Bondage in Egypt -- By: William J. McRae

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 02:2 (Winter 1993)
Article: Bondage in Egypt
Author: William J. McRae

Bondage in Egypt

William J. McRae1

An Exposition of Exodus 1


The history of the nation of Israel is viciously punctuated by a host of violent and oppressive persecutions. In the closing verse of Exodus chapter one we stand in the midst of one of Israel’s darkest days.

Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you shall cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive” (Ex. 1:22).

It was a systematic and vicious plan of executions designed to break the will of the nation and ultimately to eliminate them. What course of events could ever have brought them to such a perilous moment, to the very brink of destruction? Those events can be traced through the preceding verses of chapter one—a chapter which gives the setting for the rest of the book.

The Setting of the Book: Chapter. 1

Israel’s Descent into Egypt (1:1-5)

Now these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob. They came each one with his household. .. . And all the persons who came from the loins of Jacob were seventy in number, but Joseph was already in Egypt (1:1, 5).

In the year 1877 B.C., about 335 years earlier, a small caravan of seventy males with their wives and children descended from Canaan into Egypt to escape a deadly famine. There was Jacob, his sons, and their households. They were coming to live near Joseph, a son of Jacob, who had recently been elevated to Prime Minister of Egypt as a result of the favors he had done for Pharaoh. They were moving to the Egyptian district of Goshen, a land granted to them by Pharaoh himself. Behind the scene, however, was the providential hand of God. What could be His purposes in bringing them to Egypt?

God’s Purposes in Bringing Israel to Egypt

First: To chasten them.

The exile in Egypt was God chastening His chosen people. The fourth generation of Abraham’s seed had abandoned the altar which characterized Abraham’s life. They had abused the sign of circumcision and used it as a weapon (Gen. 34). They had committed incest. They had lost their sense of their calling to worship the Lord, and they had begun to intermarry with the Canaanites. Devotion to the Lord, unity as God’s people, and separation from the evil of Canaan were absent in the fourth generation; and it br...

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