Exodus 1:1

This early instance of emigration shows -

I. How the CALL to leave the land of one's fathers may sometimes be

1. Unexpected Jacob little expected to end his days in Egypt.

2. Trying. Canaan, the land of promise, where were the graves of his ancestors, etc.

3. Mysterious. An apparent reversal of the lines on which Providence had hitherto been moving. Yet -

4. Distinct. Jacob had no doubt that God's call had come to him. It came first in providence, and was ratified by direct Divine permission (Genesis 46:2-5). Many have the indirect call, who can scarcely doubt that it is also a direct one. Causes of emigration - Want and distress at home, with reasonable prospect of comfort and plenty abroad; opening of a better field for talents and energies; state of health, necessitating change of climate; persecution, as in case of Huguenots, Pilgrim Fathers, etc.

II. What CONSOLATIONS the emigrant may carry with him.

1. God accompanies him (Genesis 46:4).

2. He can serve God yonder as well as here.

3. He is furthering wise and beneficent purposes. Little doubt of that, if he is leaving at God's bidding. Israel's residence in Egypt secured for the tribes -

(1) A home.

(2) Provision.

(3) Room to grow.

(4) Education in arts and letters.

(5) Valuable discipline = - all preparatory to settlement in Canaan, and the fulfilment of their spiritual mission to the world.

4. The terminus is not Egypt, but Canaan. Jacob never saw again the Canaan he had left, but, dying in faith, he and his sons became heirs of the better Canaan. Whatever his earthly destination, let the emigrant keep in view a "better country, that is, an heavenly" (Hebrews 11:16).

III. The ADVANTAGES of emigration.

1. It is not always advantageous.

(1) Not always advantageous to the country left. A country that by misgovernment, bad laws, excessive taxation, or persecution, drives its best subjects from its soil, may be compared to a man who humours an insane bent by occasionally opening a vein.

(2) Not always advantageous to the country settled in. Emigrants may carry with them - too often do - low and immoral habits, and prove a curse, rather than a blessing, to the populations in whose midst they settle.

(3) Not always to the emigrant himself. His step may prove to have been hasty. He may have taken it On impulse, or on insufficient information, or in a spirit of adventure. He finds when too late that a sanguine disposition has deceived him. This is to go forth without a clear call. But -

2. Emigration, wisely and judiciously conducted, is of great benefit to society.

(1) It thins an overstocked country, and so relieves pressure on the means of subsistence.

(2) It occupies territory needing population to develop its resources.

(3) It affords room and scope for the vigorous expansion of a young race.

(4) It benefits native populations. The Egyptians would profit by the residence of the Hebrews in their midst.

(5) It may be made subservient to the diffusion of the knowledge of the true religion. How seldom is this thought of, yet what a responsibility rests on those who leave Christian shores, carrying with them, to lands sunk in the night of heathenism, the blessed truths of Christianity! The conclusion of the matter is: Let emigration be an act of faith. Do not, in so important a step in life, lean to your own understanding. Ask guidance and clear direction from on High. But if the way is open and the call plain, then, like Jacob, go forth, and go boldly, and in faith. Trust God to be with you. He goes before you to seek you out a place to dwell in, and will surely bless you in all you put your hand to (Deuteronomy 1:33; Deuteronomy 15:10). - J.O.

The children of Israel which came into Egypt.

1. These verses lead us back to the time when Jacob came with his family to Egypt.(1). It was a time of great distress from famine in Canaan.(2) It was a crisis-time in the history of the chosen family (Genesis 45:17-28; Genesis 46:1-4).(3) It was a time of great encouragement from what had been disclosed in Joseph's history.

2. These verses summarize the history of the children of Israel from the time of Jacob's emigration to Egypt till the bondage of the Israelites — about 115 years.(1) This was a time of great happiness and prosperity for the Israelites.(a) The entire period, from the call of Abraham to the Exodus, was 430 years.(b) Up to the descent into Egypt, a period of 215 years, the family had increased to only "seventy souls."(c) From the going down to Egypt to the Exodus — 215 years — the 70 had multiplied to 600,000 males, giving a population of nearly 2,000,000.

II. THE CHANGE OF ADMINISTRATION (ver. 8). Not merely another, but a "new" king, implying a change of dynasty. Now, probably, commenced the rule of the "shepherd kings."

2. The phrase, "who knew not Joseph," suggests the prestige of Joseph's name to the former Pharaohs. A good man's influence dies not with the death of his body.


1. The nature of this change. From being a fostering government to being cruel and repressive. Unwise policy, because suicidal.

2. The reason for this change (ver. 10).

3. The result of this change (ver. 12).

(1)Such a result is according to God's law of nations. Working classes always more fruitful than others.

(2)Such a result was according to God's covenant law.Lessons:

1. God's children in Egypt a type of God's children in the world.

2. The policy of the new king a type of the godlessness, selfishness, and inhumanity of those who work from a worldly standpoint.

3. The frustration of this policy a type of God's overruling power.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)


1. He knows the character of each.

2. He knows the friendly relations, or otherwise, existing between them, and the intentions of each.

II. HE WATCHES THE JOURNEYING OF THE FAMILY — "which came," etc. Do not journey into Egypt without an indication of the Divine will. All family changes should be under the instruction of heaven. This insures safety, protection, development — though sometimes discipline.


(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

With Israel in Egypt begins a new era in the world's progress. Biography becomes history Instead of individuals or a tribe, God has now a natron with which to work. He has undertaken a vast purpose. This people — united by common parentage, common faith, and common hope — He is to weld still more compactly by fellowship in disaster and deliverance into a nation which shall be the miracle of history, as intensely and persistently individual as its founder. With this nation He enters into covenant and, through its faith and experience, reveals to the world the one holy God, and brings in its Redeemer. Such a mission costs; its apostles must suffer. Yet this relief intervenes: personal blessing is not lost in national pains. The strong word covering this process is discipline: the development of character and efficiency under rigorous conditions. The first element is —

I. FAITH: taking as real what cannot be seen, accepting as sure what has not come to pass. Seemingly, this fruit of heaven cannot grow on earthly soil unless it be wet with tears.

II. The second word of blessing is DISENTANGLEMENT. The hope of the ages lay in freeing Israel, not from Egypt, but from what Egypt represents. Heathenism is a bitter and bloody thing. But heathenism filled the world outside the chosen nation. Only stern guidance could lead away from it, for over its deformities were spread distortions of natural needs and blandishments of sanctioned lust. God can accomplish vast things with a soul wholly consecrated to Him; but how rarely He finds such a soul, except as He leads it through affliction to make it loose its hold on all but Him!

III. With this even partially gained, comes that strong word EFFICIENCY. The nation which was Jacob the Supplanter passes its Peniel and becomes Israel the Prince of God, having power with God and men. Into its hands are put the direction of earth's history and the hope of its redemption. The distresses of those early generations are as the straining and rending of the crust or the grinding march of glaciers, unsparing but beneficent, preparing a fertile soil on which at last men shall dwell safely, lifting thankful hands to heaven.

(C. M. Southgate.)

Sodom is associated in our minds with wickedness only, though no doubt it was a great place in its day; but Egypt stands out before us as a fuller and more adequate type of the world, with her glory as well as her shame. And from Israel's relation to Egypt we may learn two great lessons: one of counsel how to use the world, the other of warning against abusing it. From God's purpose in regard to Israel let us learn that just as Egypt was necessary as a school for His chosen people, so the world ought to be a school for us. We are not to despise its greatness. No word of contempt for Egypt's greatness is found in the sacred records. The nation was intended to learn, and did acquire, many useful arts which were of much service to them afterwards in the Land of Promise. Moses, the chosen of God, was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was thereby qualified for the great work for which he was called. In these examples we may see how to use this world, making it a school to prepare us for our inheritance and the work the Lord may have for us there to do. On the other hand, let us beware of so yielding to the seductions of this evil world as to lose our hold of God, and His covenant, and so incur the certainty of forfeiting our eternal birthright and becoming the world's slaves, helping perhaps to rear its mighty monuments, with the prospect possibly of having our names engraved in stone among the ruins of some buried city, but without the prospect of having them written "among the living in Jerusalem," the eternal city of God. Earth's great ones belong to the dead past; but heaven's great ones have their portion in a glorious future.

(J. M. Gibson, D. D.)

We are making history when we least think of it. That which seems a little matter to us may be a link in a chain that binds the ages. What we do to-day or to-morrow is done for all time. It cannot be undone. It and all its countless results must stand entailed to the latest generations; and we are to have honour or shame according as our part is now performed. The poor boy who drives the horse along a canal tow.path may think it makes little difference whether he does that work well or poorly. But forty years after, when he is in nomination for the presidency of a great nation, he will find that men go back to his boyhood story to learn whether he was faithful in that which was least, as proof that he would be faithful also in that which is much. There is no keeping out of history. We have got to be there. The only safe way of standing well in history is by doing well in all things. You are just now going to Boston, or to New York, or to Chicago, or to Savannah, or to London — will the record of your spirit and conduct as you go there read well ten years hence, or a hundred? That depends on what your spirit and conduct are at the present time. And if you stay at home your place in history — in God's record of history — is just as sure as if you went to Egypt or to the Holy Land. That record is making up to-day: "Now, these are the names of the children of —, which came into —, or, which stayed at —" If you want a record which shall redound to your honour, and of which your children's children shall be proud, you have no time to lose in getting things straight for it.

(H. C. Trumbull.)

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