The book was written approximately 1440 BC and considered to be the second of five books written by Moses.

The title “Exodus” is derived from the name which the ancient Greek translators gave to the book, “Exodos”, meaning ‘the going out”, “exit”.  You may have even heard or used the term “mass exodus”, depicting a large migration of people from one place to another. The name reflects the book’s particular interest in the departure of the Israelites from Egypt.

In God’s timing, the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt marked the end of a period of oppression for Abraham’s descendants as noted in Genesis chapter 15.

You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. – Genesis 15:13

It also marked the beginning of the fulfillment of the covenant promise to Abraham that his descendants would not only live in the Promised Land, but would also multiply and become a great nation.

1Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. – Genesis 12:1-3

The purpose of the book of Exodus may be expressed as tracing the rapid growth of Jacob’s (Israel’s) descendants from Egypt to the establishment of the Promised Land. By the time we get to this first section of the bible, it has actually be 430 years that they were in Egypt.  Since the date of their arrival in Egypt is uncertain, this chronological clue only provides a rough approximation.  The exodus most likely occurred sometime in the the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 BC)

The first part of the book of Exodus unfolds many key historical events:

  • the oppression experienced by Israel from the Egyptian pharaoh
  • the calling of Yahweh to Moses to be a deliverer for His people
  • the conflict of Egypt over Israel’s freedom
  • the spiritual and physical battles between God and this world as plague after plague are demonstrated against Egypt. (NOTE: the plagues impacted the Egyptian people as well as pharaoh)
  • the miraculous crossing of the sea of reeds (commonly translated as the Red Sea)
  • their journey to Sinai, the mountain of Yahweh.

Exodus begins where Genesis leaves off as God deals with His chosen people, the Jews. It traces the events from the time Israel entered Egypt as guests of Joseph, who was powerful in Egypt, until they were eventually delivered from the cruel bondage of slavery.

1These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them. – Exodus 1:1-7 ESV

How fruitful were the children of Israel? The seventy souls who originally entered the land of Egypt in Genesis 50 numbered approximately three million forty years later in Exodus 1.
You might ask or be curious about: why were the children of Israel in Egypt?
Two reasons…

First, God planted His people in Egypt in order to prepare them for the Land of Promise. Safe and warm, Egypt was an “incubator” for Jacob’s growing family.

Secondly, and equally important, God planted His people in Egypt to prepare the Promised Land for them. In Genesis 15, God told Abraham that, although his offspring would eventually number as many as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore, they would also spend four generations—or forty years—in Egypt until the iniquity of the Amorites was full, until the sin of the Canaanites had risen to the place where He had no other option but to judge them. The sins of the Canaanites were horrific. They were a people who sacrificed their children and tortured each other. Yet in His incredible kindness and mercy, God gave the Canaanites forty years to repent and turn from their sin. But they wouldn’t. So, like a rabid dog, they had to be exterminated not only in order that others wouldn’t be infected by their debauchery, but also that they might be put out of their own misery.1

Have you ever desired something or felt a calling and the Lord does not respond directly?  Just like the Israelites, maybe God is saying “not yet” to prepare for your journey. Not only you, but where you are going…

8Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. 9He said to his people, “Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. 10We 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.”

Why would it be pertinent to indicate that the new king did not know about Joseph or what he had done?

11So 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. 12But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became. 13So the Egyptians worked the people of Israel without mercy. 14They 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. – Exodus 1:11-14 NLT

This part of scripture describes a time when God’s people were persecuted, yet it did not derail or negate their future.

Have you been through a time of persecution or oppression where you persevered and actually found it to be a God send? 

15Then 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.” 17But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too.
18So 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.”
20So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
22Then 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 1:15-22 NLT

Pharaoh’s plan to intercept and destroy the Hebrew linage by murdering the boys at birth was thwarted by God, via some midwives.

Why do you think that Pharaoh only wanted to the boys killed?

Now, as pharaoh intensifies his opposition and now orders “all his people”, that is the population of Egypt, to throw babies into the Nile River.  That would be like our president ordering every citizen of America to drown any illegal alien boy that we see.  This is so traumatic.  It is one group of people degrading another with no compassion.  This had to be so horrific, can you imagine people literally going up to a mother and pulling a child out of her arms and taking it down to the river to kill it?

Yet, there is a fear that has more power than anything in this world…
because the midwives feared God…” – Exodus 1:21

Isn’t it crazy that the most powerful person, in the most powerful country, with the most influence, could not override God’s plans.  Pharaoh was worried about the Hebrew nation rising up and opposing him, but had no clue about a power greater than himself.

At this time in history, women were valued a little bit above a dog, they could not even speak their mind in court.  Women were used as commodities. It was not uncommon for little girls to be traded or sold for cattle.  So little boys were a threat, and little girls brought wealth and power.  Who were the heroes in this chapter? Shiphrah and Puah, because they were humble females with no power or influence, but they stood up against pharaoh’s commands. They were bold and courageous, allowing the fear of the Lord to be their strength. Making the decision to not obey the commands of pharaoh was sure to bring punishment, not only to themselves, but their whole family. Yet, how did their faith play out?

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

Have you been in a situation where you were asked to do wrong and followed your faith instead?

We end chapter 1 in this horrific state of confusion.  Massive evil reigning in the world. Death, fear, calamity, murder, hatred, oppression, opposition, and we dwell on how big the world is. That our current times may seem bleak. Future in America may seem like it is spiraling down and intensity of the world is looming. Let us settle in with confidence that God is not surprised; God is not disarmed; God is not dethroned. As the Hebrews did and Shiphrah and Puah did, let us fear the one to be feared, and allow Him to use us for his glory.

The story is not over yet.
He draws us in to call us out!

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ex 1:1–7). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ex 1:8–22). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
1Courson, J. (2005). Jon Courson’s application commentary: Volume one: Genesis–Job. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.