Exodus 1-4

Good morning! Today we begin the book of Exodus, which focuses on the escape of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt, their covenant with God afterward at Mount Sinai, and the human leaders of Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Our opening reading (chapters 1-4) gets us into the story recounting the death of Joseph and all his generation, then announcing the arrival of a new king unlike the Pharaoh who had been so kind to Joseph. Instead, out of fear for being overrun, the new Pharaoh enslaves and persecutes the Israelite people.

In this context we “zoom in” on the birth of Moses, and the five women who play a part in saving his life: Shiphrah, Puah, Moses’ mother, Moses’ sister Miriam, and Pharaoh’s daughter. In different ways, each of them disobeys the laws of order and propriety, choosing to protect life rather than abide by Pharaoh’s deadly ways. With their protection, Moses grows to unsettled adulthood as a Hebrew in Pharaoh’s household. He strikes out in violent defense of his people, but then flees the consequences by going to the region of Midian. Here God makes a place for him and unites him with a family through the familiar sign of watering the sheep of a stranger’s flock. Moses feels like an outsider still, even as he gets married and starts having children there in Midian. Once we have come to know this central character Moses, the field of vision expands once again to all of Egypt and the suffering Hebrews there. At 2:24, God remembers the earlier covenants with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then determines to act in faithfulness to these earlier promises.

In chapters 3 and 4, we see God working hard to persuade Moses that the man is called to return and liberate the people of Israel. Despite the vision of a burning bush and an unmistakable call from God, Moses protests again and again. God nevertheless gives Moses encouragement to take the job: the Divine Name, miraculous powers, and the spokesperson accompaniment of his brother Aaron. Finally God successfully persuades Moses to journey back to Egypt and confront Pharaoh, which sets up the massive confrontation of the next several days.

There’s more than enough in these chapters to keep us busy with discussion, including a really strange tidbit in 4:24-26 about God trying to kill Moses but his wife saving Moses with foreskin! I can’t wait to read what you make of that. Happy reading!

Read Exodus 1-4.

Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. Tomorrow’s passage is Exodus 5-7. Thanks for reading!

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