Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Who's who?

I've been reading my ESV Study Bible this morning and began Exodus. Kenneth Laing Harris' notes are very helpful. He points out that some of the language echoes Genesis, and may be intended to convey that God is making a new beginning. For example:
But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them. [Exodus 1:7]
The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. [Exodus 2:2]

It is easy to see that the first verse echoes God's words about the people growing numerous in Genesis 6, but Harris points out that
the Hebrew is literally “she saw him, that he was good.” This may refer simply to Moses' being “healthy.” Some have seen here an echo of the creation account (1:7); this would fit with the way the opening events in the book of Exodus act as a creation-like account for the birth of Israel as a nation.

I also like Harris' note about the two Hebrew midwives.
The Hebrew midwives (v. 15) show through their defiant actions that they feared God (vv. 17, 21) more than they feared the king of Egypt (v. 17). For the narrator to say this twice shows that he commends them for their faith. Also, this narrative names so few people (not even naming the pharaohs!) that it is probably a further display of the narrator's approval of the women's deeds that he gives their names, Shiphrah and Puah (v. 15), a detail unnecessary for describing the events themselves. The faithfulness of the midwives is also an indication that there were those among the people of Israel who feared God after all the years of enslavement and before there was any knowledge of God's call of Moses. The exemplary actions of the midwives signify a central theme of the book of Exodus: Israel is called to fear God above any other ruler, nation, or circumstance.

The faithful women are more important than the mighty Pharaoh. I like it!

No comments: