Beginning of the End


Moses, the Leader of God’s People

This chapter is based on Exodus 1 to 4.

In recognition of the service that Joseph had given to the Egyptian nation, the children of Jacob were granted a part of the country as a home, were not required to pay taxes, and were generously supplied with food during the famine. The king publicly acknowledged that it was through the God of Joseph that Egypt enjoyed plenty while other nations were dying from famine. He saw, too, that Joseph’s management had greatly enriched the kingdom, and his gratitude surrounded the family of Jacob with royal favor. BOE 116.1

But as time rolled on, the great man to whom Egypt owed so much passed to the grave, and “there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” Not that he was ignorant of Joseph’s services to the nation, but he did not want to recognize them. As far as possible, he wanted them to be forgotten. “And he said to his people, ‘Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.’” BOE 116.2

The Israelites already “were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.” But they had kept themselves a distinct race, having nothing in common with the Egyptians in customs or religion, and their increasing numbers now fueled the fears of the king and his people. BOE 116.3

Many of them were able and skilled workmen, and they greatly added to the wealth of the nation. The king needed such workers in erecting his magnificent palaces and temples. So he ranked them with Egyptians who had sold themselves and their possessions to the kingdom. Soon taskmasters were set over them, and their slavery became complete. “The Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage—in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field.” “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.” BOE 116.4

The king and his counselors had hoped to subdue the Israelites with hard labor, decrease their numbers, and crush their independent spirit. Orders were now issued to the women whose jobs gave them opportunity, to destroy the male Hebrew children at their birth. Satan knew that a deliverer was to come from among the Israelites, and by leading the king to destroy their children he hoped to defeat the divine plan. But the women feared God and did not dare to carry out the cruel command. BOE 117.1

The king, angry at the failure of his plot, made the orders more urgent and extensive. “Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, ‘Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.’” BOE 117.2