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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 1

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verse 22

Let's turn now to Exodus, chapter one, as we begin the book of Exodus.

The word "Now" could very well read, "And", as far as the Hebrew is concerned, for the book of Exodus is just a continuation of Genesis. The last verse of Genesis, "So Joseph died being a hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and put him in a coffin in Egypt."

Now these are names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household that came with Jacob. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. And all of the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already. And Joseph died, and all his brethren, in that generation ( Exodus 1:1-6 ).

So we can see how the first part of chapter one of Exodus is really just the continuation of the book of Genesis, again, written by Moses. It is interesting that the five books of Moses comprise almost one seventh of the entire Bible, that they comprise almost as much as two-thirds of the New Testament. Now if God devotes one seventh of the book to one particular period of history and study, it evidently is basic and foundational and God wants us to really know it and understand it.

So we have now the names of the sons of Jacob who came down with Jacob. They came down with their families into Egypt, "seventy souls", for Joseph was already there with his two sons.

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

Probably an understatement. Children of Israel, "fruitful, increased abundantly, multiplied, waxed exceeding mighty; the land was filled with them." In other words, they're trying to tell you there was a population explosion among the Jews at that time. Indeed there must have been, for the seventy souls that were there, about three hundred years after Joseph's death when they made the Exodus out of Israel, at that time there were six hundred thousand adult males over the age of twenty-one. So, you see when it says, "multiplied exceedingly" and all that's exactly what they were doing. They were doubling their population about every twenty-five years.

Now, that's just about what's happening in the world's population today. The world's population has begun to double just about every twenty-five years now. So they were at a state of population explosion about what we're experiencing now, doubling about every twenty-five years.

Now there rose up a new king over Egypt, and he knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falls out another war, they will join out also with our enemies, and fight against us, and then get out of the land ( Exodus 1:8-10 ).

Now the Pharaoh actually was fearful of them leaving the land. He felt that if another war would take place that they would take advantage of it, fight with the enemies and then leave the land. So in order to thwart this,

The Pharaoh set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for the Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: 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 ( Exodus 1:11-14 ).

Really began to afflict them, to oppress them, to lay upon them heavy burdens to make life rather hard and miserable for them by inflicting heavy slave labor upon them. Everything they did, they had to do it with rigour.

Now it is interesting that under these conditions, the children of Israel continued to multiply and grow. Probably one of the greatest weakening things that can happen to a nation is prosperity. Nations seem to become strong and grow under adversity. The same seems to be true of the church. In the early history of the church, the church was going through such severe persecution by the Roman government; the church was growing by leaps and bounds, tremendous growth in the early church.

But when the church began to be prosperous, Christianity began to be an accepted religion, almost a state religion. In fact in many areas it did become the state religion, and in all of those areas the church became weak. Prosperity has a tendency of softening people, whereas adversity has a tendency of doing the opposite, making the people strong. So the Pharaoh in his endeavor to weaken them by the heavy labor and the rigorous labor, working with bricks, and stones, and really putting heavy burdens upon them did not have the desired effect of weakening them, but actually made them just so much stronger. They really all got in just tremendous condition.

And the king of Egypt spake with the Hebrew midwives, the name of one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other was Puah: And he said, When you do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and you see them upon the stools; if it's a son, kill him: but if it's a daughter, then let her live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have you done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? And the midwives said unto the Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they're lively, and they deliver before we ever got to them. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses. And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast him into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive ( Exodus 1:15-22 ).

So the Pharaoh, first of all, sought to cut off the male children by ordering the midwives to kill them the moment they were born. When that failed then he gave a general order to just take the male babies and cast them into the river, save the girl babies; they of course might be servants and slaves.

There is a problem here of the obvious lie of the midwives. When the Pharaoh called them on the carpet, "How come you haven't fulfilled my order?" "Well, these women are just so lively. Before we can get to them, the babies are already born. They're not like the Egyptian women who have a life of ease and leisure. Now this of course could be true.

It seems that where women are forced into hard labor and all, their body condition becomes such that they can have a baby and go back to work. Out in New Guinea where the ladies do so much of the farming, and so much of the work, they'll have their baby and they'll go right-they'll strap it on their back, and go back out and work again in the fields. So I know that some of you women think, "Oh no." You remember how it was when you had your baby, but you're just softies; that's all. We like you that way. That's nothing against you at all. I wouldn't want you to be muscular and all like those women in New Guinea.

So it is very possible that this was not a lie, but some look upon it as a lie. Whether or not it was, I don't know. But if it were a lie that they were telling to the Pharaoh, then indeed how is it that God blessed them? I don't have any answer. Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't know everything. And those are, you know, that's one of those difficult things. I don't understand it, I don't know. All I know is that's what it says, "God blessed them." So God dealt well with them. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Exodus 1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/exodus-1.html. 2014.
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