Exodus 1

1 Now these are the names of the sons of Israel, who 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 All the souls who came out of Jacob’s body were seventy souls, and Joseph was in Egypt already. 6 Joseph died, as did all his brothers, and all that generation. 7 The children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them. 8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who didn’t know Joseph. 9 He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we. 10 Come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it happen that when any war breaks out, they also join themselves to our enemies, and fight against us, and escape out of the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. They built storage cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out. They were grieved because of the children of Israel. 13 The Egyptians ruthlessly made the children of Israel serve, 14 and they made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and in brick, and in all kinds of service in the field, all their service, in which they ruthlessly made them serve. 15 The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah, 16 and he said, “When you perform the duty of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birth stool; if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God, and didn’t do what the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the baby boys alive. 18 The king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and have saved the boys alive?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women aren’t like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous, and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied, and grew very mighty. 21 Because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22 Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “You shall cast every son who is born into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–7

During more than 200 years, while Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived at liberty, the Hebrews increased slowly; only about seventy persons went down into Egypt. There, in about the same number of years, though under cruel bondage, they became a large nation. This wonderful increase was according to the promise long before made unto the fathers. Though the performance of God’s promises is sometimes slow, it is always sure.

Verses 8–14

The land of Egypt became to Israel a house of bondage. The place where we have been happy, may soon become the place of our affliction; and that may prove the greatest cross to us, of which we said, This same shall comfort us. Cease from man, and say not of any place on this side heaven, This is my rest. All that knew Joseph, loved him, and were kind to his brethren for his sake; but the best and most useful services a man does to others, are soon forgotten after his death. Our great care should be, to serve God, and to please him who is not unrighteous, whatever men are, to forget our work and labour of love. The offence of Israel is, that he prospers. There is no sight more hateful to a wicked man than the prosperity of the righteous. The Egyptians feared lest the children of Israel should join their enemies, and get them up out of the land. Wickedness is ever cowardly and unjust; it makes a man fear, where no fear is, and flee, when no one pursues him. And human wisdom often is foolishness, and very sinful. God’s people had task-masters set over them, not only to burden them, but to afflict them with their burdens. They not only made them serve for Pharaoh’s profit, but so that their lives became bitter. The Israelites wonderfully increased. Christianity spread most when it was persecuted: the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church. They that take counsel against the Lord and his Israel, do but imagine a vain thing, and create greater vexation to themselves.

Verses 15–22

The Egyptians tried to destroy Israel by the murder of their children. The enmity that is in the seed of the serpent, against the Seed of the woman, makes men forget all pity. It is plain that the Hebrews were now under an uncommon blessing. And we see that the services done for God’s Israel are often repaid in kind. Pharaoh gave orders to drown all the male children of the Hebrews. The enemy who, by Pharaoh, attempted to destroy the church in this its infant state, is busy to stifle the rise of serious reflections in the heart of man. Let those who would escape, be afraid of sinning, and cry directly and fervently to the Lord for assistance.

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