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These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5The total number of people born to Jacob was seventy. Joseph was already in Egypt. 6Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that whole generation. 7But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

The Israelites Are Oppressed

8 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. 13The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, 14and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16“When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.” 17But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. 18So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” 19The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”

1. These are the names It is the intention of Moses to describe the miraculous deliverance of the people, (from whence the Greeks gave the name to the book;) but, before he comes to that, he briefly reminds us that the promise given to Abraham was not ineffectual, that his seed should be multiplied

“as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore.” (Genesis 22:17.)

This, then, is the commencement of the book, — that although their going down from the land of Canaan into Egypt might have seemed at the time as it were the end and abolition of God’s covenant, yet in his own time he abundantly accomplished what he had promised to his servant as to the increase of his descendants. However, he only mentions by name the twelve patriarchs who went down with their father Jacob, and then sums up the whole number of persons, as in two other passages. (Genesis 46:27, and Deuteronomy 10:22.) The calculation is perfectly accurate, if Jacob is counted among the thirty and six souls in the first catalogue. For it is a far-fetched addition of the Rabbins66     It may he noticed, once for all, that Calvin’s references to Rabbinical expositions of supposed difficulties are generally references to what Sebastian Munster had inserted at the close of each chapter of his version of the Old Testament, which is described as follows in the title-page to its second edition, Basle, 1546: “En tibi Lector Hebraica Biblia, Latina planeque nova Sebast. Munsteri tralatione, post omnes omnium hactenus ubivis gentium editiones evulgata, et quoad fieri potuit Hebraicae veritati conformata: adjectis insuper e Rabbinorum commentariis annotationibus.” The notion that Jochebed was included in the enumeration, is mentioned by S.M. in the annotations on Genesis 46:27. In that verse, as given in our authorized version, which came must be understood to agree with house, the Hebrew being הכאה. The persons of that house properly of Jacob’s own blood were seventy in number, as appears from the enumeration in that chapter, including a daughter (v. 15) and a granddaughter, (v. 17.) The number in Stephen’s speech is supposed by many to be taken from the Septuagint, which says that nine souls were born to Joseph in Egypt, and so makes the whole amount seventy-five, both in Genesis 46 and in Exodus 1. But Stephen spoke of the number of his kindred whom Joseph sent for, and may reasonably be supposed to have meant thereby Jacob and his eleven sons, with their wives and fifty-three male children, which would amount to seventy-five souls. — W to count in Jochebed the mother of Moses, to complete the number; and it is not probable that a woman, who was afterwards born in Egypt, should be reckoned among the men whom Jacob brought with him. If any object that the seventy are said to have “come out of the loins of Jacob,” the discrepancy is easily explained by the common scriptural use of the figure synecdoche77     The French translation thus explains this figure: “de prendre le tout pour une partie, ou une partie pour le tout,” — to take the whole for a part, or a part for the whole. That he from whom the others sprung is not excluded, we gather from the words of Moses, (Deuteronomy 10:22,)

“Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the Lord thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.”

But there is no reason to add five more, as we read in the address of Stephen recorded by Luke, (Acts 7:14;) for we cannot be surprised that in this mode of expressing numbers this error should have occurred by the introduction of a single letter. Should any objector make this an handle for controversy, we should remember that the Spirit, by the mouth of Paul, does not warn us without purpose

“not to give heed to genealogies.” (1 Timothy 1:4.)

6. And Joseph died. The Rabbins ignorantly conclude from this expression that Joseph died first of his brethren, whereas it is evident that the others were passed over, and his name was expressly mentioned to do him honor, as being the only one then in authority. How long they survived their father, Moses does not say, but only marks the beginning of the change, — as much as to say, the Israelites were humanely treated for a considerable space of time; so that the condition of those who went down with Jacob was tolerable, since, free from all injustice and tyranny, they tranquilly enjoyed the hospitality accorded to them. At the same time, he gives us to understand that, when all that generation was gone, the desire and the memory of the land of Canaan, which they had never seen, might have died out of the minds of their descendants, if they had not been forcibly aroused to seek after it. And unquestionably, since that people were forgetful and careless of meditating on God’s mercies, God could not have better provided for their salvation than by allowing them to be cruelly tried and afflicted; otherwise, as though their origin had been in Egypt, they might have preferred to have remained for ever in their nest, and by that indifference the hope of the promised heritage would have been effaced from their hearts.

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