Drash
Exodus 1:8-10

Blaine Robison, M.A.

Delivered 9 January 2021

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Endure and Be Bold for Yeshua!

8 And there arose a new king over Egypt who considered nothing of Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply and it comes to pass when war happens, they may join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and go up out of the land." (Ex 1:8-10 BR) 

NOTE: For additional information on the story of Joseph see my article Joseph: Savior in Egypt.

 

Our text is introduced by a historical transition. Over a century has passed since the death of Joseph. In order to understand what Moses meant by a new king, or a new royal government, we have to consider the political situation. A tradition as old Josephus the Jewish historian states that a Hyksos dynasty was ruling Egypt when Joseph came to the country [Against Apion 1:14].

The Hyksos were a Semitic people from the Eastern Mediterranean that immigrated and settled in the Nile delta two centuries before Joseph. A century later they were in control of Lower Egypt. But, in the century since Joseph's death the Hyksos kings were driven out by native Egyptians. With the political change came a new spirit of nationalism. The new native Egyptian rulers were unsympathetic toward the Semitic people who had come in under the Hyksos rulers.

The statement that this new king "knew nothing of Joseph," as translated in most versions, should not be understood as ignorance of Joseph, because his history and the benefits done by him to the Egyptian nation would no doubt have been in their records. Rather, the new Egyptian king in nationalistic pride had no regard for the memory of Joseph. The new king refused to recognize the benefits Joseph provided to his nation, ungratefully neglected them, and showed no respect to his legacy.

A similar ignorance exists today of the blessings that Jewish people have provided to the world. In fact, I could spend the next hour just listing the significant discoveries and inventions created by Jews that are used every day in our community. It's been estimated that prior to this century about 2.8 billion lives had been saved as a result of lifesaving medical and scientific advances created by Jewish scientists. When God said that He would bless all the nations of the earth through Abraham's descendants [Gen 12:3; 18:18; 22:18], He meant that in a very literal sense.

The new Egyptian king, or Pharaoh as he is identified in verse 22, recognized that the people of Israel had been fruitful and multiplied and in terms of sheer numbers had a greater population than the native Egyptians. What he refused to consider was the contribution of the Israelites to the economic well-being of the country. And, to allow the Israelites to have equal rights with the Egyptians could tip the balance of power and threaten national identity.

So, Pharaoh decided to preempt the fake problem he invented by declaring the Israelites to be threats to national security. His solution was not to evict the Israelites from the country but to enslave them for labor in government public works. He also decreed that newly born baby boys among the Israelites should be killed.

We should consider that nationalism can be good if it protects national interests abroad, focuses on economic prosperity and empowers all the people to achieve great things. However, nationalism becomes bad when it limits who has the favor of the government and targets a specific group for discrimination. This is the first recorded instance of institutional anti-Semitism. What happened in Nazi Germany started in Egypt.

The response of the Israelites reported in the first five chapters of Exodus is interesting. In spite of their superior numbers they did not rise up in rebellion. They did not storm Pharaoh's palace. Instead they submitted to the burden of forced labor and did their best to protect their children. In short they endured and cried out to God for deliverance. God had a plan for deliverance that He put into motion. And, God showed his sense humor by having the daughter of Pharaoh save the future deliverer from death and raise him in the household of the very king who had enslaved the Israelites.

The current situation in our country has a certain similarity to ancient Egypt. The politicians about to take control of our country's government don't appreciate the legacy of God-fearing people in America. We know that they will seek to eliminate the influence of traditional moral values held by followers of Yeshua. When human government and institutions no longer recognize the absolute standards of God's commandments, and treat God's people as persona non-grata, "what can the righteous do?" as David asked in Psalm 11. We must look to the heavenly court for justice, because ADONAI is in His holy temple. He will answer when we cry out to Him.

Like the Israelites in today's parashah Yeshua calls his disciples to endure and persevere [Matt 10:22; 24:13]. We must not allow Satan to manipulate our emotions and motivate us to act contrary to Yeshua's instructions. He is our King, so our first allegiance must be to him and his commission for us to proclaim the good news of salvation and add disciples to the Body of Messiah. To that end we will also pray for our enemies that they might be saved and continue to offer a bold witness for Yeshua in our adversarial culture.

Barukh Hashem

Copyright 2021 by Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.