Read the Book of Exodus in Fifteen Minutes! Part 1: Chapters 1-18

By: Marco La Vecchia

Openings of Book 1

What is the current state of the Israelites? Exodus 1:7 reveals that Israel was fruitful and multiplied and filled the land. The new Pharaoh sees the  Israelites’ success as a threat to his power. Both sins of pride and envy take over the Pharaoh as he tries to destroy all prosperity for Israel and all Israelites themselves. He enslaves all Israelites and gives the command to drown all boys in the Nile river. We see Pharaoh commit the same sin of Adam and Eve by discerning for himself what is good and evil. He decides what is good and what is evil according to what benefits him the most as a Pharaoh. The Israelites cry out to God and he responds. 

God uses Pharaohs plan against him

Just as Pharaoh had commanded, one mother makes the strong painful decision to let her baby boy go. However, she places her child in a basket. The basket floats down the Nile until it is picked up by a member of the Pharaohs family. This child is Moses. Moses will be the man to free the Israelites out of the wickedness in Egypt. This shows how God pulls good out of evil. How Moses’ life toward leading the Israelites out of Israel resulted from the evil Pharaohs evil decisions. 

The Burning Bush 

God appears to Moses, now older, through a “burning bush.” He tells Moses to command the Pharaoh to let his people – the Israelites – go. God also says that he knows Pharaoh will refuse. When he does, God will release plagues upon Egypt. Notice the free will God give to all people. God knew the Pharaoh was going to say no to releasing the Israelites, but God still had Moses ask him anyway. If God knew that the Pharaoh would say no, he could have released the plagues right away. God does not do this because he offers everyone – righteous or wicked – free will. 

God Hardens Pharaoh’s Heart (5-15)

After Pharaoh willingly said no to Moses and his heart became hard, God sent five plagues: one for each of the Pharaohs gods. After each plague Moses returns to the Pharaoh to ask him again to release the Isrealites from slavery. Moses works as God’s messenger, giving the Pharaoh a chance to prevent further plaques. Unfortunately for Pharaoh and Egypt, Pharaoh hardened his own heart and did not release the Israelites. It is not until the next five plagues (#6-10) does the bible start to say “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” 

What does this show about God? God gave Pharaoh many chances through Moses to release His people. But why does God begin to harden Pharaoh’s heart after the fifth plague? This is when Pharaoh became too overcome with wickedness. It got to a point where the people around the Pharaoh called him insane. So when the bible states that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, he did it because the Pharaoh was so engulfed with evil that God could use this evil for his plan: the Pharaoh’s destruction and the evacuation of the Isrealites. 

The Night of Passover

The final plague highlights the actions taken by pharaoh in the past. Just how Pharaoh had the Iraelite children drowned in the Nile, God’s final plague will kill every first born in Egypt. In contrast to what Pharaoh did, God offered the people a way to avoid the plague. The night before the Iraelites left Egypt, they would sacrifice a lamb and paint the door frame of their house with it’s blood. This is where the passover tradition comes from.  All of the houses that had performed the sacrifice had their children saved from the plague. Pharaoh, who did not perform the sacrifice, loses his son to the plague and finally allows the Irealites to leave Egypt.

The Israelites make their exodus from Egypt, but Pharaoh, being prideful and arrogant, changes his mind once more. Pharaoh gathers his army and chases after the leaving Isrealites. This when Moses, through the power of God, splits the Red Sea so the Isrealites can cross. This event ended in the Pharaoh’s destruction and the journey to Mount Sinai for the Israelites.

Ending of the first half of Exodus

God is righteous. God is just. God will save his people from evil. After saving the Israelites from enslavement, he wants them to enter a Promised Land, where His presence can be felt closer. The Israelites on their way to Mount Sinai show a very common response from humans: questioning God and turning away from him. Will they make it to the promised land? What will happen before they do?  Come Back Next Edition of The Salesian Spectator to See if The Israelites Are Thankful for God’s Actions or if Their Heart is Hardened Like Pharaohs