Exodus 1 Commentary
Verse 7 is key. The “Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them”
The LORD’S blessing to Jacob was fulfilled in part.
Like in the Garden of Eden, amidst peace and calm, there arose a serpent in the form of a Pharaoh to fight the blessing. Like Cain, this Pharaoh has no respect for life. He views the prosperity of God’s children as a threat to his own survival. Israel is enslaved in Egypt as a consequence.
But what exactly is happening here? Has the LORD lifted his protection over Jacob? Is Jacob no longer a lion’s cub, heavily protected by the Lion of the tribe of Judah – the LORD Jesus? I think we have clues here.
400 years have passed and Israel is fruitful and prosperous. This is exactly Issachar’s blessing, (Gen chapter 49). Israel has become complacent and is now enslaved. The key word is complacency. The Abrahamic blessing was hinged on the condition of righteousness. It would appear Israel became complacent on this condition thereby reversing the LORD’S blessing over herself.
“Issachar is a rawboned donkey lying down among the sheep pens. When he sees how good is his resting place and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor.
Genesis 49:14-15 NIV
The consequences are bad. Pharaoh determined to stop fruitfulness by subjecting Jacob to very harsh conditions. The guess here is that Pharaoh wanted to reduce Israel’s economic power. This formula didn’t work so plan B was enforced. Midwives were instructed to kill boys at delivery. This too failed to work. So plan C was implemented. A law was passed to slaughter all Hebrew baby boys.
This is truly a low point for Jacob. But where is the God of Jacob? The lion’s cub has run away from the den in search of freedom. He has despised the company of the lioness. Now the lioness must first find and convince the cub of her good intentions and also demonstrate that she is well able to take care of the cub. She is the mother, after all. She still loves the cub. This thought introduces us to chapter two and also the rest of the book.
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