Exodus begins in medias res with a listing of the names of the children of Jacob. (Jacob is also called Israel, and so his children are called the “Israelites.” The Hebrew name for the book we call Exodus is “Names,” taken from the first word of the Hebrew text of Exodus.) But who is Jacob, how did he have so many children, and how did they all end up in Egypt? To learn all that, you’ll need to read Genesis….
A few notes about Exodus 1:
- The Israelites are an immigrant people to Egypt, but the Egyptians, who initially welcomed them, begin to fear them because they grow numerous.
- The Egyptians decide to start oppressing the Israelites, but their oppression has the opposite effect (v.12): “The more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread.”
- Pharaoh then commands the death of all the Hebrew baby boys. In other words, Pharaoh plans to commit genocide. Some things never change….
- In Exodus 1, we already see what will be the main theme of the first half of the book: a struggle between Pharaoh, the divine king of Egypt, and the Living God. Things will get interesting.
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