The *Israelites leave Egypt
An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Exodus chapters 1 to 18
Hilda Bright and Kitty Pride
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.
Exodus is one of the first 5 books of the *Old Testament. We speak about these 5 books together as ‘the Pentateuch’. The *Greek translation gave this book its name ‘Exodus’. It means ‘to go out’. God helped the *Israelites ‘to go out’ from *Egypt. The book is in two parts:
Chapters 1-18: the first part of Moses’ life; the *Israelites’ troubles in Egypt; the events and the *plagues that led the *Israelites to leave Egypt.
Chapters 19-40: how God gave the Law to Moses; how they built the special holy tent (*Tabernacle); the rules for *worship.
Moses was the most important person in all these events. He was the main person who recorded the events. Exodus 24:4 has these words. ‘Then Moses wrote down everything that the *LORD had said.’ Later, when Joshua built an *altar, he followed Moses’ instructions for it (Joshua 8:31).
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. He was more humble than anyone else on the earth’. But Moses was a great leader. He had great courage and he had a very close relationship with God. Without Moses, the *Israelites might not have escaped from the country called Egypt. They might not have reached the country that God had promised to them.
God had prepared Moses. And he chose Moses to act on his behalf (Exodus 3:8-10). God does not change, and he carries out his promises. Many years before that time, God had spoken to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He had told them that the number of people in their families would increase. And they would become great nations in the future. God had told them that he would give to them the country called *Canaan (Genesis 17:3-8). God rescued his people from Egypt, because he controls history. *Pharaoh, Egypt’s ruler, was powerful, but he could not stop God’s plans. God carried out his promise to guide the *Israelites in the *desert. The *desert was a wild place where there are small bushes and not much water. It has poor soil and people cannot grow crops there. Then God brought them to the country called *Canaan.
This book, Exodus, emphasises that God is holy. He looks after his people but he is separate from them. The *Israelites had to stay away from *Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:12). Not even Moses could see God himself (Exodus 33:18-20). They used many objects when they *worshipped God. And each of those objects was special and holy. Each thing reminded the *Israelites that nobody should approach God in a careless way. God expected his people to be holy. ‘Be holy, because I, the *LORD your God, am holy’ (Leviticus 19:2). God’s 10 *commandments and the other rules are in Exodus chapters 20-23. They show what God demands from his people. He wants moral behaviour all the time in people’s ordinary lives.
God is the *LORD (in *Hebrew his name is ‘Yahweh’). His name means: ‘the Person who lives for all time’. And he called himself ‘I AM’ (Exodus 3:14). Nobody can understand his nature completely. But he shows himself to us by means of his acts and his *commandments. He loves and he forgives. Also he acts to punish *sin (Exodus 34:5-7). People gained a more complete knowledge about God when Jesus came to earth. Jesus showed us what God is like (John 1:14 and 14:9).
This chapter describes how the *Israelites became slaves. They were living in the country called Egypt. Egypt’s king was called the *Pharaoh. He wanted to control the *Israelites because they had become so many people. He wanted to kill some of them because he was afraid. He thought that they might start to fight against him.
Verses 1-4 The *Hebrew word ‘and’ begins verse 1. This word and the list of names show that this book continues the record in Genesis. God had given the name ‘Israel’ to Jacob (Genesis 32:28). So ‘Israel’s sons’ refers to Jacob’s own family. Egypt’s ruler had invited Jacob and his family to live in Egypt. He gave land to them in the region called Goshen. And they had plenty of room for their sheep and other animals there (Genesis 47:1-6). Jacob had 4 wives and he had sons with each wife. This book records names of Jacob’s sons. They appear in the same order as in Genesis 35:23-26. His first wife was Leah. Her sons were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. Then Rachel’s sons were Joseph and Benjamin. Dan and Naphtali were the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant. Gad and Asher were the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant.
The list in verses 2-4 does not include Joseph because he was already in Egypt. Many years before these events, his brothers had sold him as a slave. But he became powerful in Egypt (Genesis chapters 37; 39-41).
Verse 5 The number 70 is the number of males in the family who came to Egypt. The *Greek translation of Genesis 46:27 includes 5 more names. They were Joseph’s grandsons. They were the sons of Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons. They make the number 75. And Stephen mentioned 75 in his speech (Acts 7:9-15).
Verse 7 God had promised Abraham that his family would increase. His family would become a great nation (Genesis 12:2 and 17:2). That promise was becoming true in Egypt. The *Israelites became so many people that they ‘filled the country’. ‘The country’ may mean the region called Goshen. Or ‘the country’ may mean the whole country called Egypt. ‘Filled’ describes how the *Egyptians felt about it. They did not want so many *Israelites to live in their country.
Verse 8 The word ‘*Pharaoh’ means ‘ruler’. ‘A new king became ruler’. That suggests that he did not become king in the usual way. He was not the previous ruler’s son. He may have been a man called Ahmose. Ahmose made himself king instead of the Hyksos kings. The Hyksos were foreigners who had ruled Egypt for many years. Exodus 12:40 records that the *Israelites lived in Egypt for 430 years. So they were there for hundreds of years after Joseph’s death.
Verses 9-10 Enemies lived on Egypt’s borders. So *Pharaoh was afraid that a great many *Israelites might join up with these enemies. Then they would fight against the *Egyptians. Also he would lose valuable workers.
Verse 11-12 The masters of the slaves were important *Egyptian officials who organised public works. They appointed some *Israelite slaves to be masters over the other slaves. And each of these masters was responsible for a group of workers (Exodus 5:6, 10 and 14).
‘Pithom’ means ‘the Sun’s House’. The ruler called Ramses 2nd (about 1290-1225 before Christ’s birth) ordered work on these cities. But we do not know if he was the same *Pharaoh as the one in this verse. Either he built or improved these cities. Later, King Solomon built similar cities in *Israel where he stored provisions. Some of these provisions were supplies to use in war.
Verse 14 To make bricks was dirty, difficult work. A great river called the River Nile flows through Egypt. Every year the River Nile floods. When the floods go down, the waters leave plenty of mud. But the *Hebrew workers had to dig out the mud. Then they had to mix it with straw. They placed the mixture in wooden boxes. Then they dried these in the sun. There is a painting on the wall of an *Egyptian building in the city called Thebes. It shows people who are making bricks out of mud. Also there is a record from King Rameses’ time. It gives details about the number of bricks that slaves must produce. It tells about 40 slaves, and each man had to produce 2 000 bricks. One man made only 1 360 bricks, so they punished him. But there is no other record to tell us more about the punishment.
The *Israelites also 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. That was very hard work too. Notice the phrases ‘hard work’ and ‘did not pity’. Those words emphasise that the *Israelites had many difficulties.
Verses 15-16 Other nations referred to the *Israelites as ‘*Hebrews’. Usually the name *Hebrew appears in the early part of *Israel’s history. The name for women who help other women during birth is ‘midwives’. The king or ‘*Pharaoh’ may have been powerful, but there is no name for him in Exodus. Moses uses just his title, *Pharaoh. But Moses names the *Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah. They respected God. So they had the courage not to obey the *Pharaoh’s orders. *Hebrew women sat on a special place ‘between two stones’ in order to give birth. Most translations have the words ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ for the babies. But the *Hebrew words are ‘son’ and ‘daughter’. The king’s order was to kill ‘sons’ at birth. That shows more clearly how the *Israelites would have terrible loss and unhappiness. The daughters would remain alive. Probably the girls would marry *Egyptian men later, if there were no young *Israelite men. Then their children would become *Egyptians.
Verses 19-21 Shiphrah and Puah did not obey the king’s cruel order. Their excuse to him was not completely true. But the king believed them. God gave them a reward because they respected him. He gave to them children of their own.
Verse 22 That was *Pharaoh’s final effort to kill the *Israelites. The easiest way to kill all the male babies was to drown them. *Pharaoh was ordering all the *Egyptians to support his terrible plot. They had to kill all these babies. Centuries afterwards, a similar thing happened again. At the time when Jesus was born, King Herod decided to kill all the babies in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16). But neither *Pharaoh’s plan nor Herod’s plan succeeded.
Chapter 2 shows how God used women again. They became part of God’s plan to rescue his people.
Verses 1-2 The *Levite’s name was Amram. The woman’s name was Jochabed (Exodus 6:20). Moses was not their first child. Aaron was three years older than Moses (Exodus 7:7). And his sister, Miriam, (Exodus 15:20) was older than Aaron. Moses was ‘a beautiful child’. But perhaps his mother thought that he was a special baby. In *Hebrews 11:23 we read that he was ‘no ordinary child’.
Verse 3 Tall plants with thick stems grew in the River Nile. They are called ‘papyrus’. Sometimes the plants grew as tall as 3 metres or more. The *Egyptians used it to make small boats that floated well (Isaiah 18:2). So that basket was like a very small boat on the River Nile. The thick, black, substance is called ‘tar’. People put it on the outside of boats so that the water cannot get in. Smaller plants like grass, grew in the shallow water. They are called ‘reeds’. The ‘reeds’ gave their name to the Reed Sea or Red Sea (Exodus 13:18). Moses’ mother placed the basket among these plants where it would not float away. Also the plants would protect it from the sun’s heat. Probably she chose the place carefully. A place where she thought that *Pharaoh’s daughter might find her son.
Verses 5-6 If that *Pharaoh was Ramses 2nd, history tells us more about him. He had nearly 60 daughters, but this princess was very different from her cruel father. She realised that she had found a *Hebrew baby. However, she pitied the baby. And she agreed with Miriam’s sensible idea. So Miriam went to get a *Hebrew woman to look after the baby. (Some translations say ‘nurse him’. That means a mother who feeds her baby with her own milk.) Miriam was Moses’ sister and she brought their mother to the princess.
Verses 7-9 Jochabed, Moses’ mother, received wages to look after her own son! Moses’ mother would teach him that he was an *Israelite. She would teach him about the real God whom his people *worshipped.
Verse 10 The name ‘Moses’ is the *Egyptian word for ‘son’. It is in the second part of *Egyptian names like Ahmose. Also ‘Moses’ also comes from the *Hebrew word ‘to pull out’. He was ‘pulled out’ from the River Nile’. As the princess’s son, Moses received a good education. He learnt ‘all the wisdom of the *Egyptians’ (Acts 7:22). Probably he studied mathematics and law. Also, he enjoyed a variety of good food. Perhaps he learnt to hunt with all its excitement. As part of the king’s family, probably he learnt how to fight in a war too.
Verses 11-12 Moses watched his own people, who were working very hard. He was very curious. He saw something that made him angry. The *Egyptian was probably one of the masters of the slaves. They had long, heavy sticks. And they used them to hit the slaves. They wanted to make the *Hebrews work harder. Moses did not think that anyone saw him. So he killed the *Egyptian. And he hid his body.
Verses 13-14 To murder one *Egyptian did not help the *Hebrews much. The *Hebrew man to whom Moses spoke the next day, did not understand. Instead, he was angry with Moses. ‘Why should that man try to stop a fight?’ he thought. ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us?’ he asked. He would receive a true answer later, because God made Moses both their ruler and their judge. And Moses became the leader who led the *Israelites away from Egypt. But at that time, Moses had a lot to learn.
Verse 15 *Pharaoh heard what Moses had done. Then Moses knew that he was in danger. So he escaped and he ran away to Midian. The country called Midian was a large area. It was from the Red Sea coast to the border of the country called Moab. Moses sat down by a well to rest. He knew that he would meet people there.
Verses 16-19 The *Israelites were from Abraham’s family. The people in Midian were from Abraham’s family also. They were from his children and grandchildren by means of his second wife Keturah (Genesis 25:1). Reuel (verse 18) or Raguel means ‘God’s friend’. (Reuel’s other name was Jethro – see Exodus 3:1; 18:1.) He was a ‘priest’, so he gave people’s gifts to God. 7 may be the actual number of Reuel’s daughters, or an ideal number. Moses was able to save Reuel’s daughters from those men’s selfish efforts. The men wanted to keep the water for their own animals only. Reuel’s daughters recognised Moses as an *Egyptian. Perhaps he wore *Egyptian clothes. Or perhaps it was the way in which he spoke.
Verses 21-22 ‘Zipporah’ was the name of a small bird. And ‘Gershom’ means ‘someone who stays in a foreign country’. Zipporah’s father is called Reuel. Also he is called Jethro. Perhaps Jethro was his second name, or perhaps it was an official name. An official name would show that people respected him. Hobab (Numbers 10:29 and Judges 4:11) was Zipporah’s brother.
Verse 23 We read in Acts 7:30 that after 40 years the king died. It is not certain which king that was. Perhaps it was Ramses 2nd who had ruled for a long time. But his death would mean that it was safe now. So Moses could return to Egypt. Perhaps the *Israelites thought that they would have fewer troubles with a new king. But their loud cries from pain show that they were still very miserable. And they cried to God to help them. They believed God, in the same way that Abraham had believed God many years ago. They knew that God had made a special promise to Abraham (Genesis 17:7). God would continue to be their God if they obeyed his rules. They must believe him.
Verses 24-25 God ‘remembered’. This does not mean that he had forgotten about the *Israelites. It is impossible for God to forget his people (Deuteronomy 4:31 and Isaiah 49:15). Perhaps they thought that God had forgotten them. But God cared about their situation and he was preparing to rescue them. God had not forgotten his special promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He had promised to them that their families would increase. And he had promised to them that they would become a great nation. Also, they would have their own country. He had promised to them that he would always be *Israel’s God (Genesis 17:7,19 and 35:11-12). He had chosen Moses to carry out his plans. But God’s ways are mysterious. People think about time in a particular way. But God’s knowledge of time is different. The prayers of God’s people are an important part in God’s plans. God’s people had cried for God to help them. But they needed to be patient as they waited for an answer.
Verse 1 Moses was looking after the sheep that belonged to his wife’s father. He lived in the *desert for all these years. During this time, God was preparing him for his new task. It was not an easy way to live. But he learned where all the paths were. And he discovered where to find grass for the animals. The mountain called Horeb was part of the mountains in the region called Sinai. It may be another name for the main mountain called *Mount Sinai. It became ‘God’s mountain’ because God spoke to Moses there.
Verse 2 *‘Angel’ means ‘someone who takes messages’. ‘The *LORD’s *angel’ means that God was there. A long time ago, Abraham had received three visitors who were called *angels. One of those *angels was ‘the *LORD’ (Genesis 18:1-10 and 18:33).
Verses 2-3 Fire is very powerful and it makes things pure. So ‘fire’ was a suitable *sign for God. It showed that God was present. God had come to talk to Moses. Later, a ‘cloud of fire’ guided the *Israelites at night (Exodus 13:21). And ‘fire’ warned the *Israelites not to go up *Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:18).
Verse 4 God called Moses twice because he wanted to say something important to Moses.
Verse 5 The ground was holy because God was present. So Moses had to remove his shoes. That showed that he respected God. But it does not explain the reason. Perhaps it was because slaves did not wear shoes. Another idea is that soil would make the shoes dirty. Everything must be pure and clean when God is there. In many places today, people remove their shoes when they enter churches. They do that because they respect God. He is completely pure and holy.
Verse 6 God spoke about himself to Moses. God described himself as ‘your father’s God’. Some people translate that as ‘the God of your fathers’. Moses belonged to a family that gave honour to God. His dead relatives from a long time ago were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So they were Moses’ fathers too. God was telling Moses who he was. He was different from the false gods that the *Egyptians *worshipped. God had made a promise to Abraham when he left his home (Genesis 12:1-3). God also made a promise to Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 26:23-25 and 28:1-15). And God would take Moses back to the country that Jacob had left. God had promised Abraham that his people would live in that country.
In the *New Testament Jesus reminded some of the Sadducees (an important group of *Jews at the time of Jesus)) about these words. ‘I am Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God and Jacob’s God’, he said. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been dead for a long time. But they were alive with God (Luke 20:37-38).
Verse 7 repeats the words from Exodus 2:24-25. God heard the *Israelites’ when they cried for him to help them. He saw what was happening to them. He cared about their miserable lives. So God decided to rescue them.
Verses 8-10 God spoke to Moses. ‘It is a rich country with plenty of milk and plenty of honey’. Those words were a promise that there was plenty to eat. Milk would come from their sheep and their goats. The people would have milk to drink. And they could make butter and cheese. Honey would come from the insects called bees. In Jeremiah 32:22 and Ezekiel 20:6 we read the same words to describe the country. They describe a successful life for people who wandered about with their sheep and their goats.
God could have rescued the *Israelites by means of his power alone. But he chose to work with Moses. ‘I am sending you’, God said. That was how Jesus sent his 12 *apostles in the *New Testament also.
Sometimes *‘Canaanites’ includes all the different nations that lived in *Canaan. In Deuteronomy 7:1, the list names 7 nations that were living in that country. In Genesis 15:19 the list has the names of 10 nations. Moses’ work would be difficult. People from many different nations were living in *Canaan already. But God promised very definitely to give that country to his people.
Verses 11-12 In the past Moses thought that he could help his people (Exodus chapter 2). Now he protested to God that he could not do that task. And God did not deny Moses’ protest. But God promised that he would always be with Moses. God may ask someone to do a special task. But he promises that they will never be alone. God called both Gideon (Judges 6:14-16) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:6-8) to do special jobs for him. Both men thought that they were not able to do such work. But God made them able, then they could work for him. And God promised to Joshua that he would always be with Joshua too (Joshua 1:6, 9).
When Moses brought the *Israelites away from Egypt, they would all *worship God at the mountain called Horeb. (People sometimes call this mountain ‘*Mount Sinai’.) Such a promise would encourage Moses. Because of that promise, he could believe that certainly God had sent him. He knew that with God’s help, he would succeed.
Verses 13-14 Abraham and the *Israelites called God ‘El Shaddai’. That means the All-powerful God (Genesis 17:1). The people would want to know who had sent Moses. Who is that God and what is he like? At that time, the *Hebrew language did not have the letters a,e,i,o,u. They wrote the letters YHWH for the name ‘the *LORD’. And that is similar to the *Hebrew word that means ‘I am’. So ‘the *LORD’ and ‘I AM’ are both special names for God.
But later, the *Jews thought that God’s name was too holy. People should not say such a holy name. The *Jews did not want to use God’s name wrongly (Exodus 20:7). So they said ‘Adonai’ instead. ‘Adonai’ means ‘my *Lord’. It gave honour to the person when they were speaking to someone important. Later, people put in vowels (which are the letters: a,e,i,o,u) underneath the four letters YHWH. They used the vowels from the word Adonai. So when anyone read the word aloud, he would remember to say ‘Adonai’ instead. English people, who did not understand that, pronounced YHWH as ‘Jehovah’. In English, usually people write ‘I AM’ as ‘*LORD’. That shows that it is different from ‘*Lord’, or ‘Master’. Those words are the translation from the word ‘Adonai’. When Jesus used the words ‘I AM’, the *Jews tried to kill him. He was describing himself as the *LORD (John 8:58).
Verse 15 The *Israelites may have known the name ‘Yahweh’ already. But they may not have realised what their God was like. Moses had to show them more about the God whom their relatives had *worshipped a long time ago. He is the real God, and he is alive. He will be with them always, because he chose them. They were his people. It is impossible to describe God exactly. His *eternal nature is a mystery. He acts only when he chooses to act (Exodus 33:19). Nobody can know him completely, except Jesus, the Son (Matthew 11:27). Later God showed his people how they could approach him. He showed them how they could *worship him.
Verse 16 The word for leaders means ‘those men with beards’. Sometimes they are called ‘elders’. They were men with experience. They had become wise. And usually they were the leaders of families. Later they became judges to help Moses (Exodus 18:21-22). God was aware that terrible things were happening to his people. He had watched them. Or some translations say that he had ‘visited them’.
Verse 17 Many years ago, God had promised to give the country called *Canaan to Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21). Now God promised Moses that he would bring the *Israelites away from Egypt. He would bring them to *Canaan. God can provide for the future in a generous way. He told Jeremiah about his scheme for the *Jews in the country called Babylon. He intended to give to them ‘hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:11).
Verse 18 ‘Three days’ was not a long time. But Moses did not intend that the *Israelites would return. Probably he was testing *Pharaoh’s attitude by means of that request. And probably *Pharaoh recognised that the polite words were a demand for freedom.
Verses 19-20 God warned Moses that *Pharaoh, the king, would refuse Moses’ request. *Pharaoh would need to see a powerful act that would persuade him. God would show his power by means of many wonderful acts. They would convince *Pharaoh. Finally, he would allow Moses and his people to leave.
Verses 21-22 God had told Abraham that his family would become slaves many years later. But that they would leave Egypt ‘with many possessions’ (Genesis 15:13-14). The *Israelites had served the *Egyptians as slaves for many years. So it was fair that they should receive some reward because of all their hard work. There is a law in Deuteronomy chapter 15:12-18. When a slave gained his freedom, the owner had to send him away with generous gifts. That was the *Israelites’ experience when they left Egypt.
Later, people gave their gold and silver objects to make things for the *Tabernacle. The *Tabernacle was the special tent where they would *worship God. See Exodus 35:22. The amount of gold and silver seems very large. But people who study old places, discovered great *Egyptian wealth. Much of it was objects that people had made from silver and gold. *Egyptian artists were very skilful, and they made beautiful objects from these valuable metals.
God shows his power to Moses in three ways:
Verses 1-4 Perhaps Moses remembered how a *Hebrew man had refused to accept him as ‘a ruler and a judge’ (Exodus 2:14). People use special sticks when they work with sheep. And Moses used a stick like that when he was caring for his sheep. So it may have been that special stick. Or the stick may have been a long wooden pole that showed a person’s authority.
*Pharaoh had a metal snake, called a cobra, on the front of his crown. It seemed ready to attack. It was a *sign that the king had power against his enemies. Also it showed that *Pharaoh was like a false god with great power. Moses’ stick became a snake and he ran away from the snake. He ran away in the same manner that he had run away from *Pharaoh in the past. It was dangerous to hold the snake’s tail. It could turn round and bite Moses. But Moses obeyed God and the snake became a stick again. It would be dangerous to oppose *Pharaoh’s power. God was showing him that God’s power is much greater than *Pharaoh’s power.
Verse 5 That would be a *sign to the *Israelites that Moses could defeat *Pharaoh. Those acts or ‘*signs’ were powerful. So the *Israelites would believe that the God of their dead relatives had appeared to Moses.
Verses 6-7 The *Israelites thought that a sudden disease in the skin was the patient’s fault. It meant that God was angry. But with that powerful act, God showed Moses and the *Israelites that he could send disease. He could also cure disease.
Verses 8-9 The *Egyptians thought that the River Nile was a god. The annual flood from it provided excellent soil, which gave very good harvests. There was also a plentiful supply of fish in the river. That *sign showed the power of the *Israelites’ God. He had power over the *Egyptians’ false god of the river.
Verse 10 Moses used the word ‘Adonai’, which means ‘my *Lord’. He spoke as a servant would speak to his master. He said that it was difficult for him. He could not say the right words. He had always had that difficulty. And he had not improved since God began to speak to him. Almost he seems to suggest that it was God’s fault.
Verses 11-12 God did not say that Moses had given an excuse. God made everybody and he reminded Moses about that. ‘Deaf and dumb’, ‘sight and blind’ are the *Hebrew way to include everyone. Moses had spoken to God as his master, so he must obey God. And God had given to Moses a mouth to speak on his behalf. So God would help Moses to speak. He would teach Moses what to say.
Verse 13 Moses had no more excuses. Actually, he did not refuse to obey God. But he asked God to choose someone else.
Verses 14-16 God was angry because Moses did not trust him. Moses wanted less risk and less responsibility. So God promised that Moses’ brother, Aaron, would help him. Aaron became the chief priest. Like Aaron, all the priests came from the family called Levi. God promised to be with both Moses and Aaron. Aaron would receive God’s messages from Moses. Then Aaron would speak to the people and he would give God’s message to them.
Verse 18 Moses went home to Jethro, the head of the family. Moses made a polite request. Jethro should allow Moses to return to Egypt. Moses did not tell everything to Jethro. Jethro’s daughter and his grandsons were going to Egypt with Moses. So Jethro might have worried about them.
Verse 20 Moses had two sons. Exodus 2:22 names Moses’ first son as Gershom. But the name of his second son, Eliezer, does not appear until Exodus 18:4. ‘Eliezer’ means ‘God is my help’.
A *donkey is an animal that works. It is like a horse, but it is smaller. *Donkeys are useful to carry both people and goods. Moses carried God’s wooden stick. God would do wonderful things with that stick in Moses’ hand.
Verse 21 God is the Judge of everything on the earth. He is always fair (Genesis 18:25). God let *Pharaoh be unwilling to listen to Moses and Aaron. But that was only one side of what happened. God’s power and human responsibility are both true. Someone may refuse to do what he should do. He may continue to refuse. Then it becomes more and more difficult for him to change his attitude. The *Hebrew texts say that he makes his own ‘heart hard’. That means that he became unable to change.
Verse 22 The oldest son was special in a family. So God was saying that the *Israelites were his special people. Jeremiah speaks about *Israel as God’s oldest son (Jeremiah 31:9). God had chosen the nation called *Israel. Those people would be the first nation to know God as ‘father’. And Hosea said that God would call his ‘son’ out from Egypt (Hosea 11:1).
God sent a series of terrible events to Egypt. Those events happened to persuade their ruler, *Pharaoh. He must let the *Israelites go. The last of these terrible events would be the death of *Pharaoh’s oldest son (Exodus 11:5; 12:12). *‘Israel’ includes all the people who were *Israelites. So ‘your oldest son’ probably included the oldest sons of all the *Egyptians.
Verse 24-25 On their way, perhaps Moses became very ill. Zipporah thought that Moses had not obeyed God. To ‘*circumcise’ means to cut off the piece of skin at the end of the male sex part. The *Israelites *circumcised all the baby boys. It was the *sign that they believed God’s special promise to his people (Genesis 17:10). And it was the father’s duty to *circumcise his son. But Moses had not done that for his son. So his wife, Zipporah, *circumcised their son. She used a sharp stone as a knife. Verse 25 says that Zipporah touched ‘his feet with the skin’. But that does not tell us whether she touched her son’s feet or her husband’s feet. If she touched her husband’s feet, probably she was including him in her act. She had marked her son. So now he was part of God’s special people.
Verse 26 Moses did not die. It is difficult to know what Zipporah meant. ‘You are my husband, and I must cause my son to bleed’, she said. There are two different explanations:
· She was blaming her husband that she must cause her son to bleed. Perhaps she hated the custom of *circumcision. Perhaps that was why Moses had not done the custom earlier.
· She believed that God had given back her husband to her. God did not kill Moses or let him die. So perhaps she had *circumcised their son as a prayer to God. And he had answered her.
Verses 27-28 Aaron listened to God and he obeyed God. Aaron had not seen Moses for many years, but Aaron believed God. So he went to meet his brother, Moses.
Verses 29-30 The *Israelite leaders organised the people. So the leaders were the first men to hear Moses’ message. Aaron acted as Moses’ speaker, exactly as God had promised. Then Moses did the *signs from God. So the people accepted the message. Later when troubles began, they were not so willing to believe. To ‘bend over’ means that they gave honour to God.
Jesus told a story about different people who accepted his message. The *Israelites were like the shallow soil in that story. The roots could not grow properly from the seed (Mark 4:16-17).
Verse 1-2 Moses and Aaron went to see *Pharaoh. But God had told Moses to take *Israel’s leaders with him too (Exodus 3:18). Their first request to *Pharaoh was that they could go into the *desert. Later they spoke about a ‘three day journey’. *Pharaoh said that he did not know the *LORD. He was the *Hebrew God, and *Pharaoh showed angry surprise at their request. Those *Hebrews were expecting *Pharaoh to obey their God! Exodus 8:26-27 explains the reason why they wanted to go into the *desert. That *feast and *worship could not happen in Egypt because it would offend the *Egyptians. The *Israelites would kill cows and give them to God. But the cow was special and holy to the *Egyptian false god called Isis. So the *Egyptians would never kill a cow. Moses and Aaron said that their God could punish them. If they did not obey him, God would send terrible troubles. He would send dangerous diseases, or they would die in a war.
Verses 4-5 ‘Your people in the country’ meant the *Israelites who were working in *Pharaoh’s country. He said that there were many of them. The *Egyptians’ fear was that the *Israelites would increase even more. Then there would be more *Israelite slaves in Egypt than the *Egyptian people (Exodus 1:10, 12). That kind of fear exists in many places. It is responsible for many rules that governments make. They want to control the number of foreign people who enter their countries. *Pharaoh accused Moses and Aaron. They were preventing the *Israelites so that they could not work for him.
Verses 6-9 The workers cut up straw and mixed it with the mud. It makes stronger bricks. People have found many examples of old bricks that people made out of mud. And they had pieces of straw in them. In some places, people continue to make bricks in this way. The *Israelites had to work much harder to find their own straw as well. It would take them a long time to find enough straw. But *Pharaoh said that they must produce the same number of bricks each day. He said that the *Israelites were lazy. So he wanted them to work much harder. They had no time to think. They would not remember what Moses and Aaron had promised (Exodus 4:30). *Pharaoh wanted them to think bad things about Moses and Aaron. *Pharaoh believed that their promises were lies.
Verses 10-14 The masters of the slaves and the *Israelites’ officers gave *Pharaoh’s message to the *Israelites. Now the people had to search everywhere for straw. They used even ‘stubble’. And ‘stubble’ is small pieces of stem. They remain in the ground after people have cut the corn. But the workers failed to make enough bricks. So the masters of the slaves hit the *Israelite officers.
Verses 15-16 ‘The blame belongs to your own people.’ The *Israelite officers protested to *Pharaoh. Their situation was not fair. The *Egyptians had not given them any straw, so now the job was impossible. It was not the *Israelite’s fault. But the *Egyptian masters of the slaves were hitting the *Israelite officers.
Verses 17-18 *Pharaoh repeated his demands. He said that the *Israelites did not want to work for him. He said that they were lazy. That was why they were asking for a holiday.
Verse 20 The men had protested to *Pharaoh. Probably Moses and Aaron were waiting to know the result.
Verse 21 Those *Israelite officers had great difficulties. It was not their fault. They were innocent. So they wanted God to be their judge. They blamed Moses and Aaron as the cause of their awful situation. The *Israelite officers had become like a very bad smell that disgusted *Pharaoh and his officers. It was clear that worse things would happen.
Verses 22-23 Moses was honest with God. He had obeyed God. But the result was that his people had more difficulties. Moses did not understand it. God had promised to rescue his people. But Moses did not know what God was doing. It seemed that things were getting worse. Moses had forgotten that God had warned him about *Pharaoh’s bad attitude (Exodus 3:19; 4:21).
Verse 1 God referred to his great power in order to encourage Moses. *Pharaoh would let the *Israelites go only at the end. But also God would cause *Pharaoh to hate the *Israelites. He would hate them so much that he would force them to leave Egypt.
Verse 2 The words: ‘I am the *LORD’ begin God’s record of his past promises. Those words also end God’s message to Moses in verse 8. And Moses must remind the *Israelites what God’s name is (verse 6). Those references emphasise that God’s power is much greater than *Pharaoh’s power. God is alive for all time. He is ‘I AM’. *Pharaoh was a human king and God had put limits to his temporary power.
Verse 3 God had appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as ‘El Shaddai’. ‘El’ means God, ‘Shaddai’ means ‘All-Powerful’. That name told Abraham that God had great power. God could make him to be the father of many nations (Genesis 17:1-4). Later Jacob prayed to El Shaddai. Jacob wanted God to make Egypt’s’ ruler to be kind to Jacob’s sons (Genesis 43:14). El Shaddai had appeared to Jacob at the place called Luz (Genesis 28:13-19 and 48:3). ‘But with them, I did not use my name, the *LORD’, God told Moses. At first, that seems to be a difficulty. The name ‘*LORD’ appears at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 2:5. But in verse 3, God is talking about how he uses his name with the *Israelites. He has a special relationship with them. When God chose Moses as their leader, then the *Israelites began to understand God’s nature better. After God chose Moses, ‘Yah’ began to appear in people’s names. That was the short form of Yahweh, which means *LORD. For example, ‘Joshu-(y)a’ (Numbers 13:16), ‘Eli-jah’ (1 Kings 17:1).
Verses 4-8 The *LORD is the God who carries out his promises. He knows our difficulties (verse 4). He causes us to be free (verse 6). He brings us close to himself (verse 7). He will lead us home (verse 8).
Verse 5 ‘Remembered’. That does not mean that God had forgotten before that time. But he had decided to act now. It is time for God to carry out his special promise. God always carries out his promises. His words are always true.
Verse 6 ‘Rescue’. Some translations use the word ‘redeem’. Here it means that God would act like a near relative. If a person became very poor, he might lose his land because of a debt. His nearest relative had the right to buy back family property (Leviticus 25:25). For example, Boaz was the nearest relative to Ruth’s dead husband. Her dead husband, his brother and their father owned land. But Boaz had the right to buy that land. Also he had the right to marry Ruth in place of her dead husband (Ruth 4:1-11). In Exodus God would act to claim back his people from the *Egyptians. The word ‘rescue’ shows the close relationship with God and his people.
Verse 7 God emphasises that close relationship. ‘I will accept you as my own people’, he says. His special promise at *Mount Sinai made these words clearer (Exodus 19:5-6). *Israel would be God’s ‘holy nation’. He had chosen *Israel. God wanted to show other nations what he was like.
Verse 8 God would carry out the promise that he gave to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. He would give the country called *Canaan to their families (Genesis 17:8; 26:3-4; 28:13). And he would bring the *Israelites to that country when he had rescued them from Egypt.
Verse 9 The *Israelites had lost their hope for anything better. Moses had promised that God would free them. But their work had become even harder. Now, they had to find their own straw.
Verses 10-13 Moses did not think that he could speak to *Pharaoh again. Moses’ own people would not listen to him. So it was unlikely that *Pharaoh would listen either. Moses declared that he had no skill with words. But God had ordered Moses and Aaron to lead his people away from Egypt.
Verses 14-16 Reuben, Simeon and Levi were Israel’s first three sons. ‘Israel’ is the name that God gave to Jacob in Genesis 32:28. The list continues with all their sons’ names.
Verses 17-20 The list shows how Aaron and Moses were Israel’s (Jacob’s) relatives. Amram married his aunt, Jochabed. At that time, they allowed a person to marry his aunt. But later it would not be legal. See Leviticus 18:12-13. Aaron and Moses were their sons. The record shows that Aaron was the older son.
Verses 21-25 The list of Levi’s children and grandchildren emphasises Aaron’s family. They became the priests. Nadab and Abihu both died (Leviticus 10:1-3). But the priests’ family continued by means of Aaron’s son, Eleazar, and Eleazer’s son Phinehas.
Merari (verse 16) and Putiel (verse 25) may be *Egyptian names. Phinehas means ‘person from the country called Ethiopia’. While in Egypt, some *Israelites may have married foreigners, who were living there also. The record shows exactly who Moses and Aaron were. That family is part of a much longer history of the family. We can read about it in Numbers chapter 26.
Verse 26 Aaron’s name comes first in that record because he was older than Moses (Exodus 7:7).
Verse 27 However, Moses was the leader so his name comes first now.
Verses 28-30 Moses repeated his excuse that he was not a good speaker. He did not believe that *Pharaoh would listen to him. So he thought that he could not deliver God’s message.
Chapter 7 verse 1 A ‘*prophet’ was someone who declared God’s message to the people. So Aaron would be like a *prophet and he would speak on behalf of Moses. Moses would give God’s message to Aaron, and Aaron would tell that message to *Pharaoh.
Verses 2-5 God warned Moses and Aaron that *Pharaoh would oppose their request. *Pharaoh did not want the *Israelites to leave his country. So God would do many wonderful acts because he is powerful. But *Pharaoh would not change his decision. God’s power would rescue the *Israelites. God would be the judge of the *Egyptians and he would punish them. Then they would recognise that the *Israelite’s God is the *LORD. And they would know that he had acted on behalf of his people.
Verse 6 Moses was 40 years old when he ran away to Midian (Acts 7:23). He spent 40 years in Midian (Acts 7:30). So he was 80 years old when God called him to speak to *Pharaoh. Both 40 and 80 can be a way to describe an ideal length of time. After 40 years with the *Israelites in the *desert, Moses was 120 years old (Deuteronomy 34:7). People considered that 120 years was the ideal time for a complete life (Genesis 6:3).
Verses 8-12 That is only one of the three *signs that God gave to Moses (Exodus 4:2-7). Now Aaron did it in front of *Pharaoh. In these verses, the word ‘snake’ does not refer to an ordinary snake. Here, it means something much bigger and more terrible than an ordinary snake. A large snake was the royal *sign of power in Egypt. But Aaron’s stick showed that God’s power was greater. His snake was bigger and more powerful than the other snakes. *Pharaoh’s men, who used magic, managed to imitate Aaron’s action. But God was in control. *Jewish history names two of the men who used magic here. They were Johannes and Jambres (2 Timothy 3:8).
Verse 13 *Pharaoh had decided that he would refuse. Nobody would cause him to change his decision. But God knows people’s secret thoughts. And he had warned Moses that would happen.
A ‘*plague’ is a bad disease or an extraordinary event that affects very many people. Usually it causes people or animals to suffer very much. And sometimes there are many deaths.
Verses 17-18 The *Egyptians *worshipped the River Nile as a false god. The annual flood from the river caused the earth to produce excellent crops. The river provided water to drink and fish to eat. The river was very important for the *Egyptians. Anything that affected the River Nile affected everyone in Egypt.
Verses 19-21 Moses told Aaron to raise the stick. That act showed God’s authority. Now the River Nile was not pure water. So the fish died and the water had a terrible smell. It was so bad that nobody could drink it. Some people say that there is a natural cause. A great amount of algae could have grown very quickly. Algae are very tiny plants. They can prevent the movement of air in the water. Also they can make the water look red like blood. However, these verses say that Moses and Aaron obeyed God. So God changed all the water in Egypt. God chose the time for his purpose.
That terrible thing affected all the available water. It even affected the water in buckets and jars in the houses. They made buckets out of wood and they made jars out of stone. They also made images of their *idols out of wood and stone. Perhaps God was showing the *Egyptians that their images of wood and of stone were no use. Such false gods could not protect them (Deuteronomy 29:16-17).
Verse 22 The men who used magic could not improve the situation. They convinced the people that they could do the same thing. But that made the situation worse.
Verse 24 People often dig holes in the sand at the side of a river. That is how they get clean water. But it is hard work. And the *Egyptians had to dig fresh holes each time they wanted water.
Verse 2 *Frogs are small animals that can live in water or on land. They have very powerful back legs. With these legs they can swim and they can jump up in the air. They make a loud, low noise that can sound very unpleasant. The *Egyptians *worshipped a female false god called Heqt. That false god had a *frog’s head. They thought that she helped women. And then the women could have children.
Verses 3-4 describe how an enormous number of *frogs would leave the River Nile. Those *frogs would be a nuisance everywhere. The *frogs would be in the ovens when people tried to cook. Nobody would sleep because the *frogs would be in the bedrooms and on the beds. The *frogs would be in the bowls when people wanted to prepare food. Those details showed clearly how the *frogs would affect every part of their lives. Even *Pharaoh would not escape. The *frogs would enter his palace. They would go into his bedroom and into his bed. Psalm 105:30 mentions the *frogs in the rulers’ bedrooms.
Verse 7 The men who used magic increased the number of the *frogs! That act did not help *Pharaoh because too many *frogs were already there!
Verse 8 When *Pharaoh himself had suffered, then he spoke to Moses and Aaron. He asked Moses to pray to the *LORD on his behalf. If God took the *frogs away, *Pharaoh would let the *Israelites go. Then they could give gifts to the *LORD. *Pharaoh recognised that the *LORD had sent the *plague of *frogs. He realised that his wise men could not send the *frogs away. His men, who used magic, had no power against God.
Verse 9 Moses was very polite to *Pharaoh, but he also emphasised God’s power. God had sent the *frogs. And God could make that *plague go away at any time.
Verses 12-14 After Moses had prayed, the *frogs died. The people put the frog’s bodies in piles, which made a very bad smell.
Verse 15 But *Pharaoh did not remember his promise. He did not let the *Israelites go. He thought that his country was safe again now. The *frogs had gone, so everything was normal again.
Verses 16-17 Those ‘*gnats’ were probably the insects called ‘mosquitoes’. Such insects develop in enormous numbers in pools of water. And there were pools everywhere after the River Nile’s annual flood. Mosquitoes and *gnats are a nuisance when they fly up from the water. They look like a large black cloud. They sting people and they cause pain and illness. ‘Dust’ and ‘cloud’ are ways to describe their great numbers. God promised Abraham that his family would increase. They would be as many as the ‘dust of the earth’ (Genesis 13:16).
Verses 18-19 The men who used magic could not copy that *plague. So they told *Pharaoh that God had made the *plague of *gnats.
Verses 20-21 *Pharaoh was going down to the River Nile. Perhaps he was going there to *worship the false god of the river. The *Hebrew word ‘fly’ could refer to a variety of insects. The *Greek translation calls them ‘dog flies’. Some flies give painful bites to people and to animals.
Verses 22-23 Goshen was the area in Egypt where the *Israelites lived (Genesis 45:10). That was the first time that God dealt with the *Egyptians in a different way from the *Israelites. But later, the writer mentions that particular difference. It is during *plagues number 5 (Exodus 9:4, 6), *plague number 7 (Exodus 9:26), *plague number 9 (Exodus 10:23) and *plague number 10 (Exodus 11:7). The *LORD punished the *Egyptians. But at the same time he looked after his own people.
Verses 25-26 Moses reminded *Pharaoh about the customs in his country. It would offend the *Egyptians if the *Israelites gave their gifts to God in Egypt. The *Israelites had to kill cows as a gift for the *LORD. But that was an insult to the *Egyptian false god, Isis. The *Israelites had to kill sheep as gifts for the *LORD. And that was an insult to the *Egyptian false god, Amon. Those animals were special and holy to the many *Egyptian false gods. Nearly every animal that the *Israelites were likely to give would offend the *Egyptians. So the *Egyptians would be very angry. And they would try to kill the *Israelites with stones.
Verses 27-28 *Pharaoh had to agree that was true. And he said that the *Israelites could go into the *desert. But to go for a ‘three day journey’ did not please him. Perhaps he thought that they would not come back! So he said that they must not go very far.
Verses 29-30 Moses promised to pray to the *LORD on behalf of *Pharaoh. Only God could remove the *plague of flies. *Pharaoh had told lies to them in the past. So Moses warned *Pharaoh that he must carry out his promise. He must let the *Israelites go. But as soon as the flies left completely, *Pharaoh became proud again. He would not give in. Again, he refused to let the people go.
Verse 3 ‘cows’ includes both male and female animals. The *Israelites used cows for milk, for meat and for leather. They also used them to pull carts and other equipment.
Verses 5-6 Perhaps the animals died because the insects had bitten them. Both *gnats and flies can carry disease. But the *plague showed God’s great power. He chose when any *plague would happen and its extent. ‘All’ the *Egyptians’ animals means all those animals that were in the fields (verse 3). There were still some animals alive. But the future *plagues affected those other animals (Exodus 9:10, 25; 11:5).
Verse 8 The fires where they burnt the bricks produced a lot of ashes and fine black dust.
Verses 9-10 ‘*Boils’ are large red spots on the skin that are very painful. They become sore places, which produce bad substances. The wind would blow the ashes everywhere and it would be a *sign. People would see how the disease was spreading very quickly.
Verse 11 The men who used magic ‘could not continue to stand’. The painful *boils covered their knees and their legs (Deuteronomy 28:35). The *boils covered the rest of their skin too.
Verse 12 The record tells us that ‘the *LORD made *Pharaoh continue to be proud’. That is the first time during the *plagues that it says that about the *LORD. In the first 5 *plagues, *Pharaoh had become proud. He would not give in to God. *Pharaoh had made so many wrong moral choices. Now he was reaching the limit of his freedom to change. Still *Pharaoh was too proud. So the *LORD decided to punish *Pharaoh with more *plagues.
Verses 13-15 God could have killed *Pharaoh and his people completely. But God had been very patient with *Pharaoh. Each *plague had given to *Pharaoh the opportunity to change. He could have let the *Israelites go.
Verse 16 God had allowed *Pharaoh to continue to live. God wanted people everywhere to know his power and his character. ‘Name’ means more than the word ‘God’ or ‘*LORD’. It means all the ways in which people understand God’s character (Romans 9:17).
Verses 17-21 *Pharaoh had become so proud that God punished him with 6 terrible *plagues. But he still refused to listen. He would not let the *Israelites go. So God must punish him again. And the next day God would send a terrible storm of *hail. ‘*Hail’ is a kind of ice. It is rain that has frozen. *Hail can be as small as a tiny seed. Or it can be as big as a small ball. It can hurt people. A strong storm of *hail kills animals. And it damages crops and property.
That storm of *hail would be terrible. It would be stronger than any storm that the *Egyptians had known in their history. *Pharaoh and his people could avoid damage from that *plague. If they obeyed God’s order, they would bring their slaves and their animals inside a shelter. Then they would be safe. Some of *Pharaoh’s officials believed God’s message. Quickly they obeyed the order. They brought their slaves and their animals inside. Other officials did not believe God. So they did not think that they ought to protect their property. Therefore, they left their slaves and their animals outside.
Verses 22-24 *Thunder is the sudden loud noise in a storm. It follows lightning in a storm. And the *hail came in a great storm. The lightning flashes hit the ground from all directions. The *thunder and the lightning were *signs that God was present. Later God showed that he was present on *Mount Sinai in the same way (Exodus 19:16). There had never been a storm as bad as that storm in Egypt’s entire history.
Verses 25-26 That *plague of *hail affected every person and every animal that was out in the fields. It destroyed crops and it tore the leaves off the trees. Only Goshen, where the *Israelites lived, escaped that *hail. God sent that *plague by means of his power. He had decided to rescue his people, the *Israelites, from Egypt.
Verses 27-30 For the first time *Pharaoh agreed that he was guilty. He agreed that the *LORD was right. He agreed that the *LORD was punishing him. And he agreed that the *LORD had sent the terrible *hail. *Pharaoh and his people wanted the *thunder and the *hail to stop. So *Pharaoh said that he would obey God. *Pharaoh would allow Moses and his people to go. Then he ordered Moses to pray on his behalf. Moses promised to pray. And he promised that the storm would stop. That would show that God controls the whole earth. But Moses knew that *Pharaoh and his officials were not sincere. Moses did not believe that *Pharaoh would carry out his promise. But he agreed to *Pharaoh’s request, so that *Pharaoh could make no more excuses.
Verse 31 *Barley was an important crop that became ripe before the wheat. *Flax is a plant with blue flowers. People use the stems to make material of good quality called ‘*linen’. The *Egyptians liked that expensive material. They made clothes out of *linen for their important people. Wheat was Egypt’s main export for many centuries, until *New Testament times. As a prisoner, Paul travelled on ships from the port called Alexandria. They probably carried loads of grain (Acts 27:6 and 28:11). The second kind of wheat can be called ‘spelt’. It would grow in poorer ground. But it was not as good quality as the usual wheat. Wheat became ripe a month later than the *barley and the *flax. So the wheat escaped the *hail. But the next *plague would destroy it.
Verses 1-2 God had shown his power very clearly when he punished the *Egyptians. They were stupid to oppose the *LORD. The *Israelites must tell their children and their grandchildren about the *LORD’s wonderful acts. Then everyone would know that God is the most powerful Ruler. And he rules for all time.
Verses 4-6 *Locusts are large insects that can jump and fly. They usually live in areas near deserts, especially in Africa and in West Asia. They gather in enormous numbers and they move together. They are like a great, black cloud that rises high in the sky. They make the sky so dark that people cannot see the sun. When they land, they cover a large area. People are very afraid of these clouds of *locusts because they eat everything. They eat everything that is green. They destroy crops and trees. As a result, the people and the animals have no food. God used *locusts to punish people at other times too (Joel chapters 1-2).
Verses 7-10 *Pharaoh’s officials were becoming anxious about their situation. So they protested to *Pharaoh. They reminded him that the *Hebrew God was destroying their country. So *Pharaoh ordered Moses and Aaron to come to him again. He asked them who would go with them. And Moses said that everyone must go. He said that the animals must go too. They needed them for the special *feast. And they needed them for the gifts that they would give to God. That would be a special occasion to give honour to the *LORD.
Verse 10 ‘The *Lord will certainly be with you’. But *Pharaoh was not blessing them. He meant that in a negative way. He did not really want the *Lord to be with them. If he let the families go, he would be doing a good thing to the *Israelites. But *Pharaoh did not want to do a good thing for the *Israelites. It was usual for the men to kill the animals and to give them to God. But *Pharaoh wanted to keep the women and the children and the animals in Egypt. He wanted to be sure that the *Israelite men would return to their families and their animals.
Verse 13 The *locusts came from the *desert. A wind from the east blew them over Egypt. And a wind from the west blew them away again (verse 19). God created the wind and he controls it. So he used these winds to do what he desired. He wanted to teach *Pharaoh a lesson. *Pharaoh was opposing the *LORD who rules the wind and the sea (Psalm 107:29). The *Egyptians *worshipped a false god called Senehem. They thought that false god could protect them from damage. That false god should protect them from insects and animals that were a nuisance. The *plague of *locusts showed that the *LORD’s power was greater than Senehem’s power. Neither *Pharaoh nor any *Egyptian false god could overcome the *LORD.
Verses 16-20 *Pharaoh asked Moses and Aaron to forgive him. He wanted the *LORD to take the *locusts away from Egypt. But his attitude had not changed.
Verse 19 The ‘Red Sea’ is ‘Yam Suph’ in the *Hebrew language. It means the ‘Reed Sea’. Reeds are tall plants that grow in water. But perhaps the ‘Red’ Sea got its name from very tiny red plants. Those plants sometimes grow in the sea.
Verses 21-23 Moses did not warn *Pharaoh about that *plague. And he had not warned *Pharaoh about the *gnats and the *boils. The chief *Egyptian false god, called Ra, *represented the sun. So darkness was an insult to the false god Ra. In the early Spring, a wind called ‘khamsin’ blows sometimes in Egypt. That wind blows from the south-west. It blows millions of tiny grains of sand from the *desert. And these storms of sand last for two or three days. They make the air so full of sand that it is like the night. The people cannot see and they cannot do anything. It is so hot and so dark. People say that they can ‘feel’ the darkness. Perhaps this is how God caused the darkness in Egypt. But the *Israelites had light in Goshen, the part of Egypt where they lived.
Verses 24-26 *Pharaoh had seen storms of sand before that time. But he realised that the darkness was different. It must be the *Hebrews’ God who had caused it. So he sent for Moses again. He said that the *Israelites could go. Their women and children could go too. But they must leave their animals in Goshen. Many animals had died in Egypt with the diseases and the *hail. So perhaps *Pharaoh intended to take the *Israelites’ animals. Or perhaps he wanted to emphasise that he controlled the situation still. Moses reminded *Pharaoh why they wanted to go to the *desert. They wanted to give gifts to the *LORD. That would be impossible without the animals to give as gifts. And they did not know which animals they would need. They would not know that until they arrived at the place in the *desert. So Moses told *Pharaoh that they must not leave even one animal. Moses had given *Pharaoh no opportunity to bargain about the animals.
Verses 27-29 *Pharaoh was very angry that Moses had won. He told Moses to ‘get out’. *Pharaoh said that Moses should never return. And Moses agreed that he would not appear in front of *Pharaoh again. *Pharaoh would have no more opportunity for to argue with Moses. *Pharaoh could not continue to oppose the *LORD.
(Exodus 12:31 says that *Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron at night. He ordered them to leave. And they could take their animals with them. *Pharaoh probably sent someone to them with that order. Sometimes people say what they do not mean. That happens especially when they are very angry. The death of *Pharaoh’s oldest son changed him and he was very sad. So perhaps he forgot that he wanted to kill Moses.)
Verses 1-2 *Plague number 10 would be the final wonderful act. Afterwards, *Pharaoh wanted the *Israelites to leave his country. But they would not go as poor people. God had told the *Israelites to ask their *Egyptian neighbours for gold and silver objects. And the *Egyptians were glad to see the *Israelites go away. So they gave to the *Israelites the things for which they had asked (Exodus 12:33). Later, the *Israelites used some of these things in both good ways and bad ways. They gave some things to Aaron to make the young *bull from gold (Exodus 32:2-4). They gave more things to Moses to make things for God’s special tent (Exodus 25:1-3).
Verses 4-5 Verse 4 continues the account about how Moses warned *Pharaoh for the last time. Verses 1-3 interrupt that account. Everybody’s oldest sons would die. That *plague would affect everyone from *Pharaoh, the king, to the least important female slave. Those female slaves did the very humble work. They turned the stones to make the wheat into flour. Every male animal that was born first to the *Egyptians’ animals would die also. The *Egyptians *worshipped a great many false gods that had the shape of an animal. But those false gods had no power to protect the *Egyptians’ own animals.
Verse 6 The *Israelites had called to the *LORD because of their troubles. And he heard their cry (Exodus 2:23-24). Now the *Egyptians cried out. But they did not cry to the real God. The *Egyptians were afraid in the night because Ra, their Sun god, had left them. So they thought that they were without protection. They cried because their sons had died. There would be no oldest son to continue with the name of the family.
Verse 7 ‘quiet among the *Israelites…not hear a domestic animal bark’. The *Israelites had no reason to be afraid. Not one of the *Israelites or their animals would die. The *LORD would act to punish the *Egyptians. But he would act to rescue his people, the *Israelites.
Verses 9-10 The 9 previous *plagues had happened after Moses and Aaron had reached up with Moses’ stick. Or Moses had reached up his hand as a *sign. But for the final *plague, God himself would go all through Egypt (Exodus 11:4; 12:12). God had given to *Pharaoh many opportunities to change his decision. God gives to all people the opportunity to change their behaviour. But nobody can refuse to obey God for all time. God is the judge. And he must punish anyone who has refused to obey him. The time had come for God to punish *Pharaoh and his people.
Verse 2 They called that first month ‘Abib’. It is the month when the first grain becomes ripe. Later, when they were in the country called Babylon, they called that month ‘Nisan’ (Nehemiah 2:1). It is the same time in the year as the months that we call March and April in English. Before that time, the *Israelites’ year had begun in the autumn. That was after the agricultural year had ended (Exodus 23:16). But God brought the *Israelites away from their past in Egypt. It was a new beginning. So in the future, their year would begin with the month called Abib.
Verses 3-5 The animal must be a perfect male that was one year old. It could be either a sheep or a goat. Each leader of a family counted how many people lived in his home. He had to decide how much each person would eat. A whole animal might be too much for his home if only a few people lived there. Then they must share one animal with their nearest neighbour and his family. In later days, they calculated that ten adults would eat one young sheep.
Verses 6-10 Day 14 would be in the middle of the month. The moon would be complete then. The animal’s blood *represents that it has given its life (Leviticus 17:11). So they painted the blood round the doors of their houses as a *sign. The *Israelites would eat in those houses for which the animals had ‘given’ their lives. They must cook the animal over a fire. God did not want them to eat raw meat. Perhaps people, who did not know God, ate raw meat sometimes.
Later, the plants with a bitter taste reminded the *Israelites about their bitter past as slaves. At that meal they must eat flat bread that they made without *yeast. The *yeast grows slowly in the bread as they make it. Then the mixture rises. So without *yeast the bread is thin and flat. But they would not have time to wait for the *yeast. They had to burn anything that they did not eat completely at that one meal. In that way they were respecting something that they had given to God. Today, the *Jews still eat the *Passover meal. But they have just a part of a perfect animal’s leg. That leg *represents the whole animal.
Verses 11-13 The *Israelites must eat the meal quickly. They must be ready to leave in a hurry. They must fasten their belts round their coats so that they could move easily. They must wear their shoes because they could not walk a long way with bare feet. And they must carry their sticks to help them to walk well. Also they used the sticks to control their animals.
They would be eating the meal at the time when the *LORD ‘passed through’ Egypt. God would bring his judgement on ‘all Egypt’s false gods’. Already the *LORD had punished some of those false gods. Those false gods included the River Nile (Exodus 7:19), Heqt, the false god with the *frog’s head (Exodus 8:2), and Ra, the Sun god (Exodus 10:21). Now God would punish the *Egyptians themselves. He would kill their oldest sons. But the *Israelites had painted the blood on their houses. The blood was a *sign. So the *LORD would ‘pass over’ the *Israelites’ houses. They would be safe. Psalm 78:43-52 refers to God’s judgement on Egypt. It tells how he rescued his people, the *Israelites.
Verses 14-17 God punished the *Egyptians. And he rescued the *Israelites from Egypt. God told the *Israelites to always remember that time. Many writers in the Bible refer back to that time. Today, *Jews continue to remember that time. They continue to have that meal more than 3000 years after it first happened.
Another name for *yeast is ‘leaven’. ‘Unleavened bread’ is bread that they made without *yeast. It is like a thin, flat biscuit. Today, *Jews call bread like this ‘matzos’. The *feast lasts for 7 days. 7 is a *sign that it is complete. At the beginning and at the end of that week God wanted them to meet together. They would *worship God. They could do food preparation. But they must not do any other work on those two days of *worship. God brought his people away from Egypt. During the week after the *Passover meal, they remembered that act. Immediately after the *Passover meal was the *Feast when they ate bread without *yeast. Therefore they considered both these events as one special period (Exodus 23:15).
Verses 18-20 Before the *Passover, the *Israelites had to remove any *yeast from their homes. And they had to remove all food that contained *yeast. Even today, *Jews search their houses to be sure about that. They must not include anyone as part of *Israel if they did not obey that law. That was very serious. It meant that they should punish that person. Either they must send them away, or they must kill them. The rule was for the people who were born as *Israelites. And it was the same rule for the people who had joined them.
Verse 22 ‘Hyssop’ was a small bush with a pleasant smell. It grew as a wild bush. If you hold branches of that plant together, you can use it as a kind of brush. They could use hyssop to splash or paint the blood on the beams round the door. After that, nobody must leave the house until the morning. They must stay where the young sheep’s blood was the *sign. The blood would protect them.
Verse 23 ‘His *angel who brings death’ described God’s control. God’s judgement brought death in serious situations.
Verses 24-27 Children will ask why they have that special meal. Then their parents must explain the *Passover. The *LORD had saved the *Israelites when he ‘passed over’ their houses in Egypt. But he entered the *Egyptians’ houses and he killed their oldest sons. Today *Jewish families eat the special meal at *Passover. And the youngest child in the family asks the same question.
Verse 29 Exodus 11:5 compares *Pharaoh with the female slave who made flour. Here it compares *Pharaoh with a prisoner in the worst prison.
Verses 31-32 At last, *Pharaoh allowed the *Israelites to leave. He was allowing their women and the children to go as well. And all the animals could go too. Although they were slaves, the *Israelites had their own animals. *Pharaoh even asked Moses to pray on his behalf.
Verses 33-36 The *Egyptians wanted the *Israelites to leave as quickly as possible. If the *Israelites did not go, more terrible things would happen. The *Egyptians were afraid that all of them would die.
Exodus 3:21-22 and Exodus 11:1-2. Those verses have recorded already how the *Israelites requested gold and silver objects and clothes from the *Egyptians. So the *Israelites left Egypt like an army that had won a war. They carried away precious goods from the enemy. They did that when they defeated an enemy in a battle.
Verses 37-38 Numbers 33:3 records that the *Israelites started their journey on day 15 of the first month. That was the day after the *Passover. And all the *Israelites had gathered together in the city called Rameses. Then they marched to the east through Goshen district to the place called Succoth. In the *Hebrew language, ‘Succoth’ means tents or shelters.
Also Numbers 11:21 tells us that there were 600 000 men. Some people think that the big number is a mistake. They say there were too many people. There were large numbers of women and children as well. But *Pharaoh had worried that so many *Israelites were living in his country (Exodus 1:6-9). And later, he did not want to lose so many free workers. In the future, the *Israelites caused the people called Moabites to be afraid of them (Numbers 22:3). So there were great numbers of *Israelites. Also Moses and their other leaders were very careful. They kept accurate records.
Verse 38 says ‘many other people went with them’. Probably some of these other people had married *Israelites. And some of them may have been prisoners whom the *Egyptians kept as slaves. Perhaps they were from other countries. Now they saw the opportunity to escape from Egypt. But perhaps they did not believe the *Israelite religion. If so, it should not surprise us that they caused trouble. In Numbers 11:4 they encouraged the *Israelites to complain about their food.
Verses 40-42 God told Abraham about the future. Abraham’s family would be slaves for 400 years (Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6). The extra 30 years may include some of the time when Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived. ‘After exactly 430 years’ emphasises that the time in Egypt had ended. God had looked after the *Israelites while he brought them away from Egypt. So the *Israelites must remember that fact each year. And they must give honour to the *LORD.
Verses 44-45 A slave would become a part of the family if his master had *circumcised him. So he would belong to God’s family too. To *circumcise someone was a *sign. It marked the special promise that God had made to his people (Genesis 17:12). Men, who stayed only for a short time, were not a part of the family. So they must not eat the *Passover meal.
Verse 46 ‘Inside your home’ reminded them about the unity of the family. The *Passover had brought that unity to them. They must not break the animal’s bones during the *Passover meal. The *apostle called John remembered that. Jesus was like the perfect young sheep for a *Passover meal when he died. In Jesus’ time, many prisoners died on crosses. The soldiers usually broke the prisoners’ legs in the evening. But the soldiers did not break Jesus’ legs, because he was dead already (John 19:33 and 19:36).
Verse 48 Perhaps a foreigner or a stranger wanted to eat the *LORD’s *Passover meal. Then they must *circumcise all the males in his house. That would show that they had joined God’s family. The foreigners or strangers would be exactly like those men who were born *Israelites. Then they would receive the same benefits as the *Israelites received from God’s special promise (Genesis 22:18). In the *New Testament Paul wrote about people who are not *Jews. They can become one family with *Jews. They will all be one family if they all trust Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:6).
Verses 1-2 and verses 11-16 deal with the order to give their oldest sons to God. Verses 3-10 seem to be an interruption. But the time to eat bread without *yeast is part of the *Passover. It reminds the *Israelites about that great rescue. It was at the time of the *Passover that God rescued the oldest *Israelite sons. So those sons who were born first, belonged to God. They were available for God to use. He could use them in a special way if he wanted to do so. That was why parents gave their oldest sons to God.
Verses 3-7 The *LORD had rescued the *Israelites from Egypt where they had been slaves. But they were going to freedom in a country where there was plenty of food. They will have plenty to eat and plenty to drink in the future. So they must remember how the *LORD had saved them. They must remember that every year in the month Abib. The days when they ate flat bread without *yeast should remind them. And they must eat flat bread without *yeast for 7 days. They must remove all the *yeast and ordinary bread from their homes. There must be no *yeast anywhere in their country.
Verse 8 The *Jews continue the custom every year. They have the special meal at *Passover each year. Today, the youngest son asks his father what it all means. And the father in each family must explain it. That conversation is important. The son’s question and the father’s answer help them to remember their history.
Verses 9-10 The reference to the ‘hand’ refers to what people do. The ‘head’ refers to what people think. The people needed to remember that God rescued them from Egypt. And that memory should affect everything that they did with their hands. And it should affect everything that they thought in their heads.
But later, *Jews thought that they must actually put *signs on their hands. And put *signs on the front of their heads. So even today, strict *Jews write verses from Deuteronomy on tiny pieces of paper. They make the paper from the skins of animals. They put these little papers in small boxes. They use leather to make these boxes. And they bind these boxes onto their left arms. And bind them onto the front of their heads. They use narrow bands of leather to bind them. And they call these little boxes ‘phylacteries’. However, they need to do what God wants. And they should think in the way that God wants. Otherwise, the little boxes cannot help them. Jesus also mentioned ‘phylacteries’ (Matthew 23:5).
The law of the *LORD is ‘what the *LORD has taught you’. That law should affect everything that they say. And the law should affect everything that they do. And they must teach the law to other people.
Verses 11-13 The oldest sons in each family belonged to God. And the male animals, that were born first, belonged to God. But the *Israelites must not kill their oldest sons as a gift to God. That was clear from Abraham’s experience. A male sheep replaced his son, Isaac. God made it possible for Abraham to ‘buy back’ his son (Genesis 22:13). Later, God told Moses that he had chosen all the men in the family called Levi. The young men had helped to give the people’s gifts to God. But the *Levites would replace the other *Israelites’ oldest sons (Exodus 32:28-29). And the *Levites would serve God in place of the oldest sons (Numbers 3:11-13). Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the *temple in Jerusalem. They gave birds to the *LORD to buy back their baby son (Luke 2:22-24).
People had to kill the young animals that belonged to the *LORD. But the *donkey was different. It looks like a small horse with long ears. It works for people and it can carry people and goods. But it was not a *clean animal, so God did not accept it. So the *donkey could not be a gift that they gave to the *LORD on an *altar. But it belonged to the *LORD, so they must ‘redeem’ it. ‘Redeem’ means ‘buy it back’. A young male sheep could take its place. But the *Israelites might not replace the *donkey with a young sheep. If they did not replace the *donkey then they must kill it.
Verses 14-16 The oldest son, and the animal that is born first, belonged to God. The father must explain the reason to his sons. The father must remind them how the *LORD used his great power. He had rescued the *Israelites from Egypt by means of wonderful acts. Verse 9 had explained that they must always remember that. Every year they must eat flat bread that they made without *yeast. Verse 15 says that they must always remember about the oldest sons. Those sons belonged to God because he had saved them. He killed the *Egyptians’ oldest sons and animals. But God saved the *Israelites’ oldest sons and animals.
Verses 17-18 The *Israelites had lived in the Goshen district, which was in Egypt. Now God was taking them to the country called *Canaan. And the direct road to *Canaan was through the country where the *Philistines lived. But there were many *Egyptian guards along that route. They would stop the *Israelites before they reached the border. The *Israelites would be afraid to fight the *Egyptian soldiers. Perhaps the *Israelites would turn and go back to Egypt. So God directed them to go a different way. The ‘Red Sea’ is ‘Yam Suph’ in the *Hebrew language. It means the ‘Reed Sea’. Reeds are plants that grow in shallow water. That may be any part of what we call ‘the Red Sea’ now. It is not certain where that was exactly.
Verse 19 Joseph had insisted that his family should make a serious promise to him. They must take his body with them to *Canaan. That proved that he believed God’s promise. He was sure that later, God would take the *Israelites away from Egypt. And he was sure that God would lead them back to *Canaan. (Genesis 50:24-25). Finally, they buried Joseph at a place called Shechem in *Canaan. Many years ago, Jacob had bought a piece of land there (Genesis 33:19 and Joshua 24:32).
Verse 20 The name ‘Etham’ means ‘Tum’s house’. And Tum was another name for the sun god.
Verses 21-22 The cloud and the fire were impressive *signs. They showed that God was with the *Israelites on their journey.
Verses 1-2 God told the *Israelites to turn back. So they did not continue to go in the same direction (Numbers 33:7). God told them exactly where to camp. Pi-Hahiroth was probably two or three days’ journey from Etham. ‘Migdol’ was the name of a strong building where they could watch for an enemy. And ‘Baal Zephon’ was the name of a *Canaanite false god. The *Israelites camped north of the Red Sea. They were probably about 20 miles east of the city called Rameses and south of Lake Menzaleh.
Verses 3-4 God told them to change direction. That would give the wrong idea to *Pharaoh. He would think that the *Israelites did not know their way through the *desert. And he would think that they could not escape. The sea was in front of them and the *desert was behind them.
Verses 5-7 *Pharaoh and his officials realised that they had lost a very large number of their workers. So *Pharaoh became proud again and he lost his fear of God. He prepared to chase after the *Israelites. Most of his army consisted of *chariots, that they used in a war. Horses pulled these small vehicles with two men in each *chariot. One man *drove the horse and a second man was ready to fight. Egypt was famous for its ‘*chariots and horses’ (Isaiah 31:1). The *Egyptian king had an organisation of 30 captains, who were his officers over these *chariots. In the *Hebrew language the ‘third’ or ‘30’ men were the officers. When Solomon was king in *Israel, usually these *chariots had a third man in them.
Verses 10-12 The *Israelites saw that *Pharaoh and his army were near. Immediately the *Israelites began to blame Moses. That was the first occasion when they complained. They blamed Moses that they had left Egypt. But they said that only because they were very afraid. They quickly forgot how they had suffered as slaves. The *Israelites thought only about *Pharaoh’s soldiers. They thought that the soldiers would kill them in the *desert.
Verses 13-14 Moses believed what the *LORD had promised. So he told the *Israelites that the *LORD would fight on their behalf. They had to to remain calm. That was all that they needed to do. The *LORD would free them from the *Egyptians for always.
Verses 15-18 God told Moses to give the *sign. Then God would act. And the *Israelites would be able to walk through the sea on dry ground. But *Pharaoh and his army would follow them. God would show that he is the *LORD. And he would gain honour for himself.
Verses 19-20 ‘The *LORD’s *angel’ was God’s servant. He was travelling with them in order to protect the *Israelites. The tall cloud moved to a place behind the *Israelites. Then the *Egyptian army was in darkness. They could not see the *Israelites. That meant that the *Egyptians could not fight the *Israelites during the night.
Verses 21-22 The east wind blew back the water in the Red Sea. Then the *Israelites crossed it on dry ground. The cloud was behind the *Israelites so the *Egyptians could not come past them. Also, there was the ‘wall of water’ on each side. So the *Egyptians could not come along the left side or the right side to surround the *Israelites. The *Egyptians had to follow the same path through the water. They went behind the *Israelites.
Verses 23-25 ‘Just before dawn’ was about 6 o’clock in the morning. That was the best time to surprise the *Egyptians with an attack. God caused the *Egyptian army to become very afraid. The wheels of their *chariots could not move. Psalm 77:16-20 suggests that God sent a great storm at that time. The ground that had been under the sea was mud or sand. The *Israelites walked over the ground. But it was difficult for the *Egyptian soldiers to *drive *Pharaoh’s heavy *chariots through it. The wheels sunk in the mud. And then the men fell off the *chariots. That caused terror for the *Egyptians. So they wanted to turn round and to go back. But they could not move.
Verses 26-28 The sea went back to its ‘usual place’. That proves that the *Israelites were not walking along a dry river. That place was usually under the water and the water returned. That frightened the *Egyptians and they tried to escape. But they could not move their vehicles, so they drowned.
Verses 29-31 The *Egyptian soldiers were dead. The *Israelites were not slaves now. God, who rules the wind and the waves, was the judge. The *Egyptians were guilty and God had freed his people. The immediate result was that the *Israelites recognised God’s great power. They had confidence that Moses would be a good leader. The word ‘servant’ here described an important official who helped to manage the king’s affairs. The *LORD’s servant means a person who obeyed God. He would carry out the orders, because God is king.
Verses 1-3 God rescued the *Israelites from the *Egyptians. The song *praises God because of that powerful act. A king would lead his army to the battle. And the *LORD is king. The*Old Testament sometimes describes him as the ‘*LORD over hosts’. That means he was the *Lord ‘over great armies’.
Verse 4 The *LORD ‘threw’ *Pharaoh’s armies into the sea with force. In those days, a soldier would throw a stone with that kind of force.
Verse 5 Sank ‘like a stone’. That emphasises that the *Egyptians could not escape. So they drowned. (Verse 10 repeats that idea. It says that the *Egyptians sank ‘like heavy metal’.)
Verses 6-7 The *LORD’s ‘right hand’ is a way to speak about God’s power. There are three different descriptions here. They show how God’s great power killed the *Egyptians. He ‘broke them in pieces’. He ‘defeated them’. He ‘burned them completely like a fire burns straw’.
Verse 8 The song talks about God’s ‘powerful breath’ when he sent the east wind. God controls the wind. So the waves went back until the water seemed like a wall.
Verse 9 The enemy was too proud about what he could achieve. Those brief sentences show the enemies thoughts. They show that he was greedy. They are like the rapid orders that an officer would shout to his soldiers.
Verse 10 God made the wind blow the opposite way. So the water returned and covered the enemy. The *Egyptians drowned quickly. They sank like a piece of heavy metal that sinks in water.
Verse 11 The *Israelites had left a country where people *worshipped many false gods. But the *LORD had defeated all the *Egyptian false gods. ‘All who *worship images will be ashamed’ (Psalm 97:7). The *LORD is ‘holy’ and he is completely different from false gods. Only the *LORD can do wonderful things. He rescued his people and he killed their enemies in a wonderful way. People want to *praise him for his great power and impressive beauty.
Verse 12 The ‘earth’ may refer to the grave. The ‘earth swallowed the *Egyptians’ when they sank in the sea. And they all died.
Verses 13-18 These verses describe future events as the *Israelites travel to *Canaan. These verses mention the places on the route that the *Israelites would travel.
Verse 13 ‘The holy place where you live.’ That may refer to the whole of *Canaan. God was guiding the *Israelites there. But when people sang that song later, probably they thought about Shiloh. Shiloh was a special place in *Canaan where they *worshipped God (1 Samuel 1:3). Or after that time, probably they thought about the *temple in Jerusalem (Psalm 76:2).
Verses 14-15 All the nations would hear what had happened in Egypt. So they would tremble with fear as the *Israelites approached them. ‘Chiefs’ was a special name for the rulers in the country called Edom (Genesis 36:15-19). The country called Moab was famous for the great many sheep that the people owned (2 Kings 3:4). Its leaders were strong. But these leaders would all be afraid.The people who lived in *Canaan would lose their courage very quickly.
Verses 16-17 God’s power would prevent these nations so that they would not act against *Israel. The *Israelites passed by the territories called Edom and Moab (Deuteronomy chapter 2). It may also refer to when they crossed over the River Jordan into *Canaan (Joshua chapter 3). The *LORD had promised that country to Abraham and to his children in the future (Genesis 17:8). It was a place where God would make his home. Your ‘holy place’ may refer to the *temple. God would choose his ‘holy place’. He wanted to make it the central place where people would *worship him (for example, Deuteronomy 12:11).
Verse 18 The *LORD is the king whose rule will never end. Those words are in Psalm 10:16 also.
Verse 20 The account that tells about Moses as a baby does not name Moses’ sister. But she was a responsible girl when the princess rescued Moses from the river (Exodus 2:7). When Moses was at *Pharaoh’s court, they probably referred to her as Aaron’s sister. Moses was a *prophet greater than all other *prophets (Deuteronomy 34:10). But Miriam said that she had spoken God’s message too (Numbers 12:2).
People also call these small drums ‘tambourines’. Women usually sang and danced. They did that when they were happy. They gave honour to that special occasion because God had defeated their enemies.
Verse 21 Miriam repeated the beginning of Moses’ song. Moses and the *Israelites said that they would sing. And Miriam told the women to sing as well. Later women sang in the *temple too (Ezra 2:65 and Nehemiah 7:67).
Verses 22-25 The *Israelites would have brought water with them. But after three days in the *desert, they would have finished that water. Both they and their animals needed water. The word ‘Marah’ means ‘bitter’. The water tasted unpleasant because it had various salts in it. God had appointed Moses as the *Israelites’ leader. So the people were complaining against God when they complained against Moses (Exodus 16:8). Moses cried out to the *LORD. Then God showed him some wood to throw into the water. It changed the bitter taste. Then the people could drink the water. God had tested the *Israelites at Marah. Their attitude to Moses shows also their attitude to God. It showed that they did not trust God.
Verse 26 The word ‘diseases’ probably refers to all the *plagues. In particular, it may refer to the water that changed to blood. So then, the people could not drink that water.
The *LORD taught the *Israelites that they must obey his rules. Then he would know that they trusted him. God changed the water because Moses obeyed him. Then they were able to drink the water. That was a *sign that God can free his people from evil things.
Verse 27 ‘12’ and ‘70’ are probably the actual numbers. Both suggest a perfect place where the *Israelites found food and water. A palm tree has a tall stem and it has big leaves at the top. It grows near to water.
Verses 1-3 The *Israelites had left Egypt on day 15 of the first month (Exodus 12:6, 31). So they had travelled for a month. They had forgotten the difficulties that they had in Egypt as slaves. But they remembered the pots with meat in them and the other food. Also they also remembered the vegetables with a nice strong taste (Numbers 11:5). They were quick to blame Moses because they had no food. They said that he had brought them into the *desert on purpose. And his purpose was to starve them.
Verses 4-5 The *LORD would test the *Israelites again. He wanted to see if they would obey him that time. They must collect only enough food for each day. But they must collect twice the amount on the day before the *Sabbath. The prayer for our ‘daily bread’ means that we must trust God too. He will provide our food each day (Matthew 6:11).
Verses 6-9 The *LORD would provide their food each day. It was God’s wonderful act that caused the *Israelites to leave Egypt. Only God had rescued the *Israelites. God would send meat to them in the evening. And he would send bread to them in the morning. So they were complaining against God when they complained against his servants, Moses and Aaron.
Verses 10-12 The wonderful light was shining from the cloud. It showed that God was present with his people. In the evening, the sun is just out of sight. But it is not yet completely dark. At that time God would provide meat for the *Israelites. He would provide plenty of bread in the morning.
Verse 13 Quails are small fat birds that people like to eat. They fly fairly close to the ground and often there are large groups of them. They fly between South Europe and Arabia in the spring and in the autumn. So they cross the area of the *desert in the region called Sinai. When they become very tired, they fall to the ground. They need to rest. At that time, people can catch them easily. Numbers 11:31 describes how the east wind blew the birds to the ground. There were so many birds, that they covered a large area round the *Israelites’ camp. An ancient writer called Pliny mentions quails. He agreed that very large numbers flew at night. He talked about many quails that landed on a ship near to the shore. Then the ship sank because of their weight.
Verses 13-15 Sometimes, very tiny amounts of water appear in the early morning. They are on the ground or on plants. People call it ‘dew’. If it freezes, it becomes ‘frost’. The *Israelites found a thin substance that seemed like ice or ‘frost’. They did not recognise it, so they called it ‘*manna’. The word ‘*manna’ means ‘What is it?’
Verses 15-18 In verse 16 the *Hebrew word is ‘omer’. An ‘omer’ measured just over two litres. It was difficult for some of the older people to collect the *manna. Younger *Israelites collected more. Probably they shared what they had collected. Then everyone had all that they needed. Paul used this example when he was writing to the Corinthians. He urged them to be generous. They should share things with other Christians who were poorer (2 Corinthians 8:14-15).
Verses 19-21 Some *Israelites did not obey God’s command. They showed that they did not trust God. They did not believe that he would continue to provide food every day. So they kept some of the *manna until the next morning. But it went off, and it began to have a nasty smell. It became full of ‘maggots’. Maggots are young insects that develop into flies. The *manna melted away when the sun rose. So the *Israelites had to get up early to collect it each day.
Verses 23-26 The word ‘*Sabbath’ appears here in the *Old Testament for the first time. When God created everything, he ‘rested’ from all his work on the 7th day (Genesis 2:2-3). While they were in Egypt as slaves, the *Israelites had to work every day. The *Egyptians gave them no opportunity to rest for a whole day.
Verses 27-30 But people did not obey Moses’ command. They went to look for *manna on the *Sabbath, but they did not find any. On the day before the *Sabbath, the *LORD’s provision was enough for two days. And the *manna did not go off. The *Sabbath was a good gift from God. They rested on that day. Later, Jesus spoke about it. ‘God made the *Sabbath for people’s benefit’, he said (Mark 2:27). The *Sabbath was a special day that they should use for the *LORD.
Verse 31 Even today, people can find a kind of *manna. They find it in the region of the *desert called Sinai. Some writers think that it is the same kind of *manna. That *manna is a sweet juice that falls from insects. The insects live on the branches of the bushes called ‘tamarisk’. The juice becomes solid, but it melts quickly in hot weather. There was a supply of *manna each day for the *Israelites. And it continued during all of the years that they were in the *desert. Each week there was a double amount on the day before the *Sabbath. But there was never any *manna on the *Sabbath day (verse 26). The *manna was God’s special provision. Psalm 78:25 says ‘men ate the *angels’ bread’. God tested the people when he provided the *manna. The *Israelites had to trust God for the next day’s supply. And they had to obey his commands. So they had to gather it each day except the *Sabbath day.
Verse 32 God had provided food for the *Israelites in the *desert. In the future, people must remember God’s provision. And they did remember. After Jesus fed 5 000 people, they asked him for a *sign. They wanted to see something wonderful like the *manna that God had sent from heaven. Jesus told them that he is the true bread from heaven. Only he can let us live for all time (John 6:30-35).
Verses 33-34 The special box reminded the people about the special promise that God had made to the *Israelites (Exodus 25:10-22). They placed the box in the Most Holy Place, which was in God’s special tent. Later, they placed the special box in the *temple in Jerusalem. It contained the two flat stones where God wrote his 10 *commandments. Also, the box contained Aaron’s stick and Aaron’s jar with the *manna in it. Hebrews 9:4 refers to Aaron’s jar that contained the *manna as a ‘gold’ jar. Very few people lived in the *desert. So the *Israelites did not meet many other people for those 40 years.
Verse 36 An ephah measured 22 litres. So an omer measures just over 2 litres.
Verse 1 Numbers 33:12-14 records all the places where the *Israelites travelled.
Verses 2-4 As soon as there was a problem about water, the people accused Moses. They spoke in a silly way. They said that he wanted to kill them, their families and their animals. Moses had brought them away from Egypt. They said that he wanted them to die. They were getting ready to kill Moses. They intended to throw stones at him. Then Moses referred to the *Israelites as ‘these’ people when he spoke to God about them. It seems that Moses did not want to belong to them.
Verse 6 Horeb was a name that they called the whole *desert. They also called that region Sinai. Or sometimes, they used it as another name for *Mount Sinai. It was the place where God met Moses for the first time (Exodus 3:1-2). Now God met the *Israelites there. When Moses hit the rock with his stick, God provided plenty of water for everybody. Psalm 78:15-16 mentions that event. ‘He brought streams out from a rock. He caused water to flow down like rivers.’ In Exodus 18:5, the writer calls Horeb, ‘God’s mountain’.
Verse 7 ‘Massah’ means ‘to test’. The *Israelites had forgotten how God had guided them. They had forgotten how he had fed them. So they did not believe that God cared about them now. They wanted proof that the *LORD was still with them. ‘Meribah’ means ‘to argue’ or ‘to complain’. The names of those places reminded people about what happened there.
Verse 8 The *Amalekites came from Esau’s grandson called Amalek. So they belonged to the family called the Edomites (Genesis 36:12). They lived in the *desert. They waited for any *Israelites who were slow or weak. Those *Israelites were behind everybody else, so they walked without protection. And the *Amalekites attacked them (Deuteronomy 25:17-18).
Verse 9 Joshua was Moses’ assistant (Exodus 24:13). Originally his name was Hoshea. But Moses changed his name to Joshua (Numbers 13:16). ‘Joshua’ means ‘the *LORD saves’. (Yeshua or Jesus is the same name.) Joshua was the leader of the powerful family called Ephraim (Numbers 13:8).
Verse 10 Hur may have been Caleb’s son (1 Chronicles 2:19-20). And that Hur was Bezalel’s grandfather. Bezalel was a skilful worker who helped to build God’s ‘special tent’ (Exodus 31:2). However, Caleb does not seem to be a very old man. So it may be a different man called Hur. But this verse shows that Hur was an important man. And Moses trusted Hur.
Verses 11-13 Moses raised his hands, which was a usual way to pray. But that tired Moses, so he put down his arms. Then he stopped his prayer and the *Israelites started to lose the battle. So Aaron and Hur found a seat for Moses and they supported his arms. It was clear that God was helping the *Israelites. Sometimes people have difficulty when they try to pray. That happens especially if they need to pray for a long time. So they need help from other Christians to ‘fight’ against bad things. When the battle with the *Amalekites stopped at sunset, Joshua had defeated them. ‘Defeated’ means ‘made weak’. Joshua had ‘made weak’ those people who had attacked the weakest *Israelites.
Verse 14 God told Moses to write a record about that battle with the *Amalekites. Moses must read the account to Joshua. And probably Moses read it to other people too. It is possible that the account was in the ‘Book of the *LORD’s Wars’. That book does not exist now, but Numbers 21:14 refers to it. Much later, God’s servant, Samuel, gave God’s orders to king Saul. God said that Saul must kill the *Amalekites (1 Samuel chapter 15).
Verse 15 ‘The *LORD is my flag’. In a battle, a particular soldier would hold up his army’s flag. All the soldiers would see it. That encouraged the soldiers who were fighting. Moses raised his hands and he was holding up the powerful stick. It encouraged the *Israelites. They remembered God’s power and they fought well. Moses was thanking God in front of everybody.
Verse 16 Moses raised his hands to appeal to the *LORD. He knew that the *Israelites needed help. The *Amalekites were opposing God when they attacked the *Israelites. So God would oppose the *Amalekites always.
Verses 1-4 Probably Moses had sent his wife and his two sons to her father. They would be safe there. ‘Gershom’ means ‘a stranger there’ (Exodus 2: 22). The name ‘Gershom’ shows how unhappy Moses was earlier. He had been happy in Egypt and then he had to leave his home there. Moses’ second son’s name does not appear anywhere else. But ‘Eliezer’ means ‘God is my helper’. By the time his son, Eliezer, was born, Moses understood God better. He had realised how much God had done for him. Moses had left Egypt a few years earlier. And God had helped him in so many ways since that time.
Verse 5 Moses and the people had moved east from Rephidim to ‘God’s mountain’. So they were probably in the lower area near *Mount Sinai.
Verses 7-8 The two chiefs, Moses and Jethro, greeted each other. Moses was humble enough to respect an older person. So he leaned forward in front of Jethro. We say that he ‘bowed’ to him. Then Moses kissed him. Moses told Jethro about everything that had happened. Moses told him how God had rescued the *Israelites from Egypt. Also Moses told him about the difficulties that they had met since then.
Verses 9-12 Jethro was happy to hear about the *LORD’s great power. He heard how God had saved the *Israelites from the *Egyptians. Jethro *praised the *LORD. He declared that all other gods were worth nothing. Those gods were false gods. Some writers think that Jethro had not recognised the real God before that time. He had not known Moses’ God as the real God. The usual way to thank God was to burn a gift in front of him. Nobody ate any part of an animal that they burned in that way. But Jethro gave other animals to God as gifts. And they used some meat from those other animals for a special meal. Aaron and *Israel’s leaders shared that special meal with Moses and Jethro. It was a part of their *worship.
Verses 13-16 Moses was making himself very tired. He was trying to do everything without any help. Many of the people wanted to see Moses. They wanted to hear his decision about their problems. They had to wait for a very long time. And they were becoming very tired as well.
Verses 17-23 Jethro told Moses that the situation was not satisfactory. Moses was wearing himself out, and the people would become impatient. Jethro reminded Moses that he must speak to God on behalf of the people. As their judge, Moses must also teach God’s laws to the people. He should teach them how to obey these laws every day. Jethro suggested that Moses should choose some good men but they must have the right moral qualities. They must be honest men, whom Moses trusted. They must not try to get money from the people. They would help Moses. Moses should appoint them as the officials over groups of the people. Then everyone would get attention. He organised the people rather like the army. Those officials dealt with the easy problems. And then Moses dealt only with the difficult problems.
Verse 24-27 Jethro had given his advice in a polite way. He did not order Moses to take his advice. But Moses was humble. He was wise enough to learn from his wife’s father. The record in Numbers 12:3 tells us this. ‘Moses was a very humble man. He was the most humble person in the world.’
altar ~ a table on which people give gifts or *sacrifices to God or to a false god.
Amalekites ~ people who come from Esau’s grandson, Amalek.
angel ~ a servant of God who sometimes brings messages from him.
apostles ~ the men whom Jesus sent out. Sometimes people call them ‘disciples’
barley ~ a kind of grain like wheat.
boil ~ 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 an *idol
Canaan ~ the country that God gave to *Israelites. *Canaanites lived here. And also people called Amorites, Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites and Perizzites lived here.
Canaanite ~ the people who originally lived in the country called *Canaan; something that comes from the country called *Canaan.
chariot ~ a cart with two wheels that men used in a war
circumcise ~ to cut off the piece of skin at the end of the male sex part. This marks *Jewish boys and reminds the *Jews about God’s special promise to them.
circumcision ~ the act of circumcising a person.
clean ~ good in thought and in action. But, in the *Old Testament, many things could make a person unclean towards God. For example, if they touched a dead body, that would make them unclean. And the *Israelites must not eat animals that God called unclean.
commandment ~ a rule or a command that God gave to the *Jews; the 10 rules that God gave to Moses on the mountain called *Mount Sinai (or Horeb); a command from someone who has authority.
desert ~ a wild place where there are small bushes and not much water. It has poor soil and people cannot grow crops 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.
drive ~ to force something to move; to force someone to leave a place.
Egyptian ~ someone from the country called Egypt; anything with a relationship with Egypt.
eternal ~ a thing that has no beginning or ending; a thing that never changes.
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. *Jews continue to remember these feasts.
flax ~ a blue flower with a strong stem. People use these stems to make cloth of very good quality 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.
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 in which the authors wrote 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
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. Israelite is another name for the *Jews. Anything that has a relationship with Israel.
Jew ~ a person who is from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.
Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything that belongs to the *Jews.
Levite ~ someone who belonged to the family called Levi. Levi was a son of Jacob. Levites had special duties connected to *worship. All *Israelite priests were Levites.
linen ~ a special kind of cloth of good quality. People make it from the plant called *flax.
locust ~ an insect that flies and eats any green plant. When many locusts fly together, they seem to be like a dark cloud.
LORD ~ God gave this special name to himself. It translates the word ‘Yahweh’ in the *Hebrew language. It links to the words ‘I am’; it means that God has been here always.
Lord ~ a name for God. It translates the *Hebrew word ‘Adonai’, which means ‘my ruler’. The word ‘lord’ (without a capital letter) means an ordinary ruler.
manna ~ a food like bread. God provided this food in a special way for the *Israelites to eat in the *desert.
Mount ~ another name for mountain
New Testament ~ the second part of the Bible. It tells about Jesus Christ and his followers.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible, it tells about the history and the beliefs of the *Israelites. The *Jews’ holy book
Passover ~ an important holy day for the *Jews. They ate a special meal on this day every year; the Passover *feast reminds the *Jews about how God rescued them from *Egypt.
Pharaoh ~ the *Egyptian ruler or king.
Philistines ~ a group of people who lived near the south coast of the country called *Canaan.
plague ~ a terrible disease or trouble.
praise ~ to tell God how great he is; to give love to God, as when people are praying or singing
prophet ~ a person who hears God’s words and tells them to other people. But there were sometimes false prophets.
represent ~ when a person acts on behalf of someone else; or you put something in place of something else.
Sabbath ~ the 7th day in a *Jewish week. It is from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday The day on which God rested when he created the world. So he wants people to rest on that day. Anything that has a relationship with the Sabbath.
sign ~ a signal; a mark to show that something is special; a powerful act.
sin ~ when people do something wrong against God or against other people; or, not to obey God.
Tabernacle ~ God’s special tent.
talent ~ it weighed 3000 times as much as a *shekel. It was the heaviest standard that they used to weigh things like gold, silver and other metals.
temple ~ the special building in Jerusalem where the *Jews *worshipped God. King Solomon built the first temple.
thunder ~ the loud noise that lightning causes in a storm.
worship ~ when people show honour to God, or to a false god. People may sing or pray. Or they may kneel down or give a gift to God.
yeast ~ a substance that people use to make bread. Yeast makes the bread rise. Without yeast, bread is flat and hard.
Alan R. Cole ~ Exodus: Introduction and Commentary ~ Tyndale Press 1st edition 1973.
F.C. Cook (editor) ~ Barnes’ Notes on the Old and New *Testaments ~ Baker Book House 1975.
David Daiches ~ Moses, man in the wilderness ~ Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1975.
Alan Millard ~ Discoveries from Bible Times ~ Lion 1997.
Alec Motyer ~ The Message of Exodus, the Bible Speaks Today ~ IVP 2005.
Osborn and Hatto ~ A Handbook on Exodus ~ UBS.
Charles R. Swindoll ~ Moses ~ Thomas Nelson 1999.
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