Exodus: Major Stories and What We Learn About Them
Remember at the end of Genesis, Jacob's sons and their families joined their brother, Joseph, in Egypt. The families began to grow to great numbers. Pharaoh became fearful that they would end up taking over. Therefore, he made them slaves and required all male babies to be drowned in the Nile River.
Story of Moses
Jochebed kept her baby with her as long as she could. When she could not hide him any longer, she made a basket for him and put him in the river hoping he would not drown. Jochebed sent her daughter to the river to watch to see what would happen to her baby brother. When Pharaoh's daughter went to the river, she saw the baby and took him as her own. Seeing Miriam there, she asked if she knew someone who could nurse the baby. Miriam recommended the baby's own mother. They named the baby boy Moses because he was drawn out of the water.
Moses grew up in the palace, and one day he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. He killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. When the wind blew the sand off the body, Moses fled to Midian at the age of 40. He got married there and worked for his father-in-law, Jethro, tending sheep on the backside of the mountain. After 40 years, he saw a bush burning but it did not go out. That's when he realized it was God in the bush calling him.
God commanded Moses to go down to Egypt to set the slaves free. Moses gave God five different excuses why he could not go. Every time God had an answer for Moses to assure him that God would be with him. When Moses said no one would listen to him because he stuttered, God said he would send Moses' brother Aaron to be Moses' mouthpiece.
When Moses returned to Egypt, a different pharaoh was in charge and not the one who was there and was kind to Joseph and his family. The new pharaoh refused to let the Hebrews leave. Before Moses arrived, they were forced to make bricks out of straw. After Moses arrived with a plan to deliver them, Pharaoh forced the slaves to make the same number of bricks without straw.
Two Sets of Tens
There are two sets of familiar tens in the Book of Exodus.
- Ten Plagues in Egypt
- Ten Commandments
God placed the ten plagues on the Egyptians to punish them for not letting the Hebrew slaves leave. God displayed His power and judgment.
God gave Moses ten commandments on two tablets to govern the people. They need guidance now that they were no longer slaves.
God allowed ten plagues to fall on the Egyptians but not affect the Hebrews. The tenth plague was the death of the firstborn of everything including children and animals. That's why Pharaoh let the Hebrews leave.
They had to cross the Red Sea. God caused the sea to dry up so the Hebrews (also called Israelites) could cross over on dry land. When Pharaoh's men on their chariots went after the Israelites, God caused the water to come back and they all drowned.
The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years because of their murmuring and complaining. Moses was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights with God, and God gave Moses tablets with the Ten Commandments on them to govern the people. The people were so out of control when Moses came down from the mountain. Moses became angry and threw the tablets on the ground and the two tablets broke into pieces. Then Moses went back on the mountain for 40 more days to get a new set of tablets from God.
The Ten Commandments are found in two places in the Bible. They are in Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21. The first four commandments instruct people how to live with God. The last six commandments tell people how to live with other people.
As the people wandered in the wilderness heading toward the Promised Land, they could only travel when the cloud moved by day and the pillar of fire moved at night. It took them 40 years to get to the Promised Land that should have taken them only eleven days.
- Ten: The Number of Divine Order
Ten is one of the four perfect numbers in the Bible that denotes completion or perfection. Three, seven, and twelve all mean completion and perfection. Ten is the number that represents divine order.
- Genesis: Major Stories and What They Teach Us
Genesis is the book of beginnings. There are many stories that set the pace for what happens in the rest of the Bible. If you learn about those stories, you will be on your way to understanding what follows in the other 65 books.