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Exodus 1:1-6

Context
Blessing during Bondage in Egypt

1:1 1 These 2  are the names 3  of the sons of Israel 4  who entered Egypt – each man with his household 5  entered with Jacob: 1:2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 1:3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 1:4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 1:5 All the people 6  who were directly descended 7  from Jacob numbered seventy. 8  But Joseph was already in Egypt, 9  1:6 and in time 10  Joseph 11  and his brothers and all that generation died.

Exodus 1:8

Context

1:8 Then a new king, 12  who did not know about 13  Joseph, came to power 14  over Egypt.

1 sn Chapter 1 introduces the theme of bondage in Egypt and shows the intensifying opposition to the fulfillment of promises given earlier to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The first seven verses announce the theme of Israel’s prosperity in Egypt. The second section (vv. 8-14) reports continued prosperity in the face of deliberate opposition. The third section (vv. 15-21) explains the prosperity as divine favor in spite of Pharaoh’s covert attempts at controlling the population. The final verse records a culmination in the developing tyranny and provides a transition to the next section – Pharaoh commands the open murder of the males. The power of God is revealed in the chapter as the people flourish under the forces of evil. However, by the turn of affairs at the end of the chapter, the reader is left with a question about the power of God – “What can God do?” This is good Hebrew narrative, moving the reader through tension after tension to reveal the sovereign power and majesty of the Lord God, but calling for faith every step of the way. See also D. W. Wicke, “The Literary Structure of Exodus 1:22:10,” JSOT 24 (1982): 99-107.

2 tn Heb “now these” or “and these.” The vav (ו) disjunctive marks a new beginning in the narrative begun in Genesis.

3 sn The name of the book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible is שְׁמוֹת (shÿmot), the word for “Names,” drawn from the beginning of the book. The inclusion of the names at this point forms a literary connection to the book of Genesis. It indicates that the Israelites living in bondage had retained a knowledge of their ancestry, and with it, a knowledge of God’s promise.

4 tn The expression בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל (bÿne yisrael, “sons of Israel”) in most places refers to the nation as a whole and can be translated “Israelites,” although traditionally it has been rendered “the children of Israel” or “the sons of Israel.” Here it refers primarily to the individual sons of the patriarch Israel, for they are named. But the expression is probably also intended to indicate that they are the Israelites (cf. Gen 29:1, “eastern people,” or “easterners,” lit., “sons of the east”).

5 tn Heb “a man and his house.” Since this serves to explain “the sons of Israel,” it has the distributive sense. So while the “sons of Israel” refers to the actual sons of the patriarch, the expression includes their families (cf. NIV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

6 tn The word נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is often translated “soul.” But the word refers to the whole person, the body with the soul, and so “life” or “person” is frequently a better translation.

7 tn The expression in apposition to נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) literally says “those who went out from the loins of Jacob.” This distinguishes the entire company as his direct descendants.

8 sn Gen 46 describes in more detail Jacob’s coming to Egypt with his family. The Greek text of Exod 1:5 and of Gen 46:27 and two Qumran manuscripts, have the number as seventy-five, counting the people a little differently. E. H. Merrill in conjunction with F. Delitzsch notes that the list in Gen 46 of those who entered Egypt includes Hezron and Hamul, who did so in potentia, since they were born after the family entered Egypt. Joseph’s sons are also included, though they too were born in Egypt. “The list must not be pressed too literally” (E. H. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, 49).

9 tn Heb “and Joseph was in Egypt” (so ASV). The disjunctive word order in Hebrew draws attention to the fact that Joseph, in contrast to his brothers, did not come to Egypt at the same time as Jacob.

10 tn The text simply uses the vav (ו) consecutive with the preterite, “and Joseph died.” While this construction shows sequence with the preceding verse, it does not require that the death follow directly the report of that verse. In fact, readers know from the record in Genesis that the death of Joseph occurred after a good number of years. The statement assumes the passage of time in the natural course of events.

11 tn The verse has a singular verb, “and Joseph died, and all his brothers, and all that generation.” Typical of Hebrew style the verb need only agree with the first of a compound subject.

sn Since the deaths of “Joseph and his brothers and all that generation” were common knowledge, their mention must serve some rhetorical purpose. In contrast to the flourishing of Israel, there is death. This theme will appear again: In spite of death in Egypt, the nation flourishes.

12 sn It would be difficult to identify who this “new king” might be, since the chronology of ancient Israel and Egypt is continually debated. Scholars who take the numbers in the Bible more or less at face value would place the time of Jacob’s going down to Egypt in about 1876 b.c. This would put Joseph’s experience in the period prior to the Hyksos control of Egypt (1720-1570’s), and everything in the narrative about Joseph points to a native Egyptian setting and not a Hyksos one. Joseph’s death, then, would have been around 1806 b.c., just a few years prior to the end of the 12th Dynasty of Egypt. This marked the end of the mighty Middle Kingdom of Egypt. The relationship between the Hyksos (also Semites) and the Israelites may have been amicable, and the Hyksos then might very well be the enemies that the Egyptians feared in Exodus 1:10. It makes good sense to see the new king who did not know Joseph as either the founder (Amosis, 1570-1546) or an early king of the powerful 18th Dynasty (like Thutmose I). Egypt under this new leadership drove out the Hyksos and reestablished Egyptian sovereignty. The new rulers certainly would have been concerned about an increasing Semite population in their territory (see E. H. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, 49-55).

13 tn The relative clause comes last in the verse in Hebrew. It simply clarifies that the new king had no knowledge about Joseph. It also introduces a major theme in the early portion of Exodus, as a later Pharaoh will claim not to know who Yahweh is. The Lord, however, will work to make sure that Pharaoh and all Egypt will know that he is the true God.

14 tn Heb “arose.”



TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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