Exodus 3.1 - 3.20

3.1 Israel in Egypt

What began as a temporary refuge during a time of famine became a permanent dwelling for the sons of Jacob.  Israel prospered in Egypt:

         The Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them (Ex 1:7).

        

But it wasn't long before the hospitality ran out.  The Israelites quickly went from being a privileged minority in Egypt to a slave caste, prosperous but powerless. The Egyptians feared them:

         "The Israelites have become much too numerous for us.  Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country" (Ex 1:9-10).

Egyptians came up with a threefold plan to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth: through slavery, killing of male babies, and assimilation into Egyptian religion and culture.  Here we have the classic model of racist behavior: lack of personal acquaintance (Ex 1:8), perception of difference, social and legal separation, an imagined threat (Ex 1:10),  action to suppress the minority, ruthless servitude.   And finally, if these actions proved inadequate, Pharaoh's "final solution" was racial genocide:  kill the male children (Ex 1:22).  The surviving girls would then become the property of the Egyptians.