Ancient Near East
Images & Art
Maps & Geography
Mythology & Beliefs
People in History
Timelines & Charts
Now the Bible turns its attention to Moses, who was born about 1500 BC. He was chosen to lead Israel out of slavery and give them God's laws. When the Book of Exodus begins, the Hebrews were living in Egypt and after time they grew in number and the new Pharaoh didn't remember Joseph and put them into slavery. The Hebrew slaves had been reproducing so fast that the king felt threatened by a potential revolt against his authority. He gave orders that no more male Hebrew children should be allowed to live. To save the infant Moses, his mother made a little vessel of papyrus waterproofed with asphalt and pitch. She placed Moses in the vessel, floating among the reeds on the bank of the Nile River.
By God's providence, Moses-- the child of a Hebrew slave-- was found and adopted by an Egyptian princess, the daughter of the Pharaoh himself. He was reared in the royal court as a prince of the Egyptians: "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds" (Acts 7:22). At the same time the Lord determined that Moses should be taught in his earliest years by his own mother. This meant that he was founded in the faith of his fathers, although he was reared as an Egyptian (Ex. 2:1-10).
Moses was educated in a civilization unsurpassed by any people at that time. His training was designed to prepare him for a high office, or even the throne of Egypt. He became familiar with life at Pharaoh's courts and the pomp and grandeur of Egyptian religious worship. He was schooled in the writing and literary ideas of the time. He witnessed the administration of justice. When he was 40 years old, Moses became angry at an Egyptian taskmaster who was beating a Hebrew slave; he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand (Ex. 2:12). When this became known, however, he feared for his own life and fled from Egypt to the desert land of Midian where he married a daughter of Jethro in agreement to tend Jethro's flocks.After about 40 more years, God spoke to Moses from a bush that was on fire but didn't burn. God sent Moses back to Egypt to lead the Hebrews out of slavery, and into the land promised to Abraham. God demonstrated His power to Moses and revealed to Him His holy Name "YHVH" or "Yaweh" (Jehovah became a popular pronunciation in the 16th century through German translators although there is no "J" sound in the Hebrew).
God anointed Aaron to go with Moses to be the spokesman and they persuaded the people of Israel to follow them but Pharaoh would not let them go. Then God sent 10 devastating plagues on the Egyptians, the last plague being the death of the firstborn in every home whose doors were not marked with blood.
God commanded the Israelites to celebrate yearly the "Passover", where the death angel passed over the houses that had the blood of a lamb.
Exod 12:1-14 Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 'And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb. 'Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
'Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. 'And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. 'Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. . . roasted in fire . . . 'You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.'And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD'S Passover. 'For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. 'Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. 'So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations.
After this Pharaoh finally gave in and agreed to let Israel go (and with all the wealth of Egypt), but as soon as they left, Pharaoh changed his mind. He sent his army after them where Israel was cornered against the Red Sea. God parted the waters and led them through on dry ground.Exod 14:21-22 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
Then the waters closed in on Pharaoh's armies:Exod 14:28-29 Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained. But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
The Israelites were guided by the mysterious Shekinah glory cloud that led them to Mount Sinai. On the way their faith was tested as they experienced intense heat, hunger, thirst, and war. God did many miracles including "manna", bread that fell from heaven.
© Bible History Online (http://www.bible-history.com)
The Story of the Bible
Isaac, Son of Promise
Summary of the Old Testament Books
Read the Old Testament Stories
Bibliography Resources on the Old Testament
A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Revised and Expanded by Archer, 508 Pages, Pub. 2007