Scriptural Analysis- Exodus 1:20-22

20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.

21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.

22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

The midwives made a clear choice of who their master would be. Rather than fear the Pharaoh, who held their lives in his hand, they cast their lot with God, who held their souls. For their faithfulness, we are told, God rewarded them with houses. It doesn’t say how they came to possess those houses, but one would assume it wasn’t the Pharaoh, given that the midwives had failed to meet his demands. However it came to pass, the midwives were taken care of, and we are told it was because they were Godfearing and faithful.

As for Pharaoh, he only became more emboldened. Where he had conspired against the Israelite children in secret, now he expressed his desires publicly, proclaiming to “all his people” that they should grab any newborn Israelite son and cast him into the river! What a horrible realization this must have been for the Israelites, seeing that they would be denied the right to the lives of their own children.

And on this sober note we conclude Exodus 1. The stage has been set. We have had detailed for us the Israelites’ terrible bondage. They were hated of their neighbors, stripped of personal freedom, forced into heavy labor, and losing their lives at the Pharaoh’s whim. It is into this most hopeless of circumstances that Moses would be born, a most unlikely hero to be sure.

Scriptural Analysis- Exodus 1:15-19

15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:

16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.

17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?

19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.

In today’s verses the actions of the Pharaoh become even more horrifying. Not only did he subjugate and oppress the Israelites because of an unfounded fear, but now he seeks to commit mass infanticide! Seeing that he spoke to only two women, we must assume that they were overseers for all the other midwives, and it was expected that they would carry out their miserable orders by compelling the many under their care to do the terrible deed for them.

Of course what Pharaoh was asking was morally wrong, and also directly against the chief function of a midwife, which is to safely preserve the life of the child and mother through the birthing process. All that being said, by giving this command the Pharaoh had shown he was willing to kill even the most innocent to achieve his ends, so why not the midwives if they failed to obey him? Thus, Shiphrah and Puah showed great courage in defying his commands. The excuse they bring back to the Pharaoh is obviously false, and I find it hard to believe that he was fooled in the least. If so, these two women had just put their own lives on the line in place of the Hebrew sons.

Scriptural Analysis- Exodus 1:11-14

11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.

12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.

13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:

14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.

In yesterday’s verses we read about the Pharaoh’s anxiety for the Israelites growing even more numerous and mighty than the Egyptians themselves. What a strange thing, then, that the weaker nation would be able to subjugate the greater.

Perhaps Pharaoh was simply exaggerating when he said the Israelites were more mighty than the Egyptians. Or perhaps he was saying that the Israelite’s trajectory was greater than their own, so they would become more numerous and powerful if things went unchecked. Whether he was using hyperbole, or anticipating the future, or speaking for what was literally the case, the fact still remains that the Israelites were a large and powerful entity. How, then, did the Egyptians overpower them? Why would the Israelites accept subjugation when they could have fought back or moved away?

Some scholars have suggested that verse 11 is describing a gradual process. Perhaps Pharaoh did not totally enslave the Israelites to the degree they were at when Moses came on the scene. As the Israelites were a separate nation, Pharaoh might very well have imposed a special tax or tribute upon them. Then the burden could be made more and more heavy, one step at a time. Certain social restrictions and curfews might have gradually been imposed, always uncomfortable, but never so much at once as to to trigger a full-blown rebellion, at least not until it was too late, and the Israelites had already surrendered too much freedom to resist.

Sadly, this sort of incremental-subjugation approach has been employed countless times, including by Nazi Germany against the more modern-day Israelites. In short, we do not know if the Egyptians employed such a gradual, infesting form of oppression, but it certainly is possible.

Either way, the downfall of the Israelites is an analogy for one of the two great troubles we face in life. If the subjugation was slow and progressive, then it is a type for how we become seduced by gradual temptation to sin. If they were taken suddenly, in a moment, then it is a type for the sharp tragedies of sickness and death that suddenly befall us. Whichever way it happened, the Israelites now found themselves “made to serve with rigour,” and “their lives were bitter with hard bondage,” and only an act of God would deliver them!

Scriptural Analysis- Exodus 1:8-10

8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:

10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.

Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

This verse is, of course, a most pivotal passage in the story of the Israelites. In just a few words the entire fate of the Israelites turned on its head. Without this verse, the story which the entire book of Exodus is dedicated to relating wouldn’t have occurred.

This verse describes the passage from one king of Egypt to another, notably one that never knew Joseph personally. We were told that Joseph lived to the age of one hundred and ten, and depending on the age of the Pharaoh who first made him a prince, it is entirely conceivable that this new pharaoh was three or four generations after that previous ruler. It is also possible that this new king was not the very next ruler born after the death of Joseph, for all we know decades might have passed between the sunset of Joseph and the rise of this new leader. In any case, to this new ruler Joseph was nothing more than a story, and clearly he had no respect to the man’s kin.

And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:

Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.

The new Pharaoh was frightened of the Israelites. It seems he didn’t expect them to start a war directly, but if another enemy arose, he thought Israel might join in with them. Apparently he did not know that it was never in the cards for the Israelite people to have a hand in the destruction of Egypt. At various times God would command the descendants of Abraham to eradicate certain nations, but only those in the land of Canaan. That was the land of their inheritance, not Egypt. The Pharaoh of Egypt had nothing to fear.

But, of course, these facts would mean nothing to a Pharaoh who approached the Israelites the same as any other nation. This is not the last time that a foreign nation in the Bible will view God’s chosen people with the same skepticism and pessimism as they held for all the rest of the world. Sadly, many times the godly are punished by the distrust of the ungodly.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 50:7-9

7 And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,

8 And all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen.

9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.

Yesterday we saw how Joseph petitioned Pharaoh that he might leave Egypt and return to the land of his inheritance to bury his father. This is a foreshadowing of Moses commanding a future Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave slavery and also return to the land of their inheritance.

Today we continue to see a foreshadowing of that future Exodus. A great company leaves Egypt, with all the households of Israel represented, as well as the elders of Egypt. Of course, in Moses’s time the little children will be included as well, and instead of elders of Egypt, it will be their jewels and gold, taken as a spoil. And the chariots and horsemen will not be on the side of the Israelites in that day, they will belong to the pursuing army of Pharaoh, but Israel will be delivered from them.

I’ve been struck by how many symbols and reassurances God gave to the Israelites at the start of their time in Egypt, illustrating how they would leave it in the future. As they came in, so would they depart, even though it might have seemed impossible in the depths of their coming slavery.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 50:4-6

4 And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying,

5 My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again.

6 And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.

“If now I have found grace in your eyes,” is a phrase we hear several times throughout the scriptures. It is a statement of ultimate humility, reserved primarily for sovereigns and God. Its communicates that I have something to say, but only if you will allow me to by your grace and favor. That might be a deeper humility than many of us may want to reach, especially in our modern society! It may feel like debasing oneself, but I feel in instances like these, Joseph is merely recognizing a simple truth.

The fact is, if Pharaoh wants to ignore to Joseph, if he wants to deny his request, if he wants to prevent him from leaving, he absolutely can and will. He has the power to do it. And so, yes, “if I have found grace in your eyes…” may be flattering, but it is not vain flattery. It is a way for Joseph to demonstrate that he sees the power distribution as it really is and has respect to it.

It is worth noting that when Moses approaches another Pharaoh to request the release of Israel from captivity there are none of these humble concessions. Moses is recorded as saying “if I have found grace in thy sight,” to the Lord on a number of occasions, but never to Pharaoh. Because at that time Pharaoh did not have the power to give or withhold. Pharaoh thought that he did, but Moses proved the power was in the hands of God instead, and that Pharaoh was the one who would be forced to comply.

Also of note is that Joseph did not speak to Pharaoh directly, he spoke to Pharaoh’s household, depending on a representative carry the petition for him. Some have speculated that this is because he was still in the attire of mourning, which would not have been respectful in the king’s royal court. Regardless, Pharaoh gives his approval to Joseph’s petition, and now will begin the great funeral procession out of Egypt.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:21-25

21 And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof.

22 Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands.

23 Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.

24 And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.

25 And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.

We examined yesterday how when the people had given their money and flocks in return for grain, all that remained was for them to offer was their lands and servitude. Thus, all the free people of Pharaoh had surrendered themselves back to him. Pharaoh had made his conquest by grain rather than by the sword, just as God makes His conquest over our hearts by grace instead of force.

Of course, becoming a servant in Pharaoh’s household would also mean coming under his support and protection. They would no longer have to exchange anything for their daily bread except to do his bidding.

Joseph accepts their servitude, but he also proves to be a very gracious master. They will work the same fields that they have just given to him, and eighty percent of what they grow they will be able to keep for themselves. Only a fifth part will be required back to Pharaoh, a double tithe. At this point they might not be producing much on those fields, but the famine is about to end, and the yield will return to normal.

And this is much the same pattern for when we finally surrender the last of our own will to God. It takes a great of deal trust to allow Him to do whatever He will with us, theoretically that would empower Him to take all that is most precious to us and require us to do things that we hated. But what we find instead is that those fears were totally unfounded. Most often the things we consecrate to God He returns back to us. The only thing he takes are the vices and the hurts that we wished to be rid of anyway. We are still able to do our work and pleasure, only now it is to His name and glory. And the success we obtain from our efforts now vastly increases, the dearth replaced with sufficiency and abundance.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:18-20

18 When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands:

19 Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate.

20 And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s.

First, the people spent all their money to purchase grain, then they gave up their flocks as well. But still the famine continued, and now they return a third time. The people confess that they have nothing else of traditional value to offer Pharaoh. All that remains are their lands and themselves. They must choose between death or giving over the last they have held in reserve.

On the one hand, buying the lands of these people is obviously a good business investment for Joseph. He knows that in time the famine will end, and so these lands will be an investment in the future. But on the other hand, there is also a generosity to his purchase. Who can say that the people were cheated by giving up barren fields that cannot produce crops for already-grown grain? He is taking of their barrenness and giving them of his plenty.

And in this we clearly see an allegory for our spiritual surrender to God. Many times we are not comfortable to give up all at once, but the hard times of the world compel us to surrender our autonomy bit-by-bit, giving Him our time, our resources, and the big decisions in our lives. We give to Him of our weakness, and He returns His strength for it instead. Finally, we give Him our all. Our hearts and souls, our undying servitude. In the next verses we will read a type for what God then does with our sacrifice.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:15-17

15 And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth.

16 And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.

17 And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year.

Previously, Joseph traded corn for all the money in the land of Egypt. But now that he has all the money, the typical exchange of currency won’t work, and they must fall back on more primitive methods of bartering. And so, when the people come begging for food again, Joseph now exchanges it with them for their cattle. Horses, flocks, cattle, and asses, Joseph acquires them all for Pharaoh, just as he did with the money.

Of course, during a time of famine, providing feed for one’s flocks would only be an additional burden, secondary to having enough grain for one’s family. Thus, Pharaoh is being made richer, but there is also a double blessing being given to the people. Give up these flocks that you can’t afford to support anyway, and with them gone the grain you receive will last you longer.

What a strange thing, that an act of shrewd business could also be an act of kindness!

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:13-14

13 And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine.

14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.

Here we have the first of a three-part sequence, each part showing greater and greater power given over to Egypt. Indeed, the pattern has a sort of fairy tale/storybook quality to it.

In this first sequence we hear that Joseph sold corn until all the money in the land had changed over to the Pharaoh’s hands. At this point the Pharaoh was essentially the bank for the entire nation, the only one who possessed valid currency.

Of course, there are other forms of wealth than just tokens of money, and we will hear about those next.