When we left Joseph at the end of Genesis, the dysfunctional family had all come to Egypt, Jacob finally died but not before cursing two of his sons, and the story ends. In Exodus, we pick up the story several years — around 1400 BCE vs 1600 BCE for Joseph.
- There’s a new Pharaoh in town. This guy has never heard of Joseph, has no need for dream interpretation, and has not been told what a great family Joseph had. What the new Pharaoh knows is that after multiple generations, the Israelites have been … how should we say … fruitful. If you are Pharaoh, and you have a tribe of people who continue to propagate to the point of being a threat to your own livelihood, what do you do? You enslave them, of course. Maybe it was a karma thing — you remember … all that stuff about Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery.
- Moses is born. Since the Israelites continued to proliferate, the next thing Pharaoh did was issue an order to kill all the male Jewish babies. Here’s where the story of Moses begins. And it is strange from the beginning:
- Moses’ mother first hides him from the authorities for three months.
- Then she puts him in a basket in the water. That is when Pharaoh’s daughter ‘finds’ him in the basket. This is where all the rumors originate that maybe Moses was really the illegitimate son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
- Then Pharaoh’s daughter pays Moses’ mother to nurse him until Pharaoh’s daughter ‘kidnaps’ him back to be her son.
- And suddenly Moses is an adult. All in a single chapter.
- Moses kills a man. And just as soon as Moses becomes an adult, Exodus says he kills an Egyptian. The Bible is unclear on why. But it is clear that Moses did this only after he looked around first to see if anyone was watching. The commandment on killing evidently was still in the future. To add to the illegitimate son rumors, Moses (a Jewish slave killing an Egyptian) somehow escapes and eludes the authorities for several years before returning to lead his people out of Egypt.
And we have not even got into the cool stuff we all know is coming.
And a shout out to Hemant Mehta over at The Friendly Atheist YouTube channel for his insightful and amusing observations on the Old Testament.