Exodus 1



What is the most courageous thing you have ever done?
The book of Exodus continues the story of Genesis. In a nutshell, Genesis tells the story of how God created the heavens and the earth, and everything God created was good.

At the pinnacle of this good world, God created humanity to live in a perfect love relationship with him and to image his glory to the world. The first man and woman were given a mission: to multiply and fill the earth with image-bearers of God so that the glory of God would cover the earth like the waters cover the sea (Gen 1:26-27). But an enemy crept into God’s creation, that ancient serpent, the Devil. And he deceived the man and woman, and the world was plunged into sin and death. God promised that one day a descendant of Eve would come as a deliverer, and he would crush the serpent’s head and lead humanity back into God’s presence forever. But until that day, there would be a battle between the descendants of the Serpent and the descendants of Eve (Gen 3:15).

The rest of Genesis tells the story of how God began to fulfill this redemptive promise through a specific descendant of Eve named Abraham. God came to Abraham and promised that through his family line, all the peoples of the world would be blessed (Gen 12:1-3). In other words, God was telling Abraham that the promised descendant of Eve, who would crush the serpent’s head and bring humanity back to God, would come through his line. Abraham had a son named Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob, and Jacob had twelve sons, and God began fulfilling this redemptive promise.

But Genesis ends with a threat. A famine comes upon the land, and this family, chosen to be the family through whom the deliverer would come, is threatened with extinction. It appears that God’s promises hang in the balance. So they flee to Egypt and find relief there for the next 400 years. The chosen family is spared. This is where Exodus picks up.
Exodus Chapter 1 tells how Jacob's descendants continued to be “fruitful and multiply” in Egypt for 400 years. Then,  a new king arose who saw the people of Israel as a threat. So he oppressed and persecuted them and took away their freedoms. He even ordered the murder of every Hebrew baby boy. But amidst all of this, we see God’s redemptive plan moving forward.


Read Exodus 1 aloud.


  • Begin by examining the text together. What do you notice? What stands out? What is unexpected? Who are the main characters? What is surprising?1
  • In the “Context” section, we showed how the main story of the Bible revolves around the promises of Redemption. Specifically, the promise that a Descendant of Eve would come and save the world, and the Serpent and his descendants would do everything they could to stop it. How do you see Exodus 1 continuing this theme?2
  • The words “fruitful” and “multiply” are used several times throughout the chapter. What is the significance of these repeated words in the context of the larger story?3
  • In verses 15-22, we read about the Hebrew midwives who disregarded Pharaoh’s order to murder every Hebrew baby boy. 
    • Paul says that we are to be subject to our governing authorities (Rom 13:1), and yet the Hebrew midwives are praised for disobeying the King. When is it biblically appropriate to engage in acts of civil disobedience?
    • Many say that lying is always a sin. In this account, the midwives lie to Pharaoh, and as a result, “God dealt well with them” (1:20). How do you make sense of this? Is it ever okay to lie? If so, when?


  • Exodus 1 is a story about how God’s promises march forward even when it seems things are at their worst. Share a time in your life when you experienced God staying faithful to his promises even when your situation seemed hopeless.
  • Exodus 1 is also a story about courageous faith in the face of danger and fear. Because these midwives feared and trusted God, they acted bravely to do what they knew was right. Where is God calling you to trust him and step out courageously to do what you know is right?


Father, we thank you that your promise to redeem the world through a descendant of Eve was fulfilled in your son Jesus, who, through his death and resurrection, crushed the serpent’s head, delivered us from our sins, and reconciled us to you. Pour out your Spirit upon us that we might live with the same courageous faith of the midwives as we await your Son’s return to make all things new.
 1Example Observations:
  • Jacob had 70 descendants
  • The language of “fruitful,” “multiply,” and “filled” is repeated throughout this chapter.
  • The “new king” afflicts the people of Israel because he is afraid they will start a revolution and take over Egypt.
  • The King ordered the murder of every baby Hebrew boy. This foreshadows Herod’s decree to murder every baby boy in Bethlehem when Jesus was born.
  • The Hebrew midwives lied to the King “because” they feared God.

2Exodus is set in the context of the grand battle between the descendants of the serpent and the descendants of Eve. The king of Egypt, who is portrayed as a descendant of the serpent, is seeking to destroy the descendants of Eve. Hence, this is not just a story about a wicked king who oppressed Israel; this is a story where the promise of redemption hangs in the balance.

3The repetition of “fruitful” and “multiply” hearkens back, not only to God’s original charge to Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, but also to God’s promise to Abraham, that he would make his family number more than the stars of heaven (Gen 15:5-6). So this language in Exodus 1 shows the reader that, even though the descendants of the serpent rage against God’s people, nevertheless, God’s promise to redeem the world through a descendant of Eve is moving forward.