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8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
God blessed the people of Israel and they multiplied exceedingly in 400 years and filled the land. Then there came about a change of regime or rulership in Egypt which profoundly impacted on the children of Israel, reducing them to slavery and heavy bondage.
This change is considered to be the overthrow of the Hyksos, who were of Semitic origin, shepherd kings, and had certain sympathies with the children of Israel. A revolt occurred with the XVIII Dynasty, when the Theban kings under Amosis I (Ahmose I), rose up in 1580BC, and tossed out the Hyksos, removing all trace of the Hyksos from their monuments.
They saw the Israelites as a threat (v.9, 10), so they enslaved them, afflicting them with heavy burdens (vast building enterprises), appointing taskmasters to oversee and oppress them.
Two of the cities Pithom and Raamses were built using the Israelitish slaves, who had to make mortar and bricks in the blazing sun, and were sorely oppressed, yet still multiplied in spite of all this.
They were made to serve With rigour and their lives were reduced to a state of abject existence, made bitter (Hb. with hard bondage (v.l3,14).
The Apocalyptic Messenger, July 2018
12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.
There was nothing manifestly divine in this. It was apparently a matter of natural fecundity, and nothing more. Yet it is testified it was a work of God.
"He increased His people greatly (in Egypt), and made them stronger than their enemies"
By the word of God, the heavens were made, and when this same word broods with prospering intent upon any people, the result is seen in the presence of a vigour apparently natural and really natural in its form and modes of development, yet super-induced by a divine volition at the roots. The presence of this volition is the difference between what God does and what He does not do. The exercise of it was manifest in the case of Israel in a debased state in Egypt, because the time for God's work with them had drawn near.
May we not apply the fact to our own day? The time for the return of mercy to Zion has come: the time for God, who scattered Israel to gather them, and we see nothing divine in the lively vigour and prolificness and growing prosperity of the Jews in every land? It is all apparently natural, but the hand of God is in it, and will shortly be made manifest to all nations when that hand is no longer hidden, but taken out of the bosom and uplifted, in visible works of power before the eyes of all the nations.
Ways of Providence Ch 10
13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:
This grievous experience was calculated to revive Israel's recollection of the promise that God would deliver them-a promise made long before, but which the prosperity of the first part of the period of their settlement in Egypt may have caused the people to forget or undervalue, in the same way that we find that in our own day, prosperity for the Jews in any part of the world makes them think lightly of the promised restoration. The promise dated back to the days of their father Abraham:
"Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs and shall serve them and they shall afflict them four hundred years, and also that nation whom they shall serve will I judge, and afterwards shall they come out with great substance" (Genesis 15:13).
This promise was held in recollection by the faithful of Abraham's seed. Jacob spoke of it on his deathbed.
"God shall be with you and bring you again unto the land of your Fathers"
It was the last thing Joseph spoke about to his brethren:
"I die, and God will surely visit you and bring you out of this land into the land which he sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. . . . God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence" (Genesis 50:24-25).
"In the day when I chose Israel and lifted up Mine hand to the seed of the house of Jacob, and made Myself known unto them in the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them . . . then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abomination of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. But they rebelled against Me and would not hearken unto Me. They did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt" (Ezekiel 20:5-9).
This statement is illustrated by the fact that after their deliverance, they proposed on more than one occasion to stone Moses, make gods of their own, and go back to Egypt (Numbers 16:2-4; Exodus 32:1). In fact, before they actually crossed the Red Sea, they said to Moses,
"Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians" (Exodus 14:12).
Thus we have the spectacle distinctly before us of God's own nation (concerning whom promises had been made, and the time for the fulfilment of which had drawn near), looking at the situation as it appeared from the divine point of view, not only with indifference, but with absolutely perverse and carnal eyes. That God should be at work at such a time may console us who live in the latter days, when the time has again approached for God to remember the house of Israel, and when the house of Israel everywhere is similarly unenlightened and indifferent.
Ways of Providence Ch 9.
14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.
Let us think of ourselves as in Egypt 80 years before the promised deliverance. God was remembering the promise and disposing events in preparation for its execution. What evidence was there of this? None to be seen with the ordinary eye. To the ordinary eye, everything seemed to be in the most unlikely form for the realisation of Israel's hope. The Egyptians were great and prosperous.
A dynasty unfriendly to Israel was established on the throne. Israel themselves, the bulk of them, were sunk in idolatry; and besides being in a state of indifference to the purpose of God, they were the objects of a cruel oppression on the part of the king of Egypt, who deliberately aimed at breaking their spirit and destroying their strength by hard measures.
The Israelites everywhere were engaged in the meanest drudgery under the most exacting and cruel taskmasters. God was silent, and the hope of Israel seemed a forgotten dream. But God was at work without speaking or making His hand manifest.
Ways of Providence Ch 9.
But now the times are changed and every indication points towards 'the realisation of Israel's hope'.