Exodus 1:8-20

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.




After Joseph died, the honour with which the Egyptians gave him and his family faded away. A new Pharaoh came to the throne who did not know Joseph. All that this new king could see was the increasing population of Hebrews who, in his eyes, threatened the safety of Egypt and his people.

Egypt was well known for its sense of superiority over other people. They did not like this threat that was growing within their own borders. They were concerned that the Hebrews might join Egypt’s enemies if it came to war with another country. Their security was threatened. So the situation changed for the Hebrews and they were made slaves under Egyptian overseers. They built many of the great cities and monuments in Egypt. (The pyramids, however, were built much earlier so they had no part in building those particular monuments.) The time the Hebrew slavery actually took place or its duration is not known, but it lasted for several generations.

The overseers are depicted in a tomb in Luxor holding heavy whips, so they were severe taskmasters. In spite of this harsh treatment, the Hebrews flourished. This was God’s plan to increase their numbers. The original family that had arrived in Joseph’s time to survive the famine grew into a mighty nation. They were isolated in Egypt with no other clans or people into which to marry so they matured into a people that had not mixed with any other nation. The Egyptians plan to curtail the growth and power of the nation failed as it opposed God’s eternal plan for the Hebrews.

In spite of this, life must have seemed hopeless to the generations of Hebrews who lived under such conditions. It is likely that God seemed very far away from them.

The king’s idea of killing the new-born sons of the slaves was a plan to weaken and destroy the Hebrews within a single generation. This is an early example of Satan’s attempts to wipe out the Jews so the Messiah – the One who would crush his head (Genesis 3:15) would not be able to be born.

The two Hebrew midwives who are named, Shiphrah (beauty) and Puah (splendour), were probably senior midwives for their people. They were women who feared God more than they feared the king. It was a simple choice for them. The king was demanding something that was against God’s command – and so they obeyed God rather than the human decree.

It is possible that the midwives were telling the truth about the speed of the births amongst the Hebrews. It is not certain whether this was a lie, part-lie or truth. Whether their reasons were true or not, they were commended in Scripture and blessed by God because they did not take human lives. It seems that the greater persecution aimed at the children of Israel, the more God’s plan succeeded. The king’s plan had no chance of success as he opposed God. God used courageous women to stand up to evil and do what was right. He blessed them with families of their own. (Often midwives had no children themselves).

The king tried again and devised a plan to kill all the male children of the Hebrews – thus designing the path for Moses to be raised in a way that prepared him to lead God’s people out of Egypt.


How well do you know your neighbours? What has influenced your relationship with them? Do you wish you knew them more/less? Why?


  • Who do you consider to be your neighbours? What makes you respond to people in love – or in fear? What about those people you do not feel strongly about? How can you be neighbourly to them?
  • What risk is there for you in reaching out to your neighbours? What fears hold you back from approaching people to be neighbourly? Do you feel threatened in any way by your neighbours? How?
  • How do you respond to people who are different to those whom you are used to – because of culture, race, ability, education etc? How can you bridge the gap between you?
  • How do the relationships (or lack of them) fit in with God’s will for you – and for your neighbour; and maybe even the good of the community, country or world?
  • If you find the law of the land opposes God’s commands, how do you respond? Are there any examples of this at the moment? How do you feel about standing firm in what you believe in, rather than going against God?
  • How can you be kind to people you would not normally connect with this week, to open doors to show them God’s love?
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?


Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, especially where there are challenges in relationships, as well as in regard to other needs of the group.


Look for opportunities to be neighbourly this week and open doors for conversation for God to move through you. Report back to the group next week.

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