The Israelites Become Slaves in Egypt
Here are the names of Israel’s children who went to Egypt with Jacob. Each one went with his family. Jacob’s sons were
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah,
Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin,
Gad and Asher.
The total number of Jacob’s children and grandchildren was 70. Joseph was already in Egypt.
Joseph and all his brothers died. So did all their children. The people of Israel had many children. The number of them greatly increased. There were so many of them that they filled the land.
Then a new king came to power in Egypt. Joseph didn’t mean anything to him. “Look,” he said to his people. “The Israelites are far too many for us. Come. We must deal with them carefully. If we don’t, there will be even more of them. Then if war breaks out, they’ll join our enemies. They’ll fight against us and leave the country.”
So the Egyptians put slave drivers over the people of Israel. The slave drivers treated them badly and made them work hard. The Israelites built the cities of Pithom and Rameses so Pharaoh could store things there. But the worse the slave drivers treated the Israelites, the more Israelites there were. So the Egyptians became afraid of them. They made them work hard. They didn’t show them any pity. The people suffered because of their hard labor. The slave drivers forced them to work with bricks and mud. And they made them do all kinds of work in the fields. The Egyptians didn’t show them any pity at all. They made them work very hard.
There were two Hebrew women named Shiphrah and Puah. They helped other women having babies. The king of Egypt spoke to them. He said, “You are the ones who help the other Hebrew women. Watch them when they get into a sitting position to have their babies. Kill the boys. Let the girls live.” But Shiphrah and Puah had respect for God. They didn’t do what the king of Egypt had told them to do. They let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt sent for the women. He asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”
The women answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like the women of Egypt. They are strong. They have their babies before we get there.”
So God was kind to Shiphrah and Puah. And the number of Israelites became even greater. Shiphrah and Puah had respect for God. So he gave them families of their own.
Then Pharaoh gave an order to all his people. He said, “You must throw every Hebrew baby boy into the Nile River. But let every Hebrew baby girl live.”
Moses Is Born
A man and a woman from the tribe of Levi got married. She became pregnant and had a son by her husband. She saw that her baby was a fine child. And she hid him for three months. After that, she couldn’t hide him any longer. So she got a basket made out of the stems of tall grass. She coated the basket with tar. She placed the child in the basket. Then she put it in the tall grass that grew along the bank of the Nile River. The child’s sister wasn’t very far away. She wanted to see what would happen to him.
Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile River to take a bath. Her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket in the tall grass. So she sent her female slave to get it. When she opened it, Pharaoh’s daughter saw the baby. He was crying. She felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
Then his sister spoke to Pharaoh’s daughter. She asked, “Do you want me to go and get one of the Hebrew women? She could breast-feed the baby for you.”
“Yes. Go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and feed him for me. I’ll pay you.” So the woman took the baby and fed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter. And he became her son. She named him Moses. She said, “I pulled him out of the water.”
Moses Escapes to Midian
Moses grew up. One day, he went out to where his own people were. He watched them while they were hard at work. He saw an Egyptian hitting a Hebrew man. The man was one of Moses’ own people. Moses looked around and didn’t see anyone. So he killed the Egyptian. Then he hid his body in the sand. The next day Moses went out again. He saw two Hebrew men fighting. He asked the one who had started the fight a question. He said, “Why are you hitting another Hebrew man?”
The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking about killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses became afraid. He thought, “People must have heard about what I did.”
When Pharaoh heard about what had happened, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses escaped from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian. There he sat down by a well. A priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to fill the stone tubs with water. They wanted to give water to their father’s flock. Some shepherds came along and chased the girls away. But Moses got up and helped them. Then he gave water to their flock.
The girls returned to their father Reuel. He asked them, “Why have you returned so early today?”
They answered, “An Egyptian saved us from the shepherds. He even got water for us and gave it to the flock.”
“Where is he?” Reuel asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.”
Moses agreed to stay with the man. And the man gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses to be his wife. Zipporah had a son by him. Moses named him Gershom. That’s because Moses said, “I’m an outsider in a strange land.”
After a long time, the king of Egypt died. The people of Israel groaned because they were slaves. They also cried out to God. Their cry for help went up to him. God heard their groans. He remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites with concern for them.
Moses and the Burning Bush
Moses was taking care of the flock of his father-in-law Jethro. Jethro was the priest of Midian. Moses led the flock to the western side of the desert. He came to Horeb. It was the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him from inside a burning bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire. But it didn’t burn up. So Moses thought, “I’ll go over and see this strange sight. Why doesn’t the bush burn up?”
The Lord saw that Moses had gone over to look. So God spoke to him from inside the bush. He called out, “Moses! Moses!”
“Here I am,” Moses said.
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals. The place you are standing on is holy ground.” He continued, “I am the God of your father. I am the God of Abraham. I am the God of Isaac. And I am the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard that, he turned his face away. He was afraid to look at God.
The Lord said, “I have seen how my people are suffering in Egypt. I have heard them cry out because of their slave drivers. I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to save them from the Egyptians. I will bring them up out of that land. I will bring them into a good land. It has a lot of room. It is a land that has plenty of milk and honey. The Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites live there. And now Israel’s cry for help has reached me. I have seen how badly the Egyptians are treating them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh. I want you to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. They are my people.”
But Moses spoke to God. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” he said. “Who am I that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
God said, “I will be with you. I will give you a sign. It will prove that I have sent you. When you have brought the people out of Egypt, all of you will worship me on this mountain.”
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the people of Israel. Suppose I say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ And suppose they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. Here is what you must say to the Israelites. Tell them, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”
God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord is the God of your fathers. He has sent me to you. He is the God of Abraham. He is the God of Isaac. And he is the God of Jacob.’ My name will always be The Lord. Call me this name for all time to come.
“Go. Gather the elders of Israel together. Say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, appeared to me. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God said, “I have watched over you. I have seen what the Egyptians have done to you. I have promised to bring you up out of Egypt where you are suffering. I will bring you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. It is a land that has plenty of milk and honey.” ’
“The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders must go to the king of Egypt. You must say to him, ‘The Lord has met with us. He is the God of the Hebrews. Let us take a journey that lasts about three days. We want to go into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God.’ But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you and your people go. Only a mighty hand could make him do that. So I will reach out my hand. I will strike the Egyptians with all the amazing things I will do. After that, their king will let you go.
“I will cause the Egyptians to treat you in a kind way. Then when you leave, you will not go with your hands empty. Every woman should ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for things made out of silver and gold. Ask them for clothes too. Put them on your children. In that way, you will take the wealth of Egypt along with you.”