Exodus 1–2:25 the Beginning of Israel’s Liberation.
Moses’ First 80 Years.

Key Notes: A population explosion of aliens abhored by Egyptians. Failed efforts to suppress their growth. God had a plan for them 400 years before. Protection of a baby. Moses' 80 year preparation in the palace and the desert. God waited for them to pray.

The book of the Exodus follows Genesis without pause, the narrative continuing with the Hebrew words : “These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Joseph, each with his household….” The name "Exodus" was added later by the Greek translators. The book begins with Israel in distress and ends with Israel liberated and the glory of God seen in the new Tabernacle. It is divided into four sections.

1–15 Israel escaped from bondage in Egypt by signs and wonders.
16–18 They come to rest at Mount Sinai.
’-24 God gave Moses the Laws and the Covenants.
25–40 God gave Moses specific directions to build the Tabernacle while Israel worshiped a golden calf and almost died. Israel was saved and the Tabernacle was completed.

The first 12 chapters are simple enough for a child to understand, and can be read aloud practically without comment. I have added some details for story-telling, Chapters 25–40 are descriptive of the Tabernacle and require more care and discipline.

Two large pictures of salvation are given in this book. Passover is the history of Israel’s liberation and has more than ten aspects of redemption spelled out for us. The Tabernacle is a unique blue-print of the plan of salvation which is later elaborated in Hebrews.

1:1- 8 The twelve sons of Jacob, went down to Egypt with their father so that Joseph could assure them of food in the famine that enveloped Canaan as well as Egypt. They went with God’s blessing. The list of 70 in the company is given in Gen.46:8–27.The population number 75 quoted in Acts 7:14 includes Ephraim and Manasseh and their three sons,  reported also in the Greek translation of Gen.46:20.
The twelve brothers were:
          Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah
          Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan
          Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Joseph (already in Egypt).

Joseph’s generation died off. The Pharaoh was also replaced and the benign relationship between the Hebrews and the Egyptians faded. Pharaoh is a generic name for an Egyptian king. No Pharaoh is named, and we may wonder why. It would make our establishment of the time line much easier.

1:8–14 Over four centuries the Hebrews maintained their ethnicity. As shepherds they were "an abomination to the Egyptians." (Gen. 46:43). An alien band, the seventy grew to a mass large enough to threaten the Egyptians. Pharaoh decided at first to subdue them by slave labor, building the storage cities of Raamses and Pithom. This plan was not effective in restraining the population which was in a logarithmic growth phase.

They “…were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong; so that the land was filled with them.” (1:7)
 “But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied, and the more they spread abroad.” (1:12)
 “…the people multiplied, and grew very strong.” (1:20)

The Egyptian reaction was not limited to Pharaoh and his ambitions for a building program.

“…the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. “ (1:12)
They are “too many and too mighty for us.” (1:9).
A model chart of population growth shows why they would be horrified by the growing mass of the Hebrews. (See appendix.)

1:15–22 When forced labor was not sufficient to control the population, the next step was to  kill all the boy babies. Pharaoh tried to enlist the Hebrew midwives, including Shiphrah (“ Beauty”) and Puah (“Splendor”) in his murderous campaign but failed to get their cooperation. God prospered the midwives. Eventually, every Hebrew boy baby was to be thrown to the crocodiles in the Nile by the Egyptians.

2:1–10 A Hebrew woman named Joch-ebed (yoke-ebed), was married to Amram (Ex.6:20); both were of the tribe of Levi. She bore a beautiful third child  after Miriam and Aaron. She could not let him die.
God’s care for him was remarkable and we can see this at a number of points.

*His mother succeeded in hiding him for his first three months of life. (My new-born son’s yelling could be heard thirty feet away through  ceramic walls and two heavy wooden doors.)
*When his cries could no longer be muffled, she did as Pharaoh ordered: she threw him into the Nile, but carefully and in a boat.
 *His little water-proof basket with a reed lid was placed in the weeds near the beach where one of the princesses came for her bath. Miriam stood by, behind the princess and her servants. The princess found the little boat.
*Her heart melted at the sight of this beautiful, crying, 3-month-old baby boy.
* Miriam offered his mother Amram to nurse the baby and she was paid to care for him by the Pharaoh's house.
* When the child was weaned (perhaps age 5), the princess claimed Moses and he was adopted as her own son. He was called Mosheh, a name meaning “drawn out”--of the Nile.
* He grew up in the palace of the king and “was trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in his words and deeds. “ (Acts 7:22). But he never forgot that he was a Hebrew.

The hand of God can be seen in every step of Moses’ early life.

2:11–15 In the palace he was doubtless taught engineering, statecraft, economics, religion, Ethiopian, and Canaanite languages. He could well say, “I am a son of the wise, the son of ancient kings.” (Isa.19:11). Years past. “When he was 40 years old….” (Acts 7:23) Moses left the palace to visit his people. He saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. He killed him and buried him in the sand. The next day, instead of being seen as a potential liberator, a Hebrew pointed to him as the murderer and he had to run for his life. Pharaoh was after him. “He supposed that his brethren understood that God was giving them deliverance by his hand, but they did not understand.” (Acts 7:25). {Stephen pointed out that his generation had also refused Jesus’ offer of deliverance.}

2:15–22 Moses ended up at a well in Midian,  territory most likely east of the Gulf of Aqaba. (The original Midian was the son of Abraham by Keturah after Sarah died. Gen.25:1). Moses had walked perhaps 200 miles, a ten days’ journey. He came to the defense of seven young women who were being harassed by male shepherds. They were daughters of the priest of Midian, who was a god-fearing man. (Ex.18:1–12).Moses’ father-in-law is named“Reuel “ (“shepherd of God”) in Ex.2:17. Later he is called “Jethro” (Ex.3:1) and also “Hobab”. (Judg. 4:11) He was delighted that his daughters had come home early from watering the flock and invited their defender in for the evening meal. A good man was hard to find. Moses came to dinner and stayed for 40 years. (Acts 7:30). He was given Zipporah, one of the daughters of  Reuel as a wife, and she gave him a son, Gershom. He was a stranger in a foreign land. He would be a sheep-herder for another forty years.

2:23–25 The condition of the Hebrews in Egypt continued to deteriorate. They groaned in their bondage,  they cried out for help and their cry came up to God. He knew their condition.

Terms like “genocide” and “monster” fail to adequately explain the Egyptian position. They had given hospitality and land to an alien people hundreds of years before. This segrated alien people had now grown large enough to threaten the Egyptian by their numbers. Attempts to regiment them and make them work at large civic projects were only partially successful, and they continued to grow rapidly. Slaughtering them did not seem appropriate . Moses will propose that they all leave, but that was not economically acceptable either.

God waited 40 years between the time of Israel’s turmoil under the king who did not know Joseph (1:8–14) for Moses to grow up in Pharaoh’s house and another forty years while Moses tended sheep for the priest of Midian. (Acts 7:30). At first, Israel’s response to pressure was to work hard and have lots of babies. (1:12). By the end of Exodus 2 another  new king came to the throne and the oppression intensified. Now Israe's anguish was at a fever pitch and the people begin to groan, then scream and then cry up to God in prayer. (Ex.2:23). Why did He wait so long? God answered prayer. He moved when Israel began to pray. He remembered His covenant with the patriarchs. He saw and knew. He was literally on the scene, as we will discover in Ex. 3:8. God answered prayer.

Moreover, God had told Abraham of His plan 400 years before, and years before Abraham even had a child.
“Know of a surety that your descendants will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and will be slaves there, and they will be oppressed for four hundred years, but I will bring judgment on the nation which they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. “ (Gen.15:13–14)
The promise was repeated to Jacob.
“I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will also bring you up again and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”(Gen.46:4). That is, Jacob would die in Egypt, so the Exodus was still far off.

So eighty years ahead of time, God began to carry out His plan with the birth of Moses. He  trained him for forty years in Egyptian government, and continued it with 40 years of emotional tempering and humbling in the desert, herding sheep. When Israel’s population had reached the crisis point, God moved in and took over the leadership of Israel by the hand of the man He had trained and groomed for the job. And in the person of the Angel of the LORD, He will be on the ground with Moses to carry out the task. God was not surprised; He was not asleep. He was carrying out His purpose, one that we can see clearly in retrospect.

Did God stop working after the Exodus? Did He have no further plans for the world? Is He working today?
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,  which God prepared beforehand, that we should  walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)


Assume that among the 75 adults who went into Egypt around’00BC there were 35 fertile females and they had an average of one live children in that generation (40 years) and that this held true every 40 years for 400 years. You can see that the last 80 years explains the crisis. The Egyptians were horrified for good reasons. In the last 80 years this alien people had increased ten-fold and were at a mass that threatened the rest of the nation. From the size of a large city of 200 thousand, they had gone to a hoard of over two million. On ordinary graph paper, the line of the last 40 years goes straight up, headed for the stratosphere. This estimate of Israel’s population coincidentally matches the information that there were 600,000 men of warrior age at the time of the Exodus giving an estimate of the total at something over two million. (Ex.12:37)

The table below has years BC on the left, numbers of people on the right, starting with one child for each woman for each generation. The year numbers becline as we move toward Christ. The graph gives a visual representation of the same information.

1900 35
1860 105
1820 315
1780 945
1740 2,835
1700 8,505
1660 25,515
1620 76,545
1580 229,635
1540 688,905
1500 2,066,715

Population chart