Story 3 of 12: EXODUS FROM EGYPT
Eventually the Israelites in Egypt grew numerous to the point that a future, cruel pharaoh who had never heard of Joseph enslaved the Israelites and even ordered their newborn males to be killed. At this, a Levite woman (Levi was one of the 12 sons of Israel) hid her baby boy in a basket in a river. He floated into the hands of the Pharaoh’s daughter, who took pity on him, named him Moses, and raised him as her own.
When he was older, he killed an Egyptian who attacked one of his fellow Hebrews (as they were called before being called Israelites). Fleeing into the desert, God called Moses from a burning bush, telling him to go back and tell the pharaoh to let his people go so that they could worship God, for he had heard their cry. God revealed his name, Yahweh (“I AM”), and that he was the God of Moses' forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He granted Moses miraculous powers to help persuade the pharaoh who would be very stubborn.
At Moses' hand ten plagues were wrought in Egypt. The Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go until the last plague, the destruction of the firstborn males. God instructed the Israelites to smear the blood of a lamb over their door-posts, so that the angel of death would identify and pass over the Israelites' houses that night. When the Egyptians woke to find their firstborn sons dead, the Pharaoh ordered them to leave Egypt. With no time to waste, they ate unleavened bread and followed Moses into the desert. The Pharaoh again changed his mind and had his forces pursue the Israelites. Through God’s power Moses divided the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to cross, and then brought the waters down again, drowning the Egyptians.
And so the Israelites were led by Moses into the desert, where they could freely offer sacrifices to God and make their way back to the promised land given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Along the way, Moses received from God the 10 commandments on Mt. Sinai.
Worship no other god but Yahweh.
Do not worship idols.
Do not use the Lord’s name in vain.
Keep holy the Lord’s day.
Honor your father and mother.
Do not murder.
Do not commit adultery.
Do not steal.
Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Do not covet your neighbor’s wife or belongings.
No sooner had the commandments been given than the Israelites violated the first commandment by worshipping a golden calf. God was ready to destroy the people and start a whole new nation with Moses. But Moses pleaded with God, reminding him of his promises to Israel. Because of Moses' intervention, God renewed the covenant with them.
"The Lawgiver" and "Friend of God"
"Yahweh" is the closest pronunciation we have to the Hebrew consonants that make up God's name as it was revealed to Moses. "Jehovah" is an earlier attempt at pronouncing the four consonants.
The 10 Plagues of Egypt were:
The Nile turning into blood
Frogs covering the land
Swarm of gnats
Swarm of flies
Boils on the skin
Fierce hail storm
Locusts covering the land
Darkness for 3 days
Death of the firstborn
It is no coincidence that God has the Israelites in the desert offer him holocausts (burnt offerings) of animals considered sacred by the Egyptians. God is driving home the point that he alone is God
The general ethics of the 10 commandments are found in other systems like Hammurabi's code. Unique to the Law given to Moses is the personal feel of the first four commandments.
What is the Passover?
What was the point in having the Israelites offer animals to God?
Why is Moses called both "The Lawgiver" and "The friend of God"?