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Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 1

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-22

Analysis and Annotations


1. The House of Bondage


1. The names of the children of Israel; their increase (Exodus 1:1-7 )

2. The new king and his policy (Exodus 1:8-11 )

3. The continued increase (Exodus 1:12 )

4. Their hard bondage (Exodus 1:13-14 )

5. The midwives commanded (Exodus 1:15-16 )

6. Their disobedience and God’s reward (Exodus 1:17-21 )

7. Pharaoh’s charge to all his people (Exodus 1:22 )

The opening verses take us back once more to the end of Genesis; as already stated the word “now” (literally, “and”) makes Exodus a continuation of the previous book. They had come into Egypt while Joseph was already there. Joseph and all his brethren had passed away, but their descendants multiplied rapidly. The Hebrew word “increased” means “swarmed.” The seventh verse (Exodus 1:7 ) emphasizes their wonderful increase both in numbers and in power. Inasmuch as a comparatively short time had elapsed after Joseph’s death, some 64 years only, infidelity has sneered at the description of this increase. It is generally overlooked that besides the 70 souls which came into Egypt a very large number of servants must have accompanied them. Abraham had 318 servants born in his house. Jacob had a still larger number. And they had been received into the covenant, though they were not natural descendants. The command of circumcision extended to “every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not thy seed” (Genesis 17:12 ). There may have been thousands of such servants besides immense herds of cattle. Yet even this does not fully explain the great increase. It was miraculous, the fulfillment of the promises given to the patriarchs. God witnessed thereby that they were His people.

The Egyptian account given by their historian Manetho, speaking of the Hyksos, the shepherd kings of the East, is in all probability a distorted account of the increase and influence of the Israelites. A new king, or dynasty, then arose. Josephus, the Jewish historian, states: “The government was transferred to another family.” The debt which Egypt owed to Joseph was forgotten.

The increasing Israelites filled the Egyptians with terror, hence the attempt to crush them by hard labor and the cruel taskmasters. They were used in the construction of some of the great monumental buildings and became the slaves of the Gentiles. The ruins of cities bear witness to it, for they were composed of crude brick and in many of them straw was not used (Exodus 5:10-12 ). The oppression was in degrees. But the more they were afflicted, the more they multiplied and grew. Here we may read the history of Israel among the Gentiles. Their increase and expansion has produced what is known as “anti-Semitism.” The Gentiles fear the Jews. Their miraculous increase always takes place when oppression and persecution is upon them. When they are oppressed then God’s time for deliverance draws nigh.

Their oppression and sorrow in Egypt was also permitted for their own good. The idolatry of Egypt began to corrupt the chosen people. See Joshua 24:14 ; Ezekiel 20:5-8 ; Ezekiel 23:8 .

The attempt to destroy all the male children follows next. Satan, who is a murderer from the beginning, manifested his cunning and power in this way. He desired to destroy the seed of Abraham so as to make the coming of the Promised One impossible. The murder of Abel was his first attempt. Here is an attempt on a larger scale, which was followed by many others. See Exodus 14:0 , 2 Chronicles 21:4 ; 2Ch 21:17 ; 2 Chronicles 22:10 ; Esther 3:6 ; Esther 3:12-13 ; Matthew 2:0 , etc. Throughout the history of Israel during this age Satan has made repeated attempts to exterminate this wonderful people, because he knows God’s purpose concerning their future. His final attempt is recorded in Revelation 12:0 .

Pharaoh was the instrument of Satan, and is a type of him. Blessed is the record of the faithful Hebrew midwives. They were pious women. Satan tried to use woman again for his sinister purposes, but he failed. Later we find that the wicked Pharaoh was defeated by the faith of a Hebrew mother and by the loving kindness of his own daughter (chapter 2). And God rewarded the actions of these women. They received honors; their families increased and were blest. When Pharaoh saw his attempt frustrated he appealed to his own people to commit wholesale murder. They began to sow an awful seed; the harvest came when years later there was no house in Egypt without one dead, when the firstborn were slain. Galatians 6:7 applies also to nations, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that he shall also reap.” God honored the Hebrew midwives because they honored Him. The retribution came upon cruel Egypt in God’s own time.

And yet there are other lessons. Egypt is the type of the world; Pharaoh the type of the prince of this world. The bondage of sin and the wretchedness of God’s people, still undelivered, are here depicted. God permitted all so that they might groan for deliverance. The house of bondage opens the way for redemption by blood and by power.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Exodus 1". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/exodus-1.html. 1913-1922.
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