Exodus 1:1
Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.
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(1) Now these are the names.—The divisions between the books “of the Pentateuch are not arbitrary. Genesis ends naturally and Exodus begins at the point where the history of the individuals who founded the Israelite nation ceases and that of the nation itself is entered on. That history commences properly with Exodus 1:7. Exodus 1:1-6 form the connecting link between the two books, and would not have been needed unless Exodus had been introduced as a distinct work, since they are little more than a recapitulation of what had been already stated and stated more fully in Genesis. Compare Exodus 1:1-5 with Genesis 46:8-27, and Exodus 1:6 with Genesis 1:26.

Every man and his household.—“A household,” in the language of the East, includes not only children and grand-children, but retainers also—“servants born in the house”—like those of Abraham (Genesis 14:14). The number of each “household” may thus have been very considerable.



Exodus 1:1 - - Exodus 1:14

The four hundred years of Israel’s stay in Egypt were divided into two unequal periods, in the former and longer of which they were prosperous and favoured, while in the latter they were oppressed. Both periods had their uses and place in the shaping of the nation and its preparation for the Exodus. Both carry permanent lessons.

I. The long days of unclouded prosperity. These extended over centuries, the whole history of which is summed up in two words: death and growth. The calm years glided on, and the shepherds in Goshen had the happiness of having no annals. All that needed to be recorded was that, one by one, the first generation died off, and that the new generations ‘were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty.’ The emphatic repetitions recall the original promises in Genesis 12:2, Genesis 17:4 - Genesis 17:5, Genesis 18:18. The preceding specification of the number of the original settlers {repeated from Genesis 46:27} brings into impressive contrast the small beginnings and the rapid increase. We may note that eloquent setting side by side of the two processes which are ever going on simultaneously, death and birth.

One by one men pass out of the warmth and light into the darkness, and so gradually does the withdrawal proceed that we scarcely are aware of its going on, but at last ‘all that generation’ has vanished. The old trees are all cleared off the ground, and everywhere their place is taken by the young saplings. The web is ever being woven at one end, and run down at the other. ‘The individual withers, but the race is more and more.’ How solemn that continual play of opposing movements is, and how blind we are to its solemnity!

That long period of growth may be regarded in two lights. It effected the conversion of a horde into a nation by numerical increase, and so was a link in the chain of the divine working. The great increase, of which the writer speaks so strongly, was, no doubt, due to the favourable circumstances of the life in Goshen, but was none the less regarded by him, and rightly so, as God’s doing. As the Psalmist sings, ‘He increased His people greatly.’ ‘Natural processes’ are the implements of a supernatural will. So Israel was being multiplied, and the end for which it was peacefully growing into a multitude was hidden from all but God. But there was another end, in reference to which the years of peaceful prosperity may be regarded; namely, the schooling of the people to patient trust in the long-delayed fulfilment of the promise. That hope had burned bright in Joseph when he died, and he being dead yet spake of it from his coffin to the successive generations. Delay is fitted and intended to strengthen faith and make hope more eager. But that part of the divine purpose, alas! was not effected as the former was. In the moral region every circumstance has two opposite results possible. Each condition has, as it were, two handles, and we can take it by either, and generally take it by the wrong one. Whatever is meant to better us may be so used by us as to worsen us. And the history of Israel in Egypt and in the desert shows only too plainly that ease weakened, if it did not kill, faith, and that Goshen was so pleasant that it drove the hope and the wish for Canaan out of mind. ‘While the bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept.’ Is not Israel in Egypt, slackening hold of the promise because it tarried, a mirror in which the Church may see itself? and do we not know the enervating influence of Goshen, making us reluctant to shoulder our packs and turn out for the pilgrimage? The desert repels more strongly than Canaan attracts.

II. The shorter period of oppression. Probably the rise of a ‘new king’ means a revolution in which a native dynasty expelled foreign monarchs. The Pharaoh of the oppression was, perhaps, the great Rameses II., whose long reign of sixty-seven years gives ample room for protracted and grinding oppression of Israel. The policy adopted was characteristic of these early despotisms, in its utter disregard of humanity and of everything but making the kingdom safe. It was not intentionally cruel, it was merely indifferent to the suffering it occasioned. ‘Let us deal wisely with them’-never mind about justice, not to say kindness. Pharaoh’s ‘politics,’ like those of some other rulers who divorce them from morality, turned out to be impolitic, and his ‘wisdom’ proved to be roundabout folly. He was afraid that the Israelites, if they were allowed to grow, might find out their strength and seek to emigrate; and so he set to work to weaken them with hard bondage, not seeing that that was sure to make them wish the very thing that he was blunderingly trying to prevent. The only way to make men glad to remain in a community is to make them at home there. The sense of injustice is the strongest disintegrating force. If there is a ‘dangerous class’ the surest way to make them more dangerous is to treat them harshly. It was a blunder to make ‘lives bitter,’ for hearts also were embittered. So the people were ripened for revolt, and Goshen became less attractive.

God used Pharaoh’s foolish wisdom, as He had used natural laws, to prepare for the Exodus. The long years of ease had multiplied the nation. The period of oppression was to stir them up out of their comfortable nest, and make them willing to risk the bold dash for freedom. Is not that the explanation, too, of the similar times in our lives? It needs that we should experience life’s sorrows and burdens, and find how hard the world’s service is, and how quickly our Goshens may become places of grievous toil, in order that the weak hearts, which cling so tightly to earth, may be detached from it, and taught to reach upwards to God. ‘Blessed is the man . . .in whose heart are thy ways,’ and happy is he who so profits by his sorrows that they stir in him the pilgrim’s spirit, and make him yearn after Canaan, and not grudge to leave Goshen. Our ease and our troubles, opposite though they seem and are, are meant to further the same end,-to make us fit for the journey which leads to rest and home. We often misuse them both, letting the one sink us in earthly delights and oblivion of the great hope, and the other embitter our spirits without impelling them to seek the things that are above. Let us use the one for thankfulness, growth, and patient hope, and the other for writing deep the conviction that this is not our rest, and making firm the resolve that we will gird our loins and, staff in hand, go forth on the pilgrim road, not shrinking from the wilderness, because we see the mountains of Canaan across its sandy flats.

Exodus 1:1. These are the names — This list of names is here repeated, that by comparing this small root with the multitude of branches which arose from it, we may see and acknowledge the wonderful providence of God in the fulfilment of his promises. Every man and his household — That is, his children and grand-children.

1:1-7 During more than 200 years, while Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived at liberty, the Hebrews increased slowly; only about seventy persons went down into Egypt. There, in about the same number of years, though under cruel bondage, they became a large nation. This wonderful increase was according to the promise long before made unto the fathers. Though the performance of God's promises is sometimes slow, it is always sure.Now - Literally, "And," indicating a close connection with the preceding narrative. In fact this chapter contains a fulfillment of the predictions recorded in Genesis 46:3 and in Genesis 15:13.

Every man and his household - It may be inferred from various notices that the total number of dependents was considerable, a point of importance in its bearings upon the history of the Exodus (compare Genesis 13:6; Genesis 14:14).

THE SECOND BOOK OF MOSES, CALLED EXODUS. Commentary by Robert Jamieson


Ex 1:1-22. Increase of the Israelites.

1. Now these are the names—(See Ge 46:8-26).The names and numbers of the children of Israel that came into Egypt, Exo 1:1-5. Joseph, his brethren, and that generation die, Exo 1:6. A new king, who knew not Joseph, Exo 1:8, goeth about by affliction, & c. to suppress the Israelites, Exo 1:9-11. They increase, Exo 1:12. Pharaoh commands the midwives to kill the male children, Exo 1:15,16. They fear God, and obey not the king, Exo 1:17. For this God blesseth the midwives, Exo 1:20. Pharaoh commands all the male children to be drowned, Exo 1:22.

This list is here repeated, that by comparing this small root with so vast a company of branches as grew upon it, we may see the wonderful providence of God in the fulfilling of his promises. And his household, his children and grandchildren, as the word house is taken Rth 4:11 2Sa 7:11 1Ki 21:29.

Now these are the names of the children of Israel which came down into Egypt,.... Of the twelve patriarchs, the sons of Jacob, who were heads of the twelve tribes, whose names are here given; since the historian is about to give an account of their coming out of Egypt, and that it might be observed how greatly they increased in it, and how exactly the promise to Abraham, of the multiplication of his seed, was fulfilled: or, "and these are the names" (b), &c. this book being connected with the former by the copulative "and"; and when this was wrote, it is highly probable there was no division of the books made, but the history proceeded in one continued account:

every man and his household came with Jacob; into Egypt, all excepting Joseph, and along with them their families, wives, children, and servants; though wives and servants are not reckoned into the number of the seventy, only such as came out of Jacob's loins: the Targum of Jonathan is,"a man with the men of his house,''as if only male children were meant, the sons of Jacob and his grandsons; and Aben Ezra observes, that women were never reckoned in Scripture as of the household or family; but certainly Dinah, and Serah, as they came into Egypt with Jacob, are reckoned among the seventy that came with him thither, Genesis 46:15.

(b) "et haec", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius.

Now {a}these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.

The Argument - After Jacob by God's commandment in Ge 46:3 had brought his family into Egypt, where they remained for four hundred years, and from seventy people grew to an infinite number so that the king and the country endeavoured both by tyranny and cruel slavery to suppress them: the Lord according to his promise in Ge 15:14 had compassion on his Church, and delivered them, but plagued their enemies in most strange and varied ways. The more the tyranny of the wicked raged against his Church, the more his heavy judgments increased against them, till Pharaoh and his army were drowned in the sea, which gave an entry and passage to the children of God. As the ingratitude of man is great, so they immediately forgot God's wonderful benefits and although he had given them the Passover as a sign and memorial of the same, yet they fell to distrust, and tempted God with various complaining and grudging against him and his ministers: sometimes out of ambition, sometimes lack of drink or meat to satisfy their lusts, sometimes idolatry, or such like. For this reason, God punished them with severe rods and plagues, that by his correction they might turn to him for help against his scourges, and earnestly repent for their rebellion and wickedness. Because God loves them to the end, whom he has once begun to love, he punished them not as they deserved, but dealt with them mercifully, and with new benefits laboured to overcome their malice: for he still governed them and gave them his word and Law, both concerning the way to serve him, and also the form of judgments and civil policy: with the intent that they would not serve God after as they pleased, but according to the order, that his heavenly wisdom had appointed.

(a) Moses describes the wonderful order that God observes in performing his promise to Abraham; Ge 15:14.

1. Now (Heb. And) these are the names of …] As Genesis 25:13; Genesis 36:40; Genesis 46:8; Exodus 6:16, &c. (all P).

1–5. Recapitulation, as the introduction to a new section, of what had been stated before respecting the sons of Jacob (Genesis 35:23-26), and the numbers of his descendants who had gone down into Egypt (Genesis 46:8; Genesis 46:26 f.).

1–7. Growth of the descendants of Jacob in Egypt, after Joseph’s death, into a great people.

Verse 1. - Now these are the names. Literally, "And these are the names." Compare Genesis 46:8, where the phrase used is the same. We have here the first example of that almost universal practice of fife writers of the Historical Scriptures to connect book with book in the closest possible way by the simple copulative "and." (Compare Joshua 1:1, Judges 1:1, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.) This practice, so unlike that of secular writers, can only be explained by the instinctive feeling of all, that they were contributors to a single book, each later writer a continuator of the narrative placed on record by his predecessor. In the Pentateuch, if we admit a single author, the initial vau will be less remarkable, since it will merely serve to join together the different sections of a single treatise. Which came into Egypt. The next two words of the original, "with Jacob," belong properly to this clause. The whole verse is best translated, "Now these are the names of the children of Israel which came into Egypt with Jacob: they came every man with his household." So the LXX., Pagnini, Kalisch, Geddes, Boothroyd, etc. Every man and his household. This is important in connection with the vexed question of the possible increase of the original band of so-called "Israelites" within the space of 430 years to such a number as is said to have quitted Egypt with Moses (Exodus 12:37). The "household" of Abraham comprised 318 adult males (Genesis 14:14). The "households" of Jacob, his eleven sons, and his numerous grown-up grandsons, have been with reason estimated at "several thousands." (Kurtz, 'History of the Old Covenant,' vol. 2 p. 149, E. T.) Exodus 1:1To place the multiplication of the children of Israel into a strong nation in its true light, as the commencement of the realization of the promises of God, the number of the souls that went down with Jacob to Egypt is repeated from Genesis 46:27 (on the number 70, in which Jacob is included, see the notes on this passage); and the repetition of the names of the twelve sons of Jacob serves to give to the history which follows a character of completeness within itself. "With Jacob they came, every one and his house," i.e., his sons, together with their families, their wives, and their children. The sons are arranged according to their mothers, as in Genesis 35:23-26, and the sons of the two maid-servants stand last. Joseph, indeed, is not placed in the list, but brought into special prominence by the words, "for Joseph was in Egypt" (Exodus 1:5), since he did not go down to Egypt along with the house of Jacob, and occupied an exalted position in relation to them there.
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