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EXODUS

LESSON  ONE

The Oppression Of The Israelites      Exodus 1:1-14

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Exodus 1:1-14
(1)   Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.
(2)   Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,
(3)   Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,
(4)   Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.
(5)   And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.
(6)   And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.
(7)   And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.
(8)   Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
(9)   And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:
(10)  Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.
(11)  Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Ramses.
(12)  But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.
(13)  And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor:
(14)  And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigor.
KJV

The Bondage of  Israel Begun

1:1 - 7 Israel's sons      Their Increase
1:8 - 10 Pharaoh's Policy
1:12 Israel's sons      Their Increase
1:13 - 22 Pharaoh's Policy
2:1 - 10 Israel's sons      Birth of Moses

1:1 

Now These
Actually  ‘and these’,  which better indicates the close connection between the first two books of the Pentateuch, since the whole Torah (1st 5 books in the Hebrew Bible - Genesis through Deuteronomy) is one continuous narrative.

1:8

A New King

A monarch of a new dynasty,  with a  ‘nationalist’  policy;  probably Ramses II.
Joseph served one of the Hyksos (Shepherd) kings,  an Asiatic dynasty whose rule in Egypt began some centuries before him.  Their rule came to an end not long after the death of Joseph,  when the Hyksos were driven back into Asia,  and a descendant of the native dynasty regained the throne.

Israel In Egypt: The Historical Problems      Exodus 1:15-22

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Exodus 1:15-22
(15)  And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:
(16)  And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.
(17)  But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.
(18)  And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?
(19)  And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.
(20)  Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.
(21)  And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.
(22)  And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.
KJV

What Light Does Egyptian History Throw On Israel In  Egypt?

The history of ancient Egypt is usually divided into three periods:

The earliest period The Old Kingdom, which compresses the first ten dynasties of Pyramid builders, ending 2500 BC.
The second period The Middle Kingdom, from the eleventh to the seventeenth dynasty
of rulers 2500-1587 BC.
It is one of great obscurity,  and covers the age during which the Hyksos,  Bedouin invaders from the Arabian desert,  ruled Egypt. They were expelled by the founder of the eighteenth dynasty in 1587BC.
The third period Opens the New Kingdom, which continues to the end of the twentieth dynasty in 1100 BC.

After that date, the country successively came under Libyan, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman rule.

Joseph served one of the Hyksos kings.

The Hyksos kings restored and enlarged the temples,  encouraged learning,  and could not have destroyed any of the previous Egyptian monuments,  seeing that these have come down to our own day.  On the contrary,  it is the native rulers who followed them that eradicated every trace of the Hyksos kings. 
This is responsible for the obscurity that overhangs the story of the entire Hyksos period, and the consequent uncertainty of so much of Egyptian chronology.  Not long after the death of Joseph,  the Hyksos were driven back into Asia;  and a native ruler,  the founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty,  regained the throne.
There are,  therefore,  but few casual references on the monuments to the Aperu or Apuriu,  which is the Egyptian form of the name ‘Hebrews’.  Thus,  in a report addressed to an official of the reign of Rameses II,  there occur the words:

‘I have obeyed the message of my lord, in which he said, “Give corn to the native soldiers and also to the Apuriu, who are bringing up stones for the great tower of Pa-Ramessu”…I have given them their corn every month, according to the instructions of my Lord.’

‘I have hearkened to my Lord’s message, “Give provisions to the soldiers and to the Aperu, who bring up stones for Ra (the sun-god), for Ra of Rameses, the beloved of Amon, in the southern quarter of Memphis.”

So much for the nature of the few Egyptian references to the Hebrew serfs forced to labor for Pharaoh.

As To The Exodus From Egypt

The Egyptian records pass it over in total silence - as was their invariable custom in connection with any defeat suffered by the ruler or nation.  For instance,  although the Hyksos conquest of Egypt is the most important political even in Egyptian history,  yet almost no mention is made in the monuments of this catastrophe which shook the whole social structure to its foundations.  The Egyptian records confine themselves to the boastful recounting of victories.  This is one of the reasons why of all Oriental chronicles,  it is only the Biblical annals that deserve the name of history.

Who Was The Pharaoh Of The Oppression?

Rameses II
In view of the above question, there are several candidates for the infamy of having been the ‘Pharaoh of the Oppression’,  under whom the bondage of the Israelites ended in a systematic attempt at their extermination.
The majority of scholars identify him with the splendor-loving and tyrannical Rameses II, whose dates are variously given as

1300-1234 BC (Petrie)
1347-1280 BC (Mahler)

‘He was a vain and boastful character who wished to dazzle posterity by covering the land with constructions whereon his name was engraved thousands of times,  and who prided himself in his inscriptions upon great conquests which he never made.’   (Naville)

Menremptah
The Exodus itself is held to have taken place under his son, Menremptah, with whom the decline of Egypt began. Menremptah (or Menephtah) was an obstinate and vain despot.  

He too had the habit of claiming as his own the achievements of others.  ‘He was one of the most unconscionable usurpers (and defacers) of the monuments of his predecessors,  including those of his own father,  who had set him the example… all due to a somewhat insane desire to perpetuate his own memory’
(Prof. Griffith, Encyclopedia Britannica, 1929)

Haremrab
Some scholars, however, date the Oppression and the Exodus in the century preceding Rameses II, and connect it with the religious revolution of Amenophis IV, or Ikhnation (1383-1365). 

This extraordinary personality abolished the multitudinous deities of the Egyptian Pantheon, and devoted himself exclusively to the worship of the Sun. These scholars hold that there was some relation between the faith of the Israelites and the solar monotheism of Ikhnation, and that Israelite influence was partly responsible for this assault on the gross idolatry of Egypt.  Ikhnaton was hated by the people as the ‘heretic king’, and his innovations were abandoned by his son in-law  Tut-an-khamen  who succeeded him,  eventually to be altogether uprooted by Haremrab the last Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty.  When the native religion was restored - these scholars maintain - the Israelites suffered persecution and degradation;  and the Oppression formed part of the extirpation of Ikhnation’s heresy.

Thotmes III
Other Egyptologists go back still another century to Thotmes III (1503-1449BC), and declare him to have been the Pharaoh of the Oppression.  They connect the Oppression and the departure of the Israelites from Egypt with the movements of the Habiri people in the Amarna age and believe that the recently discovered inscriptions on the Sinai Peninsula like wise favor this theory.

One of the main reasons which induce both these groups of scholars to dissent from the general view that Rameses II was the Pharaoh of the Oppression,  is the fact that the Name  ‘Israel’  is alleged to occur on an inscription of Menremptah.  That Inscription (discovered in 1896) is a song of triumph of Menremptah,  describing in grandiloquent language his victories in Canaan;  and,  among other conquest,  he boasts that:

‘Canaan;  is seized with every evil;  Ashkelon is carried away;  Gezer is taken;  Yenoam is
annihilated;  Ysiraal (Israel) is desolated, its seed is not.’

From the phrase,  ‘Ysiraal is desolated,’  these scholars deduce that the Israelites must in those days have been in possession of Canaan;  and that,  therefore,  the Exodus must have taken place long before the time of Menremptah.

From various notices in I Chronicles we see that during the generations preceding the Oppression,  the Israelites did not remain confined to Goshen or even to Egypt proper,  but spread into the southern Palestinian territory,  then under Egyptian control,  and that they even engaged in skirmishes with the Philistines.  When the bulk of the nation had left Egypt and was wandering in the Wilderness,  these Israelite settlers had thrown off their Egyptian allegiance.  And it is these settlements which Menremptah boast of having devastated during his Canaanite campaign.

CONCLUSION:
Therefore,  there is no cogent reason for dissenting from the current view that the Pharaoh of the Oppression was Rameses II,  with his son Menremptah as the Pharaoh of the Exodus.

1:11  

Pithom and Rameses

Pithom In Egyptian Pi-Tum,  ‘the dwelling of the God Tum’  found in 1883 by Naville. 
Ruins in the Wady Tumilat about 60 miles NE of Cairo. (used for granaries)
Rameses Later used by the Roman city Pelusium. 
Location at the mouth of the ancient Eastern branch of the Nile Delta on the Mediterranean (Gardiner). 
The capital of the Hyksos kings. Rameses II boasts that he built the city called after his name with Semitic slaves (Naville).

1:15 

Hebrew Midwives
In other words the Egyptian women who served as midwives to the Hebrews (Septuagint, Josephus). 
It is hardly probable that the king would have expected Hebrew women to slay the children of their own people.

Shiphrah…Puah
The names are probably Egyptian.  In the capital,  dwelt the  ‘better classes’  of the children of Israel - the natural leaders.  If Pharaoh could only succeed in exterminating these,  he would experience little difficulty in rendering the slave portion harmless.

1:22 

A Daughter…Shall Live
These could not prove dangerous in time of war,  and would be serviceable as slaves. 
The remnant of the Israelite people would thus be absorbed in the native population.

The Birth and Education Of Moses      Exodus 2:1-14

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2:1-3 Moses Concealed
2:4 Miriam Watching
2:5 - 6 Moses Discovered
2:7 - 10 Miriam Interposing
Exodus 2:1-14
(1)    And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.
(2)    And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
(3)   And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink.
(4)   And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.
(5)   And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.
(6)   And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children.
(7)   Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?
(8)   And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother.
(9)   And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it.
(10)  And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
(11)  And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren.
(12)  And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.
(13)  And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?
(14)  And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.
KJV

Moses was the seventh from Abraham,  Abraham the seventh from Heber,  Enoch the seventh from Adam.

Josephus says:
‘Thermuthis was the king’s daughter.  Hereupon it was the Thermuthis imposed the name Moses upon him,  from what had happened when he was put into the river;  for the Egyptians call water by the name of Mo,  and such as are saved out of it by the name of Uses;  so by putting these two words together,  they imposed this name upon him;  and he was,  by the confession of all,  according to God’s prediction,  as well for his greatness of mind as for his contempt of difficulties,  the best of all the Hebrews.’

‘Now Moses’s understanding became superior to his age,  nay,  far beyond that standard;  and when he was taught, he discovered greater quickness of apprehension than was usual at his age; and his actions at that time promised greater,  when he should come to the age of a man.’

‘God did also give him that tallness,  when he was but three years old,  as was wonderful;  and for his beauty,  there was nobody so unpolite as,  when they saw Moses,  they were not greatly surprised at the beauty of his countenance; ‘

‘ Thermuthis said  “I have brought up a child who is of a divine form  (See Acts 7:20   what Stephen says),  and of a generous mind;  and as I have received him from the bounty of the river,  in a wonderful manner,  I thought proper to adopt him for my son,  and the heir of thy kingdom”’

‘And when she had said this,  she put the infant into her father’s hands:  so he took him,  and hugged him close to his breast;  and on his daughter’s account,  in a pleasant way,  put his diadem upon his head;  but Moses threw it down to the ground,  and,  in a puerile mood,  he wreathed it round,  and trod upon it with his feet;  which seemed to bring along with it an evil presage concerning the kingdom of Egypt.  But when the sacred scribe saw this,  (he was the same person who foretold that his nativity would bring the dominion of that kingdom law,)  he made a violent attempt to kill him:  and crying out in a frightful manner,  he said,  “This,  O king!  This child is he of whom God foretold,  that if we kill him we shall be in no danger;  he himself affords an attestation to the prediction of the same thing,  by his trampling upon thy government,  and treading upon thy diadem.  Take him,  therefore,  out of the way,  and deliver the Egyptians from the fear they are in about him;  and deprive the Hebrews of the hope they have of being encouraged by him.”
He was,  therefore,  educated with great care.  Yet because,  if Moses had been slain,  there was no one,  either akin or adopted to the crown of Egypt,  and likely to be of greater advantage to them,  they abstained from killing him.’

‘The Egyptians,  under this sad oppression  (The Ethiopians),  betook themselves to their oracles and prophecies:  and when God had given them this counsel,  to make use of Moses the Hebrew and take his assistance,  the king commanded his daughter to produce him,  that he might be the general of their army.  
(this history of Moses,  as general of the Egyptians against the Ethiopians,  is quoted by Irenaeus,  from Josephus 
see Acts 7:22)’ 
For further information on this subject see Josephus Antiquities Pg. 57,58

Josephus seems to have had much more complete historical records now lost,  about the birth and actions of Moses,  than either our HebrewSamaritan,  or Greek Bibles afford us,  which enabled him to be so large and particular about him.

2:11 

When Moses was grown up
It means  ‘when Moses became great’,  he went out to his brethren.  It was lovingkindness to his people that impelled him to do so.  There are ten strong things in the world,  say the Rabbis:

1. Rock is strong but iron cleaves it.
2. Fire melts iron.
3. Water extinguishes fire.
4. The clouds bear aloft the water.
5. The wind drives away the clouds.
6. Man withstands the wind.
7. Fear unmans man.
8. Wine dispels fear.
9. Sleep overcomes wine.
10. Death sweeps away even sleep.

But strongest of all is lovingkindness,  for it defies and survives death.
Now Moses was filled with lovingkindness.  Full of pity,  he watched his brethren groaning beneath their burdens. ‘What has Israel done to deserve such wretchedness?’ he wondered.

2:14 

Who made thee a ruler?
A typical attitude of a small but persistent Jewish minority towards anyone working for Israel.  The Rabbis speak of it as the  Dathan-and-Abiram  type of mind  (See Numb. 16).

The actions of Moses show him:

The 1st Action Swept away by fierce indignation against the oppressor.
The 2nd Action Anxious to restore harmony among the oppressed.
The 3rd Action Shows both of these acts as Moses seen burning with patriotic ardor.
The 4th Action Shows his nature, however, requires to be freed from impetuous passion.

In the desert whither he is now fleeing,  his spirit will be purified and deepened,  and he will return as the destined Liberator of his brethren.

Moses In Midian      Exodus 2:15-25

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2:11-22 Moses self-sent     Failure and flight
2:23-25 Interposition of Jehovah
2 3:1 Moses in Midian
3:2-4:17 Interposition of Jehovah
3 4:18-20 Moses departure from Midian
4:21-23 Jehovah’s commission to Moses
4:24-26 Moses at Horeb
4:27-28 Jehovah’s commission to Aaron
4:29-6:1 Moses and Aaron in Egypt
6:2-8 Jehovah’s revelation of Himself
6:9-12:30 Moses and Aaron in Egypt
12:31-14:31 Jehovah’s deliverance of Israel
Exodus 2:15-25
(15)  Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.
(16)  Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.
(17)  And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.
(18)  And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day?
(19)  And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.
(20)  And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread.
(21)  And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.
(22)  And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.
(23)  And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.
(24)  And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
(25)  And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.
KJV

2:15

MIDIAN
In the south-eastern part of the Sinai peninsula. 
Here he would be beyond Egyptian jurisdiction.  The main home of the Midianites appears to have been on the east side of the Gulf of Akabah.

2:16

Priest of Midian
Hebrew  Kohen,  which does not necessarily mean priest. 
It may also mean ‘chief’.  The sons of David are likewise termed  kohanim  in II Sam. 8:18,  where it only means, nobles or officers.

2:18 

Reuel their father
Reuel seems to have been their father,  while Jethro was the father-in-law of Moses. 
The word Jethro means,  ‘His Excellence,’  and may be regarded as a title borne by the priest or chief of Midian, whose proper name is given in Numbers 10:28,  as Hobab. 

Reuel, therefore,  was the grandfather (often called ‘father’ in Scripture; see Gen. 27:13 and 32:10)  of the shepherdesses.  If Jethro and Reuel are taken as one person,  there is nothing unusual in one man having two names (Jacob, Israel);  and South Arabian inscriptions show many chieftains having two names.

2:21 

Moses was content
Or,  ‘agreed.’  One cannot help contrasting the breadth with which the wooing of both Isaac and Jacob is recounted,  with the extraordinary,  nay irreducible,  brevity with which the wooing of Moses is told.  What we would call the  ‘romantic’  element in the story of Moses disappears like a bubble.  
It is the woe of his People that engrosses his mind.

Zipporah
The meaning of this name is ‘bird’.  The Midianites spoke a language kindred to Hebrew.

2:22 

He called his name Gershom
Hebrew  ger,  ‘a stranger,’  and  sham,  ‘there,’  in a strange land. 
Again, his heart was with his suffering brethren in Egypt.

TRANSITION TO THE CALL AND COMMISSION OF MOSES      Exodus 2:23-25

2:23

Many days
Rabbinic tradition assigns 40 years to the period spent by Moses in exile from Egypt.

The king of Egypt died

Probably Rameses II, who reigned 67 years.

2:24 

God remembered His covenant
Not that He had forgotten it, but that now the opportunity had come for the fulfillment of His merciful purposes.
See Genesis 15:13,14.

The Call Of Moses          Exodus 3:1-10

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Exodus 3:1-5
(1)   Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
(2)   And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
(3)   And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
(4)   And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
(5)    And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
KJV

3:1 

Mountain Of God
So called because the Glory of God was later manifested there. 
The spot chosen by God to announce the physical redemption of Israel was also chosen by Him as the place of their spiritual redemption.

Horeb  is the mountain and district
Sinai  the summit itself
or
The two names may refer to two peaks of the same mountain range in the Sinai Peninsula.
Which some identify with Jebel Musa (7,636 feet)
Others with Mount Serbal (6,734 feet)

In the highest region, fertile valleys are found, with fruit trees and water in plenty.

3:2

Exod 3:2

And appeared the angel of Jehovah unto him in a flame of fire from the midst of a thorn bush; and he looked, and behold the thorn bush [was] burning with fire, and the thorn bush (it) was not consumed.”
Interlinear Hebrew

Angel of the Lord
The angel in Scripture is not to be identified with God.  The angel is the messenger of God and speaks in His name,  and is often called by the Name of Him who sent him (see v. 4). 
The speech and action are the work of the angel,  but the thought or will is God’s.

3:2-4:17

3:2 Vision of the Burning Bush
3:3 Moses’ Curiosity
3:4-10 Divine Revelation and Commission
3:11 Moses’ Inquiry “Who am I?”
3:12 Divine Assurance
3:13 Moses’ Inquiry “Who art Thou?”
3:14-22 Divine Commission
4:1 Moses’ Doubt
4:2-9 Divine Assurance
4:10 Moses’ Inefficiency
4:11,12 Divine Power and Inspiration
4:13 Moses’ Request
4:14-17 Divine Anger and Provision

A Bush
The thorn-bush,  the wild acacia which is the characteristic shrub of that region.
It was not consumed.  The burning bush has often been taken as a symbol of Israel - small and lowly among the nations,  and yet indestructible;  because of the Divine Spirit that dwelleth within Israel.

3:4 

Moses, Moses
God here addresses Moses by his name.
‘The repetition of the name is an expression of affection intended to encourage him’ (Mechilta)

Compare:
Abraham, Abraham Gen. 22:11
Jacob, Jacob Gen. 46:2

God’s choice is never groundless or arbitrary. Moses’ warm heart for his brethren,  and his burning indignation against all injustice,  made him worthy of God’s love and choice.

Exodus 3:6-10
(6)    Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of  Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
(7)    And the
LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
(8)    And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
(9)    Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
(10)  Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.  
KJV

3:6 

Hid his face
Or,  ‘covered his face’  (Jerusalem Targum)  in reverence   (See I Kings 19:13). 
In the presence of the All-Holy,  an instant and irresistible feeling of human nothingness over-powers him.  In sacred awe before the majesty of the Godhead,  he hides his face.  No mortal eye is worthy of beholding God.  Even the angels are not pure in His sight;  and,  therefore,  in the vision of Isaiah 6:2,  they are spoken of as covering their faces and bodies.

3:7

My  people
This is the first time Israel is so called:  God had made their cause His own. 
‘God always takes the side of the persecuted,’ say the Rabbis.

3:8

The Canaanite
The general name for all the peoples inhabiting ancient Palestine. 
Originally  Canaan,  meaning the lowland,  was applied only to the coast of  Phoenicia and the land of the Philistines;  see Gen. 10:6.

The Hittite
A powerful and warlike nation whose seat was Asia Minor;  an offshoot of this people lived in Southern Palestine; see  Gen. 23.

The Amorite
Originally a warlike tribe inhabiting the hill country,  behind Phoenicia.
Later,  it was the name for all pre-Israelitish inhabitants of Canaan  (Amos 2:9).

The Perizzite, Hivite
Seem to have lived in Central Palestine.

The Jebusite
This tribe inhabited Jerusalem.

Moses’ First Difficulty: He Is Unsuited For His Mission     Exodus 3:11-12

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Exodus 3:11-12
(11)  And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
(12)  And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this  mountain.
KJV

3:11

Who Am I
How different was Moses’ attitude in his youth!  With age,  Moses can only think of his own unfitness for the gigantic undertaking;  See Jeremiah’s diffidence to assume the Prophet’s office,  Jer. 1:6.

3:12

I will be with thee
This tremendous fact of the reality of the Divine help would make it possible for Moses,  an old man of eighty years, to face Pharaoh and demand the emancipation of his enslaved brethren.  Moses’ humility,  therefore,  is here out of place;  and,  when persisted in,  earns him a Divine rebuke  (4:14).

Moses’ Second Difficulty: The ‘Name’ Of God     Exodus 3:13-22

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Exodus 3:13-15
(13)  And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
(14)  And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
(15)  And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
KJV

3:13

What  is His name?
In the Hebrew this is not an inquiry for information as to what God is called.
Moses comes to Israel with the words,  ‘the God of your fathers hath sent me unto you.’
It is,  therefore,  hardly conceivable that he should proclaim a God quite unknown unto them,  as the God of their fathers.  They must have known what He was called,  ‘since nothing is more UN-Biblical than the idea of an “Unknown God” to Israel. 
But since name means fame,  and in Ex. 9:16  is the synonym of  ‘power’,  What is His name?  Means ‘What are the mighty deeds which thou canst recount of Him-what is His power-that we should listen to thy message from Him?’

3:14 

I AM THAT I AM

Exod 3:14
And said God unto  Moses, I AM THAT I AM....    (Interlinear Bible)

From Strong's #1961 -  hayah (haw-yaw)  -  I AM
a primitive root [compare 1933]; to exist, i.e. be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary)

The Hebrew is  EHYEH ASHER EHYEH - The self-existent and eternal God;

a declaration of the unity and spirituality of the Divine Nature
the exact opposite of all the forms of idolatry, human, animal, and celestial, that prevailed everywhere else

I am that I am is,  however,  not merely a philosophical phrase;
the emphasis is on the active manifestation of the Divine existence; compares the explanation of the Midrash.
To the Israelites in bondage,  the meaning would be, 

‘Although He has not yet displayed His power towards you,  He will do so;  He is eternal and will certainly redeem you.’

It must suffice the Israelites to learn that, ‘Ehyeh, I will be (with you),  hath sent me unto you.’

3:15

The Lord
This is the translation of the Divine Name written in the four Hebrew letters  Y H W H  and always pronounced ‘Adonay’ (see Lesson one in Genesis). 

This Divine Name of  four letters - the Tetragrammation - comes from the same Hebrew root (hayah) as Ehyeh, which means  ‘to be’.  It gives expression to the fact that

He was,  He is,  and He ever will be

Here, too, the words must not be understood in the philosophical sense of mere  ‘being’,  but as active manifestation of the Divine existence.  According to the Rabbis,  this Name stresses the lovingkindness and faithfulness of God in relation to His creatures:

He who educates,  punishes, and guides
He who hears the cry of the oppressed
He who makes known His ways of righteousness unto the children of men
He is the great Living God who reveals Himself in the Providential care of His people
GOD OF YOUR FATHERS

Not a deity discovered by Moses in Midian,  but the same God who had revealed Himself to their fathers four hundred years ago as the Creator of the world and the righteous Judge of all the earth - Adonai - the ever-living God of faithfulness and lovingkindness, hath sent him unto them.

This is my name - Memorial
The designation by which I will be remembered.
Memorial’  is a synonym of  ‘Name’   See Hos. 12:6. 

Exodus 3:16 - 20
(16)  Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:
(17)  And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
(18)  And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.
(19)  And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.
(20)  And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.
KJV

3:18 

Three days’ journey
A current expression for a considerable distance; see Gen. 30:36; Numbers 10:33. 

‘The Israelites were to ask what could not reasonably be refused,  being a demand quite in accordance with Egyptian customs… It is important to observe that the first request which Pharaoh rejected could have been granted without any damage to Egypt, or any risk of the Israelites passing the strongly fortified frontier’ (Speaker’s Bible). 

The request was not granted;  and so it resolved itself in the end into a demand for the unconditional release of the people and their actual departure.

Exodus 3:21-22
(21)  And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty:
(22)  But every woman shall borrow of her neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.
KJV

3:21

When ye go, ye shall not go empty
To understand this phrase and the promise it contains,  we must recall Deut. 15:12,  which ordains that when a faithful servant leaves his master after many years’ service,  he is to be liberally equipped from his owner’s property.

3:22

Shall ask
For the mere asking,  they will be given in gladness and friendliness precious and valuable gifts.
The Hebrew word here means  to ask as a gift (Ps. 2:8),  with no idea of giving back  the object thus received.
If there was any borrowing,  it was on the part of the Egyptians,  who had been taking the labor of the Israelites without recompense.

Upon your sons,  and upon your daughters
The striking manifestation of kindliness and goodwill on the side of the Egyptian people is to be remembered by the Israelites throughout the generations;  and,  therefore,  they are bidden to put these gifts and ornaments upon their children,  who will ask concerning that great Day when the Lord saved Israel out of the hands of Pharaoh.  These jewels,  tokens of friendship and repentance,  were fittingly employed later in the adornment and enrichment of the Sanctuary.

Ye shall spoil the Egyptians
This rendering could be replaced by  ye shall save the Egyptians
The Hebrew root word which is here translated ‘spoil’ or ‘strip’, occurs 212 times in Scripture; and in 210 instances its meaning is admitted by all to be,

to snatch (from danger)
to rescue (from a wild beast)
to recover (property)
to plunder (booty)

Its direct object is never the person or thing from whom the saving or the rescuing or the snatching has taken place, but always the person or thing rescued.  
In other words the meaning could be  ‘and ye shall save the Egyptians,’ t o clear the name,  and vindicate the humanity,  of the Egyptians.  Bitter memories and associations would have clung to the word ‘Egyptians,’ in the mind of the Israelites, as the hereditary enslavers and oppressors of Israel. A friendly parting, and generous gifts, however, would banish that feeling. The Israelites would come to see that the oppressors were Pharaoh and his courtiers, not the Egyptian people.
They would be enabled thereby to carry out the command to be given them forty years later, ‘Thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian’ (Deut. 23:8).

The Talmud records a formal claim for indemnity put forward by the Egyptians before Alexander the Great for the vessels of gold and silver which the Israelites had taken with them at the Exodus!  The Jewish spokesman,  however,  had little difficulty in proving to Alexander that,  if any indemnity was to be paid,  it was the Egyptians who were the debtors,  seeing that they had enslaved and exploited the Israelites for many centuries without any pay for their labors.

Moses’ Third Difficulty: The Israelites May Not Believe His Message   Exodus 4:1-17

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Exodus 4:1-17
(1)    And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.
(2)    And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.
(3)    And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.
(4)    And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:
(5)    That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.
(6)    And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.
(7)    And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.
(8)    And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.
(9)    And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.
(10)  And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
(11)  And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?
(12)  Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
(13)  And he said, O my LORD, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.
(14)  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.
(15)  And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
(16)  And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.
(17)  And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.
KJV

4:1

The Lord Hath Not Appeared Unto Thee
How could this be answered? Argument would be of little avail. Their unbelief must be swept aside by something that would carry conviction to men whose religious memories are dimmed and whose spirit is crushed.

4:2 A Rod

Jewish legend has woven marvelous tales round the Rod of Moses. 
‘It was probably only a shepherd’s crook.  What a history,  however,  awaited it! 

It was to be stretched out over the Red Sea,  pointing a pathway through its depths
It was to smite the flinty rock
It was to win victory over the hosts of Amalek
It was to be known as the rod of God

(Meyer).

4:3 A Serpent

Hebrew nachash
The basilisk, the symbol of royal and divine power in the diadem worn by Pharaoh. 
‘The meaning of this miracle seems to be,  Pharaoh’s own power shall become an instrument of punishment,  and his enslaved enemy shall triumph’  (Hirsch).

4:4 Put Forth Thy Hand

Snake-charmers usually take hold of snakes by the neck to prevent them biting.
It is much more dangerous to seize them by the tail.
The living serpent becomes a staff by the will of God.
Pharaoh can be overcome,  like the serpent.
 

THE SECOND SIGN 4:6-8
4:6 His Hand Was Leprous

Moses’ ability to produce,  and to heal,  that most malignant disease would be to them an even more convincing proof of his Divine commission.

As white as snow
Leprosy was common in Egypt. In its worst form,  the whole skin becomes glossy white,  dry and ulcerous.

4:7 It Was Turned

Old English for,  ‘it turned.’  As his other flesh. 
This miracle was the greater,  as white leprosy,  when full developed,  is rarely curable.

4:8 If They Will Not Believe

God full well knows whether they will believe or not;  but Moses is to be fortified by the information that if a portion of the people refuse to be convinced by the first miracle - they will be convinced by the second miracle (Ibn Ezra).

Take of the water
Moses is thus given three signs to attest his Divine commission to the Israelites, the third being similar to the first of the ten plagues.

Moses Still Hesitates:  He Is Not Eloquent          4:10-17

4:10

A Man Of Words
Or,  ‘eloquent.’ 
He had spent the years of his manhood in the great silent spaces of the desert,  and he could only stammer forth the message of  freedom.
Leadership,  it seemed to him,  was impossible to a man unskilled in eloquence with which to win the Council of Elders to his way of thinking,  or to state his case fluently and convincingly before Pharaoh.

 Slow of speech, and of a slow tongue
Or  ‘heavy of speech and heavy of tongue’.  He may have had an actual impediment in his speech.

“Rabbinic legend” -

Tells that Moses when a child was one day taken by Pharaoh on his knee.  He thereupon grasped Pharaoh’s crown and placed it on his head.  The astrologers were horror-struck.  ‘Let two braziers be brought’ - they counseled;  ‘one filled with gold,  the other with glowing coals;  and set them before him.  If he grasps the gold,  it will be safer for Pharaoh to put the possible usurper to death.’  When the braziers were brought,  the hand of Moses was stretching for the gold,  but the angel Gabriel guided it to the coals.  The child plucked out a burning coal and put it to his lips,  and for life remained  ‘heavy of speech and heavy of tongue’.

(I put this legend in for informational purposes only)

And the Lord said unto him: ‘Who hath made man’s mouth?  Or who maketh a man dumb,  or deaf,  or seeing,  or blind?  Is it not I the Lord? “  Exodus 4:11

4:14

Was Kindled
Because of his obstinate reluctance in accepting the charge,  despite the Divine promise of help  (possibly because of discouragement of his failure on his first blow for freedom in his youth,  he is unwilling to undertake the mission).

Moses Returns To Egypt     Exodus 4:18-23

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Exodus 4:18-23
(18)  And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.
(19)  And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.
(20)  And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.
(21)  And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
(22)  And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:
(23)  And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.
KJV

4:19

Go, return into Egypt
There were still some hesitancies and fears in the mind of Moses. 
Hence the distinct assurance that all his enemies were dead.

4:21 

Harden his heart
Three words used for ‘Harden”:

hazak = to brace or tighten up   (opp. To relax)
Used thirteen times
Ex 4:21; 7:13,22; 8:19; 9:12,35; 10:20,27;
11:10; 14:4,8,17  (and once of the Egyptians, 12:32)
kashah = to make sharp, hard, severe, cruel. 
Used twice
Ex 7:3; 13:15 (see Gen. 49:7).
kabed = to become heavy
Used six times
Ex 7:14; 8:15,32; 9:7,34; 10:1

It was in each case God’s clemency and forbearing goodness which produced the hardening. 
That goodness which  “leadeth to repentance”  (Rom. 2:4):  just as the same sun which softens the wax hardens the clay.

Or, make his heart strong;  stubborn. 
This does not mean that God on purpose made Pharaoh sinful.  For God to make it impossible for a man to obey Him,  and then punish him for his disobedience,  would be both unjust and contrary to the fundamental truth of Freedom of the Will.

The phrase most often translated ‘hardening of the heart’ occurs nineteen times;

Ten times it is said that Pharaoh hardened his heart
Nine times the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is ascribed to God

There thus seem to be two sides to this hardening. 

When the Divine command came to Pharaoh,  ‘Set the slaves free,’ 
His reply was,  ‘I will not,’ 

Each repetition of Pharaoh’s persistent obstinacy made it less likely that he would eventually listen to the word of God.
For such is the law of conscience:

Every time the voice of conscience is disobeyed,  it becomes duller and feebler,  and the heart groans harder.
Man cannot remain  ‘neutral’  in the presence of  Duty or of any direct command of God. 
He either obeys the Divine command,  and be becomes unto him a blessing; 
                                  or
He defies God, and such command then becomes unto him a curse. 

Thus,  every successive refusal on the part of Pharaoh to listen to the message of Moses froze up his better nature more and more,  until it seemed as if God had hardened his heart.  But this is only so because Pharaoh had first hardened it himself and continued doing so.  The Omniscient God knew beforehand whither his obstinacy would lead Pharaoh, and prepared Moses for initial failure by warning him that Pharaoh’s heart would become ‘hardened’.

4:22 

Israel is my son
This expression is here applied for the first time to Israel as a nation.

First-born 
Implying the universal fatherhood of God. 
The other nations,  too,  are God’s children;  and In Abraham’s seed,  (Jesus Christ)  spiritually the first-born among them,  all the families of the earth are to be blessed  (Gen. 12:3; Mt. 2:15),

Moses’ Secret Is Revealed     Exodus 4:24-31

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Exodus 4:24-30
(24)  And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the L
ORD met him, and sought to kill him.
(25)  Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.
(26)  So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.
(27)  And the L
ORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.
(28)  And Moses told Aaron all the words of the L
ORD who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.
(29)  And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:
(30)  And Aaron spake all the words which the L
ORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.
(31)  And the people believed: and when they heard that the L
ORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.
KJV

4:24 

At the lodging-place - Sought to Kill him
A further lesson, not learned in Egypt or at Horeb. 
A secret in Moses’ life, known only to himself. 
Moses had neglected to circumcise Eliezer. To save the child’s life, Zipporah now performs the rite herself.

Sought to Kill him - An anthropomorphic way of saying that Moses fell suddenly into a serious illness. 

Tradition ascribes the omission to the influence of Jethro and Zipporah,   who may have desired the circumcision postponed to the 13th year,  as was customary among the Bedouin tribes.  However,  in the previous verse Moses had warned Pharaoh that disobedience of God’s will carried dire punishment with it;  and he himself should,  therefore,  on no account have permitted any postponement of a duty incumbent upon him.

4:25 

Zipporah
Moses being disabled by illness, Zipporah performed the ceremony:

1. Cast it at his feet.
The feet of Moses-to connect him with what she had done.
2. Bridegroom of blood. 
This is the literal translation of the Hebrew chathan damim
Since circumcision is the symbol of the covenant between God and the child,  the child was spoken of as the bridegroom of the covenant;  in the same way as the ‘hero’ of Simchath Torah,  the Festival of the Rejoicing of the Law, came in medieval times to be called chathan Torah,  the  ‘bridegroom’  of the Torah.

4:26 

So he let him alone
The illness of Moses abated,  and he was soon restored to health.  Then she said,  A bridegroom, etc. 
Zipporah was the first to use the term  chathan damim  in connection with circumcision.

4:27  

The mountain of God
Horeb.  The  ‘wilderness’  is the one between Horeb and Egypt.

4:30 

Aaron spoke
Acting as the spokesman of Moses;  and did the signs.
Jewish commentators assume that this means that Aaron performed the signs; others hold that it was Moses.

4:31

Worshipped
‘They prostrated themselves’,  in prayer and gratitude to God.

Unsuccessful Appeal To Pharaoah And Increase Oppression       Exodus 5:1-23

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Moses and Aaron in Egypt      4:29-6:1

4:29,30 Communication to the elders
4:31 Result - Belief and Worship
5:1-3 Communication to Pharaoh
4-6:1 Result - Unbelief and Oppression

Result - Unbelief and Oppression      4-6:1

5:4-9 Pharaoh’s order given.
5:10-14 Evil case
5:15,16 Complaint: To Pharaoh
5:17 Answer
5:18 Pharaoh’s order repeated
5:19 Evil case
5:20-22 Complaint To Moses
5:22,23 Complaint By Moses
6:1 Answer
Exodus 5:1-8
(1)  And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.
(2)  And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
(3)  And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.
(4)  And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens.
(5)  And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
(6) And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
(7)  Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
(8)  And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God.
KJV

5:1 

Told Pharaoh
This was in Zoan  (See Ps. 78:12,43),  where Pharaoh had made his palace. 
It could not have been written in Babylon,  (as some suppose)  for there the kings were not seen,  and were hidden behind their ministers. 
Here,  in Egypt,  the king was his own minister,  and could be easily approached. 

Note Jehovah’s sixfold demand and Pharaoh’s sixfold objection:

1. (5:1) ”Thus saith Jehovah Elohim” 
(5:2) “Who is Jehovah?”
2. (5:1) “Let My People go”
(8:25) Go Sacrifice in the Land
3. (8:27) “We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness” 
(8:28) Go only  “not very far away”
4. (10:3) “Let My People go”
(10:8) “Who are they that shall go?” 
5. (10:9) “All must go”
(10:11) “Not so.” Men, but not children or flocks.
(10:24) Go.  Children, but not flocks.
6. (10:25,26) Flocks too: for  “we know not…till”. .

Pharaoh
Probably Meremptah

A feast
Hebrew  hag,  the common Semitic word for a pilgrimage to a sanctuary,  where pilgrims took part in religious processions and ritual dances. 
Sacrifice was an essential part of such a festival. 

In the wilderness
The Israelites could not offer sacrifices in the presence of the Egyptians,  in view of the fact that the animals to be sacrificed were held sacred by the Egyptians;  just as Mohammedans in India cannot with impunity slaughter cows in sight of a Hindu mob.  Hence the request to go to the wilderness to celebrate the feast.

5:2

Who is the Lord?
An expression of contempt;  Pharaoh does not know Adonai,  and does not acknowledge His right to command him. 

The Rabbis say that he turned to his seventy scribes who knew all the tongues spoken on earth,  and asked them: ‘Know ye a god who is called  Adonai,  the God of Eternity?’ 
They answered,  ‘We have sought in all the books of all the peoples among the names of all the gods;  but we have not found Adonai among them.’ 
They spake the truth.  It was a new revelation,  a new conception of God that Moses brought to the children of men. None of the heathen empires or emperors of old knew the God of Freedom, Holiness and Righteousness.
He was not in their pantheon.

5:3 

The God of the Hebrews hath met with us
Moses and Aaron now use language which Pharaoh is more likely to understand.  Instead of speaking of Adonai, they tell him that the God who had manifested Himself  to Moses is the God of the Hebrews.

5:5 

People of the land
Better,  Council of Elders,  Hebrew am ha-aretz,  refers to the elders who,  as representatives of the people, accompanied Moses (3:18).  ‘Why, asked Pharaoh, should all these elders - and there are so many of them - rest from their labors,  in order to listen to the talk of Moses and Aaron?’

5:6 

The same day
Pharaoh lost no time in devising a plan by which to crush the aspirations of the Hebrew leaders. 

Taskmasters
Hebrew  nogesim,  not the same word as in 1:11 (sare missim). 
The nogesim were probably subordinate to them.  Their officers.  Who were Hebrews (see v. 14).

5:8 

Tale
Number;  the same quantity was to be required of them under the new regulations as before.  The demand was,  as Pharaoh well knew,  impossible,  and increased the task of his Hebrew subjects beyond the point of human performance.  

They are idle
In two papyrus documents found in Egyptian tombs of the time of the Exodus, one passage says: 
I have no one to help me in making bricks, no straw, etc.’ 
And another tells of twelve laborers punished for failing to make up their daily tale of bricks.

Exodus 5:9-16
(9)    Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labor therein; and let them not regard vain words.
(10)  And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake to the people,  saying,  Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw.
(11)  Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.
(12)  So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.
(13)  And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfill your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.
(14)  And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten,  and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore?
(15)  Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants?
(16)  There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick: and, behold, thy servants are beaten; but the fault is in thine own people.
KJV

5:9 

Let heavier work be laid
He is determined to leave his slaves no time to think of freedom or worship.

Let them not regard vain words
The ‘lying words’ refer to the promised redemption, which in his eyes is merely a pretext for seeking a holiday.

5:12 

Stubble
Hebrew gash = reeds.
Shown in Egyptian pictures on the monuments. 
They had to collect all kinds of field rubbish,  small twigs,  stems,  roots of withered plants. 
This had to be chopped and sorted.

Exodus 5:17-23 
(17)  But he said, Ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the L
ORD.
(18)  Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks.
(19)  And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case, after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your bricks of your daily task.
(20)  And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh:
(21)  And they said unto them, The L
ORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savor to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.
(22)  And Moses returned unto the L
ORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?
(23)  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.
KJV

20-21 The Hebrew officers blame Moses and Aaron for the plight of the Hebrews.

5:21 

The Lord look upon you and judge
May God requite you for the evil you have brought upon the Israelites!

22-23  Moses complains to God that the bondage had become more cruel than ever.

5:23 

Neither hast thou
Fulfilled Thy promise of deliverance, (3:8).  
He could not understand this long-suffering delay of the Eternal  Judge to afford time for the hardened tyrant to repent.  We like Moses,  are full of similar questions.

Now Shalt Thou See     Exodus 6:1

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Exodus 6:1
Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.
KJV

God calms Moses by renewing the promise of redemption. 

By a strong hand
Compelled by the power of God.

End of Lesson One

 


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