Exodus: The *LORD with his people

The *LORD rescues *Israel’s people

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on

Exodus 1:1-13:22


Ian Mackervoy

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


About this book

1. The name of the book

The name Exodus is from the *Greek language translation of the *Old-Testament. Exodus means exit or departure. In the *Hebrew Bible the name for the book comes from the first words of the text. Those words are, ‘And these are the names of’. The *Hebrew words are we’elleh shemoth, or just Shemoth.

The book begins with ‘and’. That shows us that Exodus is not really a completely separate book. Exodus continues the story that began in Genesis. And the next three books complete that story. These 5 books were the first part of the *Hebrew Bible. They called them the Torah, which means law or instruction. Since about *AD 100, another name for these five books has been the Pentateuch. Pentateuch means the five books.

2. Author and date

The *New-Testament refers to Exodus as the book of Moses. (See Mark 12:26.) Luke refers to the *Old-Testament as Moses and the *Prophets. Moses would mean the first 5 books of the Bible, which includes Exodus. (See Luke 16:29.) In another place, Luke refers to the *Old-Testament as the Law of Moses, the *Prophets and the Psalms. By the Law of Moses, he meant the first 5 books. (See Luke 24:44.) Several places in the *New-Testament refer to the Law of Moses, which probably means the first 5 books. From all this, we can say that Moses was the author.

The daughter of the king of Egypt adopted Moses. She brought him up as her own son. He lived in the king’s palace and he learned all the wisdom of the *Egyptians. (See Acts 7:20-22.) One day, he killed an *Egyptian. When people knew about that, he ran away. He went to the country called Midian. (See Exodus 2:15.) He was about 40 years old when God spoke to him. God spoke to him from the burning bush.

God sent Moses to lead the *Israelites out of Egypt. Moses was 80 years old when he first spoke to the king of Egypt. (See Exodus 7:7.) Moses died at the age of 120 years on *Mount Nebo. (See Deuteronomy 34:7.) Therefore, he wrote the book during that period of 40 years.

King Solomon began to build the *temple during the 4th year of his rule over *Israel. The 4th year of Solomon’s rule was about 966 *BC. That was 480 years after the *Israelites had come out of Egypt. (See 1 Kings 6:1.) Therefore, the *exodus was about 1446 *BC. Moses was 80 years old then and he died in about 1406 *BC. The king of Egypt at the time of the *exodus was probably Thutmose 3rd. He ruled Egypt from about 1479 *BC to 1425 *BC.

During a period of over 300 years, *Israel occupied the towns east of the River Jordan. (See Judges 11:26.) After that, the years of the judges after Jephthah to the 4th year of Solomon were 174. The total of these is about the 480 years that we read about in 1 Kings 6:1.

The exact date of the *exodus is not really very important. God brought the *Israelites out of the country called Egypt. That is the most important fact.

Moses’ name appears 804 times in the Bible. It appears in the books of both the *Old-Testament and the *New-Testament. Numbers 12:3 describes Moses as ‘a very humble man’. It says, ‘He was more humble than anyone else on the earth.’ But Moses was a great leader. He had great courage and he knew God well. God used Moses to get the *Israelites out of Egypt. And he used him to bring them to Canaan. Canaan was the country that God had promised to them.

3. The occasion & purpose

In Exodus, we read how God rescued the *Israelites from Egypt. He gave the *covenant and the law to them. He told them to make a special tent. God would meet with them at that tent. And Exodus records how the *Israelites wandered in the *desert for 40 years.

Nowadays, ‘the *exodus’ means the time when the *Israelites came out of Egypt. There are many different theories about the date of the *exodus. However, it would have been soon after Moses spoke to the king of Egypt. That was about 1446 *BC.

The principal subject of this book is that the *LORD is with his people. He was with his people as he rescued *Israel from Egypt. He was with them as he gave his *covenant to them at *Mount Sinai. He was with them as he led them during their journeys in the *desert. When he told them to move, he led them by a cloud in the day and by fire at night. He provided for their needs in the *desert. And he taught them how to live. He told them how they should *worship only him. And he prepared them for the future. He promised to take them into the country called *Canaan. He had promised to do that in his *covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

God is holy. Even the place where he first spoke to Moses was ‘holy ground’. (See Exodus 3:5.) He is with his people but he is separate from them. He looks after his people but they could not approach him. God expects his people to be holy. ‘Be holy, because I, the *LORD your God, am holy.’ (See Leviticus 19:2.) In the *covenant and in his laws, God showed the people how he expected them to live. Therefore, nobody should approach God in a careless way. The *Israelites had to stay away from *Mount Sinai. (See Exodus 19:12.) Even Moses could not see God but the *LORD showed to him something of his *glory. (See Exodus 33:18-23.) God has shown to us something of his nature. The *Lord Jesus came to the earth. He showed to us what God is like. (See John 1:14, 18; 14:9.)

God gave his name to Moses as the *LORD. In the *Hebrew language, they wrote this in 4 letters YHWH. That means, ‘I am who I am’. He is the God who is there. He is active in history. God is in control of history. Nothing is beyond his power and control. Even the most powerful king of Egypt had to admit defeat. God had promised to rescue the *Israelites and nothing could stop him. He had promised to make of them a great nation. And *Israel became a great nation.

God expects his people to obey him. When they fail to obey, God is angry. (See Exodus 4:14.) He punishes those who *sin. (See Exodus 32:10, 34.) The *LORD loves his people and he is kind to them. He is very patient with them. He is slow to anger. And he is quick to forgive. (See Exodus 34:6-7.)

4. The shape of the book

This study of Exodus is in four main parts.

Part 1. The *LORD rescues *Israel’s people


Part 2. From the Red Sea to Sinai


Part 3. The *covenant and the law


Part 4. A very wicked act, a new beginning and the construction of God’s special tent


Part 1. The *LORD rescues *Israel


*Israel increases in Egypt


The *Israelites become slaves


The early life of Moses


Moses and the burning bush


God tells Moses to go to the *Israelites


Moses makes up excuses but God insists


Moses returns to Egypt


Bricks without straw


The *LORD promises to free his people


*Ancestors of Moses and Aaron


Moses says that *Pharaoh will not listen to him


Moses and Aaron obey God


Aaron’s stick becomes a snake


The first *plague – water becomes blood


The second *plague – *frogs


The third *plague – insects called *gnats


The 4th *plague – flies


The 5th *plague – animals get diseases and they die


The 6th *plague – *boils on people and on animals


The 7th *plague – *thunder and *hail


The 8th *plague – *locusts


The 9th *plague – darkness


The 10th *plague – death of *Egyptian sons


Instructions for the *Passover


The first *Passover


Death at midnight


The *Israelites leave Egypt


Rules for the *Passover


*Festival of bread without *yeast


The oldest sons belong to the *LORD


Journey to the Red Sea


Part 2. From the Red Sea to Sinai


The *Israelites cross the Red Sea


The *Egyptian army drowns in the Red Sea


The songs of Moses and Miriam


Bitter water becomes sweet


Bread and birds called quails from God


Water from the rock


War with the *Amalekites


The wisdom of Jethro


Part 3. The *covenant and the law


At *Mount Sinai


The 10 commands


Laws about God’s *altar


Laws about slaves


Laws about quarrels and murder


Laws about property


Laws about payment for loss or damage


Laws for society


Be fair and kind to other people


The 7th year and the *Sabbath day


The three annual *feasts


Defeat of the nations in *Canaan


God’s *covenant with *Israel


The people should offer material for God’s special tent


The box for the *covenant


The table


The lamp-holder


God’s special tent


The *altar for burnt animals


The yard round God’s special tent


Oil for the lamp


Special clothes for the priests


Preparation of the priests


Daily gifts to God


The *altar for *incense


Tax for the work in God’s special tent


The basin for priests to wash


Special oil and *incense


Bezalel, Oholiab and their assistants


The law about the *Sabbath


Part 4. A very wicked act, a new beginning and the construction of God’s special tent


The young *bull that Aaron made with gold


The command to leave Sinai


The tent where Moses met the *LORD


Moses and the *LORD’s *glory


Moses takes new stones up to the *LORD


The *LORD makes the *covenant again


Moses face shone


Rules for the *Sabbath


Preparations for God’s special tent


The people who would make God’s special tent


The workers begin to make God’s special tent


Construction of God’s special tent


The box for the *covenant


The table


The lamp-holder


The *altar for *incense


The *altar for burnt animals


The basin for the priests to wash


The yard round God’s special tent


The materials for the tent


The special clothes for the priests


The workers finish the work


Moses erects God’s special tent


The *LORD fills God’s special tent


Chapter 1

*Israel increases in Egypt           1:1-7

v1 And these are the names of *Israel’s sons who entered Egypt with him. (*Israel’s other name was Jacob.) Each son had his family with him. v2 Their names were Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; v3 Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; v4 Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. v5 The total number of Jacob’s children and grandchildren was 70. His other son, Joseph, was already in Egypt.

v6 As time passed, Joseph and his brothers all died. And their children died after them. v7 But their families continued to increase greatly in numbers as the years passed. People called them *Israelites and they filled the country.

Verses 1-4: God had given the name ‘*Israel’ to Jacob. (See Genesis 32:28.) Jacob’s sons were the *ancestors of *Israel’s 12 *tribes. These verses tell us their names. Jacob had two main wives, Leah and Rachel. Also, he had two secondary wives, Leah’s servant Bilhah and Rachel’s servant Zilpah.

Leah’s 6 sons were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. Rachel’s two sons were Joseph and Benjamin. Bilhah’s sons were Dan and Naphtali. And Zilpah’s sons were Gad and Asher.

Verse 5: Joseph was already in the country called Egypt. The other 11 brothers with their families went to Egypt with Jacob. In fact, 66 persons went there with Jacob at that time. That number did not include women, girls and servants. The 6 sons of Leah had 25 sons and two grandsons. The 2 sons of Rachel had 12 sons. The two sons of Bilhah had 5 sons. The two sons of Zilpah had 11 sons and two grandsons. This makes 69 males. From this take Joseph and his two sons. That makes the 66 males that went with Jacob.

To that 66 we can add Jacob, Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim. This gives the number of Jacob’s family as 70. (See Genesis 46:26-27.)

In Acts 7:14, Stephen says that the family was 75 persons. Stephen used the *Greek language translation of the *Old-Testament. In that translation, Genesis 46:27 has 75 instead of 70. This added the two sons of Manasseh, the two sons and a grandson of Ephraim.

Verses 6-7: God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was that their *descendants would be many. They would be as many as the stars of heaven. They would be as many as the sand of the sea. (See Genesis 15:5; 22:17.) Both of these statements mean a large number. In due time, the sons of Jacob and their sons died. A small number of *Israelites came to the country called Egypt. But the *Israelites increased to a large number during the years that they were there. As he had promised, God gave to the mothers many children.

They filled the country. The country here probably means the area of Goshen rather than the whole of Egypt. Goshen was the part of Egypt that the king gave to Jacob. (See Genesis 45:10; 46:34.)

The *Israelites become slaves             1:8-22

v8 Then a new king became ruler in Egypt. He did not know about Joseph. v9 The king spoke to his people. ‘Look, there are too many *Israelites in our country now. v10 We must do something about it. We do not want the number of *Israelites to increase even more. If another country starts a war with us, the *Israelites might join up with our enemies. Then they would fight against us and they would leave our country.’

v11 So the *Egyptians made the *Israelites be their slaves. The *Egyptians appointed cruel masters over them. And they forced the *Israelites to work very hard. They had to build the cities called Pithom and Rameses. They were the cities where *Pharaoh stored his supplies. v12 But the *Israelites’ numbers still increased, although the masters of the slaves were very cruel to them. The *Israelites spread over more and more land. So the *Egyptians became very afraid of the *Israelites. v13 The *Egyptians forced them to work very hard. They did not pity the *Israelites. v14 So their lives were very miserable. The *Egyptians forced them to mix mud. And they forced them to make bricks. They forced the *Israelites to do all kinds of hard work in the fields too. The *Israelites had become the *Egyptians’ slaves. And the *Egyptians did not pity them.

v15 There were *Hebrew women who helped other women to have their babies. These women’s names were Shiphrah and Puah. Then the king spoke to them. v16 ‘You help other *Hebrew women when they have their babies’, he said to them. ‘You must watch them carefully when they have babies. If the baby is a boy, kill him. If the baby is a girl, let her live.’ v17 But Shiphrah and Puah were afraid to make God angry. So they did not do what Egypt’s king had told them. They let the boys live.

v18 Then the king sent for them again. ‘Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?’ he asked them.

v19 ‘*Hebrew women are not like *Egyptian women’, they answered *Pharaoh. ‘*Hebrew women are strong. And their babies are born quickly, before we can arrive.’

v20 So God did good things for Shiphrah and Puah. The number of *Israelites increased more and more. v21 Shiphrah and Puah were afraid to make God angry. And because of that, he gave to them families of their own too.

v22 Then *Pharaoh gave this order to all his people. ‘You must throw every *Hebrew baby boy into the River Nile. But let every baby girl live.’

Verse 8: From about 1720 *BC, a family of kings who were not *Egyptian ruled Egypt. They were the Hyksos. During the rule of a Hyksos king in about 1661 *BC, Joseph had come to Egypt. The rule of the Hyksos kings ended in about 1550 *BC.

The new king in this verse may have been the first king after the Hyksos. Amenophis 1st ruled from about 1527 to 1507 *BC.

The king at the time of the *exodus was probably Thutmose 3rd. He ruled Egypt about 1479 to 1425 *BC.

Verses 9-10: This new king thought that the *Israelites were a danger to his country. There were a large number of *Israelites. They had become very powerful. He thought that the *Israelites might be a risk to national security. The king was afraid that a foreign nation might attack Egypt. And if that happened, the *Israelites might join with them against the *Egyptians. Then the *Israelites would leave Egypt. But they were an economic benefit to the country.

The king and his people thought that they must do something. They must stop the growth in the number of the *Israelites. And they must reduce the power of the *Israelites.

Verse 11: The *Egyptians made the *Israelites their slaves. They appointed cruel masters over them.

Pithom and Rameses were two cities where the king stored his supplies. The *Israelite slaves built those cities. It is because of the name Rameses that we have the theory of a later date for the *exodus. The cities were there before Rameses 2nd. He built the two cities again.

Verse 12: The cruel masters made the *Israelites work very hard. Because of the hard labour, they expected the rate of birth to fall. However, the opposite happened. The *Israelite numbers continued to increase and they spread further across the land. That made the *Egyptian people very afraid of the *Israelites.

Verses 13-14: The masters over the slaves were government officials. They appointed some *Israelite slaves to be responsible for the work of other slaves. (See Exodus 5:14.) The *Egyptians forced the *Israelites to do even harder work. They forced the *Israelites to make bricks. This was dirty and difficult work. The masters demanded that they made a very large number of bricks each day. The slaves dug out mud from the river and they mixed it with straw. Then they shaped the mixture to the correct size with wooden boxes. They turned the bricks out of the boxes. And they left them to bake in the sun. They repeated the process until they had made the right number of bricks. In addition to bricks, the *Israelites had to do hard agricultural work. They needed to bring water to the fields. Probably they dug canals to bring water from the River Nile.

There is a famous wall-painting in a grave in Egypt. It shows cruel masters with whips. The slaves are making bricks. The picture shows what it was like in the time of Thutmose 3rd.

There are a large number of bricks with the name Thothmes 3rd (Thutmose 3rd) on them. There are more of these bricks than from any other period. Thutmose 3rd was probably the king at the time of the *exodus.

Verses 15-16: Shiphrah and Puah were two women whose job was to help at the birth of children. It seems that there were only the two of them. However, if the number of *Israelites was large there would have been more than just these two women. (See the notes on Exodus 12:37.) The king told Shiphrah and Puah what they should do. They must take care to see the sex of the babies. He told them that they must kill all the baby boys. But they should allow the girls to live.

Verses 17-19: Shiphrah and Puah did not obey the king. They did not kill the male babies. They could not murder the boys because they believed in God. They would obey God rather than they would obey the king. They were prepared to risk their own lives. They had no fear of the cruel king.

The king heard that the women did not obey him. So, he sent for them. He asked them why they had done this. They told him that the *Hebrew women were different from the *Egyptian women. The *Hebrew women did not need help at the birth. Their babies came much faster. So they came before the helpers could get there. It was then too late to kill the baby boys. There may have been some truth in this answer. The *Israelites had a very hard life. Probably, because of that, the *Israelite women would be much stronger then the *Egyptian women. Therefore, they could more easily give birth to a child than the *Egyptians could. Probably they called for Shiphrah and Puah only if there were difficulties. In the majority of births, it might be that they did not need any help. However, when Shiphrah and Puah were there they helped in the birth of boys.

Verses 20-21: These women were afraid to make God angry. So they did the right thing. So God rewarded these women. He did good things for them. Also, these women married and they had children of their own. And the *Israelites continued to increase in numbers.

Verse 22: The king knew that his plan had failed. The *Israelites continued to increase in number. Therefore, he ordered his people to drown all the *Hebrew baby boys in the river. The river was the River Nile.

Probably this order was after the birth of Aaron and before the birth of Moses. The *Egyptians could not have done this for very long. If they had done so, there would not have been so many men at the time of the *exodus. Perhaps the king or the next king cancelled the order.

Chapter 2

The early life of Moses                 2:1-25

v1 During this time, a man from the family called Levi married a woman. She was from the same family. v2 Later, she was expecting a child. And she gave birth to a son. She saw that her baby was a beautiful child. So she hid him for three months. v3 After that, she could not continue to hide him. So she obtained some plants that grow in water. And she used them to make a basket for her son. She covered the basket with a thick black substance so that water did not get into the basket. Then she placed the child in it. And she put the basket among the plants that grew along the edge of the River Nile. v4 The baby’s sister waited at a distance and she watched. She wanted to see what would happen to the baby.

v5 Then *Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the River Nile to wash herself. The servants walked along the river’s edge with her. And the princess saw the basket among the plants. So she sent her female slave to get it. v6 She opened the basket and she saw the baby. She felt sorry for him because he was crying. ‘I am sure that this is a *Hebrew baby’, she said.

v7 Then the baby’s sister spoke to *Pharaoh’s daughter. ‘Shall I go and get one of the *Hebrew women?’ she asked. ‘She could look after the baby for you.’

v8 ‘Yes, go’, *Pharaoh’s daughter answered. So the girl went home and she brought the baby’s mother to the princess. v9 ‘Take this baby and feed him for me. I will pay you’, the princess told her.

So the woman took the baby and she looked after him. v10 And when the child was old enough, she took him back to *Pharaoh’s daughter. And he became the princess’s son. She named him ‘Moses’. ‘I pulled him out of the water’, she said.

v11 One day, when Moses was older, he went out alone. He wanted to see his own people as they worked. And he saw that they had to work very hard. Also he saw an *Egyptian who was hitting a *Hebrew man many times. And he knew that the man was one of his own people. v12 Then Moses looked round quickly and he did not see anyone. So he killed the *Egyptian. And he hid the dead body in the sand.

v13 The next day he went out again. And he saw two *Hebrew men who were fighting. Moses spoke to the man who had started the fight. ‘Why are you hitting another *Hebrew?’ Moses asked him.

v14 ‘I do not think that anybody has made you a ruler and a judge over us. Perhaps you want to kill me, as you killed the *Egyptian’, the man replied.

Then Moses was afraid. ‘People have probably heard about what I did’, he thought.

v15 And then *Pharaoh heard what had happened. So he tried to kill Moses. But Moses managed to escape. Moses ran away to the country called Midian. There he sat down by a well.

v16 There was a priest in Midian who had 7 daughters. And his daughters came to get water from the well. They had to provide water for their father’s sheep and goats to drink. v17 But some men, who looked after other people’s sheep, came there too. And they tried to chase the girls away. Then Moses stood up. And he came to rescue the girls. And he gave water to their sheep and their goats. v18 So the girls returned home to their father, whose name was Reuel. ‘Why have you returned so early today?’ he asked them.

v19 They answered, ‘An *Egyptian rescued us from those men who look after other sheep. He even got water for us, and he gave it to our sheep and our goats.’

v20 ‘He should be here’, Reuel said to his daughters. ‘You must not leave him out there. Invite him here to eat with us.’

v21 Moses agreed to stay with Reuel. And later Reuel gave his daughter, called Zipporah, to Moses. And she became his wife. v22 Zipporah gave birth to a son. Then Moses gave the name ‘Gershom’ to his son. ‘I am a stranger in a foreign country’, Moses said.

v23 After many years, the king of Egypt died. The *Israelites shouted with pain because they were slaves. They called to God to help them. v24 And God heard their cry. He remembered his *covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob many years before. v25 So when the *Israelites had all this terrible trouble, God saw them. And he cared about them.

Verses 1-2: Levi was one of the sons of Jacob. He had three sons Gershon, Kohath and Merari. The man in these verses was a *descendant of Levi and Kohath. Also, his wife was a *descendant of Levi. The man’s name was Amram and his wife was Jochebed. (See Exodus 6:18-20.) They were the parents of a girl whose name was Miriam. Then they had a son whom they called Aaron. Three years later, they gave birth to another son whom we know as Moses. It seems that his parents were ordinary people. But from them Moses came. God chose him to save his people. He became an extraordinary man.

The families of Levi became the *Levites and the priests. The priests were the *descendants of Aaron.

Jochebed saw that this child was beautiful. That may have been because he looked so handsome. But maybe she saw something special about him. He was no ordinary child. (See Acts 7:20.)

The king had ordered that the *Egyptians should kill all *Hebrew baby boys. He ordered that they should drown all those babies in the River Nile. Therefore, Jochebed hid the baby for three months.

Verse 3: After three months, she could not hide him any longer. By then, he would have been too active and noisy. She made a basket. She did not want water to get into it. So she covered the basket. She put the child in the basket. And she put the basket among the plants that grew in the River Nile. That would be by the edge of the river where the water could not move the basket. By this means, his parents trusted that the child would somehow be safe. They believed that God would look after the child. (See Hebrews 11:23.) Nobody would think to look for a *Hebrew baby in the River Nile.

Verse 4: The baby’s sister wanted to see what would happen to the child. So she watched the basket. Almost certainly, this sister was Miriam.

Verses 5-7: The daughter of the king came down to bathe at the river. She saw the basket in the plants by the river. And she told her maid to bring it to her. That might have been very dangerous for the child. However, when they opened the basket, the baby cried. The princess could see that it was a *Hebrew baby. She ought to have drowned it in the river. But she had pity on him. The little boy’s sister was very bold and brave. She came quickly to the princess. The child needed someone to look after him. The girl offered to fetch a *Hebrew woman to look after him for the princess.

Verses 8-9: The king’s daughter agreed. And so the girl went quickly. And she brought her own mother to the king’s daughter. The king’s daughter asked Jochebed to take the baby. The princess had found the child and she took him for her own. She asked Jochebed to feed him for her. So, the child’s mother took him home and she looked after him. The princess paid Jochebed to look after her own child. The happy mother could take her child without fear for his safety.

Verse 10: When the boy was old enough, his mother took him to the king’s daughter. We do not know how old he was. Mothers fed from their breasts until the child was between two and three years old. Probably Moses was three years old or older. But he did know that he was an *Israelite. No doubt, his mother had taught him about the God of his *ancestors.

In a *Hebrew home, the child would learn about the God of their *ancestors. He would realise that the *Hebrews were God’s people. (See Exodus 2:11.)

The princess adopted him as her own son. She gave to him the name Moses. The name Moses may have come from a *Hebrew word ‘mashah’. That word means ‘pull out’. So, she said, ‘I pulled him out of the water.’ However, the name sounds like the *Egyptian word ‘mose’. There were Ptahmose, Thutmose, Ahmose, and Ramose. In those names, it means ‘is born’ or ‘son.’ She may have chosen the name to have both meanings. We do not know what name his parents would have given to him.

Verses 11-12: When he was about 40 years old, he wanted to see his own people. So he went out of the king’s palace. That would have been in about 1486 *BC. By that time, he had become mature as a man. He had received the best education. He was a good speaker and he was a powerful man. (See Acts 7:22-23.) Moses was well aware that he was an *Israelite by birth. He wanted to see them at work. And he saw how hard they had to work. He saw a cruel *Egyptian who was hitting an *Israelite man. That upset Moses because one of his own people was suffering in that way. There seemed to be nobody else there. So, he hit the *Egyptian. He may not have meant to kill him. However, the *Egyptian died because Moses attacked him. And Moses buried the dead body in the sand.

Verses 13-14: The next day, Moses saw two *Israelites who were fighting. He wanted to settle the problem and to stop the fight. He spoke to the man who had started the fight. He asked him why he was hitting another *Israelite. The man replied that Moses had no rank among the *Hebrews. He had no right to get involved in this quarrel. Perhaps Moses would kill him as he had done to the *Egyptian. The man knew what Moses had done the previous day. Moses had murdered the *Egyptian. It surprised Moses that this man knew about it. There had not been anybody else there except the *Israelite that the *Egyptian was hitting. So probably, he had talked about it to other *Israelites. If this man knew it then other people would know it as well. That made Moses afraid.

Verse 15: The news about what Moses had done reached *Pharaoh. Probably this *Pharaoh was Thutmose 2nd, who ruled from 1492 to 1479 *BC. Moses was guilty of the death of an *Egyptian. Therefore, *Pharaoh tried to kill Moses. However, Moses escaped. And he ran away to the country called Midian.

The country called Midian was to the east of Egypt. We do not know with any certainty where Midian was. It was south of the Dead Sea. It might have been to the south and east of Sinai. And probably it was to the east of the Gulf of Aqaba. It seems that the people of Midian travelled with their sheep and goats. They did not have a distinct territory.

Verses 16-17: There was a priest in Midian who had 7 daughters. The man’s names were Reuel and Jethro. One day Moses sat by one of the wells in that country. These 7 daughters came to the well with their father’s sheep and goats. Some other people came and they tried to chase the girls away. Moses saw this and he rescued the girls. And he took water from the well for their sheep and their goats.

Verses 18-19: The girls went home to their father, Reuel. He was surprised that they were earlier than usual. Usually they had to wait until the other people with their animals had finished at the well. They told their father what Moses had done for them. They called him an *Egyptian. Something about him made them think that he was an *Egyptian. Perhaps his clothes or his speech gave that impression to them.

Verse 20: Their father thought that the girls had not done the right thing. If the man had done so much for them, the girls should have invited him to their home. It was unkind of them to leave him at the well. It would have been polite for them to bring him to their home. Their father told them to go back. He told them to invite Moses to eat with them. The girls obeyed their father. So Moses came to their home.

Verses 21-22: Reuel invited Moses to live with his family. Then Moses agreed to stay with Reuel. Some time later Moses married one of Reuel’s daughters. Her name was Zipporah. This marriage was some time in the 40 years that Moses was in Midian. They had a son that Moses called Gershom. The name meant ‘a stranger there.’ Because he was a stranger in a foreign country, he gave that name to the boy. The foreign country may have meant Egypt rather than Midian. He was a stranger to the *Egyptians. And he was a stranger to the *Israelites. He was content to be part of that family in Midian. Later he and Zipporah had another son called Eliezer. (See Exodus 18:4.)

Verse 23: Thutmose 2nd died in about 1479 *BC. Probably he was the king that wanted to kill Moses. All those people who wanted to kill Moses had died. (See Exodus 4:19.) Therefore, there was nothing to prevent Moses from returning to Egypt.

While Thutmose 2nd and Thutmose 3rd were the kings, the *Israelites suffered as slaves. They cried out to God. They prayed to him. They asked him to free them from the cruelty that they suffered.

Verses 24-25: God heard the cry of his people *Israel. He remembered his *covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Of course, he had not forgotten it. But the time had come. And he would do what was in the *covenant. God told Abraham that his *descendants would be strangers in a foreign country for about 400 years. Those 400 years were in *Canaan and Egypt. They were in Egypt for about 215 years. (See the notes on Exodus 6:17-25.) Probably they lived well until after the Hyksos period. Then a king came who did not know about Joseph. He started to make the *Israelites slaves. God had said that he would punish that foreign nation. He also said that Abraham’s *descendants would come out of that country with many possessions. (See Genesis 15:13-14.)

Chapter 3

Moses and the burning bush              3:1-12

v1 Moses was looking after Jethro’s sheep. Jethro was the father of Moses’ wife. And he was the priest in the country called Midian. Moses led the sheep to the western side of the *desert. And he came to God’s mountain called Horeb. v2 There the *LORD’s *angel appeared to him as a fire in a bush. Moses saw the fire, but the bush did not burn to ashes. v3 So Moses was surprised about it. ‘I will go over there and see this strange sight’, he thought. ‘Why does this bush not burn to ashes?’

v4 Moses had gone to look at the bush. And the *LORD saw that. So God called to him from inside the bush. ‘Moses! Moses!’ God said to him. ‘Here I am’, Moses replied.

v5 ‘Do not come any closer’, God said. ‘Take off your shoes. The place where you are standing is holy ground.’ v6 Then God said, ‘I am your father’s God. I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ When Moses heard that, he hid his face. He was afraid to look at God.

v7 The *LORD continued to speak. ‘I have seen my people, who have terrible troubles in Egypt. I have heard them as they cry to me for help. Their cruel masters of the slaves are causing them to be miserable. I feel sorry for them, because I care about them. v8 So I have come down to rescue them from the *Egyptians. I will bring them away from Egypt. And I will bring them to a good country where there is plenty of space. It is a rich country with plenty of milk and plenty of honey. The people called *Canaanites live there now. The people called the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites live there too. v9 But I have heard the *Israelites as they cry for help from me. And I have seen that the *Egyptians are being very cruel to my people. v10 So now, go and speak to *Pharaoh. The *Israelites are my people and I am sending you to them. You will bring my people away from Egypt, which is *Pharaoh’s country.’

v11 Moses answered God. He said, ‘I am not important enough to go to *Pharaoh. And I cannot bring the *Israelite people out of Egypt.’

v12 So God told him, ‘I will be with you. When you have brought my people away from Egypt, all of you will *worship me on this mountain. That will prove to you that I, myself, have sent you.’

Verse 1: Jethro and Reuel seem to be two names for the same man. He was the father of Zipporah, who was Moses’ wife. And he was the priest in the country called Midian. It may be that he was Reuel as the priest in Midian. However, to *Israel, he was Jethro.

Moses looked after Jethro’s sheep and goats. He travelled with the sheep and goats in the *desert. He searched for plants that they could eat. And he searched for water for them. As he wandered, he came to *Mount Horeb. Horeb means *desert. *Mount Horeb is the same as *Mount Sinai. Probably it became God’s mountain because God met Moses there. Also, later God gave his *covenant to *Israel at this mountain.

*Mount Horeb was in the *desert to the west of the country called Midian. We are not sure where *Mount Horeb was. There have been several different ideas as to where it was. The traditional place in the Sinai Peninsula may be the right one.

Verses 2-3: The *LORD’s *angel appeared to Moses. The same person was the *LORD and God. The *angel was not what we usually think of as an *angel. ‘The *LORD’s *angel appeared to Moses’ really means ‘God appeared to Moses’. He appeared as a flame of fire in a bush. The fire burned in the bush but it did not burn the bush. In the heat of the *desert, a dry bush could burst into flames. However such a bush would quickly burn. The bush that did not burn was a very strange sight to Moses. It made Moses curious. He went closer to examine this strange thing.

Verse 4: The *LORD saw Moses as he approached the bush. Then God called him by name. It would have astonished him to hear a voice from the bush. It would have astonished him even more that the voice called his name. However, Moses heard the voice and he replied. He said, ‘Here I am.’ He was ready to listen to the *LORD’s message to him.

Verses 5-6: When Moses had come close enough to the bush, God told him to stop. He spoke to Moses in words that he could understand. God told him to take off his shoes. The ground that Moses was standing on was holy ground. The ground was holy because God was there. Moses took off his shoes and he waited. Then God introduced himself to Moses.

God said that he was the God of Moses’ father. Moses’ family in Egypt believed in this God. He is the God whom the *Israelites believed in. Moses would not speak to the *Israelites about a new god. But he would tell them something more about the God that they *worshipped already.

Then God said ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ He gave the *covenant to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God is the God of those who live. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had died. But God said that they were alive. (See Mark 12:26-27.) The *New-Testament teaches us that we continue to live after physical death.

The sight and the voice filled Moses with terror. He was scared to look at the *LORD. So he covered his face. He could not look at the fire because the *LORD spoke out of the fire.

Verse 7: The *LORD is completely aware of all that happens in heaven and on the earth. And he knows everything. Also, he is everywhere. However, he expresses himself in human language.

He told Moses that he had watched his people in their terrible troubles. The *Israelites were his special people whom he loved. He had heard their cries of pain and their prayers for help. He knew that they were miserable because of the cruelty of the slave-masters. He was disturbed that his people suffered so badly. The *LORD loved his people. And he knew how great their need was.

Verse 8: The *LORD had come down to rescue *Israel. They had been in Egypt for about 400 years. The time had come when he would lead them out of Egypt. He would force the *Egyptians to let them go. And he would give a good country to them. It was good in its products and broad in its extent. It was good for their animals and for their agriculture. It would be a country of plenty for them. That is also what the *LORD had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

There were 7 nations in that country. Here the *LORD names 6 of those nations. The 7th nation would be the people called the Girgashites. (See Deuteronomy 7:1 and Joshua 3:10.) But *Israel would possess the whole country.

Verse 9: The *LORD repeats that he has heard the *Israelites. And he knows that the *Egyptians are being cruel to his people.

Verse 10: Then the *LORD told Moses what he required him to do. He must go as the *LORD’s agent and he must speak to *Pharaoh. His first task was to speak to *Pharaoh. He must tell him to let the *Israelites go from Egypt. The *Israelites were in a special sense God’s own people. He was sending Moses to them. Then Moses would lead the *Israelites out of Egypt.

Verse 11: The tasks that the *LORD had given to him seemed too hard for Moses. He had been looking after sheep in Midian for 40 years. That would mean that Moses should leave his home and his family in Midian. A stranger from the *desert could not just go to the king of Egypt. He was a stranger to the *Israelites. He could not just go to them. And he could not expect them to follow him. He did not believe that he could do it.

Verse 12: It was not important who Moses was. Who God is was more important. Moses could not do those things. But God could do them. God promised to go with Moses. He would use Moses to achieve his purpose. The result was certain. Moses would bring the *Israelites away from Egypt. He would lead them to this mountain, *Mount Horeb. There Moses and the *Israelites would *worship God. That would be the final proof that God had sent Moses. This whole process was in God’s *covenant with Abraham. And God would give his *covenant to the *Israelites on this mountain. Moses must believe God. He must believe that God will go with him. He must believe in the final success.

God said, ‘I will be with you.’ ‘I will be’ is the same word in the *Hebrew language as ‘I AM’ in verse 14. In that verse God will give the name, ‘I AM’ for himself.

God tells Moses to go to the *Israelites                3:13-22

v13 Then Moses asked God some questions. ‘Suppose that I go to the *Israelites. I will speak to them and I will say this. “The God, whom your relatives *worshipped a long time ago, has sent me to you.” Suppose that they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’

v14 And God answered Moses. ‘I am who I am. You must say this to the *Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.” ’

v15 God continued to speak to him. ‘You must tell this to the *Israelites. “The *LORD is the God whom your relatives *worshipped a long time ago. He has sent me to you. He is Abraham’s God and Isaac’s God and Jacob’s God”. This will be my name always. And people must call me by this name for all time.

v16 Go and call *Israel’s leaders together. Then say to them, “The *LORD appeared to me. He is the God whom your relatives *worshipped a long time ago. He is Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God. He told me to tell you this: I have watched, and I have seen you in Egypt. I have seen the terrible things that the *Egyptians have done to you. v17 And I have promised to rescue you. I will bring you away from your terrible troubles in Egypt. I will bring you to the country where the *Canaanites live. People called the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites all live there too. It is a country that has plenty of milk and plenty of honey.”

v18 The leaders will listen to you. Then you and the leaders must go. And you must speak to the king of Egypt. You must say this. “The *LORD, who is the *Hebrews’ God, has met us. He wants us to go on a journey. It will last about three days. So will you allow us to go into the *desert for three days? We want to burn gifts there that we give to the *LORD our God.” v19 But I know that Egypt’s king will not listen to you. He will not let you go. Only a powerful force can make him allow that. v20 So I will reach out with power and I will punish the *Egyptian people. I will perform all kinds of acts that will astonish them. Afterwards, the king will let you go.

v21 And I will make the *Egyptians show great kindness to you and to your people. So that when you leave, you will not go away with nothing. v22 Every woman should ask her *Egyptian neighbour for silver things and gold things. And every woman should ask for clothes of good quality. She can ask any *Egyptian woman who lives in her house too. Put all those things on your sons and on your daughters. That is how you will take away the *Egyptians’ possessions.’

Verse 13: Moses wanted to know how to answer the *Israelites. He would tell them that God had sent him. He would say that this God was their *ancestors’ God. Maybe they will ask who this God is. They will want to know his name. Who is the God that will free them from their situation as slaves? They knew that God was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Rather the question meant, ‘Can this God rescue us?’ They had been in Egypt for about 215 years. During much of that time, they had been slaves to the *Egyptians. They had cried out to God so many times with no answer. Egypt was a world power. The *Egyptians had many gods and *Pharaoh was a god. The God that can deliver them must be very powerful. He must be more powerful than Egypt, the *Pharaoh and their gods.

Verse 14: The answer that Moses received from the *LORD does not sound like a name. But it tells Moses something about who God is. “I AM who I AM” means that God never changes. He will always be with his people.

Some *Jews asked Jesus if he was greater than Abraham. Jesus replied. ‘Before Abraham was, I AM.’ (See John 8:52-58.) The *Jews knew what that meant. Jesus was saying that he was God. Jesus was God come to earth in a human body.

Verse 15: Then God gave to Moses his name as the *LORD. In the *Hebrew language they write this as the 4 letters YHWH. Also, these letters are in the sentence ‘I AM who I AM’. We think that we should pronounce it as Yahweh. However, the *Jews never say this name because they do not want to use it wrongly. Instead, they say Adonai, which means my *Lord.

Moses must tell the *Israelites that God’s name is YHWH. We know this name as Yahweh. In this book and in many Bibles this is *LORD in capital letters. ‘I AM who I AM’ means Yahweh is. The *Israelites may have felt that God had left them. They had prayed for many years but God seemed to be absent. Moses must tell them that Yahweh is. Yahweh is not absent. He had always been there. He was there now to answer those prayers for freedom.

This Yahweh is the God that their *ancestors *worshipped. He is Abraham’s God and Isaac’s God and Jacob’s God.

By this name, (Yahweh, *LORD), God’s people in the future will know him. This must be his name for all time. This name is his person, his character, his authority, and his power. He will be there because always he is.

Verse 16: God told Moses to go back to Egypt. There he must gather together *Israel’s leaders. These were the heads of the various families or *tribes. (See Exodus 6:14-15, 25.) Moses must tell them that the *LORD had met him. The *LORD was the same God that their *ancestors had *worshipped. The *LORD had not been absent. He had seen all that had happened to them in Egypt. He had seen all the terrible things that the *Egyptians had done.

Verse 17: The *LORD had promised to rescue his people. Their *ancestor Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am dying. But God will come to you. And he will take you up out of this country. He will lead you to the country that he promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ (See Genesis 50:24.) The *LORD promised to give to them the country called *Canaan. He would help them to force out the nations that were there. It was the ideal country for them to live in.

Verse 18: The *LORD told Moses that the leaders would meet with him. They would hear what Moses said. Then Moses with the leaders must go to the king. They must tell the king that the *LORD the God of the *Hebrews had met with them. And the *LORD had sent them to the king. The name *LORD would mean nothing to the king. He would understand the God of the *Hebrews. Every nation had its own god. Therefore, the king would expect the *Hebrews to have a god.

At first, they must make only a moderate and limited request. They must ask the king to let the *Israelites go from Egypt for three days. This may not mean just three days. Probably it meant a short trip. They wanted to go to the *desert. There they would make *sacrifices to the *LORD their God. Later the requests would be different. *Israel must leave Egypt and not return.

Verses 19-20: The *LORD knew that the king would refuse the request. He told Moses that this would happen. No human power could make the king change his mind. It would take many extraordinary deeds by the *LORD. But in the end, God would force the king to let them go. The *LORD promised them that, in the end, the king would let them go. This would not be just three days journey and a return to Egypt. It would be all the *Israelites and they would not return to Egypt. More than that, the king would be eager to send them away.

Verses 21-22: God had told Abraham that his *descendants would be slaves in a foreign country. Then they would come out with great possessions. (See Genesis 15:14.) God would do terrible deeds in Egypt. Then the *LORD would cause the *Egyptian people to want to help the *Israelites. Each *Israelite woman should ask the *Egyptians for gold and silver. They should ask for clothes and other possessions. The *Egyptians would be happy to give all those things to the *Israelites. Therefore, the *Israelites would leave Egypt with great possessions.

Chapter 4

Moses makes up excuses but God insists                   4:1-17

v1 Moses answered the *LORD. ‘Perhaps the *Israelites will not believe me’, Moses said. ‘Perhaps they will not listen to me. They may say to me, “The *LORD did not appear to you.” ’

v2 ‘What is that in your hand?’ the *LORD asked him.

‘It is a stick’, Moses replied.

v3 ‘Throw it on the ground’, the *LORD told him.

So Moses threw the stick on the ground. Immediately it became a snake and Moses ran away from it.

v4 Then the *LORD spoke again. He said, ‘Reach out your hand and hold its tail.’

So Moses reached out and grasped the snake. It became a stick again in his hand.

v5 The *LORD said, ‘This *sign will cause the people to believe you. They will believe that I have appeared to you. I am the God of their *ancestors. I am Abraham’s God and Isaac’s God and Jacob’s God.’

v6 Then the *LORD spoke to Moses again. ‘Put your hand inside your coat’, God said. So Moses put his hand inside his coat. When he brought out his hand, it had become white like snow. It had a terrible disease in the skin.

v7 ‘Now put your hand inside your coat again’, God said. So Moses put his hand inside his coat again. And when he looked at it, the hand was healthy again. It was like the rest of his skin.

v8 And the *LORD spoke to Moses again. ‘Suppose that the people do not believe you. They may not believe the first wonderful *sign, but then they might believe the second *sign. v9 But suppose that they do not believe either *sign. Suppose that they refuse to listen to you. Then take some water from the River Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water that you take from the river will become blood on the ground.’

v10 Then Moses replied to the *LORD. ‘My *Lord, I have never been an impressive speaker. I was not a good speaker before you spoke to me. And I am still the same now. I speak very slowly. And it is difficult for me to say the right words.’

v11 So the *LORD asked him. ‘Who gave to people their mouths? Who makes them deaf or makes them dumb? Who gives sight to them or makes them blind? I do those things. It is I, the *LORD. v12 Now go. I will help you to speak. I will teach you what to say.’

v13 But still Moses argued. ‘My *Lord, please send someone else to do it’, he said.

v14 Then the *LORD became very angry with Moses. God said, ‘There is your brother, Aaron the *Levite. I know that he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you. He will be glad when he sees you. v15 You must speak to him. And you must tell him what to say. I will help both of you so that you can speak. And I will teach you what to do. v16 Aaron will speak to the people on your behalf. He will be like your mouth. And you will be like God to him. v17 But take the wooden stick in your hand. You will do wonderful *signs with it.’

Verse 1: God had not appeared to any man, as far as we know, for a long time. Moses must tell the *Israelites that God had appeared to him. He would tell them about the burning bush. He would tell them about the voice of God that he heard. Maybe they would not believe him. They may have known Moses. But he had been away from Egypt for about 40 years. He had left Egypt because he had killed an *Egyptian. It was not very likely that they would trust him. However, the *LORD had told Moses that the leaders would believe him. (See Exodus 3:16-18.) Moses still doubted that they would do so. If they did not believe him, the whole plan would fail. He needed some kind of proof to show to the *Israelites.

Verses 2-3: The *LORD agreed that Moses’ doubts were reasonable. Therefore, he gave three *signs to Moses. Moses could do those signs to convince the *Israelites.

Moses had a big stick in his hand. It was an ordinary stick. People who look after sheep would have a stick like that. The *LORD told him to throw the stick on the ground. He did so and the stick became a snake. Moses was afraid of the snake.

Verse 4: Then the *LORD told him to pick up the snake by its tail. Moses was brave to obey the *LORD. If you hold a snake by its tail, it could still bite. Moses overcame his fear. And he picked up the snake and it became his stick again.

Verse 5: When Moses did that *sign in Egypt, it would cause the people to believe him. They would believe that God had appeared to Moses. They would believe that this God was the God of their *ancestors. And then they would trust him.

Verses 6-7: The *LORD gave a second *sign to Moses. Moses did what God told him to do. He put his hand in his coat. When he took it out again it was as white as snow. It had an awful skin disease. That would have been an awful experience for Moses. However, God told him to put the hand in his coat again. This time when he took his hand out of the coat the *LORD had healed it. Moses looked at his hand. To his relief, the skin was as healthy as the rest of his skin.

This skin disease was common in Egypt. In those days, they could not cure it. As God healed Moses hand, it would impress the *Israelites. They would believe Moses and they would trust the *LORD.

Verses 8-9: The *Israelites may not believe Moses. Maybe the previous two *signs would not convince them. Therefore, the *LORD gave a third *sign to Moses. Moses must take some water from the River Nile. As he pours the water onto the dry ground, the water will become blood.

The first two *signs the *LORD did in the *desert. Then Moses could expect the *LORD to do them again in Egypt. Moses could only take part in the third *sign when he was in Egypt. These *signs would prove that God was there. In effect, God was speaking to the people by each of the *signs. The *signs would tell them that God was active on behalf of his people *Israel. With these *signs, Moses could believe that the *Israelites would believe him. When Moses arrived in Egypt, he did these *signs. And the people did believe him. (See Exodus 4:29-31.)

The River Nile was the means of life and agriculture in Egypt. The *Egyptians regarded the river as a god. The third *sign would tell the *Israelites that their God was greater than the god of the Nile.

Later, the *LORD would turn the water of the River Nile to blood. That would be the first of 10 powerful deeds that the *LORD would do. Those 10 powerful deeds should convince the king that God was superior. The God of *Israel was more powerful than the king of Egypt. And the God of *Israel was more powerful than all the gods of Egypt.

Verse 10: Moses’ excuse was that the people might not believe him. The *LORD had answered that excuse. Then Moses had another excuse. God was telling him to speak to the people and to the king. But for that task he would need to be a good speaker. He told the *LORD that he was not a good speaker. He had never been able to speak well. That may have been his humble opinion of himself.

Verses 11-12: The *LORD was patient with Moses. He asked Moses a few questions. The answer to those questions was that the *LORD had done all those things. The gifts of speech and sight are from the *LORD. Therefore, the *LORD could make Moses a great speaker. The *LORD could put the words into his mouth. Moses’ weakness in speech was not important. The *LORD was sending him and the *LORD would do it.

The *LORD told Moses to go. And he would teach him what to say. God promised Moses that he would do that.

Verses 13-14: Still Moses did not want to obey God. Probably the difficulty of the task frightened him. He could not think of any more excuses. He asked the *LORD to choose any one else but not him. That made the *LORD very angry with Moses. However, the *LORD said that Aaron could go with him. Perhaps Moses could not speak well but Aaron certainly could speak well. Aaron would not doubt and he would not hesitate.

The *LORD had already prepared Aaron. He had told Aaron to come into the *desert to meet Moses. (See Exodus 4:27.) Aaron was coming. And he would be glad to see his brother again.

Aaron was Moses’ brother. They were both from the *tribe of Levi. Aaron would have a great honour. He would be the first chief priest. And all later chief priests in *Israel would come from Aaron’s family.

Verses 15-16: The arrangement was that Moses would hear from the *LORD. Then Moses would tell Aaron what to say. In effect, Moses would be as the voice of the *LORD to Aaron. And Aaron would be as the voice of Moses to the people. The *LORD would be with them both. He would help them to speak. And he would give to them the power to do his deeds.

Verse 17: Moses must take the wooden stick with him. God would use that stick as Moses did the powerful deeds.

Moses returns to Egypt               4:18-31

v18 Then Moses went back to his wife’s father, Jethro. Moses said to him, ‘Let me go back to my own people in Egypt. I want to see if any of them are still alive.’

‘Go! And I hope that everything goes well for you’, Jethro replied.

v19 The *LORD had spoken to Moses in the country called Midian. ‘Go back to Egypt’, God told him. ‘All the men who wanted to kill you are dead.’ v20 So Moses took his wife and his sons with him. He put them on a *donkey so that they rode. Then they started to go to Egypt. And Moses took God’s wooden stick in his hand.

v21 The *LORD spoke to Moses again. ‘When you arrive in Egypt, go to *Pharaoh. In front of him, do all the wonderful *signs that I tell you. I have given to you the power to do those wonderful things. But I will cause him to be unwilling to listen to you. He will not let my people go.

v22 Then you must give to *Pharaoh this message from me. “The *LORD says this to you: The nation called *Israel is like my oldest son. v23 ‘Let my son go’, I told you. ‘I want him to *worship me.’ But you refused. You would not let *Israel go. So now, I will kill your oldest son.” That is what you must say to *Pharaoh.’

v24 On the way to Egypt, Moses stopped to camp for the night. The *LORD met Moses there and he was ready to kill Moses. v25 But Zipporah took a hard, sharp stone to use as a knife. She *circumcised her son with it. Then she touched Moses’ feet with the skin that she had cut off. ‘You are my husband, and I must cause my son to bleed’, she said. v26 So the *LORD did not kill Moses. (Zipporah was talking about the *circumcision when she said, ‘You are my husband, and I must cause my son to bleed.’)

v27 The *LORD said to Aaron, ‘Go into the *desert to meet Moses.’ So Aaron went into the *desert and he met Moses at God’s mountain. Aaron greeted him with a kiss. v28 Then Moses told Aaron about everything that the *LORD had said to him. God had sent him to speak to *Pharaoh. Also Moses told Aaron about all the wonderful *signs that God had ordered him to do.

v29 Moses and Aaron called together all the leaders of the *Israelites. v30 Aaron told them everything that the *LORD had said to Moses. And Moses did the wonderful *signs in front of the people. v31 Then they believed. They understood that the *LORD cared about them. He had seen all their difficulties. So they bent over and they *worshipped God.

Verse 18: Moses had realised that he must obey God. He must return to Egypt. He left *Mount Horeb and he went to his wife’s father in Midian. He had Jethro’s sheep and goats to take back. Also, it was his duty to show honour to Jethro. He needed to ask Jethro if he could go back to Egypt. He would take his wife and his children with him. It seems that he did not tell Jethro the real reason. He said that he wanted to visit his own people. He wanted to see if any of his family were still alive. Jethro did not ask any questions about Moses’ reasons.

Jethro agreed that Moses could go. He wished Moses well.

Verse 19: Again, while Moses was in Midian, God told Moses to go back to Egypt. It was safe for Moses to go. All the men who wanted to kill him were dead. Moses was already willing to return. None of his excuses was because of fear of those men.

The king who had wanted to kill Moses was dead. Probably that was Thutmose 2nd. He died in about 1479 *BC.

Verse 20: Moses took his wife Zipporah and their sons with him. Before this, there was a record of only one son, Gershom. (See Exodus 2:22.) The other son was Eliezer. (See Exodus 18:4.) Zipporah and the two sons rode on a *donkey. That might mean more than one *donkey. Moses would have walked next to them.

As God had told him, Moses took his wooden stick with him. This stick had become God’s stick. Its purpose was no longer to look after sheep.

Verse 21: Then, the *LORD gave definite instructions to Moses. As soon as he arrived in Egypt, Moses must go to *Pharaoh. The *LORD told Moses about all the wonderful deeds that he must do. The *LORD had given to Moses the power to do them. Moses must do them all in front of *Pharaoh.

God would cause *Pharaoh to be unwilling to listen to Moses. This means that the *LORD would make *Pharaoh’s heart strong or hard. He would make *Pharaoh’s heart hard toward the *Israelites. The statement that God would do this comes 10 times in Exodus. (See Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8, 17.) In the last of these references, it says that God will make the *Egyptians’ hearts hard. That must include *Pharaoh with his people. The statement that *Pharaoh made his own heart hard also comes 10 times in Exodus. (See Exodus 7:13, 14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34, 35; 13:15.) In the first 5 of the 10 powerful deeds, *Pharaoh made his own heart hard. It was only from the 6th of the 10 *plagues that God began to make *Pharaoh’s heart hard.

*Pharaoh had decided that he would not let the *Israelites go. Nothing could change his mind until his son died in the 10th *plague. Even then, he regretted his decision. And he chased after the *Israelites.

In ancient *Hebrew thought, God was the first cause of everything. This in no way reduces human responsibility. Even when God made his heart hard, *Pharaoh was still responsible. Also, in ancient *Hebrew thought the mind was part of the heart. Therefore, thoughts came from the heart.

Verse 22: The *LORD sent a message to *Pharaoh. He said, ‘*Israel is like my oldest son.’ The oldest son was more important than other sons. Therefore, God chose *Israel to be his special people. The *Egyptians and *Pharaoh himself regarded *Pharaoh as the son of the gods. Such a statement by God that *Israel as a nation was his son would have surprised *Pharaoh.

Verse 23: God demanded that *Pharaoh should let God’s son *Israel go. *Pharaoh’s heart would remain hard. He would not free God’s son, *Israel. Therefore, he and his people would suffer the last of the wonderful deeds. God would kill the oldest sons in Egypt. Only then would *Pharaoh let *Israel leave Egypt.

Verses 24-26: The *LORD attacked Moses as he was going to Egypt. We do not know how he attacked him. It might have been a sudden illness. The *LORD would have killed Moses but for the action of his wife. The reason for the *LORD’s action was that they had not *circumcised one of their sons. Zipporah knew that and immediately she *circumcised their son. Then she put the skin that she had cut off on Moses’ feet. Then the *LORD let go of Moses.

We do not know which of the two sons she *circumcised.

God had commanded Abraham to *circumcise every male on the 8th day. Any son not *circumcised could not be a member of God’s people. (See Genesis 17:10-14.) Moses would have known this. He ought to have *circumcised each son when the boy was 8 days old. Moses would have told Zipporah about the importance of *circumcision. *Circumcision was like a sign of the *covenant that the *LORD had given to the *Israelites. Maybe he had *circumcised his first son Gershom. Maybe he had not *circumcised his other son because Zipporah did not approve. That seems to be the reason. She complained that she must cause her son to bleed.

The *Israelites used sharp stones to *circumcise rather than metal knives. The metal knives in those days were not as sharp as the stone tools.

After this incident, Moses may have sent Zipporah and his sons back to Jethro. (See Exodus 18:2.)

Verse 27: At God’s command, Aaron went to meet Moses. (See Exodus 4:14.) Aaron was about 83 years old at this time. He travelled in the *desert for several days from Egypt to God’s mountain. That mountain was *Mount Horeb. Aaron was glad when he met his brother Moses. He greeted Moses with a kiss. They had been apart for about 40 years. They had a lot to tell each other.

Verse 28: Moses told Aaron about all that the *LORD had said. He told Aaron about the task that they must do. They must go to *Pharaoh and they must speak to him. They must demand that he should free *Israel. Moses told Aaron about all the wonderful deeds that the *LORD would do by them.

Verses 29-30: Moses and Aaron arrived in Egypt. There, they called together all the leaders of the *Israelites. The leaders must agree before Moses and Aaron approached *Pharaoh. Aaron spoke. He told them all that the *LORD had said to Moses. Then they did the *signs that God had taught to Moses. It seems that they did those *signs in front of the people and not just the leaders.

Verse 31: The leaders and the people believed all that Aaron and Moses told them. The *Israelites understood that God loved his people. They heard that God was well aware of their situation. And they believed that God would deliver them from their situation as slaves in Egypt. Then they *worshipped God.

Chapter 5

Bricks without straw           5:1-23

v1 Afterwards Moses and Aaron went to see *Pharaoh. ‘This is what the *LORD, *Israel’s God, says’, they told him. ‘ “Let my people go into the *desert. They must *worship me there. They must have a *feast to give honour to me.” ’

v2 But *Pharaoh replied to them. ‘Who is the *LORD? Why should I obey him? Why should I let the *Israelites go? I do not know the *LORD. And I will not let *Israel’s people go.’

v3 They told him, ‘The *Hebrews’ God has met with us. Now let us go on a journey that lasts about three days. We want to go into the *desert to give gifts to the *LORD our God. If we do not obey him, he may send upon us terrible diseases or war.’

v4 But Egypt’s king would not listen. ‘Moses and Aaron, you want to take the people away from their work. Get back to work!’ he said. v5 ‘There are large numbers of your people in my country. And you are preventing them from working for me.’

v6 On that same day, *Pharaoh gave an order to the masters of the slaves. And he gave the order to the *Israelite officers who were responsible for their own people. v7 ‘Now you must not supply the workers with straw for their bricks. Force them to get their own straw. v8 But you should require them to make the same number of bricks as before. Do not reduce the number of bricks that they have to make. They are lazy. That is why they are crying out to me, “Let us go. We want to give gifts to our God.” v9 But you must make them work harder. Then they will be too busy to listen to such lies.’

v10 Then the masters of the slaves and the *Israelite officers spoke to the people. ‘This is what *Pharaoh says. “I will not continue to give you any straw. v11 Go and get your own straw. Get it anywhere that you can find it. But you must make the same number of bricks for me.” ’ v12 So the people scattered all over Egypt. They had to collect any kind of straw that they could find.

v13 The masters of the slaves continued to make the people work very hard. ‘You must complete your work’, they said. ‘Each day you must make the same number of bricks that you made before. But we will not give any more straw to you.’

v14 *Pharaoh’s masters of the slaves had made the *Israelite officers responsible for the workers. And *Pharaoh’s masters of the slaves hit the *Israelite officers. They said to the *Israelite officers, ‘Your men have not made the same number of bricks as before. You have not produced enough bricks either yesterday or today!’

v15 Then the *Israelite officers went to see *Pharaoh. ‘Why have you acted like this towards us?’ they asked him. v16 ‘We are your servants, but we have not received any straw. However, you tell us, “Make bricks!” The masters of the slaves are hitting us with sticks. But the blame belongs to your own people.’

v17 ‘Lazy! You are lazy!’ *Pharaoh replied. ‘You do not want to work. That is why you say to me again and again, “Let us go into the *desert. We want to give gifts to the *LORD.” v18 Now return to work! We will not give you any straw. But you must produce the same number of bricks.’

v19 *Pharaoh expected the *Israelite officers to produce the same number of bricks each day as before. So they realised that they were in trouble. v20 So the officers left *Pharaoh. And they went to see Moses and Aaron. And Moses and Aaron were waiting to meet them. v21 Then they said to Moses and Aaron, ‘The *LORD will see what you have done! We want him to punish you! You have made us become like a very bad smell to *Pharaoh and to his servants. You have given to them an excuse to kill us with their swords.’

v22 Moses left the men. And he went to pray to the *LORD. ‘*Lord, why have you brought trouble to your people? Is this why you sent me here?’ he said. v23 ‘I went to speak to *Pharaoh. And I spoke in your name. Since that time, he has brought trouble on your people. And you have not rescued your people yet.’

Verse 1: Moses and Aaron were bold to approach the ruler of Egypt. With his early experience, Moses would know how he could meet *Pharaoh. They delivered God’s message to him. *Israel’s God, the *LORD demanded that *Pharaoh free the *Israelites. He must let them go into the *desert. There they would make *sacrifices to the *LORD. With these, they would *worship their God. Probably that meant that they would then return to Egypt.

The *Israelites could not make these *sacrifices in Egypt. Such *sacrifices would offend the *Egyptians. Such *sacrifices would be against the *Egyptian religion. (See Exodus 8:26.) And the *Egyptians might be very angry. And they might throw stones at the *Israelites to kill them.

This *Pharaoh was probably Thutmose 3rd. He ruled in Egypt from about 1479 to 1425 *BC.

Verse 2: *Pharaoh was a proud and powerful king. He and his people thought that he was a god. In addition, they had their own *Egyptian gods. *Pharaoh did not know the *LORD. Probably he had never heard of the *LORD. The *LORD was the God of *Pharaoh’s slaves. At this time, he could not know that their God was greater than his gods. Therefore, in his mind there was no reason to obey the *LORD. Only *Pharaoh had the right to command these slaves. It would seem foolish to let them escape. He would not let them go. But God had said that it would happen.

Verse 3: Moses and Aaron made their request in a more humble way. Instead of the *LORD, they spoke of the *Hebrew’s God. *Pharaoh would understand that the *Hebrews had a God. This God had met with them. They asked again that *Pharaoh would let the *Israelites go. This was a request and not a demand. The journey in the *desert would be only about three days. Probably that meant three days there and three days back again. That is what the *LORD had told Moses. (See Exodus 3:18.)

Moses warned *Pharaoh about what might happen. If the *Israelites did not obey, God might do something terrible. He might send terrible diseases. He might even send an army to attack. If this action would be against the *Israelites, it would be a great loss to the *Egyptians. They would lose their slaves for much more than the three days. It might be that this action would be against the whole of Egypt. Then all the people in Egypt would suffer loss.

Verses 4-5: *Pharaoh would not listen to Moses and Aaron. In his opinion, the *Israelites were lazy. They wanted to go to for a holiday from their work. Moses and Aaron were there to make trouble. In his opinion, Moses and Aaron were just two of the slaves. Therefore, *Pharaoh told them to get back to their work.

*Pharaoh said that there were already too many *Israelites in Egypt. If he gave to them rest from their work they might increase even more. Moses and Aaron were keeping the people from their work.

Verse 6: The king sent Moses and Aaron away. He decided to make the *Israelites work even harder. That would cause them to refuse Moses and Aaron’s plans. That same day, he gave orders to the masters of the slaves and to the *Israelite officers.

Verses 7-8: The main task of the *Israelite slaves was to make bricks. They must make a large quantity of bricks each day. They used mud from the River Nile and straw. Until then, the *Egyptians had given the straw to them. But now the king is demanding that the *Israelites must get their own straw. To collect the straw would take them a lot of time. But they must still produce the same quantity of bricks each day.

The king said that they were lazy. To him, that was the reason that they wanted to go. To give gifts to their God was an excuse.

Verse 9: They should work harder. Then, they would be too busy to listen to Moses. He thought that Moses and Aaron had lied to him. They had told him that the *LORD had spoken those words. But the king did not believe them.

Verses 10-13: The masters of the slaves and the *Israelite officers told the people about *Pharaoh’s new order. They must find their own straw. However, they must make the same number of bricks as before.

The people must get the straw from wherever they could find it. That meant that they must search all over Egypt. This new task was in addition to their task to make bricks. The work that had been already very hard would become much harder.

Verse 14: The increase in the work made it almost impossible to complete their tasks. During the first few days, the people failed to make the quantity of bricks. The *Israelite officers were responsible to make the slaves achieve the number of bricks. The masters of the slaves punished the officers because of this failure.

Verses 15-16: The *Israelite officers came to *Pharaoh to complain about the situation. We do not know how they got to the king. There would have been many such officers. But this would be a small group of them. They were polite. They said that they were his servants. They asked why he had introduced this no-straw rule. We have not received any straw but we must produce the bricks. And the slave masters beat us because we are not making as many bricks as before.

They blamed the slave masters for the lack of straw. Maybe they thought that the slave masters had gone beyond their authority. They had stopped the supply of straw. Probably they knew that *Pharaoh was to blame. However, they could not say that to him.

Probably they knew that *Pharaoh did this because of Moses and Aaron’s visit. His purpose was to turn the people against Moses.

Verses 17-18: *Pharaoh insulted them. He said that they were lazy. They did not want to work. They kept on asking him to let them go. They wanted to go to *sacrifice to the *LORD. He told them to go not to the *desert but to their work. He would give no straw to them but they must produce the bricks.

Verse 19: The officers realised that their situation had become much worse. The *Israelites would not produce the number of bricks. And *Pharaoh’s men would blame the officers.

Verse 20: Moses and Aaron were waiting for the officers. They probably knew what the king would say. The officers left *Pharaoh and they came to Moses and Aaron.

Verse 21: The officers were angry with Moses and Aaron. They blamed Moses and Aaron for *Pharaoh’s actions. They did not see it as the *LORD’s fault. They prayed that the *LORD would punish Moses and Aaron. The slave masters will now have an excuse to kill *Israelites.

Verses 22-23: Moses knew that *Pharaoh would not let the people go. However, he did not seem to realise the effect that this would have on the *Israelites. He had obeyed the *LORD. The officers accused Moses. They said that he was the cause of their trouble. But it was not Moses, it was the *LORD.

Moses prayed. He asked the *LORD why he had done this. This is how it seemed to Moses: God had used him to hurt his people. Moses had gone to *Pharaoh and he had given God’s message to *Pharaoh. Since then, *Pharaoh had increased the tasks of the *Israelites. The *LORD had not done what he said. He had not done anything to rescue his people.

Chapter 6

The *LORD promises to free his people               6:1-13

v1 Then the *LORD replied to Moses. ‘Now you will see what I will do to *Pharaoh. Because of my great power, *Pharaoh will agree. He will let my people go. He will force them to go away from his country.’

v2 And God continued. ‘I am the *LORD. v3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as El Shaddai, the All-Powerful God. But with them, I did not use my name, the *LORD. v4 I gave my *covenant to them. They used to live as foreigners in the country called *Canaan. But I promised to give that country to them. v5 And now, I have heard the *Israelites’ cries because of their troubles. I know that the *Egyptians are keeping them as slaves. And I have remembered my *covenant.

v6 So you must give this message to the *Israelites for me. “I am the *LORD. The *Egyptians have forced you to do difficult work. But I will free you. And you will not continue to be their slaves. I will use my great power to punish them. And I will rescue you with powerful acts when I act as the judge to the *Egyptians. v7 I will take you as my own people. And I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the *LORD your God. I brought you away from the *Egyptians’ control. v8 I made a serious promise to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I promised the country called *Canaan to them as my gift. So now, I will bring you to that country, and it will belong to you. I am the *LORD.” ’

v9 Moses reported God’s message to the *Israelites. But they did not listen to him. They did not believe that God still cared about them. They had to work as slaves and their masters were very cruel to them. So they were too sad and too tired to believe.

v10 Then the *LORD spoke to Moses again. v11 ‘Go to *Pharaoh and demand his attention. Egypt’s king must allow the *Israelites to go away from his country.’

v12 But Moses replied to the *LORD. ‘The *Israelites will not listen to me. So I am sure that *Pharaoh will not listen to me either. I do not speak well.’ v13 However, the *LORD had spoken to Moses and Aaron about the *Israelites. And the *LORD had spoken about *Pharaoh, who was Egypt’s king. God ordered Moses and Aaron to bring the *Israelites away from Egypt.

Verse 1: Moses had taken the problems to the *LORD. However, the *LORD did not give direct answers to him. The *LORD told Moses that there would be no more delay. Soon he would begin to show his power to *Pharaoh. At the end of this process, *Pharaoh would agree to let the *Israelites go from Egypt. The *LORD would force *Pharaoh to let them go. And *Pharaoh would be eager to send them away.

Verse 2: God spoke to Moses. He said, ‘I am the *LORD.’ In the *Hebrew language, he said, ‘I am Yahweh.’ That meant that an important message followed. Yahweh is the person who spoke the message. He has authority. And he will do what he says. The name Yahweh expresses the character and nature of God. Yahweh is the God who is here. He is always with his people. He is the God who shows himself to his people. He is the God that people can know.

In the *Old-Testament, the name Yahweh comes 6823 times. That is more than any other name for God. The first use of Yahweh was in Genesis 2:4. However, God did not show himself as Yahweh until Exodus chapter 3. In many of our Bibles, Yahweh becomes LORD in capital letters. And we have done the same thing.

Verse 3: In the past, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob called God El Shaddai. That name means ‘God is powerful.’ The *Hebrew word for God is Elohim. He is the God who made everything. He is the God whom all power belongs to.

Verse 4: God reminded Moses that he had established his *covenant with Abraham. (See Genesis 17:1-8.) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had no country of their own. They lived in the country called *Canaan. In the *covenant, God promised to give that country to their *descendants. The people in that country were wicked people. Their *sin would become so great that the *LORD would remove them. And he would give that country to Abraham’s *descendants. (See Genesis 15:16, 18.)

Verse 5: The *LORD knew all about his people’s terrible situation in Egypt. He had heard all the cries of the *Israelites. He saw that the *Egyptians had made them slaves. The time had come for him to act on their behalf. He would do what he had promised in the *covenant. He had not forgotten the *covenant. But this was the time to act upon it.

Verse 6: The *LORD told Moses to speak to the *Israelites. His message was simple. ‘I am the *LORD. I will free you. I will rescue you. I will use my great power to punish the *Egyptians.’

The *LORD would achieve this by means of the 10 powerful deeds. Those powerful deeds would show that the *LORD has all power. That was their purpose. But also, they would punish the *Egyptians because they had been so cruel to God’s people. God had spoken about these deeds to Moses. (See Exodus 3:20; 4:23.) He had told Abraham that he would rescue his people. And he told Abraham that he would punish the people in Egypt. (See Genesis 15:14.)

Verse 7: The *LORD would take *Israel as his special people. He would be the God of *Israel. When he had rescued them, they would know the *LORD. They would know that he was their *LORD God.

Verse 8: The *LORD had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their *descendants would possess *Canaan. Therefore, the *LORD will bring these people into *Canaan. And that country will belong to them. That will happen because he is the *LORD.

Verse 9: Moses went to the *Israelites and he gave God’s message to them. Their situation was so bad that they did not listen to him. They were under so much strain from the cruel slave masters. The situation depressed them so much. They could not bother themselves with what Moses said. In the circumstances, they could not believe that God cared about them.

Verses 10-11: The *Israelites would not listen. But that could not stop the work to rescue them. The *LORD told Moses to go to *Pharaoh again. This time the *LORD gave to Moses a message for *Pharaoh. The message was that he should free the *Israelites. He must allow them to leave Egypt. This time the demand was not just for three days. The demand was for their departure from that country.

Verse 12: Moses protested. He could not persuade *Pharaoh when his own people would not listen. Also, he repeated his old excuse that he could not speak well. He could not persuade the *Israelites. So surely, he could not expect to persuade *Pharaoh.

Verse 13: The *LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron. Moses could not speak well but Aaron could. Both of them could speak to the *Israelites. And both of them could speak to *Pharaoh. By their efforts and with the *LORD’s help, they would achieve the freedom of the *Israelites. They would lead their people out of Egypt.

*Ancestors of Moses and Aaron                  6:14-27

v14 This list records the leaders of *Israel’s families:

Reuben was *Israel’s (Jacob’s) oldest son. Reuben’s sons were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron and Carmi. Those were the names of Reuben’s family.

v15 Simeon’s sons were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar and Shaul. Shaul was a *Canaanite woman’s son. Those were the names of Simeon’s family.

v16 The records named Levi’s sons next. They were Gershon, Kohath and Merari. Levi lived for 137 years.

v17 And Gershon’s sons, who were leaders of families, were Libni and Shimei.

v18 Kohath lived for 133 years and his sons were Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.

v19 Merari’s sons were Mahli and Mushi. Those were the families that Levi’s family reported in their records.

v20 Amram lived for 137 years and he married his father’s sister Jochebed. She gave birth to two sons who were Aaron and Moses.

v21 Izhar’s sons were Korah, Nepheg and Zichri.

v22 Uzziel’s sons were Mishael, Elzaphan and Sithri.

v23 Aaron married Elisheba. She was Amminadab’s daughter and Nahshon’s sister. They had 4 sons called Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.

v24 Korah’s sons were Assir, Elkanah and Abiasaph. They were the family of Korah.

v25 Aaron’s son Eleazar married one of Putiel’s daughters. Their son was Phinehas.

Those are the leaders of the groups of *Levite families.

v26 Aaron and Moses were the men that the *LORD spoke to. He said, ‘Bring the *Israelites away from Egypt with each family in a group together.’ v27 So Moses and Aaron spoke to *Pharaoh, who was Egypt’s king. They asked him to free the *Israelites.

Verses 14-16: God changed Jacob’s name to *Israel. (See Genesis 32:28.) Jacob had 12 sons. The families of Jacob’s 12 sons became the 12 *tribes of *Israel. Reuben was Jacob’s first son. Reuben had 4 sons. Jacob’s second son was Simeon. Simeon had 6 sons. Jacob’s third son was Levi by his wife Leah. Levi had three sons. Their names were Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

Verses 17-25: This list continues with the *descendants of the three sons of Levi. The *Israelites were in Egypt for about 215 years. The *LORD told Abraham that in the 4th *generation the *Israelites would go back to *Canaan. (See Genesis 15:16.) The list shows the *generation that was with Aaron and Moses. That is its purpose. That *generation would go from Egypt to *Canaan. That *generation was in three groups from the sons of Levi. They were the *descendants of Gershon, the *descendants of Kohath and the *descendants of Merari. Moses and Aaron were *descendants of Kohath.

Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed. The law that the *LORD would give by Moses would not allow such a marriage. There would be rules about the marriage of relatives. (See Leviticus 18:12.) But that was later. Amram and Jochebed were the parents of Miriam, Aaron and Moses.

The list includes Aaron’s 4 sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. Aaron became the first chief priest and his sons became priests (Exodus 28:1). Nadab and Abihu offended the *LORD and he killed them both. (See Leviticus 10:1-2; Numbers 3:4.) Eleazar became the leader of the *Levites. And he became the chief priest when Aaron died. (See Numbers 20:28.)

The law came 430 years after God gave his *covenant to Abraham. Paul tells us that in a letter that he wrote. (See Galatians 3:17.) God gave the *covenant to Abraham first in Genesis, chapter 12. Abraham was 75 years old. (See Genesis 12:4.)

Jacob went down into Egypt when he was 130 years old. (See Genesis 47:9.) Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born. (See Genesis 25:26.) Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born. (See Genesis 21:5.) That amounts to 290 years. Subtract 75 years for the age of Abraham at the time of the *covenant in Genesis 12. That makes 215 years. That means that the *Israelites were in or near *Canaan for 215 years. Then they were in Egypt for 215 years. There, they became slaves. The promise in Genesis chapter 15 was about 30 years after God gave his *covenant to Abraham in chapter 12. Then the *Israelites would be strangers in a country that was not their own for 400 years. (See Genesis 15:13-14.) The country that was not their own was *Canaan and then Egypt.

Verses 26-27: Aaron is first in the list because he was older than Moses. The list shows who Aaron and Moses were among the *descendants of Levi. They were the two men that the *LORD spoke to. He gave to them the task to lead the *Israelites out of Egypt. Those two men would have to speak with *Pharaoh.

Moses says that *Pharaoh will not listen to him           6:28-30

v28 The *LORD spoke to Moses in Egypt. v29 He told Moses, ‘I am the *LORD. Tell to *Pharaoh, king of Egypt, everything that I tell to you.’

v30 But Moses answered the *LORD. ‘I cannot speak easily, so *Pharaoh will not listen to me.’

Verses 28-30: The *LORD spoke to Moses in Egypt with the same instruction as before. Tell to *Pharaoh everything that I tell to you. Moses made his excuse again. He said that he could not speak well. *Pharaoh would not listen to him. That was true. By himself, Moses could not persuade *Pharaoh to free the people. But the *LORD would do it by his own power. The name of the *LORD would be all the power that Moses would need.

Chapter 7

Moses and Aaron obey God                7:1-7

v1 The *LORD answered Moses. ‘See, I have made you like God to *Pharaoh. And your brother Aaron shall be your *prophet. v2 You must say everything to Aaron that I tell to you. Then your brother, Aaron, must tell my message to *Pharaoh. *Pharaoh must let the *Israelites go away from his country. v3 But I will make *Pharaoh still refuse this request. I will increase my wonderful acts and my terrible *signs in Egypt. v4 But *Pharaoh will not listen to you. So I will use my great power against him. I will do terrible acts as punishment against his nation. Then I will bring all my people away from Egypt. Every *Israelite family will leave. v5 Then the *Egyptians will know that I am the *LORD. They will see me use my great power against them. They will see the *LORD bring the *Israelites away from among them.’

v6 Moses and Aaron did what the *LORD had ordered them. v7 Moses was 80 years old when they spoke to *Pharaoh. And his brother, Aaron, was 83 years old.

Verses 1-2: The *LORD gave to Moses the same answer as before. Aaron would speak on behalf of Moses. But Moses would be God’s agent. He would be like God to *Pharaoh. The *LORD gave great power and authority to Moses. So he could do great deeds as the *LORD ordered him. Aaron would be like a *prophet to Moses. The *Egyptian people considered *Pharaoh to be a god. *Pharaoh would listen to the *prophets who came to him in the name of their gods. Now Aaron would appear in front of him as such a *prophet. And Moses would seem to be like a god to *Pharaoh.

Moses would hear from the *LORD. Moses must tell to Aaron everything that the *LORD had said. And Aaron must speak to *Pharaoh on behalf of Moses. On each occasion, the message would be the same. *Pharaoh must let the *Israelites go from his country, Egypt.

Verses 3-4: God had said that *Pharaoh would not listen to Moses. And *Pharaoh did not listen. But that would not be important. The *LORD would make *Pharaoh *stubborn. In the first 5 of the 10 powerful deeds, *Pharaoh would make his own heart hard. He would not agree to the requests or demands of God. Therefore, the *LORD would cause *Pharaoh’s heart to be hard during the last 5 wonderful deeds. Each of those *plagues would be greater than the previous one. Those *plagues would be terrible for the *Egyptian people. In the end, the *LORD would lead all his people out of Egypt.

Verse 5: *Pharaoh did not know who the *LORD was. However, in the end, *Pharaoh and his people will know that God is the *LORD. The *Egyptians will have suffered from the *LORD’s powerful deeds. The *plagues will prove that the *LORD is more powerful than all the gods of Egypt. And the people there will see the departure of the *Israelites from their country.

Verses 6-7: Moses and Aaron carried out the tasks given to them by the *LORD. Aaron and Moses were of mature years. Aaron was 83 years old and Moses was 80 years old. In that society, people respected older people. Their age would help them in their tasks.

Aaron’s stick becomes a snake                   7:8-13

v8 The *LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron again. v9 ‘*Pharaoh will demand that you do a wonderful *sign. When *Pharaoh says that to you, Moses must say to Aaron, “Take your stick and throw it down in front of *Pharaoh. Then it will become a snake.” ’

v10 Then Moses and Aaron went to see *Pharaoh. And they did as the *LORD had ordered them. Aaron threw his stick down in front of *Pharaoh and his officials. And the stick became a snake. v11 Then *Pharaoh sent for his wise men and the men who used magic. And they did the same thing by means of their own secret and skilful ways. They made people believe lies. v12 Each of the men threw down his stick and it became a snake. But Aaron’s stick swallowed all their sticks. v13 However, *Pharaoh continued to behave as the *LORD had said. And he refused to listen to Moses and Aaron.

Verses 8-9: The *LORD warned Moses and Aaron that *Pharaoh would not believe in their authority. He would demand proof that God had sent them. The request seems to be reasonable. When that happened, Moses must speak to Aaron. He must tell Aaron to throw his stick down in front of *Pharaoh. The stick would become a snake.

In the *desert, when Moses threw his stick down, it became a snake. (See Exodus 4:2-15.) But the word we have here is different. The word here may mean a crocodile. Crocodiles are large fierce animals with long tails and they live in the River Nile. The *Egyptians *worshipped Ammut the crocodile-god. In addition, they *worshipped Sobek another god of crocodiles. This *sign would prove that God was greater than those *Egyptian gods.

Verse 10: So it happened. Moses and Aaron came in the name of the *LORD to *Pharaoh. They requested that he should allow the *Israelites to leave Egypt. *Pharaoh wanted to see proof that God had sent them. He demanded a *sign. Aaron threw his stick down in front of *Pharaoh and his officials. The stick became a snake.

The stick belonged to Moses in the *desert. It became God’s stick. (See Exodus 4:19-20.) Aaron had this stick. And he used it to do the tasks. Therefore, the text calls the stick Aaron’s stick. However, it was the same stick.

Verses 11-12: This *sign did not impress *Pharaoh. He sent for his wise men and the men who used magic. They each came with their special sticks. By their skill and magic, they did the same as Aaron. Each of them threw his stick down in front of *Pharaoh. Their sticks became snakes. These snakes probably covered the floor. However, Aaron’s snake swallowed up all the other snakes. All the wise men and those who did magic lost their sticks. Aaron took hold of his snake’s tail. It turned back into the stick that it was before. The *LORD proved that he was greater than those clever men.

Verse 13: The power of the *LORD did not persuade *Pharaoh to change his mind. He would not listen to Moses and Aaron.

The first *plague – water becomes blood             7:14-25

v14 Then the *LORD spoke to Moses again. ‘*Pharaoh will not give in. He refuses to let the people go. v15 Tomorrow morning, *Pharaoh will go to the River Nile. Go to the river’s edge and wait for him. Take with you your stick, which became a snake. v16 Then speak to him on my behalf. You must say this to *Pharaoh. “The *LORD, the *Hebrews’ God, has sent me to you. The *LORD says to you: Let my people go. They must *worship me in the *desert. But until now, you have not listened to me. v17 So this is what the *LORD says now. You will certainly know that I am the *LORD. I will hit the water in the River Nile with the stick that is in my hand. And the water will become blood. v18 All the fish in the River Nile will die, and the river will have a terrible smell. Then the *Egyptians will not be able to drink the water.” ’

v19 Then the *LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell this to Aaron. “Take your stick in your hand. And reach out that hand over all the water in Egypt.” All the water in Egypt will become blood. That includes the streams and the canals, and all the ponds and all the pools. There will be blood everywhere in Egypt. Even in the wooden buckets and in the jars there will be blood.’

v20 Moses and Aaron did what the *LORD had ordered them. Aaron raised his stick in front of *Pharaoh and his officials. Then he hit the water in the River Nile and all the water became blood. v21 The fish in the river died. And the smell from the river was so bad that the *Egyptians could not drink its water. There was blood everywhere in Egypt.

v22 But the *Egyptians who used magic, did the same things by means of their secret magic. So *Pharaoh would not give in to God. The *LORD had warned Moses and Aaron that *Pharaoh would not listen to them. v23 *Pharaoh turned round and he went back to his palace. Even this wonderful act did not change *Pharaoh’s attitude. v24 Then all the *Egyptians had to dig holes near the River Nile to get their water. They could not drink the bad water in the river.

v25 Then 7 days passed after the *LORD made the River Nile become blood.

Verses 14-15: The 10 powerful deeds that the *LORD would do we call the 10 *plagues. This section is about the first of those *plagues.

God told Moses to go with Aaron early in the morning to the River Nile. They must take with them the stick that had become a snake. The stick that became a snake refers back to Moses’ stick. (See Exodus 4:2-4.) And they must wait there until *Pharaoh with his officials came to that same place. The *LORD warned Moses that *Pharaoh would not listen to them. *Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not give in.

We do not know why *Pharaoh would go to the river. Maybe it was to *worship. The *Egyptians believed in Hapi, the god of the River Nile and Anuket, the female god of the Nile.

Verse 16: Moses and Aaron must speak to *Pharaoh as God’s agents. They must remind *Pharaoh that the *LORD had sent them. The *LORD was the *Hebrew’s God. The message was the same as before. The *Israelites must go and they must *worship their God in the *desert. Until this time, *Pharaoh had refused to listen. This was another chance for him to obey God.

Verse 17: *Pharaoh had protested, ‘I do not know the *LORD’. (See Exodus 5:2.) After this first *plague, he would certainly know who the *LORD was. Moses would strike the water with his stick. And God would change the water of the River Nile into blood.

The action of the agent is in effect the action of the chief. Here we read that the *LORD would strike the river. But Aaron struck the river with the stick. (See Exodus 7:19-20.) Later we read that Moses struck the river. (See Exodus 17:5.) Aaron was Moses’ agent and Moses was God’s agent.

To the *Egyptians, the River Nile was a god. The *LORD God would strike *Pharaoh’s god. That would show that the *LORD was more powerful than *Pharaoh’s god. The *LORD has power over all things.

Verse 18: Because of the change in the water, the fish would die. The river would smell. The smell would be the smell of blood. Soon after, there would be the smell of dead fish. The *Egyptians depended on the water from the river. It was vital for their agriculture and they drank from it. This *plague would make the water of no use for any purpose. And people would not be able to drink it.

Verses 19-21: Moses and Aaron obeyed the *LORD. Aaron took the stick and he struck the water of the River Nile. The water turned into blood. Then he reached his hand in the direction of other water. The change affected the streams that came off the Nile. There were canals that brought water to the fields for agriculture. They became full of blood. There were ponds, too. Many of those kept water from the Nile when it flooded. Each year, the Nile flooded and the *Egyptians depended on that water. The water in those ponds also turned to blood. Also, there were pools that the *Egyptians had made. They were to store water for domestic purposes. That water turned into blood too.

The fish died and the river smelled. It was so bad that the *Egyptians could not drink it.

Verses 22-24: In the main places where the *Egyptians got water, the water had turned into blood. Therefore, they had to dig down near the river to get fresh water. The *Egyptians who did magic were able to change some of this water into blood. Therefore, as the *LORD had said, *Pharaoh would not change his mind.

Probably they tried to turn blood back to water. If they did, then they failed to do so.

Verse 25: It was 7 days before the water in the River Nile became free from blood.

Chapter 8

The second *plague – *frogs               8:1-15

v1 Then the *LORD spoke to Moses. ‘Go to *Pharaoh and tell him this. “This is what the *LORD says to you: Let my people go. They must go and *worship me. v2 You may refuse to let them go. But then I will send animals called *frogs. And those *frogs will go everywhere in your whole country. v3 *Frogs will fill the River Nile and they will come into your palace. They will come into your bedroom and on your bed. And they will come into all the houses where your officials and your people live. They will go into your ovens and into the bowls where you make bread. v4 The *frogs will climb on you, and on your people and on all your officials.” ’

v5 The *LORD spoke to Moses again. ‘Say to Aaron, “Reach out your hand with your stick in it. Hold the stick over the streams, the canals and the ponds. Make *frogs come up on all the land in Egypt.” ’

v6 So they obeyed God. And Aaron reached out his hand with the stick over Egypt’s waters. Then *frogs came out from the water and they covered the country. v7 But the men who used magic did the same thing with their secret skills. They caused *frogs to come all over the country too.

v8 *Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron. ‘Pray to the *LORD for me’, he said. ‘Ask him to take the *frogs away from me and away from my people. Then I will let your people go. And you can give gifts to the *LORD.’

v9 Moses replied to *Pharaoh. ‘You may choose the time for me to pray. And I will pray for you and for your officials and for your people. I will ask the *LORD to send the *frogs away. He will make them leave you and your houses. Then *frogs will remain only in the River Nile.’

v10 ‘Do it tomorrow’, *Pharaoh said.

And Moses replied. ‘It will happen as you say. Then you will know that there is nobody like the *LORD our God. v11 The *frogs will leave you and your houses. They will leave your officials and your people. And they will remain only in the River Nile.’

v12 Moses and Aaron left *Pharaoh. Then Moses cried out to the *LORD about the *frogs. God had sent them to punish *Pharaoh. v13 But this time, the *LORD did what Moses asked him. So all the *frogs died. There were dead *frogs in the houses. They were in the gardens in front of the houses. They were in the fields also. v14 The *Egyptians gathered the *frogs into great piles. And the *frogs’ dead bodies caused a very bad smell over the whole country. v15 Then *Pharaoh saw that the *frogs were dead. So he became proud again. He would not give in. He would not listen to Moses and Aaron. It was as the *LORD had said.

Verse 1: The blood had gone after the 7 days. Probably in the next few days, the *LORD told Moses to go to *Pharaoh again. Probably *Pharaoh was in his palace. So they had to go there to meet with him. They had the same message to give to him. The *Israelites must go and they must *worship the *LORD. Therefore, *Pharaoh should let them go from Egypt.

Verse 2: Still *Pharaoh would not let the *Israelites go. Therefore, the *LORD would send *frogs all over Egypt. During the annual flood of the River Nile, there were always many *frogs. But in this *plague, the *LORD would send an enormous number of *frogs. They would not be just at the edge of the river. They would be all over the country.

Verses 3-4: The *frogs would be everywhere. This time the *LORD warned *Pharaoh that even he would suffer from this *plague. The River Nile would be full of *frogs. The *frogs would come in vast numbers from the river. They would go into the houses of the *Egyptians. Nobody would avoid the punishment. They would come into the palace and into the most private rooms. They would come into *Pharaoh’s bedroom and even into his bed. His officials would suffer in the same way. *Frogs would get into the food. They would jump and climb on *Pharaoh and on his people.

The *Egyptians *worshipped the female god Heket (or Heqt). She was the *frog-god. Sometimes she was in the shape of a *frog. And sometimes she seemed like a woman with a *frog’s head. They believed that she helped in the birth of children. The *LORD controlled the *frogs. This showed again that the *LORD was superior to the *Egyptian gods.

Verses 5-6: *Pharaoh did not obey the *LORD’s message. Therefore, the *LORD told Moses to speak to Aaron. Then Aaron held his stick over the river, the streams and other areas of water. Moses had warned *Pharaoh about *frogs from the River Nile. But this time the *frogs came from the streams, canals and ponds as well as the River Nile. They covered the country.

Verse 7: At first, *Pharaoh was not worried. He called his men who did magic. They managed to cover the country with *frogs. However, they could not stop the process. All they could do was to make the situation worse.

Verse 8: Moses and Aaron had left *Pharaoh in this awful situation. The proud *Pharaoh had no choice. He had to call Moses and Aaron to come back. He asked them to pray to the *LORD. At last, *Pharaoh had to admit that the *LORD was God. If their God removed the *frogs from him and his people, the *Israelites could go. They could give gifts to the *LORD.

Verses 9-11: Moses’ reply was bold and confident. He would pray for *Pharaoh, his officials and all the people. He would ask the *LORD to remove the *frogs. He was sure that the *LORD would answer his prayer. He had complete trust in the *LORD. The *LORD would send the *frogs away. They would leave all the places where they should not be. *Frogs would remain in their proper place in the River Nile. However, Moses let *Pharaoh set the time for this to happen. *Pharaoh asked for it to happen on the next day. We do not know why he did not ask for that same day. Probably the next day was the earliest practical time.

*Pharaoh would know that the *plague came from God. He would know that only God could remove the *frogs that quickly. He would know that God was more powerful than the *Egyptian gods.

Verse 12: Immediately after Moses and Aaron had left *Pharaoh, Moses started to pray. He asked the *LORD to remove the *frogs.

Verse 13: The *LORD did not remove the *frogs as Moses had asked. He had sent them to punish *Pharaoh. Therefore, in answer to Moses’ prayer he caused all the *frogs to die. They died where they were in houses and fields.

Verse 14: The people gathered the dead *frogs in heaps. The smell of the dead *frogs would have been awful.

Verse 15: As the *LORD had told Moses and Aaron, *Pharaoh would not obey. He would not let the *Israelites go. He saw that the *frogs were dead. The *plague had passed. *Pharaoh was the proud king again.

The purpose of these *plagues was not just to punish the *Egyptians. They would punish them for what they had done to God’s people. In addition to that, they would cause the *Israelites to grow in their trust in the *LORD. As they saw his powerful deeds, it would increase their trust in the *LORD and in Moses.

The third *plague – insects called *gnats             8:16-19

v16 Then the *LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron to reach out with his stick. He must hit the dust on the ground. And everywhere in Egypt the dust will become tiny insects called *gnats.’ v17 They obeyed God. So Aaron reached out his hand with the stick. And he hit the ground with the stick. Then *gnats flew onto the people and onto the animals. The dust everywhere in Egypt became *gnats. v18 So the men who used magic tried to produce these *gnats by means of their secret skills. But they failed. And the *gnats landed on both people and animals.

v19 Then the men who used magic spoke to *Pharaoh. ‘God has done this’, they said. But *Pharaoh would not give in to God. He would not listen, exactly as the *LORD had said.

Verses 16-17: This time the *LORD did not warn *Pharaoh or his officials. *Pharaoh deserved this because of his false promise. He had said that he would let the *Israelites go. But he would not do so. As the *LORD told Moses, Aaron hit the dust on the ground with his stick. Everywhere dust became tiny insects called *gnats. These little insects flew onto the people and onto the animals. The insects would bite or they might sting the people and the animals.

Verses 18-19: This time *Pharaoh’s men could not imitate Aaron. They could not cause *gnats to come from the dust. Those who did magic tried all their secret ways. They failed. And they had to agree that God had defeated them. They realised this time that the *plague of the *gnats was from God. They said that God had done it. They worked by means of the evil powers behind their gods. In effect, they confessed that God was greater than all the powers of their gods.

They told *Pharaoh but he would not believe it. He would not listen.

The 4th *plague – flies                 8:20-32

v20 Then the *LORD said to Moses, ‘Get up early tomorrow morning. And speak to *Pharaoh as he goes down to the river. Make him listen to this message from me. “The *LORD says this to you, *Pharaoh: Let my people go. They must go to *worship me. v21 And you must let my people go. If you do not allow that, I will send flies to your country like a great cloud. The flies will land on you, on your officials and on your people. I will fill all the *Egyptian houses with flies. And the flies will crawl all over the ground where you live.

v22 But on the same day, it will be different in the region called Goshen. That is where my people live. And I will not send flies in clouds to Goshen. Then you will know that I am in this country. I am the *LORD. v23 I will not deal in the same way with my people and with your people. This wonderful *sign will happen tomorrow.” ’

v24 And the *LORD did as he had told *Pharaoh. Flies, in thick clouds, flew into *Pharaoh’s palace. And they flew into his officials’ houses. Everywhere in Egypt, the flies ruined the country. v25 Then *Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron. ‘Go!’ *Pharaoh said to them. ‘You must give gifts to your God, but you must not leave this country.’

v26 Moses replied to *Pharaoh. ‘No, that would not be right. The *Egyptians would hate to see us give our gifts to the *LORD, our God. *Egyptians would think that we are insulting their gods. Then they would throw stones at us to kill us. v27 We must go for a journey of three days into the *desert. The *LORD, our God, has ordered us to do that. There, we can give our gifts to him.’

v28 *Pharaoh said. ‘I will let you go into the *desert to give your gifts to the *LORD, your God. But you must not go very far. Now pray to the *LORD on our behalf.’

v29 Moses answered, ‘As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the *LORD. And tomorrow the flies will leave you. The flies will leave your officials and your people too. But be sure that you are not telling lies to us again. You must not refuse to let the people go now. They must go and they must give their gifts to the *LORD.’

v30 Then Moses left *Pharaoh. And Moses prayed to the *LORD. v31 And the *LORD did what Moses asked for. The flies left *Pharaoh and his people. Not one fly remained. v32 But *Pharaoh became proud again and he would not give in. So he would not let the people go.

Verses 20-21: Early in the morning, *Pharaoh would go down to the River Nile. The *LORD told Moses and Aaron to get up early. He told them that they must go. And they must speak to *Pharaoh. This time the *LORD warned *Pharaoh about the *plague of flies. The message was the same. *Pharaoh must let the *Israelites go. The *LORD’s people must go from Egypt to *worship him.

If *Pharaoh would not obey, the *LORD would punish him and his people. He would send a *plague of flies. The flies would be everywhere in their houses, on the ground and on the people.

The word ‘flies’ may mean a mixture of flying insects. These might carry diseases and they might even bite people and animals.

Verses 22-23: The *plague would not affect the region called Goshen. The *Israelites lived there and so they would not suffer this *plague. That would teach the *Egyptians that the *LORD was with the *Israelites. It would prove to the *Egyptians and to the *Israelites that the *LORD was with his people. The *Israelites were God’s special people. The *Egyptians would suffer the *plagues but the *Israelites would not do so.

The *plague of flies would happen the next day unless *Pharaoh obeyed. However, his heart was hard and he would not obey. He would not let the *Israelites go from Egypt.

When Joseph’s family first came to Egypt, they spoke to the *Pharaoh. They asked him to let them live in Goshen. The *Pharaoh agreed. He said that Goshen was the best part of the country. It was a good area for them to keep their sheep and goats in. Joseph took them to Goshen in the district called Rameses. (See Genesis 47:3-11.) We do not know where that district was. Probably it was east of the area where the River Nile reaches the sea.

Verse 24: Moses and Aaron did what the *LORD told them. The next day the *LORD sent thick clouds of flies all over Egypt. They went into the palace and into the officials’ houses as well.

Verses 25-26: *Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron to come to him. *Pharaoh agreed that the *Israelites could make *sacrifices to their God. However, he would not let them leave Egypt. Moses replied that that would not be right. The *Israelites would *sacrifice sheep and goats to the *LORD. The *Egyptian people would think that this was an insult to their gods. They would see what the *Israelites did. And they would throw stones at them to kill them.

To *sacrifice a *bull would offend their belief in the gods Apis, Mnevis and Amen-Ehe. To *sacrifice any cow would offend their belief in the gods Osiris, Atum, Ptah, and Isis. To *sacrifice a male sheep would offend their belief in the god Amon.

Verse 27: Moses insisted that the *Israelites must obey God. They must go three days’ journey in the *desert. There they must make *sacrifices to the *LORD.

Verse 28: *Pharaoh agreed to Moses’ argument. He would let them go into the *desert to make their *sacrifices to the *LORD. However, they could not go as far as the three days’ journey. He asked Moses to pray to *LORD. He wanted him to ask the *LORD to remove the flies.

Verse 29: Moses replied that he would leave *Pharaoh. Moses, not *Pharaoh, was in control of the situation. He agreed to pray to the *LORD. He was confident that the *LORD would answer his prayer. Tomorrow the flies would go. However, he warned *Pharaoh not to change his mind this time. *Pharaoh had done that before but he must not do it again. The *Israelites must go to *sacrifice to the *LORD.

Verses 30-31: Moses left *Pharaoh and he did pray. Then the *LORD removed all the flies.

Verse 32: But when the flies had gone, *Pharaoh changed his mind. He was a proud king. He would not obey any God. He would not let those people go.

Chapter 9

The 5th *plague – animals get diseases and they die 9:1-7

v1 Then the *LORD said to Moses, ‘Go to *Pharaoh and tell this to him. “This is what the *LORD, the *Hebrews’ God, says to you: Let my people go. They must go and *worship me. v2 Do not refuse to let them go. Do not prevent them. v3 If you refuse, the *LORD’s power will bring a terrible disease. The disease will come on your animals in the fields. He will bring a terrible disease on your horses, on your *donkeys, and on your camels. And he will bring a terrible disease on your cows, on your sheep and on your goats. v4 But the *LORD will make a difference between the *Israelites’ animals and the *Egyptians’ animals. So none of the *Israelites’ animals will die.” ’

v5 Also the *LORD told Moses the time when the *plague would begin. ‘Tomorrow I will send it on the country’, he said. v6 And the next day the *LORD sent the terrible disease. All the *Egyptians’ animals died. However, not one of the *Israelites’ animals died. v7 Then *Pharaoh sent men to find out about it. They discovered the facts. Not even one of the *Israelites’ animals had died. But *Pharaoh was too proud to give in. So he would not let the *Israelite people go.

Verses 1-2: The *LORD sent Moses to *Pharaoh again. Moses (or Aaron) must tell *Pharaoh what the *LORD said. This was not a request. It was an order from the *LORD God of the *Hebrews. *Pharaoh, you must let my people go. My people must go to *worship me. *Pharaoh, you must not refuse. You must not prevent them.

Verses 3-4: If Pharaoh refused, the animals of the *Egyptians would suffer a terrible disease. They would die. That would show the *LORD’s power against them. The farmers in Egypt depended on their animals for meat and milk. They used animals for agriculture and transport. The loss of the animals would be terrible for them.

None of the *Israelites’ animals would get this disease. None of their animals would die. That would be because the *LORD would send the disease only on the *Egyptians’ animals.

Verses 5-6: *Pharaoh must decide what he would do. The *LORD gave him until the next day to do that. Then the *LORD would send the *plague upon the animals. That is what happened. As the disease spread, the animals died. The word ‘all’ here means a large number and not every animal. Maybe the animals that were not in the fields did not die as a result of the *plague. However, none of the *Israelite animals got this disease. Therefore, none of them died.

Again, this *plague showed that the *LORD was greater than the *Egyptian gods. They *worshipped several gods that animals were important to.

Verse 7: *Pharaoh heard that none of the *Israelite animals had died because of the *plague. He sent men to check. They found that it was true. Even after that, *Pharaoh would not obey God. He was too proud. He was the king. And he thought that he was in control. He would not let the *Israelites go.

The 6th *plague – *boils on people and on animals    9:8-12

v8 Then the *LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Fill your hands with ashes. Get the ashes from the fire where you burn bricks. Moses must throw the ashes into the air while *Pharaoh is watching him. v9 The ashes will blow like dust over all the land in Egypt. And the dust will cause painful *boils to appear. They will appear on people and on animals everywhere in Egypt.’

v10 So Moses and Aaron took ashes from the fire and they stood in front of *Pharaoh. Moses threw the ashes into the air. Then painful *boils appeared on the *Egyptians and on their animals. v11 The men who did magic could not stand in front of Moses because of the *boils. The painful *boils were on them and on all the *Egyptians.

v12 But the *LORD made *Pharaoh continue to be proud. *Pharaoh would not give in. So he would not listen to Moses and Aaron. Everything happened as the *LORD had told Moses.

Verses 8-9: The *LORD did not warn *Pharaoh about this next *plague. The *LORD told Moses and Aaron to fill their hands with ash from the brick-ovens. The *Egyptians forced the *Israelite slaves to make bricks. They left most of the bricks in the sun. The sun would bake the bricks. However, they baked some bricks by fire in ovens. The ash from the ovens would remind *Pharaoh that the *Israelites were his slaves.

Moses and Aaron must take the ash to where *Pharaoh was. Probably they put the ash in a box. Moses must throw the ash into the air while *Pharaoh watched him. The ash would blow in the wind over a wide area. However, the *LORD would send dust all over Egypt. That dust would cause awful *boils on both people and animals. Those *boils would break open and they would cause awful pain.

Verses 10-12: Moses and Aaron did what God had told them. Moses threw the ash into the air. Painful *boils came on the *Egyptians and on their animals. The *boils were all over their bodies.

Those men who did magic could not avoid this *plague. Even they had to suffer these painful *boils. It was so bad that they could not stand in front of Moses because of the pain. We do not read any more about these men. The *LORD had defeated them and their gods.

*Pharaoh was proud and he would not give in. He had made his heart hard after the first 5 *plagues. He was still proud and he would not obey. Therefore, the *LORD made his heart hard. *Pharaoh would remain proud and hard until the *LORD had finished the last of the *plagues.

The 7th *plague – *thunder and *hail           9:13-35

v13 Then the *LORD said to Moses, ‘Get up early in the morning. Make *Pharaoh listen to you. You must tell him this message. “This is what the *LORD, the *Hebrews’ God, says to you: Let my people go. They must go and *worship me. v14 I will send the entire force of my *plagues against you this time. I will punish you, your officials, and all your people. Then you will know that there is nobody like me in the whole world. v15 I could have killed you already. I could have punished you and your people with a *plague. I could have removed you completely from the earth. v16 But I let you live. And I am showing my power to you. I want people everywhere on earth to give honour to my name.

v17 You have decided to oppose my people. Still you will not let them go. v18 So at this time tomorrow I will send a very bad storm of *hail. It will be the worst storm of *hail ever to fall on Egypt. There has never been a worse storm in all its history. v19 Order your people now. All your animals and everything else that you have outside in the fields must come in. Bring them all into your shelters. The *hail will fall on every person. And it will fall on every animal that is still outside in the fields. Then they will die.” You must warn *Pharaoh about this.’

v20 Some of *Pharaoh’s officials respected what the *LORD had said. So they hurried to bring their slaves and their animals inside. v21 But other people did not listen to what the *LORD had said. So they left their slaves and their animals outside in the fields.

v22 Then the *LORD said to Moses, ‘Reach out your hand towards the sky. Then *hail will fall all over Egypt. It will fall on men and on animals. And it will fall on everything that is growing in the *Egyptians’ fields.’

v23 Then Moses reached out with his stick towards the sky. And the *LORD sent *thunder and *hail. And he sent flashes of lightning that reached down to the ground. So the *LORD sent *hail everywhere in Egypt. v24 *Hail fell and the flashes of lightning hit the ground from all directions. It was the worst storm in the nation’s entire history. v25 All over Egypt, *hail hit all the men and the animals in the fields. It broke down everything that was growing in the fields. And it tore all the leaves off the trees. v26 The only place where it did not rain *hail was in Goshen. And that was the region where the *Israelites lived.

v27 Then *Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron. He said to them, ‘This time I have *sinned. The *LORD has done what is right. And, my people and I have done wrong things. v28 Pray to the *LORD on our behalf. We have had enough *thunder and *hail. I will let you go now. You do not have to stay here.’

v29 Then Moses replied to *Pharaoh. ‘When I have left the city, I will pray’, he said. ‘I will raise my hands and I will pray to the *LORD. The loud noise will stop and no more *hail will fall. So then, you will know that the earth belongs to the *LORD. v30 But I am certain that you and your officials still do not respect the *LORD God.’

v31 The *barley was ripe and there were flowers on the *flax. So the *hail had destroyed both those crops. v32 But the wheat and the crop called spelt become ripe later. So the *hail did not destroy them.

v33 Then Moses left *Pharaoh and Moses went outside the city. He raised his hands and he prayed to the *LORD. The *thunder and the *hail stopped. And rain did not pour down on the country. v34 *Pharaoh saw that the storm had stopped. So he *sinned because he and his officials became proud again. v35 And *Pharaoh would not give in. Still he would not let the *Israelites go. Moses had told them what the *LORD had said. And it happened like that.

Verses 13-14: Another early morning start for Moses as in the first and 4th *plagues. He must meet *Pharaoh and he must make *Pharaoh hear the message. The message was the same as before. However, this time the *LORD would punish *Pharaoh and his people with a series of awful *plagues. These *plagues would be much worse than the previous ones. This 7th *plague would be the first one that would kill people.

*Pharaoh had said that he did not know the *LORD. The result of these *plagues would be that he would know about the *LORD. He would know that there is no god or person like the *LORD. The *LORD God was superior to every god including all the *Egyptian gods.

Verses 15-16: The *LORD had given to *Pharaoh and his people the opportunity to save themselves. They could have obeyed the *LORD at any time. The previous *plagues warned them that they must free the *Israelites. But they had refused to do so. The *LORD had been patient with them. He could have sent one *plague and killed *Pharaoh and all his people. However, the *LORD kept them alive.

With these *plagues, the *LORD would show his power to them. And people all over the world would know about his powerful deeds. His purpose was that all people should give honour to his name. (See Romans 9:16-17.)

Verses 17-18: After the first 6 *plagues, *Pharaoh was still too proud and he would not change. He was against God’s people *Israel. He would not let them go from his country. Therefore, God said that on the next day he would rain down very heavy *hail. The storm would be very terrible. It would be the worst storm that there had ever been in Egypt.

Verse 19: God told *Pharaoh that he must speak to his people. He must tell his people to be ready. The people who believed would obey. They would take their animals and their slaves under the shelter of their sheds. The people would go into their houses. Those people and their animals would be safe. However, the people that did not believe would not obey the advice. They and their animals would remain out in the fields. The *hail would be so large and so heavy that it would kill those people and their animals. God sent the storm.

Verses 20-21: Very little rain falls in Upper Egypt. And maybe about 10 inches each year fall in Lower Egypt. The talk of a storm of this type would be hard to believe.

Among *Pharaoh’s officials, some did believe what God had said. Those people acted in a hurry to bring in their animals and their slaves. Many other officials did not believe. Therefore, they left their animals and their slaves outside.

This storm happened in January or February. At that time, the *flax and *barley would be almost ready to harvest. The animals would be in the fields during January to April. From May, they would be in shelters to protect them from the heat.

Verses 22-25: The next day, the *LORD told Moses to raise his hand toward the sky. Moses, not Aaron, raised the stick. As the *LORD said, *hail fell over Egypt. It came with *thunder and lightning. The lightning came down and it ran along the ground like balls of fire.

The *hail hit people and animals in the fields. It destroyed what was growing in the fields. That included the crops of *flax and *barley. Even the trees suffered. The storm stripped their leaves. The storm ruined the agriculture of the country.

Many people and animals suffered. And they died because of the *hail and the lightning.

Verse 26: The storm did not come into Goshen where the *Israelites lived. *Israel’s God kept his people safe from the storm.

Verses 27-28: *Pharaoh asked Moses and Aaron to come to him. For the first time, *Pharaoh admitted that he and his people were wrong. They deserved all that the *LORD had done to them. The *LORD had hurt them and they wanted some relief.

He asked Moses to pray that the *thunder and the *hail would stop. And he promised to let the *Israelites go.

Verse 29: Moses told *Pharaoh that he would pray. He would do it when he got away from the city. The *LORD would answer his prayer. The *thunder and *hail would stop. The *LORD would do it because the whole earth belongs to him.

The *Egyptians believed that different gods had control of different parts of the earth. Moses told *Pharaoh that the *LORD God controls all of it.

Verse 30: Moses did not believe *Pharaoh. *Pharaoh and his officials would not let the *Israelites go. And they still had no fear of the *LORD God. Moses knew that. He agreed to pray so that *Pharaoh could have no excuse.

Verses 31-32: The *Egyptians sowed *barley in about August. It would be ready for harvest in February. The *flax would have flowers in January. They sowed wheat and the similar crop called spelt. But those two crops would not be ready for harvest until a couple of months later. The storm was probably in January or February. It destroyed the *barley and the *flax. It did not damage the other two crops, because the plants were still small.

*Flax was an important plant in Egypt. They made cloth from it. They used *barley to make cheap bread for poor people and food for animals. They made the best bread from wheat.

Verses 33-35: Moses prayed and the *LORD stopped the *hail and *thunder. *Pharaoh saw that. The danger had passed. His fear had gone. He and his officials changed their minds again. They would not let the *Israelites go from Egypt.

Chapter 10

The 8th *plague – *locusts                   10:1-20

v1 Then the *LORD said to Moses, ‘Go to *Pharaoh. I have caused him to be proud. And I have caused his officials to be proud too. They will not give in to me. Therefore, I will do terrible things among them as wonderful *signs. v2 Then you can tell your children and your grandchildren how I punished the *Egyptians. Tell them how I did these wonderful acts among the *Egyptians. Then everyone will know that I am the *LORD.’

v3 So Moses and Aaron went to *Pharaoh and they said to him, ‘This is what the *LORD, the God of the *Hebrews, says to you. “You are refusing to respect me. You must let my people go. Then they can *worship me. v4 If you refuse to obey me, I will bring *locusts into your country tomorrow. v5 Those terrible insects will cover the ground so that nobody can see it. The *hail has not left much in your fields. But the *locusts will eat it all. They will eat every green thing, and that includes every tree in your fields. v6 They will fill your palace and your officials’ houses. And they will fill all the *Egyptians’ houses. Your parents and your people before them have lived here for a very long time. But they have never seen anything like this will be.” ’ Then Moses turned away and they left *Pharaoh.

v7 Then *Pharaoh’s officials spoke to him. ‘This man will continue to cause trouble for us’, they said. ‘Let the men go. Let them *worship the *LORD their God. Surely you can see how their God has ruined Egypt.’

v8 So the officials brought Moses and Aaron back to *Pharaoh. *Pharaoh said to them, ‘Go. *Worship the *LORD your God. But who will be going?’

v9 Moses answered him. ‘All of us will go. We will take our young people and our old people. We will go with our sons and our daughters. And we need our animals for a special *feast. So we will take all our sheep, all our goats, and all our cows. We must have a special *feast together to give honour to the *LORD.’

v10 Then *Pharaoh replied. ‘You will certainly need the *LORD to be with you! I will never let you go with your women and children! I am sure that you intend to do some evil thing. v11 No! Only the men can go and *worship the *LORD. That was what you requested!’ And *Pharaoh forced Moses and Aaron to leave him.

v12 Then the *LORD spoke to Moses again. ‘Reach out your hand towards Egypt. Then *locusts will cover the country. And they will eat everything that is growing in the fields. They will eat everything that remains after the *hail.’

v13 So Moses reached out with his stick towards Egypt. And the *LORD caused a wind to blow from the east. The wind blew across the country all that day and all that night. When the morning came, the wind had brought the *locusts. v14 They came into every part of Egypt. Many *locusts landed in every part of the country. There had never been so many *locusts there before. And never again will there be so many. v15 The *locusts covered the ground so that it seemed black. They ate every green thing that remained after the *hail. They ate everything that was growing in the fields. And they ate all the fruit on the trees. No green thing remained on the plants or on the trees anywhere in Egypt.

v16 *Pharaoh sent quickly for Moses and Aaron. ‘I have *sinned against the *LORD your God and against you’, he said. v17 ‘Now forgive my *sin once more. Pray to the *LORD your God to take this death away from me.’

v18 Moses left *Pharaoh and Moses prayed to the *LORD. v19 And the *LORD changed the wind. Then a very strong wind blew from the west. It carried away all the *locusts to the Red Sea. No *locusts remained anywhere in Egypt. v20 But the *LORD caused *Pharaoh to become proud again. So he still would not let the *Israelites go.

Verse 1: *Pharaoh and his officials were still proud. They had decided that they would not give in to the *LORD. Therefore, the *LORD made their hearts hard. The *LORD told Moses that he would do terrible deeds among them. Those awful deeds would prove to the *Egyptians that the *LORD was more powerful than any god or man.

The *Israelites too would learn this lesson. They must tell their children and their grandchildren what the *LORD had done. The *LORD punished the *Egyptians because of what they had done to God’s people in Egypt.

Then the *Egyptians and the *Israelites would know that he is the *LORD.

Verses 3-4: Moses and Aaron took the message from the *LORD to *Pharaoh. Still *Pharaoh was refusing to fear God. But he must let the *Israelites leave Egypt. They must *worship the *LORD their God. If *Pharaoh did not let them go, the *LORD would send another *plague. The next day the *LORD would send *locusts.

Verses 5-6: These terrible insects would attack the land like an enormous army. They would be like an immense cloud as they descended on the ground. There would be so many that they would cover the ground all over Egypt. Even today people in many countries in the east fear a *plague of *locusts. However, this *plague that God would send would be much worse than a normal *plague. There had never been a *plague as large and as dense as this one.

The *hail had damaged much of the crops in the field. The *locusts would eat what the *hail had left. That would include the wheat. They would eat every green thing. They would strip the trees bare. There would be nothing left for food in the fields. The *hail and the *locusts would have destroyed all the agriculture in Egypt. Also, the *locusts would get into the palace and into the houses.

When they had finished, Moses and Aaron turned their backs on *Pharaoh. And they left him.

This kind of *locust was a large, spotted, red and black insect and it had double wings. It was about three inches long. Its two back legs were like springs of immense strength.

Verse 7: *Pharaoh’s officials were loyal to him. Therefore, they blamed the *plagues on Moses. However at last they realised that the *Hebrews’ God had ruined Egypt. The *hail had caused the death of many people and animals. It had destroyed the *flax and the *barley crops. If *locusts came, that would destroy the whole of their agriculture. Then they would not be able to produce any food that year.

Their advice to *Pharaoh was, ‘Let the *Israelite men go. Let them *worship their God.’

Verse 8: *Pharaoh listened to his officials. So, they brought Moses and Aaron back to him. He wanted to bargain with them. He told Moses that they could go to *worship the *LORD their God. But he asked how many of the *Israelites would go. He expected them to go on a three days’ journey. Then he would expect them to return. He would allow some of them to go.

Verse 9: Moses and Aaron were not willing to bargain with *Pharaoh. Moses told him that all the *Israelites would go. There was no doubt that in the end they would all go. That included women and children. In addition, they would take with them all their animals. All *Israel must make the journey because all *Israel must *worship the *LORD. That must include the young persons, the old persons, the males and the females.

Verses 10-11: *Pharaoh refused to agree to what Moses said. ‘You will certainly need the *LORD to be with you!’ he said. In modern talk that would be ‘God help you.’ He would never let the women and children go. Only the adult men could go. That would be enough for the purposes of their religion. He guessed that Moses might not intend to return. The women and children still in Egypt would mean that the men must return.

He suspected that Moses and his people had secret plans. He did not believe that it would be only three days.

He ordered that his officials throw Moses and Aaron out of the palace.

Verses 12-15: The *LORD ordered the *plague to begin. Moses stretched out his hand and his stick over Egypt. An east wind blew across the country. It blew for a whole day and a night and the wind brought the *locusts.

They came like waves into every part of Egypt. They were like a heavy cloud over all the land. They came down and they covered the ground. There had never before been so many *locusts. They ate everything that the *hail had not destroyed. After the *locusts, there was no wheat or other crops left. They had stripped all of the leaves and fruit from the trees.

Verses 16-17: *Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron to come as quickly as possible to him. Again, he confessed that he was wrong. He had *sinned against the *LORD and against Moses and Aaron. He pretended that this was it. He would not change his mind again. He asked that they would forgive him. The *locusts would be the cause of the death of many people. He asked Moses and Aaron to pray that God would remove this death from him.

Verses 18-20: Moses and Aaron did pray. The *LORD heard their prayer and he answered it. He changed the direction of the wind. He sent a very strong wind. The wind carried away all the *locusts from Egypt.

The *LORD caused *Pharaoh to become proud again. *Pharaoh changed his mind. He would not let the *Israelites go.

The 9th *plague – darkness                 10:21-29

v21 Then the *LORD said to Moses, ‘Reach with your hand towards the sky. Then darkness will spread over Egypt. It will be so dark that people can feel it.’ v22 So Moses reached with his hand towards the sky. Then complete darkness covered all Egypt for three days. v23 Nobody saw anyone else. And nobody went anywhere for three days. But all the *Israelites had light in the place where they lived.

v24 Then *Pharaoh sent for Moses again. ‘Go and *worship the *LORD’, he said. ‘Even your women and your children can go with you. But you must leave your sheep, your goats and your cows here.’

v25 And Moses answered him. ‘You must allow us to take the animals. We need gifts to give to the *LORD our God. v26 Not one animal can remain here. We have to use some of the animals when we *worship the *LORD our God. And we will not know which animals we must use. We will not know that until we arrive.’

v27 But the *LORD caused *Pharaoh to become proud again. So he would not let them go.

v28 *Pharaoh said to Moses, ‘Get out of my sight! Make sure that you do not appear in front of me again. If you see my face again, you will die.’

v29 ‘Just as you say’, Moses replied. ‘I will never appear in front of you again.’

Verses 21-22: The *LORD did not warn *Pharaoh about the 9th *plague. At God’s order, Moses raised his hand toward the sky. God sent a strange darkness upon the whole of Egypt. The sun could not shine through the darkness. The darkness was so bad that the people could feel it. The darkness probably frightened them. It lasted over all Egypt for three days.

By this act, the *LORD God showed again that he was superior to the *Egyptian gods. The sun could not shine through the darkness. The *LORD was superior to Ra, their sun-god and Aten, their god of the sun’s shape. The sky was black with darkness. The *LORD was superior to Horus and Nut, the *Egyptians’ gods of the sky.

Verse 23: Because they could not see, nobody went anywhere. However, the darkness did not affect the area where the *Israelites lived.

Verse 24: After the three days of darkness, *Pharaoh again sent for Moses. *Pharaoh tried again to limit the departure of the *Israelites. The *Israelites could go to *worship the *LORD. The women and children could go as well. However, their animals must remain in Egypt. That would mean that the *Israelites would have to come back.

Verses 25-26: Moses would not agree to Pharaoh’s idea. He told *Pharaoh that all their animals must go with them. Some of those animals would be *sacrifices to the *LORD. Until they were there, they would not know which ones.

The *Israelites needed to take their animals. They would depend on them for milk and meat. There would not be much in the *desert to provide food for such a large number of people.

Verses 27-29: The *LORD had one more *plague for the *Egyptians. He let *Pharaoh become hard and proud again. *Pharaoh would not allow the *Israelites go. He became very angry with Moses. He told Moses to go. And he told him that he should not come to him again. If he saw Moses again, he would kill him. Moses agreed to what *Pharaoh said. He agreed that he would not come to *Pharaoh again.

*Pharaoh did not think about his situation. He should have realised that the *LORD would send more punishment on him and his people. He might need to send for Moses again.

Before he went, Moses told *Pharaoh about the 10th and final *plague. There is a break in the story and it continues in verse 4 of the next chapter.

Chapter 11

The 10th *plague – death of *Egyptian sons                 11:1-10

v1 The *LORD told Moses. ‘I will bring one more *plague on *Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you and your people go away from here. And he will force you away completely. v2 Tell all the *Israelite men and women to ask their *Egyptian neighbours for silver and gold objects.’ v3 Then the *LORD caused the *Egyptians to be kind to the *Israelites. *Pharaoh’s officials and his people respected Moses as an important leader.

v4 So Moses spoke to the king once more. ‘This is what the *LORD says to you. “At about midnight I will go through the whole country called Egypt. v5 Every *Egyptian’s oldest son will die.” You are the king who sits on the royal seat. But your oldest son will die. And the female slave, who makes wheat into flour, her oldest son will die too. And all your male animals that were born first to their mothers will die. v6 Everyone will cry. They will make a very loud noise everywhere in Egypt. They will weep more than ever before. And nothing like this will ever happen again. v7 But it will be quiet among the *Israelites. There, nobody will even hear a domestic animal bark at any man or at any other animal. Then you will know that the *LORD makes a difference between the *Egyptians and the *Israelites. v8 All your officials will come to me. They will show that they respect me. “Go and take your people with you”, they will say to me. “Go with all the people who follow you!” And after that I will leave.’

Moses was very angry as he left *Pharaoh.

v9 The *LORD had told Moses. ‘*Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you. So I will increase my wonderful acts in Egypt.’ v10 Moses and Aaron had done all those wonderful *signs in front of *Pharaoh. But the *LORD caused *Pharaoh to be very proud. So he did not listen and he would not give in. He would not let the *Israelites go away from his country.

Verse 1: In the end, *Pharaoh would force the *Israelites to go from Egypt. Moses knew that. (See Exodus 3:19-20; 6:1.) In addition, he knew that they would go out with many possessions. (See Exodus 3:21-22.) Therefore, he knew that the 9th plague would not be the last one. Probably he also knew that this 10th *plague would be the last one. He knew about this *plague because the *LORD had told him about it. (See Exodus 4:22-23.)

*Pharaoh had tried to reduce the effect of the *Israelite departure. This time there would be no limit. He would be eager to send them away. He would force them to go.

Verses 2-3: The *Israelite men and women must ask their *Egyptian neighbours for valuable things. In addition to silver and gold, they would ask for clothing. (See Exodus 3:22.) Clothing was a valuable possession in those days. Most people could not afford to buy many clothes.

The *LORD had caused the *Egyptians to change their attitudes toward the *Israelite. They had been very unkind to their *Israelite slaves. But, by this time, they thought about them as if they were friends. They gave to the *Israelites what they asked.

*Pharaoh and his servants had seen how Moses acted. He had impressed them with his wisdom and his power. *Pharaoh, his officials and the people had learned to respect Moses. They recognised him as the leader of the *Israelites.

The *Israelites would have prepared for the *exodus. There was a lot to do. When the time came, they were ready. But they knew the exact time for their departure only a few hours before.

Verses 4-5: Moses told *Pharaoh about the 10th *plague. At about midnight, the *LORD would march through Egypt. He would cause every oldest son in Egypt to die. That would include *Pharaoh’s oldest son. In addition, the first to be born of their animals would die. At about midnight it would happen. He does not say which day that would be. The *Israelites may have had several days to prepare for the *Passover and the *exodus.

Verses 6-7: Every *Egyptian family would cry aloud because they had lost their sons. It would be a very awful time for them all. But where the *Israelites lived, it would be quiet. Nobody among them would die.

The *Egyptians would know the power of the *LORD. And they would see that the *LORD makes a difference between them and the *Israelites.

Verse 8: The *Egyptian officials, who by this time respected Moses, would come to him. They would ask him to go. And they would ask him to take the *Israelites out of Egypt. Then Moses says that he would leave.

*Pharaoh was angry with Moses. And he had made Moses very angry. Then Moses left *Pharaoh.

Verses 9-10: The *LORD had told Moses several times that *Pharaoh would not let the *Israelites go. No amount of evidence would persuade *Pharaoh’s hard heart to change. Not all the wonderful *signs could change his mind. He was proud and he made his heart hard. After a time, the *LORD caused *Pharaoh to continue to be hard. Until the final *plague, *Pharaoh would not let the *Israelites go.

Chapter 12

Instructions for the *Passover             12:1-20

v1 The *LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in Egypt. v2 ‘This month will be the first month for you’, he said to them. ‘It will be the first month of your year. v3 Speak to all the *Israelites. Tell them that on day 10 of this month each man must choose a young male sheep or goat. He must choose it for his family to eat. Choose one animal for each home. v4 Perhaps there are not enough people in one home to eat a whole animal. Then they must share the animal with their nearest neighbours. They must count the people in their homes. And they must be sure that everyone can eat some of this meat. v5 The animal that you choose must be male. And it must be one year old. It must be a perfect young sheep or a perfect young goat. v6 Each family must take care of their animal until the evening of day 14 in the month. Then they must kill the animal while it is getting dark. v7 They must save some of the animal’s blood. And they must paint that blood on the top and on the side of the door’s beams. That is the door of the house where you eat the animal.

v8 That same night they must cook the meat over the fire. They should eat the meat with plants that have a bitter taste. Also they must eat bread that they make without *yeast. v9 Do not eat the meat when it is raw. And do not cook it in water. You must cook the entire animal over the fire. You must include the head, the legs and the inside parts. v10 Eat all of it that you want. But if you leave any of it until the next morning, you must burn it. v11 You must eat it in this way: You must be ready to travel. You must dress and you must fasten your belts round your coats. You must wear something on your feet. And you should have your sticks in your hands. Eat the meal quickly. This meal is the *LORD’s *Passover.

v12 On that same night I will pass through Egypt. I will kill everybody’s oldest son. And I will kill every male animal that is born first. That will be my punishment on all Egypt’s false gods. I am the *LORD. v13 The blood will be like a sign on your houses. It will show me where you live. So when I see the blood, I will pass over you. I will punish Egypt, but no terrible *plague will touch you.

v14 This is a day that you must remember. You must respect this day for all time. You and your children must remember this day each year. It will be a special day to give honour to the *LORD. This is a law that will last for all time. v15 For 7 days you must eat bread that you make without *yeast. On the first day, remove every kind of *yeast from your houses. And for all 7 days, nobody must eat anything with *yeast in it. If they do, they cannot be a member of *Israel’s people. v16 On the first day, meet together to *worship me. Then meet together again on the 7th day. Do not do any work on those two days. However, you can prepare food for everyone to eat on those days.

v17 Do that every year. And call it “the *Feast when we eat bread without *yeast”. Then you will remember this day. I brought you away from Egypt in your families on this day. This is a law for all the future. v18 Always begin this time on the evening of day 14 of the first month. Continue until the evening of day 21. During that time, eat only bread without *yeast. v19 For 7 days you must have no *yeast in your houses. And anyone who eats anything with *yeast in it cannot remain as a member of your nation. This rule is the same for the foreigners who live with you and for *Israelites. v20 Do not eat anything that contains *yeast for those 7 days. Wherever you live, you must eat flat bread without *yeast.’

Verses 1-2: This month would be the first month to the *Israelites. It was the month Abib (or Nisan). That month is March to April. (See Exodus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:1.) That month was the start of the year for the *Jewish religion. Abib means the new ripe corn.

The political New Year started with the month Ethanim (or Tishri). That month is September to October. Ethanim is the 7th month in the year. (See 1 Kings 8:2.) The *Israelites used the two calendars until after the time in Babylon. Now the *Jews have only one calendar. And the year begins with Tishri. (Tishri is also called Ethanim.)

Verse 3: The *LORD told Moses to speak to all the *Israelites. Moses must give instructions to them about the first *Passover *Feast.

On the 10th day of the month Abib, each man must choose an animal for his family. The animal would be a young male sheep or a young male goat. There must one animal for each home.

Verse 4: It was important that every person should eat the meat of the animal. Also, they must not leave any part of the animal until the morning after the *Passover meal. However, if they did leave any part of the animal, they had to burn it. Some homes did not have enough persons to eat a whole animal. So those people should share with neighbours.

Verse 5: The animal that the men chose must be up to a year old. The animal must be perfect. It must have nothing wrong with it.

Verse 6: Each family must keep their animal until the evening of the 14th day of Abib. Then they must kill the animal. The *Hebrew is ‘between the two evenings’. That probably means between sunset and when it got dark. However, it might mean in the late afternoon before sunset.

The *Hebrew months started with the new moon and they lasted for 30 days. The normal calendar is 365 days in the year. The *Hebrew calendar was 360 days. Every two or three years they had an extra month to adjust for the difference. This extra month was called Adar Sheni (second Adar). Adar is at the end of their year. It is what we call February to March.

The ancient *Hebrews divided the month into three equal parts of 10 days. The men chose their animal on the 10th day, a third of the way through the month Abib. They killed the animal at the middle of the month Abib when the moon was full.

Verse 7: The *Israelites must not eat the blood with the meat. They must save some of the blood to be a protection for their homes. They must put some blood round the doors of their houses. The *LORD would see the blood and he would preserve the oldest son. Therefore, the animal died instead of the first son.

There were no priests at this time. The head of each family was like its priest.

Verses 8-9: That night they must cook the entire animal. They must cook it over the fire. The whole family must eat the meat with bitter plants and bread without *yeast. The bitter plants were to remind them of their years as slaves. The *Egyptians had made their lives very miserable. (See Exodus 1:14.) The bread must have no *yeast. That would show that they were in a hurry. There would be no time for *yeast to work in the bread.

They killed the animal at the end of the day on the14th Abib. The night of the meal would be the 15th Abib. That is because the *Jewish day started in the evening.

Verse 10: They must not leave any part of the animal. Any part that they have not eaten they must burn before the morning. (See Exodus 34:25.)

Verse 11: This would not be a relaxed meal with the family. They must wear the clothes and shoes that they would need for the journey. They must have their sticks in their hands. And they must eat the meal as if they were in a hurry. They must be completely ready to move. They must be ready for instant departure.

Verses 12-13: On that same night, the 15th of Abib, the *LORD would pass through Egypt. He would kill the first males born to both people and animals. This terrible *plague would be to punish the *Egyptians. However, the *LORD would preserve any person or animal where there was blood round the door.

As in all the other *plagues, the *LORD would defeat the *Egyptian gods. Those gods could not deliver their people from the *LORD. Many of the animals were special to the gods. The *LORD defeated them when he killed those animals. And *Pharaoh would be sad because his oldest son would die.

Verse 14: For the *Jews, the 14th Abib must be a special day for all time. That evening they would kill an animal for the *feast. That night, the 15th Abib, they would eat the *feast. They must remember how the *LORD brought them out of Egypt. To do that, they would have this *feast. In this *feast they give thanks to the *LORD. They called this *feast the *Passover. The whole family must be there. Especially they must teach the children what the *feast meant.

The word *Passover means that God passed over all the houses with blood on the door.

Verse 15: Before the *Passover, they would remove any *yeast that was in their houses. At this *feast and for 7 days they must not eat anything that had *yeast in it. Those 7 days were the *Feast of Bread without *Yeast. In that *feast, they would remember that *Israel left Egypt in a hurry. They did not have time to make bread with *yeast.

The *Passover *Feast and the *Feast of Bread without *Yeast were two *feasts. They ate the *Passover *Feast in the evening at the start of the 15th Abib. (The day started with the evening.) The 15th Abib was the first day of the *Feast of Bread without *Yeast. Sometimes one *feast includes the other one. That can be either as the *Passover or as the *Feast of Bread without *Yeast. (See Exodus 23:15; Ezekiel 45:21; Deuteronomy 16:16; 2 Chronicles 30:13, 21 and several other places.)

Verse 16: The first and the last days of this *feast were special days to *worship the *LORD. The people must come together for that. None of them should work on these days. However, unlike the normal *Sabbath days, they could prepare the food on these special days.

Verses 17-18: The *Feast of Bread without *Yeast would remind the *Israelites of that day. It was the day when the *LORD brought them out of Egypt with their families. The time starts with the *Passover on the 14th Abib. The 7 days of this *feast are from the 15th to the 21st Abib.

Verses 19-20: There must be no *yeast in their houses for the *Passover and the 7 days of this *feast. The person who eats *yeast in this period cannot be a member of *Israel. But this rule is for both foreigners and *Israelites.

The first *Passover             12:21-28

v21 Then Moses sent for all *Israel’s leaders. ‘Go at once and choose the animal for each family’, he said to them. ‘Kill the young sheep for the *Passover meal. v22 Hold in your hand some small branches from the plant called hyssop. And make them wet with the sheep’s blood that is in the basin. Then use them to paint some of the blood. Paint it on the upper beam and on both sides round the door. Then go inside your house and none of you must leave your house until the morning. v23 The *LORD will go through the country and he will kill the *Egyptians. But he will see the blood round your door, and he will pass over your house. He will not allow the *angel who brings death to enter your houses. The *angel will not kill any of you.

v24 Obey these instructions. They are a law for you and for your children for all time. v25 The *LORD will give to you the country that he has promised to you. When you have entered the country, you must have this ceremony every year. v26 Your children will ask you: “What does this special meal mean for us?” v27 When they ask that question, you must tell them this. “It is the *Passover meal to give honour to the *LORD. He passed over the houses where our people, the *Israelites, lived in Egypt. He did not touch our children, but he killed the *Egyptians.” ’

Then the people bent down and they *worshipped God. v28 The *Israelites did everything that the *LORD had ordered Moses and Aaron.

Verse 21: Moses gave instructions to the *Israelite leaders. Then they told the instructions to their people. Each family had to choose its animal on the 10th Abib. They had to keep that animal until the 14th Abib. Then they had to kill the animal and they had to cook it for the *Passover meal.

Verse 22: When they killed the animal, they must put some of its blood in a basin. With bundles from a certain plant, they must paint the blood round the doors of their houses. When they had done that, they must remain in their houses until the morning.

We do not know what the plant was. Probably it was a tall straight plant with a sweet smell. They called it hyssop. But it was not the plant that we now know as hyssop. That hyssop does not grow in Egypt.

Verse 23: During that night, the *LORD would kill the oldest son in each *Egyptian family. But where he saw the blood, he would pass over that house. He would not allow the *angel that brings death to enter that house. Nobody would die in a house with the blood on the door.

Verse 24: God gave to them a law that they should keep the *Passover for all time. However, they would not need to paint the blood on the sides of the door, or to remain in the house. The *Passover would become a means to remember the first *Passover and the departure from Egypt.

Verse 25: They must have the *Passover *Feast when they receive their country from the *LORD. Then they must do it every year.

Verses 26-27: An important part of the *Passover is this: It teaches the children what the *Passover means. They will learn how the *LORD killed the *Egyptians. But he did not kill the *Israelite children.

The people realised that the *LORD would deliver them that night. They bent down and they thanked their God. They *worshipped the *LORD.

Verse 28: The *Israelites obeyed the instructions. So all was ready for the actual events.

Death at midnight                                  12:29-32

v29 At midnight, the *LORD killed all the oldest sons in Egypt. *Pharaoh was the king, but his oldest son died. And God killed the oldest sons of men who were in prison too. He also killed the *Egyptians’ male animals that were born first to their mothers. v30 So *Pharaoh and all his officials and all the other *Egyptians got up. Someone had died in every *Egyptian home that night. So they all started to cry loudly.

v31 During that night *Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron. ‘Get up and go away from my country!’ he ordered. ‘Take all the *Israelites with you and leave my people! Go and *worship the *LORD. You asked me for that, so go. v32 Take your sheep and your goats and your cows, as you have said. And also ask your God to be good to me.’

Verses 29-30: The final punishment happened at midnight on the 15th Abib. The *LORD went through the country and he killed the oldest sons. No *Egyptian family avoided the punishment, from *Pharaoh to prisoners, from the most important to the least important. Also, the *LORD killed the male animals that were born first. In all the country, there were loud cries of pain because of the deaths.

The *Egyptians had killed the *Israelites’ baby boys. This time the *LORD killed their oldest sons.

Verses 31-32: During that night, *Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron. The situation was so desperate that he could not wait until the morning. He had said that he would never see these two men again. Now he sends for them. Maybe he did not talk to them himself. He may have used his officials to do it. If so, that was what Moses had said. ‘All your officials will come to me. They will show that they respect me. “Go and take your people with you”, they will say to me. “Go with all the people who follow you!” And after that I will leave.’ (See Exodus 11:8.)

At last, *Pharaoh asked Moses and Aaron to go. He ordered them to take with them all the *Israelites and their animals. He told them to go and to *worship the *LORD. He did not mention the three days and he did not speak about a return.

*Pharaoh had one final request. His gods had failed. To his people he was a god. This time he had to ask Moses to pray for him. He recognised that the *LORD was the superior God. He needed God to be good to him.

The *Israelites leave Egypt                   12:33-42

v33 The *Egyptians urged the *Israelites to hurry. ‘Leave our country quickly’, they said. ‘If you do not hurry, we will all die!’

v34 The *Israelites put their bread in pans. They had not added *yeast. They wrapped the pans in clothes. And they carried the pans on their shoulders. v35 The *Israelites did all that Moses had told them to do. They asked the *Egyptians for silver and gold objects. They also asked the *Egyptians for clothes. v36 The *LORD caused the *Egyptians to be kind to the *Israelites. So they gave all those things to the *Israelites. And that was how the *Israelites took away the *Egyptians’ wealth.

v37 The *Israelites travelled from Rameses to the place called Succoth. There were about 600 000 men who were walking. And there were women and children too. v38 Many other people went with them as well. And they were taking many sheep, goats and cows with them. v39 They baked the mixture for bread that they had brought from Egypt. But it made just flat bread, because it had no *yeast in it. They had left Egypt in a hurry. So there had been no time for them to prepare other food for themselves.

v40 The *Israelites had lived in Egypt for 430 years. v41 After exactly 430 years, all the *LORD’s people marched away from Egypt. They were like an army. v42 The *LORD protected them that night as he brought them away from Egypt. So every year on that same night the *Israelites must remember the *LORD. They must give honour to the *LORD in this way for all time to come.

Verse 33: The 10th *plague was that the oldest sons would die. That had happened. However, the *Egyptians were afraid of the *LORD. While the *Israelites were still in that country, maybe the *LORD would continue to kill them all. Therefore, they urged the *Israelites to go quickly.

Verse 34: It was the custom to make fresh bread every morning. They would mix the bread and then add *yeast. Then they would leave the bread for some time. That would allow the *yeast to work. After that, they would bake the bread.

The *Israelites prepared their bread but they did not add the *yeast. They had no time for the *yeast to work. They took the pans that they made bread in. Probably the pans were small wooden bowls. They bound those pans in some clothes. Then they were ready to go. That morning they left in a hurry. And as they went, they carried the pans on their shoulders.

Verses 35-36: The *Israelites had done what Moses told them to do. They had asked the *Egyptians for valuable things and clothes. The *Egyptians had given to them all that they had asked for. Therefore, the *Israelites left Egypt with much wealth. The *LORD had told Moses that this would happen. (See Exodus 3:21-22.)

Because they were slaves, the *Israelites were poor. But those people who had made them poor were making them wealthy. The *LORD had caused the *Egyptians to be generous.

Verses 37-38: Probably the *Israelites set out in the early morning. There were very many of them. So it probably took most of the day for them to leave the Rameses district. These 600 000 men with the women and children went to Succoth.

Some students think that the translation of the number 600 000 may not be right. What Moses wrote was certainly correct. However, the translation that we have might be incorrect here. The important fact is that the *LORD brought the *Israelites out of Egypt. They took all their animals with them.

Verse 39: The *Israelites had prepared the mixture for their bread. However, they did not have time to add the *yeast. Therefore, they baked the bread without *yeast. They had not prepared any other food for the journey.

Verse 40: There was a group of *Jewish experts. They were called the Masoretes. They worked on the *Hebrew language from about *AD 550 to about *AD 1050. The result of their work became the *Hebrew Bible. And we have our English translations from that *Hebrew Bible. That *Hebrew Bible said that the *Israelites had lived in Egypt for 430 years.

In about 250 *BC, experts translated the *Hebrew Bible into the *Greek language. That translation was called the Septuagint. In this verse, it says that the *Israelites lived in Egypt and *Canaan for 430 years. Another very early translation was called the Samaritan Pentateuch. The date of that translation was between 540 and 100 *BC. That translation also has ‘in Egypt and *Canaan’.

Jacob and his family went to Egypt about 215 years after God made his *covenant with Abraham. The law came 430 years after God made that *covenant with Abraham. Paul tells us that. (See Galatians 3:17.)

Verses 41-42: At the end of those 430 years, the *LORD’s people started to march from Egypt. As they marched, the *LORD protected them. The *LORD brought them away from Egypt. The *Israelites must remember that night on that date each year.

Rules for the *Passover               12:43-51

v43 Then the *LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron. ‘These are the rules for the *Passover meal’, he told them. ‘No foreigner can eat this meal. v44 You should *circumcise any slave whom you have bought. Then he can eat this meal with you. v45 But a worker, whom you employ, cannot eat it. And a foreigner who stays with you for a short time cannot eat it.

v46 You must eat this meal inside your home. You must not take any of the meat from the animal outside the house. And you must not break any bone of it. v47 Every *Israelite must eat the *Passover meal.

v48 Perhaps a foreigner is living with you. Perhaps he wants to eat the *Passover meal with you. He wants to give honour to me, the *LORD. You must *circumcise all the males in his family. Then he can eat the *Passover meal like someone who was born as an *Israelite. No man or boy whom you have not *circumcised can eat that meal with you. v49 It is the same law for an *Israelite and for any foreigner, who is living with you.’

v50 All the *Israelites did what the *LORD had ordered Moses and Aaron. v51 And on that same day, the *LORD brought the *Israelite families away from Egypt.

Verses 43-45: The *Passover meal was for the *Israelites and their slaves. The *Israelites had to *circumcise every male child. They had to *circumcise every male to make him a real *Israelite. And they had to *circumcise every male slave before that slave could eat the *Passover meal. Other workers and foreigners could not eat this meal.

Verses 46-47: The *LORD’s *Passover was a family meal for his people. They had to eat it in their houses. When they cooked the animal, they must not break any bone of it.

Verses 48-49: A foreigner who lived with the family might desire to join them. If that foreigner was a man, they must *circumcise him. Then he could eat of the *Passover. The foreigner would be as one with the *Israelites.

Verses 50-51: The *Israelites did what the *LORD had ordered Moses and Aaron. That same day the *LORD led them out of Egypt. He arranged them and he led them in their *tribes and families.

Chapter 13

*Festival of bread without *yeast                  13:1-10

v1 The *LORD spoke to Moses. v2 ‘You must give to me the first son who is born in every family’, he said. ‘The first son of every *Israelite mother belongs to me. Also the first animal that is born to its mother belongs to me.’

v3 So Moses said to the people, ‘Remember this day. It is the day when you came away from Egypt. You were slaves in Egypt. But the *LORD brought you away from Egypt by means of his great power. Now you must eat nothing with *yeast in it. v4 This is the month called Abib. And you are leaving Egypt today. v5 The *LORD will bring you into the country where the *Canaanites live. People called the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites and the Jebusites all live there too. The *LORD gave a promise to your *ancestors, who lived a long time ago. He said that he would give that country to you. And that country has plenty of milk and plenty of honey. When you get to that country, you must remember your experiences this month. v6 For 7 days you should eat flat bread that you make without *yeast. On the 7th day, have a special meal when you give honour to the *LORD. v7 Eat only flat bread without *yeast during those 7 days. There must not be any *yeast anywhere in your whole country. v8 In that day, you must explain to your children. Say, “I do this because the *LORD brought me away from Egypt in a wonderful way.” v9 When you remember this day in this special way, it will be like a sign on your hand. It will be like a sign on the front of your head to remind you. You should tell to other people what the *LORD has taught to you. The *LORD brought you away from Egypt by means of his great power. v10 So you must obey this law at the same time every year.’

Verses 1-2: The *LORD had killed the first sons who were born to the *Egyptians and to their animals. He had saved the first sons that were born to the *Israelites and to their animals. Therefore, the first sons of the *Israelites and their animals that were born first belonged to the *LORD.

Verses 3-4: The *Israelites must never forget how the *LORD had saved them. They had been slaves in Egypt but the *LORD had made them free. By his great power, he had defeated the *Egyptians and their gods. And he had brought his people out of Egypt.

On the night before and on that day they had not eaten bread with *yeast. They must have the *feast when they eat bread without *yeast each year. That would help them to remember. They must have this *feast in the month called Abib. The *feast starts on the day that they left Egypt. It starts on the 15th Abib (Nisan) and it lasts for 7 days.

Verse 5: The *LORD promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that he would give a country to their *descendants. That country was where several nations lived. There were 7 nations there. (See Deuteronomy 7:1; Acts 13:19.) Here Moses mentions 5 of them. The country had plenty of milk and honey. That means that it had good land. On that land, they could produce all the food that they wanted.

When the *Israelites were in that country, they must remember the past. They must have the *Passover meal and the *Feast of Bread without *Yeast.

Verses 6-7: For 7 days, they must eat flat bread. *Yeast would cause the bread to rise. Without the *yeast, it would not rise. The 7th day must be a special day to *worship the *LORD. Before those 7 days, they must destroy all the *yeast that was in their houses. There must be none left.

Verse 8: They must explain to their children the reason for this *feast. Each *generation must explain it as if the *LORD had brought them out of Egypt. They would say, ‘The *LORD brought me away from Egypt.’

Verse 9: When they have the *feast, it will be like a sign. It would be as if it was on their hands and between their eyes. It will remind them that with a strong hand the *LORD brought them out from Egypt. And they will speak about the law of the *LORD.

Later, the *Jews actually put signs on their hand and on the front of their heads. They write verses from Exodus and Deuteronomy on tiny strips of paper. They put those strips in small leather boxes. And they fix the boxes, one on the hand and one on the front of the head. They call these boxes ‘phylacteries’.

Verse 10: The *Israelites must obey the rules for the *Passover and the *Feast of Bread without *Yeast. They must do it every year at the same time.

The oldest sons belong to the *LORD                  13:11-16

v11 ‘The *LORD will bring you into the *Canaanites’ country. He will give that country to you. Certainly, he will remember his special promise to you and to your *ancestors a long time ago. v12 Then you must give to the *LORD the oldest son of every mother. And all the males that are born first to your animals belong to the *LORD too. v13 But the *LORD cannot accept your *donkeys. You must buy back a male *donkey that is born first. You must give a young sheep in order to do that. And if you do not save the *donkey in that way, you must break its neck. You must buy back every oldest son too. You must replace them with a perfect young animal.

v14 In the future your son will ask you about this. “What does this mean?” he will ask. And you will reply to him. “With great power the *LORD brought us away from Egypt where we were slaves. v15 *Pharaoh was very proud. And he refused to give our freedom to us. So the *LORD killed every oldest son in the *Egyptian families. And he killed every *Egyptian animal that was born first to its mother. That is why we give animals to the *LORD. We give to the *LORD our male animals that are born first. And we give an animal to the *LORD in order to buy back our oldest sons. v16 That will remind you. It will be like a mark on your hand. Or it will be like a sign on the front of your head. It will remind you that the *LORD brought us away from Egypt by means of his great power.” ’

Verses 11-13: The *LORD would give to them the country that he promised to their *ancestors. Then they must give to the *LORD the first males to be born to their women and to their animals. Instead of their first sons, they must *sacrifice to the *LORD a perfect young sheep or a young goat. The law allowed them to give money instead of an animal. The amount was 5 *shekels of silver. (See Numbers 18:16.) The weight of 5 *shekels was about 55 grams (2 ounces) of silver.

They must *sacrifice a young sheep or a young goat instead of the first male *donkey. If they did not give to the *LORD a young sheep or a young goat, they must kill the *donkey. The *LORD would not accept *donkeys as *sacrifices.

Verses 14-15: In the future, a son will ask questions. He will ask about the law to buy back the oldest son. They will tell him how the *LORD rescued the *Israelites from Egypt. In the 10th *plague, the *LORD killed the oldest sons of the *Egyptians. However, he did not kill the oldest sons of the *Israelites. Therefore, the oldest sons of the *Israelites belong to the *LORD. That was why the parents had to buy back their oldest sons from the *LORD. The same thing was true for the animals as well. They must buy back the animals that were born first.

Verse 16: This will remind them as if it were a mark on their hands. It will remind them as if they had something on the front of their heads. They will remember that the *LORD rescued them from Egypt by his great power.

Journey to the Red Sea               13:17-22

v17 *Pharaoh had let the people go away from Egypt. And the road through the country where the *Philistines lived was a short route. But God did not lead his people that way. ‘If they have to fight, they might change their decision. Then they might return to Egypt’, God said. v18 So God led the people round by the road through the *desert. It went towards the Red Sea. But God had prepared the *Israelites for battle when they left Egypt.

v19 Moses took Joseph’s bones with them. A long time before, when Joseph was dying, he had spoken to *Israel’s other sons. He made his brothers give a serious promise to him. Joseph had said to them, ‘Certainly God will come to rescue you. Then you must carry my bones with you when you leave this place.’

v20 The *Israelites left the place called Succoth. Then they camped at Etham, which was at the edge of the *desert. v21 The *LORD led them by means of a tall cloud during the day. His cloud guided them on their way. At night, he led them with fire like a column. And it gave light to them. Therefore, they could travel well in the day or at night. v22 During the day, the cloud did not leave its place in front of the people. And at night, the fire did not leave its place ahead of them.

Verses 17-18: There were three possible routes of escape. They could go to the north and east. A name for that route was the way of the sea. It was the military road of the *Egyptians when they went north. Along that route, there were *Egyptian soldiers who guarded the way to Egypt. That route would have taken them through the territory of the *Philistines. That was the shortest route. If they went that way, they would have to fight *Egyptian soldiers and the *Philistines. Probably the *Israelites would have gone back to Egypt rather than fight.

The second route was to the south and east. The third route was between the other routes. That route would have been more direct to *Canaan. However, the *LORD led the *Israelites by the second route. That took them towards the Sinai area. He led them by a road through *desert towards the Red Sea. We do not know where they crossed the Red Sea.

In the *Hebrew language, the Red Sea might be the Reed Sea. We do not know exactly where this sea was. However, we do know that it was a deep sea on the north boundary of Egypt.

The *Israelites had military arms that they could fight future battles with.

Verse 19: At his request, the *Israelites had promised something to Joseph. He did not want his bones to remain in Egypt. He knew that one day God would rescue *Israel. He asked them to take his bones with them to the country that God had promised to Abraham. (See Genesis 50:25; Hebrews 11:22.) Moses did what they had promised. He took Joseph’s bones.

After his death, they would have preserved Joseph’s body. Joseph’s bones meant his body that they had preserved. (See Genesis 50:26.) They did that with chemicals and cloths.

Also, the *Israelites took the bones of their other *ancestors with them. They buried those at a place called Shechem. (See Acts 7:15-16.) Abraham had buried the members of his family in that place when they died. He bought the place for that purpose. (See Genesis chapter 23.)

Verse 20: The *Israelites left Succoth and they camped at Etham. We do not know exactly where Etham was. Later they travelled three days in the *desert near Etham. (See Numbers 33:8.) Probably Etham was a place on the edge of this area of *desert.

Verse 21: The *LORD led the *Israelites by a cloud in the day and by a fire in the night. The cloud was large enough to protect the *Israelites from the heat of the day. The fire gave light to them at night. (See Psalm 105:39.) The cloud and the fire gave confidence to them that the *LORD was there with them.

Verse 22: When the *LORD told them to move, the cloud went ahead of them. If the *LORD told them to move at night, the fire went ahead of them.

Word List

AD ~ years after Christ; AD 50, for example, means the year, 50 years after Jesus came.

altar ~ a sort of table where people give gifts or *sacrifices to God or to a false god.

Amalekite ~ a *descendant of Amalek. Amalek was the grandson of Esau. The Amalekites lived in the country between southern *Israel and Egypt. They were enemies of Israel’s people.

ancestors ~ people in your family who lived before you.

angel ~ a servant of God who sometimes brings messages from heaven; or an angel that was good but now he is bad.

barley ~ a plant; people make bread from the seeds.

BC ~ years before Jesus Christ was born.

boil ~ a way to cook; or, a nasty, painful lump under the skin.

bull ~ male farm animal; (the female is called a cow). The *Israelites made a metal image of a bull, which they *worshipped as a god.

Canaan ~ the country that God gave to the *Israelites. *Canaanites lived there. And people called Amorites, Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites and Perizzites also lived there.

Canaanite ~ a person who lived in *Canaan before the *Israelites came; or, anything that had a relationship with that country.

circumcise ~ to cut off the piece of skin at the end of the male sex part. This marks *Jewish boys and it reminds the *Jews about God’s special promise to them.

circumcision ~ the act when someone *circumcises a person.

covenant ~ This meant that the *Israelites were special to God as his people. And the *LORD was special to them as their God. Because of this covenant, the *LORD gave rules to them about how they should live. If they obeyed those rules, he would cause them to succeed. If they did not obey them, the *LORD would punish them. But when two people or groups of people had a covenant, it was just an agreement.

descendant ~ a child, grandchild, their grandchild and so on.

desert ~ a wild place where there are small bushes and not much water. It has poor soil and people cannot cause crops to grow there. So, not many people live there.

donkey ~ an animal that is like a horse with long ears. People use donkeys as animals to do work. They can carry people or loads. And they can pull carts or ploughs.

Egyptian ~ someone from the country called Egypt; anything with a relationship with Egypt. The *Israelites were slaves in Egypt before God freed them.

exodus ~ a *Greek word that means ‘to leave somewhere’. God helped the *Israelites to leave the country called Egypt. So people called this book Exodus because it tells that particular story.

feast ~ a special meal, usually with special food. Often a feast reminds people about an important event so they repeat it regularly. For example, God said that *Israelite men should gather together for 3 feasts each year. *Jewish people continue to remember those feasts.

festival ~ a happy time when people meet together to remember a person or a special event.

flax ~ a blue flower with a strong stem. People use the stems to make cloth of very good quality. The cloth is called linen.

frog ~ a small animal with 4 legs. The two back legs are long and they help it to jump. It has a huge mouth. It lives both on land and in the water.

generation ~ a period of about 20 to 30 years. During that time, children become adults and they have their own children; or, the *descendants of a person or people during that time.

glory ~ great honour and beauty like the beautiful light round God; splendid beauty.

gnat ~ a small insect that flies and that bites people and animals.

Greek ~ people and things from the country called Greece, and the language that they speak; the language that the authors used to write the *New-Testament.

hail ~ rain that has frozen in the sky, so that it falls as hard little balls of ice.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Israelites spoke. A Hebrew is a *Jewish person or an *Israelite.

incense ~ a special powder that made a sweet smell as it burned.

Israel ~ the nation of people from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the name of the country that God gave to that nation.

Israelite ~ a person from the nation called *Israel; or any thing or person that has a relationship with *Israel; Israelites is another name for the *Jews.

Jew ~ a person who belongs to the *Israelites. Jews are *descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew (an *Israelite) or anything that has a relationship to the *Jews.

Levite ~ an *Israelite who belonged to the *tribe of Levi. Levi was a son of Jacob. Levites had special duties connected to *worship. All priests among the *Israelites were Levites.

locust ~ an insect that flies; it eats any green plant. When many locusts fly together, they seem to be like a dark cloud.

Lord ~ a name for God. It translates the word ‘Adonai’ in the Hebrew language, which means ‘my ruler’. The word ‘lord’ (without a capital letter) means an ordinary ruler.

LORD ~ God gave this special name to himself. It translates the word ‘Yahweh’ in the Hebrew language. It is the name for God by the *Covenant. It links to the words ‘I am’; it means that God has always been here.

Mount ~ mountain. For example, ‘Mount Sinai’ means the mountain called Sinai.

New-Testament ~ the second part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after Jesus lived on earth. It is about the life of Jesus. And it is about what Christians believe.

Old-Testament ~ the first part of the Bible, it tells about the history and the beliefs of the *Israelites.

Passover ~ the meal that the *Israelites ate before they left Egypt; after that, it is an important holy day for the *Jews. They eat a special meal on this day every year. The Passover *feast reminds the *Jews about how God rescued them from Egypt. They remember that God passed over their houses. And he protected their oldest sons.

Pharaoh ~ a word that means the king of Egypt.

Philistines ~ a group of people who lived near the south coast of the country called *Canaan; they fought with the *Israelites.

plague ~ a terrible disease or trouble.

prophet ~ a person who hears God’s words and tells them to other people. But someone who was not God’s prophet might pretend to be one.

Sabbath ~ The seventh day of the week, when *Israelites did not work. It is from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. There were also special Sabbaths that were not always on a Saturday. The word can also mean anything that has a relationship with the Sabbath.

sacrifice ~ something valuable that people give to God, or to a false god; or, to give such a thing to God. God would forgive *sin only if they gave a certain *sacrifice.

shekel ~ a shekel weighed about 11 grams (0.4 ounces). They used it as a standard to weigh things (especially gold and silver); they used it for God’s special tent and later, for the *temple.

sign ~ an unusual event that God uses to teach people something. But sometimes people who were not really God’s *prophets promised signs.

sin ~ when people do something wrong against God or against other people; or, not to obey God.

stubborn ~ stubborn people refuse to change their attitudes or their actions.

temple ~ the chief place for *worship for the *Jews. King Solomon built the first temple for God in Jerusalem. But the word can refer to a similar building for a false god.

thunder ~ the loud noise that you may hear in a storm.

tribe ~ a group of people from the same race, who are all *descendants of one person. The tribes of *Israel were the 12 large families of Jacob’s sons.

worship ~ when people show honour to God, or to a false god. People may sing or they may pray. Or they may kneel down or they may give a *sacrifice.

yeast ~ a substance that people use to make bread. Yeast makes the bread rise. Without yeast, bread is flat and hard.

Book List

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible ~ Baker Publishing Group; Abridged edition (August 1983)

Albert Barnes’s Notes on the Whole Bible

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary of the Bible ~ Zondervan Classic Reference Series

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

John I Durham ~ Exodus ~ NELSON/WORD Publishing Group, 1987

R Alan Cole ~ Exodus ~ Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries ~ Inter-Varsity Press

Umberto Cassuto, Israel Abrahams (Translator) ~ A Commentary on the Book of Exodus ~ The Magnes Press, 1967

Walter C Kaiser ~ Exodus ~ The Expositor’s Bible Commentary ~ Zondervan, 1990

Bible versions:

Hilda Bright and Kitty Pride ~ EasyEnglish commentary: Exodus: Israel becomes a nation

They used the following:

            New International Version Study Bible

            New International Reader’s Version 1998

            Today’s English Version

            New English Bible

            Jerusalem Bible

            Contemporary English Version


© 1997-2016, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

July 2016

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