While we were yet a mere family we were exiled from our land. The people of Israel was only formed in Egypt: 'Behold the people of the children of Israel …' (Exodus 1:9). The exile in Egypt was a prototype of all subsequent exiles.

Some of our Rabbis see this exile as a punishment for sin, the sin being the desire to assimilate. Jacob's children who came just 'to stay in the country' (Gen. 47:4) eventually filled the country (Exodus 1:7) and established themselves there.

A new king arose (Exodus 1:8) - when Joseph died they abrogated the Contract of circumcision, Saying 'let us be like the Egyptians!' Because they did this, God changed the Egyptians' love of them to hatred. 'A new king' - one who brought out new decrees against them
(Midrash Rabbah, Exodus).

The slavery in Egypt had an educational purpose. For the children of Israel are servants to me, they are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, I am GOD your God (Leviticus 25:55).

Only at the Red Sea did Moses and the people fully understand the meaning of being slaves to the Egyptians. Israel saw the great power that GOD had used against the Egyptians (Exodus 14:31). The slavery had been to prepare the people of Israel to be fit to be servants of GOD.

Main themes

  1. Emigration of Jacob's family to Egypt.
  2. Proliferation of the Israelites.
  3. The death of all of Jacob's sons and the start of slavery.
  4. 'Come, let us deal craftily'
  5. Pharaoh's decrees.
  6. 'And they embittered their lives'.
  7. 'And their cry rose to heaven'.




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05 Jan 2006 / 5 Tevet 5766 0