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The rest of Genesis tells of Abraham’s earliest descendants. Isaac has two sons, and one, Jacob, is chosen to Abraham’s heir in building the Nation of Israel. Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel, has 12 sons, who father 12 families or tribes who will make up the eventual Nation of Israel. A large part of the second half of Genesis tells the story of one of Jacob’s sons, Joseph. Joseph is sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers but becomes second in command in all of Egypt, the most prominent nation in the world at that time. The book of Genesis ends with all of Jacob’s descendents moving to Egypt. Exodus is also believed to have been written by Moses, except Exodus would have been written based on what he experienced firsthand.

The chapter today doesn’t give the details of the shift from privileged guests in Egypt to slavery, but by this time, Israel is a large and growing population. They have been in Egypt for 430 years and are being oppressed to the point of being killed, simply due to their ethnicity. It seems strange that Israel would be treated like this, but had they not been oppressed, they probably would have been absorbed into the Egyptian population and never would have had a separate national identity. Even in oppression God had a plan. Our story also raises an interesting question. It appears God is pleased that the midwives lied. One way of resolving this is to assume God was pleased that the midwives saved innocent lives, but not with their lying. Another is to see that lies are almost always connected to injustice. The Ten Commandments forbid false testimony, which would cause the wrong person to be punished. Lies usually cause injustice, either allowing a guilty person to avoid punishment or causing an innocent person to be blamed. In this case the midwives lied, or at least misled Pharaoh, in order to prevent an injustice. Perhaps God finds this type of deception acceptable.

We’re only capable of having a short-term view in life. God has a plan that goes beyond today, beyond our lifetime and beyond the lifetime of the nation of which we are a part. Difficulties today could be setting things up for God’s later solutions. We need the faith to believe that.