Wednesday, October 18, 2006

From Genesis to Exodus

The last two weeks of reading takes us from the story of Jacob and Joseph to the story of Moses and Aaron. Israel leaves the Promised Land and takes refuge in Egypt (like Jesus). While in Egypt they flourish, and then face brutal racism. And God hears their cry.

Several things to note in this story transition: remember that one of the purposes of Genesis is to give background to future characters, families and nations. The part of the story where Jacob blesses his sons and describes their futures was significant as background to future events (like Judah, for you know why?). When Jacob blessed Ephraim instead of Mannaseh, did it remind you of another story? Again, this recorded event will come into play later in the life of the nation.

Did you know that the ancients would place their hand on the thigh of another man to make an oath - the thigh is the strongest muscle in the body, so it was figured that this act signified a strong bond of trust (we think it is normal to shake act that might strike them as very weird, if not wrong).

The Israelites were shepherds, do you remember what Joseph said about Egyptians and their view of the Israelite preoccupation? Sheepherding is an ancient occupation, one that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob prospered at, as well as cattle ranching and farming. But by the time we get to Exodus, there is no mention of Israel as shehperds, but as brick builders and slaves for the great construction projects of ancient Egypt. Why do you think they made the transition from prosperous shepherds to enslaved construction workers? Remember the famine, what did people have to do to get food to eat (thanks to Joseph's own policies!).

Egypt is a very dry place, except for where the Nile River runs through it (do you know which direction the river flows?). Egypt would be the home of Jacob's family for around 400 years...that is along time...along time for people to remember their God, their heritage, their historic occupations, their destiny, their identity. Egypt will take on much significance in the stories to come...

What about Moses, did you notice how often God got angry with him...what foreshadowing does that have for the nation as a whole? Note the confusion the people have, when they trust God and Moses, life gets harder before it gets is that true in your life? Are you in Egypt? Do you need an Exodus? Do you need a New Genesis?

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