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Exodus continues the account which was begun in Genesis, although there was a lapse of at least 3½ centuries. Genesis 15:13 says that the seed of Abraham would spend 400 years in Egypt. Exodus 12:40 says that it was 430 years, and Galatians 3:16–17 confirms it. It was 430 years from the call of Abraham, and 400 years from the time that God told Abraham.
Exodus means “the way out” and tells the story of redemption by blood and by power. The message of Exodus is stated in Hebrews 11:23–29, which says: “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.”
The word which opens Exodus is a conjunction that is better translated and rather than now. Exodus has been called the sequel to Genesis. Dr. G. Campbell Morgan wrote, “In the Book of Exodus nothing is commenced, nothing is finished.”
Genesis 46:27 tells us that seventy souls of Jacob entered Egypt. It is conservatively estimated that 2,100,000 left Egypt at the time of the Exodus. Although it is impossible to be certain about dates in this early period, it would seem that Joseph entered Egypt under the Hyksos or shepherd kings who were Semitic conquerors, and were related to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Actually the Israelites may have been their only friends, as they were hated by Egyptians. Finally they were driven out by a native Egyptian dynasty which was understandably hostile to foreigners. In this line was the Pharaoh of the oppression and the one “who knew not Joseph.”
Moses figures prominently in the Book of Exodus. He is the author of the Pentateuch which includes the first five books of the Old Testament—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In the Book of Exodus, Moses’ life is divided into three forty–year periods:
1. Forty years in Pharaoh’s palace in Egypt
2. Forty years in the desert in Midian
3. Forty years in the wilderness as leader of Israel
Moses’ training in Egypt, evidently in the Temple of the Sun, did not prepare him to follow God in leading Israel out of Egypt. God trained him in the desert for forty years to reveal to him that he could not deliver Israel alone. God gave Moses a B.D. (Backside of the Desert) degree.
It should be noted that after God prepared Moses to deliver his people, He sent him back to Egypt after forty years. Moses is to assemble elders of Israel and go to Pharaoh. Pharaoh will refuse to let Israel go. His refusal will open the contest between God and the gods of Egypt. Egypt was dominated by idolatry—“gods many and lords many.” There were thousands of temples and millions of idols. Behind idolatry was Satan. There was power in the religion of Egypt—“Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Tim. 3:8). Pharaoh asked, “… Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go” (Exod. 5:2). God introduced Himself. Pharaoh got acquainted with God and acknowledged Him as God. “And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked” (Exod. 9:27). “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you” (Exod. 10:16).
A question arises from this episode: Why the plagues? They were God’s battle with the gods of Egypt. Each plague was directed against a particular god in Egypt. “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord” (Exod. 12:12). God wanted to reveal to His own people that He, the Lord, was far greater than any god of Egypt and that He had power to deliver them.
(McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible Commentary, Vol. 4: Exodus 1-18. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.)