Israel Increases Greatly in Egypt
1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.
Pharaoh Oppresses Israel
Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.
Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”
Exodus 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Affliction brings 2 results: Growth or Resignation.
As the magnificent story of the Israelite’s freedom from Egyptian bondage unravels through the book of Exodus, we will encounter many amazing and encouraging thoughts from their journey. We will also see some of the raw human nature that tends to take over every human when hardship and difficulty are hard pressing.
The children of Israel were descendants of Jacob. His name was changed after he wrestled with the angel. One of his many sons Joseph had become a powerful ruler there, second in command actually to Pharaoh. It was through horrific circumstances and hardship, betrayal and hate that led his shackled feet as a slave to the mighty Egyptians. He never stopped trusting his God. Affliction: Growth or Resignation?
And so it would be under Joseph’s invitation through Pharaoh’s permission, the entire family moved to Egypt to escape a famine. Through the decades that family grew into a large nation. As a nation within another nation, they were polar opposite. The sons of Jacob all died. Their children’s children continued to grow and expand. Sensing a growing threat of this force of a nation, a new Pharaoh made them his slaves. His oppression was terrible and evil. The Israelite’s were mistreated and every attempt was made to wear them down. Remarkably the Israelite’s continued to grow in number and grew stronger.
“The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.”Exodus 1:12 KJV
This was part of God’s ultimate plan. This was why He kept them in Egypt for as long as they were. As David Guzik writes, Egypt served as Israel’s womb. It was a place they grew from clan to nation. The interesting thing to consider is had the Israelite’s gone to Canaan much earlier they would have possibly gotten involved in intermarriage and been drawn into pagan worship. This protected them.
Although this was physical growth for the nation, this is much the same for each of us. When we are in such affliction and hardship, God is still working a remarkable plan. The affliction brought growth to the nation and much the same, when we are encountering such hard times; things that seemingly will not end on some levels, deep spiritual growth can take place. What if whatever you are going through now is like that of a womb, where God is growing you and you are becoming stronger in your faith because of it?
Affliction: Growth or Resignation. Which will you choose?
Exodus 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
The bitter labor that was given to Israel actually made them multiply and grow. In the future, when the Passover celebration would be established, the bitter herbs would come to represent the bitterness of the slave labor that was inflicted on Israel by Pharaoh.
The plot that unfolds is setting the stage for the miraculous story of Moses, who should have been killed at birth. In verse 19, the midwives give their answer as to why they have chosen not to kill baby boys. On the surface, it may seem like a lie. However, the midwives knew that despite their hard labor, God was providing strength and growth. It was supernatural and against what should have been happening. In other words, they feared God much more than they feared Pharaoh.
Their words are true. God was multiplying Israel through repetitive miraculous births. So many, in fact, that the women report that the babies were being born before they could effectively get to them. This shows both that God was at work in providing them an answer to Pharaoh, but also that
He was at work in graciously sustaining healthy children despite a midwife not being there! Because of their obedience to following and fearing Him, God blessed them. Verse 21 declares…
Since the midwives feared God, He gave them families.Exodus 1:21 HCSB
Pharaoh, however, was about to go to ‘Plan B’ with Moses’ upcoming birth.