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6. And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.
7. And the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.
THUS commences the second book of Moses, named Exodus. This is not the appellation given it by the Jews, but is one taken from the Septuagint translation, since the word in the Greek language, signifies the "going out," and refers to the history, which this book narrates, of the going out of the children of Israel from Egypt, the land of their captivity. It contains the events of one hundred and forty-five years, from the death of Joseph to the consecration of the tabernacle.
In the verses we have read, we are first told the names of the patriarchs who accompanied Jacob out of Canaan, and became the heads of distinct tribes. We are then informed of the death of Joseph and of these patriarchs, and of all that generation; and then are called to observe the early fulfilment of the Almighty's promise to Abraham, in the wonderful and almost miraculous increase of his descendants. This had been so great, that they had risen, in two hundred and fifteen years, from three-score and ten souls to six hundred thousand men, besides
women and children, so that the land of Goshen was filled with them." Now, we find from the fortieth verse of the twelfth chapter, that the sojourning of the children of Israel in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. This is reckoning from the time when Abraham first entered Canaan, between which and his going down. into Egypt, was an interval of two hundred and fifteen years, while, from that period to the time of the Exodus, was two hundred and fifteen more years, making together the four hundred and thirty years mentioned above.
How remarkable are God's dealings with his people! and how slow and disappointing to the eye of sense is oftentimes the fulfilment of his promises! In two hundred and fifteen years, the predicted multitude of Abraham's descendants, which the Almighty had declared that nothing could so well typify as the stars of heaven and the sands of the sea-shore for number, literally only amounted to three-score and ten, or three-score and fifteen persons; while, in the next two hundred and fifteen years, it had increased to six hundred thousand men-at-arms, besides women and children; the whole, therefore, probably not far short of two or three millions of souls!
It is well for our comfort, and the strengthening of our faith in God's promises, to bear such
facts continually in mind, as illustrations of God's Word, "The thing was true, but the time appointed was long." Long, in the instance to which those words originally applied, to Daniel; long, in the case before us, to Abraham; long, in many incidents with which our lives abound, to us; but not long to God; with whom, "one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day;" or rather, with whom, all past and all future are for ever present. The real Christian, knowing this, and having fixed his faith upon the promise, whatever may be his lot, prays for patience, and waits in confidence, while, in the full assurance of faith and hope, he is, by Divine grace, enabled to say with one of old,* "Lord, not only what thou wilt, but when thou wilt." Happy in the belief that God's times, whether for mercies or for trials, are invariably the best times, and that if even the greatest of his blessings are for a period withheld, it is only to make them more enjoyable, or to render us more capable of enjoying them.
* Walker of Truro.
EXODUS i. 8-14.
8. Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
9. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than
10. Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.
11. Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.
12. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.
13. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour :
14. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.
How sadly changed were the circumstances of the children of Israel, since we heard of them in the book of Genesis! There, as relatives of
Joseph, the benefactor, the saviour of the land of Egypt, nothing was thought too good for them, and the pasturage of Goshen was allotted to them as a rich and abundant sustenance for their cattle and themselves. Here, when scarcely two short centuries had passed, all the benefits of their illustrious ancestor are forgotten, and from honoured guests, they have become degraded and cruelly-treated slaves. It was well said, by one who knew mankind, that, "he who expects gratitude from an individual is not wise, but that he who looks for it from a community is a fool.” The treatment of the Israelites by the Egyptians is a type of the treatment of the people of God, in all ages by the world. It begins by inviting them as its guests, and it concludes by treating them as its slaves; while it may be predicated with as much truth of the world, as Moses here declares of the Egyptians, that its servitude is "a hard bondage," and "all its service" is "with rigour." The only difference is, that in the case of the world, men too often love their servitude, and hug their chains, for they are blinded, as well as cheated, and mistake their hard-hearted taskmaster for their patron and their friend.
The manner in which the Egyptians reconcile to their own consciences their treatment of the Israelites is very instructive to the Christian, who