We are going to look at concepts found in the second book of the Torah called “Shemot” (Names) or “Exodus.” To understand the Tanak, we must have a thorough understanding of the concept of what is called the Egyptian, or the First, Redemption. We are going to examine this from various angles to get a deeper understanding and learn how it applies the the Messianic, or Second, Redemption. We will spend a lot of time looking at the Book of Shemot (Exodus), but we are not going to go through the book verse by verse, but we are going to draw out many concepts, phrases and idioms that will not only help us to understand the book, but the Scriptures as well.
In the first two chapters of Exodus, we are about the time of the birth of Moses (Moshe). We have a listing of names (where the name of the book comes from) in Exo 1.1-4 of the “sons of Israel.” Exo 1.5 says that there were seventy people in total. Gen 46.8-27 gives us a list of those who went in with Jacob into Egypt. Notice in verse 13 we have “Iob” or Job (more on that later). Exo 12.40 says that the sojourn of the sons of Israel “who were in Egypt (at the time)” was 430 years. The wording here is curious. Where it says “who were in Egypt” makes one wonder if there were children of Israel outside of Egypt. There is a possibility that some of these eventually departed Egypt proper, before the time of slavery. We will look at an example.
The Egyptian kingdom was far reaching. Joseph was 37 when the famine began. He was 110 years old when he died, so that means he ruled in Egypt 80 years. He set up his family and their children as administrators of the livestock and other things eventually (Gen 47.6). Egypt was a hub for many trade routes and there were military outposts all over, and they reached as far as Aphek in Israel. They have found the Egyptian governor’s house there as an example. Aphek is where Israel lost the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistines. Most people don’t think of Egypt reaching that far, but they did. They had a circle of influence that went to most of the known world.
The “Iob” or “Job” of Gen 46.13 went into Egypt with Jacob, the son of Issachar. It is possible that Job may have been made an administrator of Pharaoh’s business (Gen 47.6) and left Egypt. He goes to Edom, named after his uncle Esau, to an area known as “Uz” who was a descendant of Esau (Gen 36.10-43). This was the setting for the Book of Job. At any rate, Iob/Job left Egypt. The Book of Job is believed by many to be the oldest book of the Tanak, written after the flood and before the Exodus and the Torah. So, we may have a son of Israel (and his family) that is out of Egypt proper, while the sojourn of the sons of Israel “who were in Egypt” was still going on in the land of Egypt, before the Exodus.
Another thing we can glean from Gen 46.8-27 can be found in verse 11. We have Levi and he has three sons called Gershom, Kohath and Merari. Kohath has a son named Amram, and he has three children named Miriam, Aaron and Moses (Moshe). We have from the time of Moses, his grandfather was one of those who came into Egypt with Jacob. He was a contemporary with with Iob/Job. From the time Jacob enters into the land to the time of Moses brings them out, we have a period of about 210 years. Joseph is 30 when he begins to rule as viceroy/vizier, and he dies after 80 years of ruling at 110 years old.
In “Bereshit” by Mesorah Publications, we have a commentary on the Book of Genesis. On p. 527, we have the following commentary on Gen 15.13, where God gives Abraham a prophecy at the Covenant Between the Halves. The commentary says, “Abraham’s prophecy did not clarify when these four hundred years would begin and end. He was told that the total duration would extend for that period, but how long or where each part of the bondage would be.”
“It is quite clear, that the phrase four hundred years stands by itself, preceded as it is by Masoretic punctuation similar to the English semi-colon under the word “atam” (them). Accordingly, the ‘four hundred years’ refers to the period which ‘your offspring will be strangers’ and not to the servitude and affliction because, as explained above, only the sojourning extended four hundred years, from the birth of Isaac until the Exodus. The severity of the bondage-slavery and oppression in Egypt- began only later and lasted a much shorter time (Rashi as explained by R Yosef Kara; Mizrachi; and Pa’aneach Raza).”
“Therefore, as an aid is comprehension, Ramabam suggests that the verse be transposed and interpreted as if it read: ‘Your offspring shall be a stranger for four hundred years in a land not theirs, and shall serve them, and they shall afflict them.’ Thus, although the period they would be strangers has been defined, the length of the period of servitude and affliction remains unspecified. Rashi clarifies the chronology.”
“The period of 400 years extends from Isaac’s birth until the Exodus. This total is arrived at because Isaac was 60 years old when Jacob was born (Gen 25.26); Jacob, as he himself stated (Gen 47.9), was 130 years old when he went down into Egypt, making a total of 190 years. They were actually in Egypt 210 years, making 400 years altogether. Rashi goes on to explain that the verse cannot intend to suggest that they were actually in Egypt for 400 years, For Kehath (Kohath), who accompanied Jacob to Egypt, lived 133 years (Exo 6.18); his son Amram lived 137 years (Exo 6.20), and Moses was 80 years old when the children of Israel left Egypt (Exo 7.7)-totaling 347 years. The actual figure, of course, is much less because their lifespans overlapped; the years that Kehath continued to live after Amram was born, and those that Amram lived after the birth of Moses must be deducted which will then yield the total of 210 years as above” (Bereshit, Mesorah Publications, p. 527).
We have the period of 430 years mentioned in Scripture (Exo 12.40; Gal 3.17), and that is broken down like this. From Gen 15 to Isaac is 25 years. From Isaac to Jacob is 60 years. Jacobs life was 147 years (Gen 47.25). From the death of Jacob to Joseph’s death was 55 years (Gen 37.2, 41.46, 50.22). From the death of Joseph to the Exodus (Exo 12.40) was 143 years. When Iob/Job left, he probably took his family (wife, children, grandchildren), so there was a community of the children of Israel in Edom, and this had to be after the time of Esau according to the names in the book. This makes it at least possible that there may have been other children of Israel who were not with the main population of those “who were in Egypt” (proper). The Exodus will not be a migration of “some” people in small groups.
In Exo 2.1-10 we have the account of the birth of Moses, the “Messiah Ben David” of the First Resurrection (Egyptian). One question people have asked is “How did Pharaoh’s daughter know he was Hebrew?” In the movie “The Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston, it tells us it was because of the blanket he was wrapped in. But Moses would have been circumcised, and that is how she knew. You will notice that there are no names in the first ten verses. That’s funny for being in a book called “Names.” But what the Lord is communicating here is we have a story of courage and doing the right thing, which will play an essential role in God’s plan here. The results of the work they did here is still being felt today.
You will notice that they knew who the mother of Moses was, and she nursed him and called his name “Moshe.” In the article called “Mosheh” in Wikipedia it says that it comes from an Egyptian root “MSY” which means “child of” and has been considered as a possible etymology. This was an abbreviation, with the name of a god left out. For example, there are many names of Egyptian Pharaohs and royalty with “Moshe” in it. Such names like Thutmoses (Thut created him); Ahmoses (Iah created him); Kamoses (Ka created him), Amenmoses (Amen created him) and Rameses (Ra created him) were all Pharaohs. In the case of Moses, the name of a god was omitted.
Abraham Yahuda, based on the spelling given in the Tanak, says that it combines “water” or “seed” and “pond, expanse of water.” This means that it carries the meaning “child of the Nile” or “the Nile created him” (MWSE). The Egyptian nature of the name of Moses has always been seen by Jewish scholars like Philo of Alexandria and Josephus. Philo linked “Moeses” to the Egyptian (Coptic) word for water, while Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews said that the second part of the name (eses) meant “those who are saved.
In Part 2 we will pick up with Exo 2.11-15.