scarcely are aware of its going on, but at last ‘all that generation’ has vanished. The old trees are all cleared off the ground, and everywhere their place is taken by the young saplings. As one passes, more take its place.
That long period of growth may be regarded in two lights. It brought about the conversion of a family into a nation by numerical increase, and so was a link in the chain of the divine working. The great increase, of which the writer speaks so strongly, was, no doubt, due to the favorable circumstances of the life in Goshen, but was none the less regarded by him, and rightly so, as God’s doing. As the Psalmist sings, ‘He increased His people greatly.’ ‘Natural processes’ are the implements of a supernatural will. So Israel was being multiplied, and the reason for which it was peacefully growing so large was hidden from all but God. But there was another end, in reference to which the years of peaceful prosperity may be regarded; namely, teaching the people to patiently trust in the long-delayed fulfilment of the promise. That hope had burned bright in Joseph when he died. Delay is meant to strengthen faith and focus our hope.
In the moral region every circumstance has two opposite results possible. Each condition can bring a blessing and a curse. Whatever is meant to better us may also be used to worsen us. And the history of Israel in Egypt and in the desert shows only too plainly that ease weakened, if it did not kill, faith, and that Goshen was so pleasant that it drove the hope and the wish for Canaan from their minds. ‘While the bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept.’ Israel was losing its desire for their Promised Land by the prosperity of Goshen, making them to prepare for their travel to Canaan. The desert repels more strongly than Canaan attracts.
II. The shorter period of oppression. Probably the rise of a ‘new king’ means a revolution in which a native dynasty expelled foreign monarchs. The Pharaoh of the oppression was, perhaps, the great Rameses II., whose long reign of sixty-seven years gives ample room for the long and difficult oppression of Israel. The policy adopted was characteristic of these early despotisms in its utter disregard of humanity that actually prevented keeping the kingdom safe. It was not intentionally cruel, it was merely indifferent to the suffering it caused. ‘Let us deal wisely with them’-never mind about justice, not to say kindness. Pharaoh’s ‘politics,’ like those of some other rulers who divorce them from morality, turned out to be politically unwise, and his ‘wisdom’ proved to be folly. He was afraid that the Israelites, if they were allowed to grow, might find out their strength and seek to leave; and so he set to work to weaken them with hard bondage, not seeing that that was sure to make them wish the very thing that he was blunderingly trying to prevent – their desire to leave. The only way to make them glad to remain in a community is to make them at home there. The sense of injustice is the strongest disintegrating force. If there is a ‘dangerous class’ the surest way to make them more dangerous is to treat them harshly. It was a blunder to make ‘their lives bitter,’ for their hearts were also embittered. So the people were ripened for revolt, and Goshen became less attractive.
God used Pharaoh’s foolish wisdom, as He had used natural laws, to prepare for the Exodus. The long years of ease had multiplied the nation. The period of oppression was to stir them up out of their comfortable nest, and make them willing to risk the bold dash for freedom. Is not that the explanation, too, of the similar times in our lives? When we experience life’s sorrows and burdens, and find how hard the world’s service is, and how quickly our Goshens may become difficult places, in order that our weakened wills, clinging so tightly to earth, may be detached from the world, and taught to reach upwards to God. ‘Blessed is the man . . .in whose heart are thy ways,’ and happy is he who so profits by his sorrows that they stir in him the pilgrim’s spirit, and make him yearn after Canaan, and not grudge to leave Goshen”. Our ease and our troubles, opposite though they seem and are, are meant to further the same end - to make us fit for the journey which leads to rest and home.
Preparing to Leave
Blessing to Oppression
A. Life was good in Goshen for Jacob and his family of 70 under Pharaoh; family prospered and grew in great numbers.
B. (Exodus 1) New pharaoh feared what Israelites would do if war. Decided to make life oppressive, enslave Hebrews; Pharaoh orders male babies to be killed by drowning in Nile.
C. (Exodus 2) Hebrew baby Moses escapes in river basket, rescued by Ph daughter, raised in Egyptian royalty until age 40. Sees Egyptian beating Hebrew slave and kills Egyptian; flees to Midian.
D. Moses helps 7 daughters of Reuel (aka Jethro) at well, invited to their home. Marries Zipporah, daughter of Reuel (Jethro). Pharaoh dies and new Pharaoh comes to power. Israelites groan under oppressive slavery. Time to leave Egypt growing nearer; God hears groans and is concerned.
E. (Exodus 3) Moses tends sheep for Jethro in Midian. Moses has ‘burning bush’ experience; God prepares him to be sent to Pharaoh to free slaves.
F. (Exodus 4) Moses returns to Egypt, with his brother Aaron (better speaker); spends time with Hebrews, doing signs, and telling God’s plans for deliverance; Hebrews like good news.
G. (Exodus 5) Moses asks Pharaoh to let Israelites worship in the wilderness; Pharaoh refuses and makes life more oppressive for Hebrew slaves; Pharaoh blames Moses/Aaron; Moses complains to God that his presence is making trouble for Hebrews.
H. (Exodus 6) God tells Moses to tell Hebrews His plans to deliver them, but won’t listen to Moses. God tells Moses to tell Pharaoh to let his people leave country. Moses blames his ‘slowness of speech’; Aaron appointed to speak for Moses.
Plagues to convince Pharaoh (Exodus 8)
A. Moses/Aaron sent to Pharaoh, Moses now 80, Aaron now 83. Moses throws down staff that becomes snake. PH’s magicians duplicate; Moses’ snakes swallow magician snake. Pharaoh’s heart hardened against further conversation.
B. Purpose and Meaning of plagues was to show God’s power and that he was alive. Also to show that Egyptian gods were nothing.
C. Plague #1 Moses sent to touch his staff to Nile, turns to blood. Magicians duplicate. God turns Nile back to water after 7 days. The gods Khnum, Anuket, and Satet were the guardians of the source of the Nile who ensured that the correct amount of silt was left by the waters, but Hapi controlled the water itself. He was also associated with the Delta and given the epithet “Lord of the Fishes and Birds of the Marshes”.
D. Plague #2 Frogs Heqet (Egyptian ḥqt, also ḥqtyt "Heqtit"), sometimes spelled Heket, is an
Egyptian goddess of fertility, identified with Hathor, represented in the form of a frog. To the Egyptians, the frog was an ancient symbol of fertility, related to the annual flooding of the Nile.
Exodus 12: 21-28
A. Moses instructs the people on what is to happen at midnight, that this will be a lasting ordinance in the Promised Land
B. It happened just as Moses told people it would. Households, prisoners, cattle all without protection faced the 12th plague. God knew Pharaoh would respond this time. The “divine” Pharaoh asks Moses for a blessing!
C. Pharaoh sends for Moses, tells him to leave. Egyptians afraid to have Israelites stay any longer
D. 600,000 men, beside women and children = 2 million people. Almost double population every generation of 40 years. “Many other people left with them”. Took Joseph’s bones
E. v 43-49. Regulations on the Passover.
F. Chapter 13: Dedication of Firstborn
G. Chapter 14; Initial SE route would have taken them into Wilderness, not good for Egypt’s chariot forces. Would have taken them past Red Sea on their right. God shifted route to more southerly route, hemmed in by the desert and Red Sea.
H. After initial shock of firstborn deaths, Pharaoh angry at having let Israel go. Would not have pursued them in wilderness, but learning of their S route, took 600 chariots to pursue.
Led by pillar of cloud by day, pillar of fire by night; pillars remained in front
I. Pharaoh seems to have thought Israel had taken 3 day journey to wilderness for sacrifice and would return. When they go south, appeared to be fleeing, Pharaoh pursues with 600 chariots (1:1000). God seems to be baiting Pharaoh to pursue. Pharaoh catches up while they are camping by Red Sea.
J. Israel afraid, regretted leaving Egypt; Moses promises deliverance. God will harden heart of Ph
K. Pillar (angel of the Lord) withdrew from front, goes to rear, insulating them from Egyptians.
L. During night, east wind blows (normally N-S) making dry land path.
M. Israel crosses. When Egypt tries to pursue, wheels come off, chaos (clogged with sand, mud become broken. . Egypt wants to retreat, recognized God is with Israel, but not one Egyptian escaped – God’s purpose! Israel sees God’s power – also God’s purpose.
A. Honeymoons are generally romantic get aways. But they are intended to be a time of the groom and bride sharing and learning about each other. God wanted Israel to learn to trust Him, and Israel needed to see God’s power.
B. Moses was the mediator. When Israel complained to Moses, Moses took the complaint to God.
i. First stop at Red Sea was the curtain raiser. Ch 15 shows ‘bridal response’. When they arrive at Marah, water is bitter, but God heals. God’s test is that if they follow his ways, he would not inflict them like the Egyptians, “I am the Lord who heals you.” But it’s an if…then, conditional offer, not free. Come to Elim with 12 springs/70 palm trees.
ii Second stop: Wilderness of Sin one month later (16:1) Grumbled against Moses and Aaron
for lack of food. Moses brings community to see God’s glory. Trough Moses, God promises
meat and water. Quail covers camp in evening, manna in morning.
iii. (Ch 17)Rephidim in Wilderness of Sinai. Complain about coming to die of thirst, Moses
about to be stoned, takes it to the Lord. Told to strike rock at Horeb to get water. God
questions why they are so testing (Massah) and quarrelsome (Meribah)
iv. Battle with Amalekites. Former slaves defeat Amalekite army. Afterward, Moses builds an altar,
calls it the Lord is My Banner (Jehovah-Nissi). Banners are reminders of victory.
. At Mt Sinai
A. (Ch 4:18-27) Moses’ preparations for his mission. Leaders are not exempt!
B. (Ch 18) Moses’ father-in-law visits. Returns with Moses wife and two sons.
1. Delegate: God gives power or resources to do task
Staying at Mt Sinai
A. (Ch 19) Arrival at Mt Sinai. Month 3. Meeting with His people (His Bride) Exchange of vows
B. Moses called to Summit Meeting. Instructions for people in interim
C. (Ch 20) Commandments given. Motivational signs given – fear of the Lord.
1. Ten Commandments – How to get along with God (I-III);
How to get along with family of God (IV-X) .
D. (Ch 21-22) Situational laws
E. (Ch 23) More situational laws (Note required festivals in verses 14-19
F. (Ch 24) 40 day Summit to give law and commandments.
1. Aaron and 2 sons, 70 elders, and Moses called to come up, but only Moses could approach
2. People were not to come up
3. Moses reported all God had said; people said they would obey
4. Moses builds altar at foot of mountain; sacrifice – blood ratified the covenant; Moses and
previous group return and “see” God in glory and beauty, instead of smoke and fire.
Group has a holy meal with God.
5. Moses called up again to receive stone tablets; Joshua, his aide goes with him
6. Mountain covered with cloud for 6 days; Moses called forward n 7th day
7. People see glory of the Lord as an allll consuming fire enveloping mountain; Moses enters
cloud and remains 40 days
A. (Ch 25) Setting up the Tabernacle. Ark, Table, Lampstand. Specifically note Ark
B. (Ch 26) Constructing the Tabernacle
1. Mobile, God’s Presence among the people
2. Preview of Jerusalem Temple
3. All the curtains are to be the same size—42 ft long and 6 ft wide. Five of the curtains
together, and do the same with the other five.
4. 11 Curtains of goat hair for the tent over the tabernacle. All eleven curtains were same
size—45 ft long and 6 ft wide, five of the curtains together joined into one set and the other
six into another set. Fold the sixth curtain double at the front of the tent
5. Upright frames of acacia wood for the tabernacle. Each frame is to be 15 ft long and 2 ¼ ft wide. Twenty frames for the south and south sides, six frames for west end, two frames
for the corners at the far end.
6. One curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven
into it by a skilled worker, hung with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with
gold and standing on four silver bases. Curtain hung from the clasps and the ark
of the covenant law placed behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from
the Most Holy Place
7. Entrance to the tent was a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted
linen—the work of an embroiderer. Hung with gold hooks supported with five posts of
acacia wood overlaid with gold.
C. Altar of Burnt Offering made of acacia wood, 4 ½ ft high, square, 7 ½ ft long and 7 ½
wide. A horn at each of the four corners, so that the horns and the altar were one piece, and
overlaid with bronze.
D. (Ch 27) There would be a courtyard. Oil for lampstands, kept burning evening until morning.
E. (Ch 28) Priestly garments specified.
F. (Ch 29, 30) specify consecrations and incense uses.
G. Even workers specified by name Bezalel, of the tribe of Judah, filled him with the Spirit of
God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make
artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and engage in all kinds of crafts.
H. (Ch 31) Oholiab, tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all skilled workers to
make everything commanded -tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with atonement
cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— the table and its articles, the pure gold
lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand— and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, and the anointing
oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place.
Sabbaths. Would be a sign between people and God for generations to come, “so you may
know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you.
Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death.
When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the
covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.
(Ch 32) Down from the Mountain
A. While Moses was meeting with God on Mt Sinai, God told Moses about the golden calf
B. God is ready to destroy people, and carry on His covenant with Abraham through Moses
C. Moses intercedes; why let their enemies say God brought His people out to die; God relents
D. Moses comes down with two tablets engraved front and back by God. He sees calf, smashes
idol, throws it into fire, grounds it to powder, throws it into water, makes them drink it.
E. Aaron’s lame excuse. Moses stands at entrance of camp with Levites who rally around him
with swords. Anyone still continuing idolatry to be killed, no trial needed since it was done in
the open. Three thousand killed
F. Moses pleads for forgiveness for people; God would blot name of those who had sinned
from Book of Life. Angel sent to punish with plague for those who worshipped golden calf.
1. Resemblance of plague to idol worshippers in Egypt? God remembers lapse into idolatry. Brings it up again later
The Glory of God at Tent of Meeting (Ch 33)
A. God tells people to resume journey, but He would not go with them. People were humiliated
by their sin. Culture usually called for ornamentation – collars, earrings – but show
humiliation by removing them.
B. Moses had a Tent of Meeting outside came to inquire of Lord. People would stand at
entrance of their tents and watch Moses enter. Pillar of cloud over Tent when Moses entered.
God spoke to Moses as friend to friend, ‘face to face’. God shows pleasure with Moses, and
agrees to go with them after all.
C. Moses asks to see God’s glory; God agrees but shielded him from sight of His face.
New Tablets (Ch 34)
A. God tells Moses to bring new tablets in morning; God stands with him and proclaims His
Name. New tablets chiseled by Moses. Chiseled as on hearts of stone.
B. Makes covenant with Moses He would do things for Israel no other nation had ever seen.
He would drive out enemies before them. Don’t make treaties with them, make idols. Break
down their altars.
1. Festival of Unleavened Bread, Festival of Weeks (firstfruits) instituted, other laws stated
2. Covenant ratified; Ten Commandments given (v 27).
C. (v 34-35) Moses returns, his face glowing, people are afraid to come near him. Gives
people God’s command, afterward veils his face. Removes veil when talking with God.
Commands of God accomplished
A. Sabbath laws, Tabernacle (Ch 35-39)
B. Summary, Moses’ inspection (39:32- )
C. (Ch 40) God enters completed Tabernacle; When pillar rises, people are to go; when pillar settles, they were to stay.
D. “So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night,
in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.” Ends Book of Exodus.
Book of Leviticus
A. Thirteen months had elapsed since the Exodus. About one month had been occupied in the
journey; and the rest of the period had been passed in encampment among the recesses of Sinai, where the transactions took place, and the laws, religious and civil, were promulgated, which are contained in the two preceding books. As the tabernacle was erected on the first day of the first month, and the order here mentioned was given on the first day of the second,
some think the laws in Leviticus were all given in one month.
B. Various laws, festivals set out. Skim headings, choose areas of interest.
Book of Numbers (continues the Exodus) - The Israelites had been formed into a separate nation,
under the government of God as their King. Now, before resuming their march towards the promised land, to put them into good order, so Moses was tasked, along with Aaron, to take a census of the people to show the relative increase and military strength of the different tribes. The enumeration was confined to those capable of bearing arms
A. Ch 1 Census
B. Ch 2 Arrangement of Tribes
C. Ch 3 Setting apart Levites. Four sons of Aaron were to serve as priests, but two killed for
violating priestly authorized protocols.
D. Tabernacle responsibilities (Chs 3-4)
i Kohathites - care of the vessels and objects within the sanctuary: the Ark of the Covenant, Menorah, Table of Shewbread.
ii. Gershonites - care of the curtains, hangings, and ropes of the sanctuary.
iii. Merarites had the task of maintaining and carrying from place to place the pillars, bases, frames, pegs, and cords that created the structure of the tent of meeting.
D. Ch 4 – 8 God’s ordinances.
E. Ch 9 Passover observances. Note date being shown 2nd year, 1st month after leaving Egypt;
Note Cloud significance in v15
F. Israel begins to move