Blaine Robison, M.A.
Delivered 9 January 2021
Endure and Be Bold for
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
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.
Copyright © 2021 by
Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.