For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2005 James Melough

1:1.  “These are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.”


1:2.  “Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,”


1:3.  “Isaachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,”


1:4.  “Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.”


Since it is beyond the purview of this present work to include a detailed discussion of the spiritual significance of biblical names, the meanings only are given, so that those interested may pursue that study on their own.  A more detailed discussion of the significance of these names is given in the author’s exposition of Genesis, also available on this web site.


The meanings given are according to J.B. Jackson’s Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names, published by Loizeaux Brothers, and available in most Christian book stores.


Reuben means see ye, a son; Simeon, hearkening; Levi, joined; Judah, he shall be praised; Issachar, he will be hired: there is reward: he will bring reward; Zebulun, dwelling; Benjamin, son of the right hand; Dan, judging: a judge; Naphtali, my wrestling: tortuosity; Gad, an invader: a troop: fortune; Asher, happy.


1:5.  “And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.”


Since seven is the biblical number of completeness or perfection, and those seventy souls were the nucleus of the nation Israel, the number here may be indicative of the perfection that will mark that nation in the Millennium.


Joseph’s being in Egypt already was the result of his having been sold by his evil brethren to a company of Ishmeelites, who then sold him as a slave in Egypt, see Genesis 37:28-36; and surely no spiritual mind will fail to see in Joseph’s experience a foreshadowing of Christ’s.


1:6.  “And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.”


Each generation lives its appointed time, unwittingly accomplishing God’s eternal purposes, dies, and is replaced with another.  He is a wise man who recognizes that fact, and willingly submits his life to God’s will, knowing that obedience will be recompensed by a commensurate eternal reward.


1:7.  “And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.”


“... exceedingly mighty” is also translated immensely powerful: incredibly strong.  It was God’s intention that the Church should have similarly increased, but the disobedience of believers has frustrated the divine purpose, with the result that the true Church is a small despised minority, while Satan’s counterfeit, the great harlot travesty centered in Rome, has become one of the most powerful entities on earth.


The day is not far off however, when the judgment of God will utterly destroy that evil system, see Revelation 17-18, and Israel will be made the head of all the nations, while the Church, raptured home to heaven, will reign for ever with Christ, 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:10; 20:6; 22:5.


1:8.  “Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.”


With the exception of the one who promoted Joseph, the Pharaoh’s are all types of Satan, the god of this world, of which Egypt is a type; and as that new Pharaoh knew not Joseph, neither does Satan know the Lord Jesus Christ, i.e., he refuses to acknowledge Him as Lord.  In fact the term “knew not Joseph” is generally understood to mean that the new Pharaoh had no regard for Joseph or the Hebrew people.  He despised them.


1:9.  “And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:”


It is difficult to believe that Satan is unaware of his God-appointed ultimate end: consignment to eternal torment in the lake of fire, so that his evil machinations against God and His people are simply the desperate embittered activity that is designed to drag down with him as many as possible to share his inescapable terrible fate.  His antitypes, the evil Pharaohs, lacked his knowledge.  They in their folly imagined that they could thwart the purposes of Jehovah.


1:10.  “Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.”


How pathetic are all the schemes designed to countermand the purposes of God!  Opposition to His will can go only as far as He permits.


The sea is one of the biblical symbols of humanity in its continuous restless rebellion against God, as it is written, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt,” Isaiah 57:20; and relative to the sea, both literal and figurative, God has declared, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed,” Job 38:11.


1:11.  “Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens.  And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.”


To accomplish their evil scheme the Egyptians formed the Israelites into labor gangs under the dominion of harsh taskmasters, and compelled them to build treasure (store, garrison, fortified) cities, which they named Pithom and Raamses,

Pithom meaning mouth of integrity; and Raamses thunder of the standard, meanings in which I can find no readily discernible spiritual teaching.


Could it be that Pithom/Integrity and Raamses/Thunder of Standard is typical of Satan's distortion of the truth? Does he not always attempt to make that which is evil look like the truth?

"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it," John 8:44.


1:12.  “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.  And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.”


Affliction and adversity are the soils in which genuine faith flourishes, but in which mere profession withers and dies, as it is written, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 1:7.


In this present context grieved means were anxious: dreaded: were filled with alarm: became frightened: came to loathe.  Harmony between faith and unbelief is impossible, for the one is of Satan: the other, of God.


It is necessary to note however, that opposition may come from a quarter least expected, i.e., from within the ranks of professing believers, see Acts 20:28-30, “For I (Paul) know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.”


1:13.  “And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor.”


“... to serve with rigor” is also translated oppressed them severely: oppressed and insulted them: forced them into slavery: made slaves of the Israelites harshly.  This pictures the basic enmity that exists between the flesh and the spirit, and portrays the basic attitude of the unbeliever towards the believer.  There can never be anything but enmity between them, as it is written, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other....” Galatians 5:17.


1:14.  “And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigor.”


“... in mortar, and in brick” is also translated in the clay pit and the brick kiln; while “service in the field” refers to all kinds of field work, the cultivation of the land; and “rigor” is translated the whole cruel fate of slaves.


1:15.  “And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:”


Shiphrah means he garnished: fairness; and Puah, pained (as a woman in travail): displayed, meanings which yield no obvious spiritual instruction.


Relative to these two women The Bible Knowledge Commentary makes the following instructive comment: “Most likely, because of the vast number of Israelites, these two women were the chief administrators of an organization of midwives.”


1:16.  “And he said, When ye do the office of the midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him; but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.”


The term “stools” refers to two stones upon which women sat while delivering their babies.


Easily discerned behind the voice of the Egyptian king is the hiss of the old serpent Satan seeking to prevent the birth of the “seed of the woman” under whose heel his own evil head was to be crushed.  Nor is it difficult to see in this murderous scheme the OT duplicate of that of Herod relative to the male children from two years old and under at the time of the Lord’s birth.


1:17.  “But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.”


God is never without those who are not afraid to obey Him no matter what the cost.  Pharaoh could easily have had those faithful midwives killed, but neither man nor Satan can do more than what God permits, and in this case He would not permit those two godly women to be harmed.  No one should ever fear to obey God, for even if obedience results in the death of the body, His assurance stands firm, “To be absent from the body (is) to be present with the Lord,” 2 Corinthians 5:8, “which is far better,” Philippians 1:23.


1:18.  “And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?”


1:19.  “And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.”


1:20.  “Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.”


“...lively” means brisk, vigorous, husky, robust; the Lamsa translation of this being for they themselves are midwives, while Knox has translated it they are skilled in midwifery


Clearly this was at best a half truth, and we shouldn’t conclude from God’s allowing it to pass that He ever condones lies, no matter how justified they may sometimes seem to be in the eyes of men.  He doesn’t punish every sin immediately, but those of believers will be dealt with at the Bema; and those of unbelievers at the great white throne.  Sin will reduce the measure of the believer’s eternal reward given at the Bema; and it will determine at the great white throne judgment, the degree of the unbeliever’s punishment to be endured eternally in the lake of fire.


“very mighty” is also translated teemed, i.e., they abounded, swarmed, multiplied.


1:21.  “And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.”


This means simply that He gave them households of their own.  He made them mothers of families; and as has been discussed earlier, the blessing of a literally large OT family is the symbolic declaration of the truth that during this present age of grace the corresponding sign of blessing is multiplied spiritual children, i.e., men and women whom we have been privileged to lead to the Savior through the Gospel.


1:22.  “And Pharaoh charged all the people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.”


Baffled in his plan to have the midwives kill at birth all the male children born to the Hebrews, Egypt’s evil king issued another command: the male children were to be thrown into the river, and only the females allowed to live.  Satan would employ, but without success, every expedient to prevent the birth of Christ, this present strategy being his attempt to wipe out the whole Hebrew race.  Nor is this by any means his last such endeavor.  The Nazi’s attempted annihilation of the whole Jewish race during World War 11, was his latest, but not his last such effort.  In the now imminent Great Tribulation he will again attempt their total destruction, but again God will intervene and deliver His earthly people whom, in spite of their waywardness, He loves as His firstborn son, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn,” Exodus 4:22.

[Exodus 2]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough