And so the story goes that Jacob, (the father of Joseph), set out for Egypt with all his family and possessions. Jacob and his eleven sons and their families had to migrate to Egypt on account of the severe famine in all the countries surrounding Egypt.
Jacob had seventy (70), direct descendants when he arrived in Egypt. Over the years, these families had many children and grandchildren. In fact they multiplied so rapidly that they soon filled the land.
In time, Jacob and his 12 children including Joseph died, ending that generation. Then a new Pharaoh became king who did not know that Joseph the Hebrew was the one who saved the whole country of Egypt from the famine. He told his people, “These Israelites are becoming a threat to us because there are so many of them. We must find a way to put an end to this.” (This is actually the start of the Exodus story.)
So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves and put brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down under heavy burdens. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more quickly they multiplied!
The Pharaoh instructed the Hebrew midwives, Shiprah & Puah “When you help the Hebrew women give birth, kill the boys as soon as they are born. Allow only the baby girls to live.” But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king and allowed the boys to live, too.
Then the Pharaoh gave the order to his people: “Throw all the newborn Israelite boys into the Nile River.”
The Birth of Moses:
During this time, Moses was born. His mother saw what a beautiful baby he was and kept him hidden for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a little basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar, placed Moses in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the edge of the Nile River.
The baby’s sister then stood at a distance from the edge of the river, watching to see what would happen to the baby.
After a short while, one of Pharaoh’s daughters came down to bathe in the river, and her servant girls walked along the riverbank. When the princess saw the little basket among the reeds, she told one of her servant girls to get the basket. As the princess opened it, she found the baby boy. His helpless cries touched her heart. “He must be one of the Hebrew children,” she said.
Then the baby’s sister, Miriam, approached the princess. “Should I go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?, she asked.
“Yes, do!” the princess replied. So the girl rushed home and called the baby’s mother. “Take this child home and nurse him for me” the princess told Miriam. “I will pay you for your help.” So the baby’s mother took her baby ome and nursed him. (God is good. He makes things happen.)
Later when he was older, the child’s mother brought hime back to the princess who adopted him as her son. The princess named him Moses, for she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
Moses Had to Flee to Midian:
Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his people, the Israelites, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of the Hebrew slaves. After looking around to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.
The next day, as Moses was out visiting his people again, he saw two Hebrew men fighting. “What are you doing hitting your neighbor like that?” Moses said to the one in the wrong.
“Who do you think you are?” the man replied. “Who appointed you to be our prince and judge? Do you plan to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?”
Moses was badly frightened because he realized that everyone knew what he had done. And sure enough, when Pharaoh heard about it, he gave orders to have Moses arrested and killed. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and escaped to the land of Midian.
Life in Midian:
When Moses arrived in Midian, he sat down beside a well where he met the seven daughters of the priest of Midian who came regularly to the well to draw water and fill the water troughs for their father’s flocks. Shepherds would often come and chase the girls and their flocks away. This time, however, Moses came to the aid of the girls from the shepherds. Then he helped them draw water for their flocks.
When the girls returned home, their father, Reuel, asked, “how did you get the flocks watered so quickly today?” They told him, that an Egyptian rescued them from the shepherds. Their father asked, “Well, where is the Egyptian ? Go and invite him home for a meal”.
Moses was happy to accept the invitation, and he settled with them. In time, Reuel gave Moses one of his daughters, Zipporah, to be his wife.
Years passed and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites still groaned beneath their burden of being slaves. Their plea for deliverance was heard by God who remembered His covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the Israelites and felt deep concern for their welfare.
The Burning Bush:
One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian and he went deep into the wilderness near Sinai, the mountain of God. Suddenly, the angel of the Lord appeared to him as a blazing fire in a bush.
Moses was amazed because the bush was engulfed in flames, but it did not burn up. “Amazing!” Moses said to himself. When the Lord saw that he had caught Moses’ attention, God called to him from the bush, “Moses!” Moses!”.
“Here I am!” Moses replied. “Do not come any close,” God told him. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.” Then He said “I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
The Lord told him that He has seen the misery of His people so He has come to rescue them. God then told Moses to go to Pharaoh and ask him to let the Israelites go.
But Moses protested saying that the Pharaoh will not believe him. “But who am I to go and meet with the Pharaoh?” Moses asked God. “How can You expect me to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?”
The God told him that He will be with him. Then Moses protested again saying that he is not a good speaker. That he has never been and never will be. That he is clumsy with words. Moses had many excuses not to follow the instructions of the Lord.
We are something like Moses in many ways. We are “lead” to do good things, but we have a million excuses. We are busy, we are not capable, we do not have the personality, people will not believe us and so on and so on.
If I were the Lord, I would have said, - Okay, you go and sit in the corner and stay there for good. The lesson here is: When the Lord our God and creator tells us to undertake something good, just go ahead and do it. He will be with us to help us. Trust God and whatever good we do, we will be successful because God is with us.
(to be continued in Part 2)
Ref. Exodus (Ch. 1-3), the second of 66 books of the Bible, - Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Ill. (New Living Translation).