Monday, July 25, 2011
Exodus 1:11-14 God Works Despite Pharaoh's Oppressive Measures
"So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor,
and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.
But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread;
so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.
They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar
and with all kinds of work in the fields;
in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly."
Exodus 1:11-14 (NIV)
The new Pharaoh had made it quite clear what he feared the Israelites would do: He believed that the Israelites would continue to become even more numerous, and eventually join Egypt's enemies and fight against Egypt. (Exodus 1:10) So he assigned slave masters over them and began to oppress them by forcing them to work in brick, mortar and all kinds of fieldwork. Twice in the above passage it is stated that this was not just busy work; it was "hard labor". (v.11,14) In two other verses, it says that the Egyptians worked the Israelites "ruthlessly". (v. 13,14)
God's promises can never be thwarted by men's devices, though. He is always faithful to His covenants and promises, so the Israelites continued to thrive. They were forced to build store cities for Pharaoh, but they continued to multiply. God is the one who caused them to be fruitful, of course, but He often uses natural means. All that hard work probably helped the Israelites to become physically stronger. Though their enemies hoped their labor would diminish them, it may have actually made them more healthy and fit.
The Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. They must have felt a sense of panic as they saw that the Israelites continued to increase. This caused the Pharaoh to consider even more drastic measures in his attempt to put an end to the Israelites' rapid growth.