Exodus 1 “There Arose Up a New King over Egypt”
The events in the book of Exodus took place about 1400 to 1300 BC, a few hundred years after the end of the book of Genesis. What had happened during that intervening time?
- The Lord blessed the children of Israel with tremendous growth in numbers, becoming “exceeding mighty” (verse 7).
- A pharaoh came into power who refused to acknowledge the greatness and contributions of Joseph, only seeing that the Israelites were “more and mightier” than the Egyptians, thus being a potential threat (verses 8-10).
- Therefore Pharaoh and the Egyptians subdued and controlled the Israelites by putting them into slavery, forcing them to build “treasure cities” and making their lives “bitter with hard bondage” (verses 11-14).
The foregoing is the set-up for Moses, our next great prophet/hero of the Old Testament. Read Exodus 1:15-16, 21 and think of how Moses was a type or foreshadowing of Jesus Christ; and Pharaoh a type of Herod.
Read verses 17-20 to see the faith and courage of the Hebrew (Israelite) midwives. The Hebrew midwives were forced to choose between obeying legal authority or obeying God, and they chose to obey God (see also Peter’s statements in Acts 4:18-19; 5:27-29). And Moses himself chose the ways of God over the ways of the world, as taught by Paul in Hebrews 11:24-27.
Exodus 2 Moses in Egypt and in Midian
In this chapter—as well as in chapter 1 and in several episodes in the book of Genesis—we see righteous women taking initiative to help fulfill the Lord’s work. Read verses 1-10 and find who are the women who helped carry out the Lord’s will? What did each of them do? What do you think Moses’s mother may have been thinking as she set her son afloat on the river? How do you think Pharaoh’s daughter may have felt about her father’s edict to destroy the male Hebrew children?
- We can conclude that Moses’s slaying of an Egyptian was a justified act (verses 11-14).
- As Moses fled from Egypt to Midian, he traveled some 300 miles or more, settling east of the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba (verse 15).
- In Midian, Moses married Zipporah, daughter of Reuel, “the priest of Midian” (also known as Jethro; verses 16-22).
- Doctrine and Covenants 84:6 informs us that Moses received the “Holy Priesthood” from his father-in-law Jethro.
- The Lord’s covenant with Abraham continued with the children of Israel throughout their bondage in Egypt (verses 23-25).
- Moses’s life was divided into three periods of forty years each; his birth and upbringing in Egypt; his life in Midian; and his wandering with the children of Israel toward Canaan.
- In the New Testament, Stephen stood before the Jewish Sanhedrin and recounted a great deal of Moses’s life, in an attempt to show the Jewish leaders that Jesus Christ was a Deliverer, as was Moses (Acts 7:17-44; see especially verses 35-37).
Exodus 3 The Lord Calls Moses
Moses led his flocks to Horeb, “the mountain of God” (verse 1; Horeb is generally considered the same as Mount Sinai; the location is not known for certain, but thought to be in the Sinai desert, perhaps between the Red Sea’s Gulfs of Aqaba and Suez):
- Read verses 2-14 (note that the Joseph Smith Translation for verse 2 changes “angel of the Lord” to “presence of the Lord”).
- What stands out for you in the Lord’s appearance to and His calling of Moses?
- What were Moses’s two questions, and the Lord’s answers? (verses 11-16). Have there been times when the Lord helped you overcome fears or inadequacies?
- The Lord declared to Moses that His name is, “I AM THAT I AM,” then instructed Moses to tell the children of Israel that “I AM” is the God who sent him (verse 14). Remember, the children of Israel were in a land where multiple gods were worshipped, this also being the case with the land of the Canaanites, from which the children of Israel had come.
- There is one God for the Israelites to follow, worship, and obey, and He is “I AM” (verse 14). Scholars say this is related to the translation, “the Lord God” (verse 15), which may also be rendered, “Yahweh” or “Jehovah,” whom we know to be Jesus Christ (see also D&C 39:1; Abraham 1:16; 2:8).
- What other promises did the Lord make to Moses in verses 17-22? (Note that the “jewels” and “raiment” mentioned in verse 22 are things the children of Israel would use later to build the tabernacle in the wilderness.)
Exodus 4:1-20 The Lord Is in Charge
Humble Moses knew the children of Israel well, and he also knew the Egyptians, and he still has apprehensions about his ability to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage:
- What was Moses’s concern in verse 1? How did the Lord answer this concern? (verses 2-9).
- What did Moses express next, in verse 10? How did the Lord reply? (verses 11-12).
- Another way to word verse 13 could be, “Lord, please send someone else!” How did the Lord respond to this? (verses 14-17, 19).
Have you had experiences when the Lord has shown that He helps you along the difficult path?
Exodus 4:21-31 “And the People Believed”
Verse 21 is an unfortunate translation and we are blessed to have the JST correction, helping us understand that Pharaoh would choose to harden his heart against Moses; and that the Lord did not cause Pharaoh’s hard heart (see JST Exodus 4:21).
In verses 22-23, 27-31, the Lord is willing to show signs through Moses and Aaron, and after seeing the signs, the people of the children of Israel believed. However, subsequent events cause us to question whether the Israelites exercised appropriate faith in God and His prophet, or if they were simply impressed by the signs.
The Joseph Smith Translation for Exodus 6:24-26 helps us understand that the Lord was displeased with Moses for failing to circumcise his son, as a token of the Abrahamic covenant (see Genesis 17:9-14). Moses’s wife Zipporah did the circumcision and Moses felt ashamed.
Exodus 5 “Let Us Go”
As often happens in our own lives, the initial efforts of Moses and Aaron are not successful, as they seek to persuade Pharaoh to release the children of Israel from bondage. As instructed by the Lord, Moses invoked the name, “the LORD God of Israel,” but Pharaoh refused to acknowledge His existence (verses 1-2) and called their demand “vain words” (verse 9):
- What did Pharaoh do as a response to Moses’s petition? (verses 4-19).
- How did the officers of the children of Israel then react toward Moses and Aaron? (verses 20-21).
- What did Moses then say to the Lord? (verses 22-23).
- What do you think Moses, Aaron, and the children of Israel can learn from what has happened so far?
Exodus 6 “I Have Remembered My Covenant”
Moses said to the Lord that He had “evil entreated” the children of Israel (Exodus 5:22). In reply, the Lord’s teaching of Moses includes the following:
- “Now shalt thou see what I will do … with a strong hand” (verse 1).
- “I am the Lord; And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob … And I have also established my covenant with them” (verses 2-4; importantly, JST Exodus 6:3 changes the text in verse 3 to “and was not my name known unto them?”).
- “I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel … and I have remembered my covenant” (verse 5).
- What additional promises did the Lord reinforce, in verses 6-8?
- What was the reaction of the children of Israel? (verse 9).
- Next, the Lord replies by simply saying to Moses, “Go in, speak unto Pharaoh … that he let the children of Israel go” (verse 11; see also verse 30).
- There is still uncertainty and lack of confidence on Moses’s part (verse 12), but note how the Lord countered (verse 13; see also verses 28-29).
What have you seen in the Lord’s interactions with you; with your desires, efforts, and prayers?