Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 16

Exodus 1–6

Bible text(s)

The Israelites are Treated Cruelly in Egypt

1The sons of Jacob who went to Egypt with him, each with his family, were 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, 3Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, 4Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. 5The total number of these people directly descended from Jacob was seventy. His son Joseph was already in Egypt. 6In the course of time Joseph, his brothers, and all the rest of that generation died, 7but their descendants, the Israelites, had many children and became so numerous and strong that Egypt was filled with them.

8Then, a new king, who knew nothing about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. 9He said to his people, “These Israelites are so numerous and strong that they are a threat to us. 10In case of war they might join our enemies in order to fight against us, and might escape from the country. We must find some way to keep them from becoming even more numerous.” 11So the Egyptians put slave-drivers over them to crush their spirits with hard labour. The Israelites built the cities of Pithom and Rameses to serve as supply centres for the king. 12But the more the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites, the more they increased in number and the further they spread through the land. The Egyptians came to fear the Israelites 13-14and made their lives miserable by forcing them into cruel slavery. They made them work on their building projects and in their fields, and they had no mercy on them.

15Then the king of Egypt spoke to Shiphrah and Puah, the two midwives who helped the Hebrew women. 16“When you help the Hebrew women give birth,” he said to them, “kill the baby if it is a boy; but if it is a girl, let it live.” 17But the midwives feared God and so did not obey the king; instead, they let the boys live. 18So the king sent for the midwives and asked them, “Why are you doing this? Why are you letting the boys live?”

19They answered, “The Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they give birth easily, and their babies are born before either of us gets there.” 20-21Because the midwives feared God, he was good to them and gave them families of their own. And the Israelites continued to increase and become strong. 22Finally the king issued a command to all his people: “Take every newborn Hebrew boy and throw him into the Nile, but let all the girls live.”

The Birth of Moses

1During this time a man from the tribe of Levi married a woman of his own tribe, 2and she bore him a son. When she saw what a fine baby he was, she hid him for three months. 3But when she could not hide him any longer, she took a basket made of reeds and covered it with tar to make it watertight. She put the baby in it and then placed it in the tall grass at the edge of the river. 4The baby's sister stood some distance away to see what would happen to him.

5The king's daughter came down to the river to bathe, while her servants walked along the bank. Suddenly she noticed the basket in the tall grass and sent a slave woman to get it. 6The princess opened it and saw a baby boy. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

7Then his sister asked her, “Shall I go and call a Hebrew woman to act as a wet nurse?”

8“Please do,” she answered. So the girl went and brought the baby's own mother. 9The princess told the woman, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So she took the baby and nursed him. 10Later, when the child was old enough, she took him to the king's daughter, who adopted him as her own son. She said to herself, “I pulled him out of the water, and so I name him Moses.”

Moses Escapes to Midian

11When Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his people, the Hebrews, and he saw how they were forced to do hard labour. He even saw an Egyptian kill a Hebrew, one of Moses' own people. 12Moses looked all round, and when he saw that no one was watching, he killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. 13The next day he went back and saw two Hebrew men fighting. He said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why are you beating up a fellow-Hebrew?”

14The man answered, “Who made you our ruler and judge? Are you going to kill me just as you killed that Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and said to himself, “People have found out what I have done.” 15-16When the king heard about what had happened, he tried to have Moses killed, but Moses fled and went to live in the land of Midian.

One day, when Moses was sitting by a well, seven daughters of Jethro, the priest of Midian, came to draw water and fill the troughs for their father's sheep and goats. 17But some shepherds drove Jethro's daughters away. Then Moses went to their rescue and watered their animals for them. 18When they returned to their father, he asked, “Why have you come back so early today?”

19“An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds,” they answered, “and he even drew water for us and watered our animals.”

20“Where is he?” he asked his daughters. “Why did you leave the man out there? Go and invite him to eat with us.”

21So Moses agreed to live there, and Jethro gave him his daughter Zipporah in marriage, 22who bore him a son. Moses said to himself, “I am a foreigner in this land, and so I name him Gershom.”

23Years later the king of Egypt died, but the Israelites were still groaning under their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry went up to God, 24who heard their groaning and remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25He saw the slavery of the Israelites and was concerned for them.

God Calls Moses

1One day while Moses was taking care of the sheep and goats of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, he led the flock across the desert and came to Sinai, the holy mountain. 2There the angel of the LORD appeared to him as a flame coming from the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire but that it was not burning up. 3“This is strange,” he thought. “Why isn't the bush burning up? I will go closer and see.”

4When the LORD saw that Moses was coming closer, he called to him from the middle of the bush and said, “Moses! Moses!”

He answered, “Yes, here I am.”

5God said, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground. 6I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” So Moses covered his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

7Then the LORD said, “I have seen how cruelly my people are being treated in Egypt; I have heard them cry out to be rescued from their slave-drivers. I know all about their sufferings, 8and so I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians and to bring them out of Egypt to a spacious land, one which is rich and fertile and in which the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites now live. 9I have indeed heard the cry of my people, and I see how the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10Now I am sending you to the king of Egypt so that you can lead my people out of his country.”

11But Moses said to God, “I am nobody. How can I go to the king and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12God answered, “I will be with you, and when you bring the people out of Egypt, you will worship me on this mountain. That will be the proof that I have sent you.”

13But Moses replied, “When I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ So what can I tell them?”

14God said, “I am who I am. This is what you must say to them: ‘The one who is called I AM has sent me to you.’ 15Tell the Israelites that I, the LORD, the God of their ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, have sent you to them. This is my name for ever; this is what all future generations are to call me. 16Go and gather the leaders of Israel together and tell them that I, the LORD, the God of their ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, appeared to you. Tell them that I have come to them and have seen what the Egyptians are doing to them. 17I have decided that I will bring them out of Egypt, where they are being treated cruelly, and will take them to a rich and fertile land — the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

18“My people will listen to what you say to them. Then you must go with the leaders of Israel to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has revealed himself to us. Now allow us to travel for three days into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD, our God.’ 19I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless he is forced to do so. 20But I will use my power and will punish Egypt by doing terrifying things there. After that he will let you go.

21“I will make the Egyptians respect you so that when my people leave, they will not go empty-handed. 22Every Israelite woman will go to her Egyptian neighbours and to any Egyptian woman living in her house and will ask for clothing and for gold and silver jewellery. The Israelites will put these things on their sons and daughters and carry away the wealth of the Egyptians.”

God Gives Moses Miraculous Power

1Then Moses answered the LORD, “But suppose the Israelites do not believe me and will not listen to what I say. What shall I do if they say that you did not appear to me?”

2So the LORD asked him, “What are you holding?”

“A stick,” he answered.

3The LORD said, “Throw it on the ground.” When Moses threw it down, it turned into a snake, and he ran away from it. 4Then the LORD said to Moses, “Bend down and pick it up by the tail.” So Moses bent down and caught it, and it became a stick again. 5The LORD said, “Do this to prove to the Israelites that the LORD, the God of their ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to you.”

6The LORD spoke to Moses again, “Put your hand inside your robe.” Moses obeyed; and when he took his hand out, it was diseased, covered with white spots, like snow. 7Then the LORD said, “Put your hand inside your robe again.” He did so, and when he took it out this time, it was healthy, just like the rest of his body. 8The LORD said, “If they will not believe you or be convinced by the first miracle, then this one will convince them. 9If in spite of these two miracles they still will not believe you, and if they refuse to listen to what you say, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the ground. The water will turn into blood.”

10But Moses said, “No, LORD, don't send me. I have never been a good speaker, and I haven't become one since you began to speak to me. I am a poor speaker, slow and hesitant.”

11The LORD said to him, “Who gives man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or dumb? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? It is I, the LORD. 12Now, go! I will help you to speak, and I will tell you what to say.”

13But Moses answered, “No, Lord, please send someone else.”

14At this the LORD became angry with Moses and said, “What about your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. In fact, he is now coming to meet you and will be glad to see you. 15You can speak to him and tell him what to say. I will help both of you to speak, and I will tell you both what to do. 16He will be your spokesman and speak to the people for you. Then you will be like God, telling him what to say. 17Take this stick with you; for with it you will perform miracles.”

Moses Returns to Egypt

18Then Moses went back to Jethro, his father-in-law, and said to him, “Please let me go back to my relatives in Egypt to see if they are still alive.” Jethro agreed and said goodbye to him.

19While Moses was still in Midian, the LORD said to him, “Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead.” 20So Moses took his wife and his sons, put them on a donkey, and set out with them for Egypt, carrying the stick that God had told him to take.

21Again the LORD said to Moses, “Now that you are going back to Egypt, be sure to perform before the king all the miracles which I have given you the power to do. But I will make the king stubborn, and he will not let the people go. 22Then you must tell him that I, the LORD, say, ‘Israel is my firstborn son. 23I told you to let my son go, so that he might worship me, but you refused. Now I am going to kill your firstborn son.’ ”

24At a camping place on the way to Egypt, the LORD met Moses and tried to kill him. 25-26Then Zipporah, his wife, took a sharp stone, cut off the foreskin of her son, and touched Moses' feet with it. Because of the rite of circumcision she said to Moses, “You are a husband of blood to me.” And so the LORD spared Moses' life.

27Meanwhile the LORD had said to Aaron, “Go into the desert to meet Moses.” So he went to meet him at the holy mountain; and when he met him, he kissed him. 28Then Moses told Aaron everything that the LORD had said when he told him to return to Egypt; he also told him about the miracles which the LORD had ordered him to perform. 29So Moses and Aaron went to Egypt and gathered all the Israelite leaders together. 30Aaron told them everything that the LORD had said to Moses, and then Moses performed all the miracles in front of the people. 31They believed, and when they heard that the LORD had come to them and had seen how they were being treated cruelly, they bowed down and worshipped.

Moses and Aaron before the King of Egypt

1Then Moses and Aaron went to the king of Egypt and said, “The LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘Let my people go, so that they can hold a festival in the desert to honour me.’ ”

2“Who is the LORD?” the king demanded. “Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD; and I will not let Israel go.”

3Moses and Aaron replied, “The God of the Hebrews has revealed himself to us. Allow us to travel for three days into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God. If we don't do so, he will kill us with disease or by war.”

4The king said to Moses and Aaron, “What do you mean by making the people neglect their work? Get those slaves back to work! 5You people have become more numerous than the Egyptians. And now you want to stop working!”

6That same day the king commanded the Egyptian slave-drivers and the Israelite foremen: 7“Stop giving the people straw for making bricks. Make them go and find it for themselves. 8But still require them to make the same number of bricks as before, not one brick less. They haven't enough work to do, and that is why they keep asking me to let them go and offer sacrifices to their God! 9Make these people work harder and keep them busy, so that they won't have time to listen to a pack of lies.”

10The slave-drivers and the Israelite foremen went out and said to the Israelites, “The king has said that he will not supply you with any more straw. 11He says that you must go and get it for yourselves wherever you can find it, but you must still make the same number of bricks.” 12So the people went all over Egypt looking for straw. 13The slave-drivers kept trying to force them to make the same number of bricks every day as they had made when they were given straw. 14The Egyptian slave-drivers beat the Israelite foremen, whom they had put in charge of the work. They demanded, “Why aren't you people making the same number of bricks as you made before?”

15Then the foremen went to the king and complained, “Why do you do this to us, Your Majesty? 16We are given no straw, but we are still ordered to make bricks! And now we are being beaten. It is your people that are at fault.”

17The king answered, “You are lazy and don't want to work, and that is why you ask me to let you go and offer sacrifices to the LORD. 18Now get back to work! You will not be given any straw, but you must still make the same number of bricks.” 19The foremen realized that they were in trouble when they were told that they had to make the same number of bricks every day as they had made before.

20As they were leaving, they met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them. 21They said to Moses and Aaron, “The LORD has seen what you have done and will punish you for making the king and his officers hate us. You have given them an excuse to kill us.”

Moses Complains to the LORD

22Then Moses turned to the LORD again and said, “Lord, why do you ill-treat your people? Why did you send me here? 23Ever since I went to the king to speak for you, he has treated them cruelly. And you have done nothing to help them!”

1Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you are going to see what I will do to the king. I will force him to let my people go. In fact, I will force him to drive them out of his land.”

God Calls Moses

2God spoke to Moses and said, “I am the LORD. 3I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as Almighty God, but I did not make myself known to them by my holy name, the LORD. 4I also made my covenant with them, promising to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they had lived as foreigners. 5Now I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians have enslaved, and I have remembered my covenant. 6So tell the Israelites that I say to them, ‘I am the LORD; I will rescue you and set you free from your slavery to the Egyptians. I will raise my mighty arm to bring terrible punishment upon them, and I will save you. 7I will make you my own people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am the LORD your God when I set you free from slavery in Egypt. 8I will bring you to the land that I solemnly promised to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as your own possession. I am the LORD.’ ” 9Moses told this to the Israelites, but they would not listen to him, because their spirit had been broken by their cruel slavery.

10Then the LORD said to Moses, 11“Go and tell the king of Egypt that he must let the Israelites leave his land.”

12But Moses replied, “Even the Israelites will not listen to me, so why should the king? I am such a poor speaker.”

13The LORD commanded Moses and Aaron: “Tell the Israelites and the king of Egypt that I have ordered you to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.”

The Family Record of Moses and Aaron

14Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, had four sons: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi; they were the ancestors of the clans that bear their names. 15Simeon had six sons: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman; they were the ancestors of the clans that bear their names. 16Levi had three sons: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari; they were the ancestors of the clans that bear their names. Levi lived 137 years. 17Gershon had two sons: Libni and Shimei, and they had many descendants. 18Kohath had four sons: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. Kohath lived 133 years. 19Merari had two sons: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of Levi with their descendants.

20Amram married his father's sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years. 21Izhar had three sons: Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri. 22Uzziel also had three sons: Mishael, Elzaphan, and Sithri.

23Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon; she bore him Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 24Korah had three sons: Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph; they were the ancestors of the divisions of the clan of Korah. 25Eleazar, Aaron's son, married one of Putiel's daughters, who bore him Phinehas. These were the heads of the families and the clans of the tribe of Levi.

26Aaron and Moses were the ones to whom the LORD said, “Lead the tribes of Israel out of Egypt.” 27They were the men who told the king of Egypt to free the Israelites.

The LORD's Command to Moses and Aaron

28When the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29he said, “I am the LORD. Tell the king of Egypt everything I tell you.”

30But Moses answered, “You know that I am such a poor speaker; why should the king listen to me?”

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