St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
A General Overview of the Old Testament
A Discussion led by The Rev. Mike Kreutzer
Sunday, February 7, 2010
The Old Testament — Exodus: Chapters 1 – 4
The Book of Exodus begins by listing the names of those followers of Jacob who are situated in Egypt. There were 70 born to Jacob and in the period of 400 years the land became filled with Israelites. In fact, the new king in chapter eight is the first one to refer to them by that name. He is foretelling the story in that he notes to his subordinates that Egypt must control these people or they will rise and escape. So he sent ruthless taskmasters to suppress them, but they multiplied even more!
Pharaoh then ordered the midwives to kill all of the sons. However, this did not happen as they used the excuse that the Israeli women were very vigorous and thus gave birth early before they could get there! Next, the order was given to drown all of the sons in the Nile.
Chapter two then introduces Moses. He is born in the house of Levi and his mother hides him for three months. Then she placed him in a basket in the river. Later he was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter who decided it was suitable to save this child. She was convinced to get a Hebrew wet nurse to feed him, which then turned out to be his mother! He was named Moses because he was drawn out of the water.
Growing up, Moses had a type of dual citizenship in that he was of Hebrew decent but raised in an Egyptian family environment. After he was a bit older, he observed an Egyptian taskmaster beating an Israelite. He could not bear to see this and so killed the Egyptian guard. Eventually Pharaoh found out about this act, which caused Moses to flee the country to Midian.
There he ran into seven girls who were being prevented from watering their flocks by a group of local shepherds. Moses stepped in and not only chased off the aggressors, but then also watered the flocks for the girls. Of course, they went back and told their father, Jethro, what a kind deed this man did. He then invited Moses to his house, where he eventually ended up marrying one of his daughters and subsequently having children.
Soon after the Pharaoh who caused Moses to flee from Egypt died. God heard the Israelites cries for help as they also reminded him of his past promises. While up on Mt. Horeb (Sinai) and still living with his father-in-law, an angel (messenger) of God appears as a flame of fire in a bush. God then explains a plan to Moses of what he’s going to do to fulfill his promise to the Israelites to save them from the Egyptian. However, when Moses hears that he is to get involved, he objects to God’s plan! God explains to him that he will be with him and that “I am who I am,” that is, I am the one here for you. He then told Moses to tell Pharaoh that Yahweh sent him and he will not be harmed. God also promises the Israelites will be victorious and they will depart from Egypt with gifts from their captors. Moses does not believe this! So God shows Moses his strength by changing a staff into a snake and then back again and then changing his clean hand to being leprous and back again. But Moses is still skeptical!
So now God proposes “Plan B!” Since Moses is not a very polished orator, God suggests that his brother Aaron can do all the talking in front of his people and in front of Pharaoh. In essence, Aaron became the prophet of Moses. The brothers then meet up and Moses explains God’s plan. Aaron speaks to the Israelites on behalf of Moses and explains God’s plan to them and they all become believers!