“Unit 9: Day 1, Exodus 1–4,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 9: Day 1,” Old Testament Study Guide
The children of Israel increased in number while in Egypt, and a new pharaoh placed them in bondage. Pharaoh decreed that every newborn male Israelite be killed. Moses’s mother saved him from the decree, and he was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter. When Moses was grown, he slew an Egyptian while defending a Hebrew slave. Moses fled Egypt and dwelt in Midian, where he married Zipporah. Meanwhile in Egypt, the Israelites cried unto the Lord because of their bondage.
After you read each of the following two scenarios, write down what you think Heavenly Father would want you to do and what you think others might want or expect you to do in these situations:
A friend asks to borrow your homework so she can use what you have done to complete her homework assignment.
What Heavenly Father wants you to do:
What others might want or expect:
A group of friends has invited you to see a movie that contains vulgar and immoral content.
What Heavenly Father wants you to do:
What others might want or expect:
Why do you think it is sometimes difficult or frightening to keep the commandments when others want you to do something different?
As you study Exodus 1, look for a principle that can help you understand the blessings of following God’s commandments even when it is difficult to do so or when it is different from what others might expect you to do.
You may recall from your study of Genesis 42–47 that the children of Israel settled in Egypt during the famine. In Exodus 1:1–8 we learn that eventually Joseph and his generation died and a new pharaoh rose to power. By this time the children of Israel had greatly increased in number. From what you studied in Genesis, how did the pharaoh in Joseph’s day regard Joseph?
- For this assignment you are going to predict some of the events recorded in Exodus 1 before you read about them. First, take a piece of paper and cover the page in your scriptures where Exodus 1:9–10 is located. After you write your answer to the question for a in your scripture study journal, uncover and read the verses to discover what really happened. Follow this pattern for each set of verses that follows the questions.
How do you think the new pharaoh felt about the increase in the number of Israelites?
Read Exodus 1:9–10.
What do you think Pharaoh did about the increasing number of Israelites?
Read Exodus 1:11.
What do you think happened after the Israelites were put in bondage?
Read Exodus 1:12–14.
Since placing the Israelites in bondage did not slow their growth in numbers, what do you think Pharaoh did next?
Read Exodus 1:15–16. (A midwife is a woman who assists in childbirth. The phrase “upon the stools” refers to birthing stools—where women gave birth. The term Hebrew refers to an Israelite.)
What do you think the Hebrew midwives did in response to Pharaoh’s edict?
Read Exodus 1:17.
How do you think Pharaoh responded when he learned the midwives did not obey his command?
Read Exodus 1:18–19, 22.
Ponder answers to the following questions: How did the midwives show that they revered or respected God? What might the midwives have risked by choosing to revere God more than Pharaoh?
Read Exodus 1:20–21, looking for what God did as a result of the midwives’ choice to revere Him rather than obey Pharaoh’s command. According to these verses, how did the Lord “[deal] well with the midwives” (Exodus 1:20)? (Notice that Exodus 1:21, footnote b, indicates that the Lord blessed the midwives with descendants.)
Using what you learned from verse 20, complete the following principle about what God will do when we revere Him and put His will above that of others, as the midwives did: As we revere God by putting His will above that of others, He will . You may want to write this principle in your scriptures next to Exodus 1:20–21.
- Review the two scenarios you read at the beginning of the lesson. In your scripture study journal, write about two other situations you have faced in which you needed to choose to revere God by putting His will above the will of others. Then write about how the choice you faced in those situations was similar to the choice the midwives faced.
Bishop Gary E. Stevenson of the Presiding Bishopric gave further insight into this principle. As you read, mark what Bishop Stevenson said we often have to demonstrate in order to choose the will of God over the will of others.
“There will be times when you … will have to demonstrate your righteous courage in plain view of your peers, the consequence of which may be ridicule and embarrassment. …
“[The Lord] will reward you for your courage and righteous behavior—with happiness and joy. Such courage will be a byproduct of your faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, your prayers, and your obedience to commandments” (“Be Valiant in Courage, Strength, and Activity,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 52).
- In your scripture study journal, list some things you are currently doing to put the Lord first in your life. Also write about how God has dealt well with you and blessed you because of your decision to put His will above the will of others. Ponder how you can improve in showing reverence for God.
Because Pharaoh was unable to convince the midwives to kill the newborn Hebrew males, he issued a decree to his people. Read Exodus 1:22, looking for Pharaoh’s decree. What would you do if such a decree were in place and you or someone in your family were about to have a baby?
One Hebrew mother took steps to preserve the life of her son. Read Exodus 2:1–4, looking for what this mother did to save her son.
What are some ways the life of Moses was similar to the life of Jesus Christ?
Both Jesus Christ and Moses were in danger of being killed in infancy and were preserved through the power of God. Pharaoh’s decree to kill the newborn Hebrew males and Moses’s miraculous survival foreshadowed Herod’s decree to kill the infant children in Bethlehem and surrounding regions (see Matthew 2:16) and Jesus’s survival through divine intervention (see Matthew 2:12–14). (See Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ , 446.) Read Exodus 2:5–10, looking for answers to the following questions. You may wish to mark what you find in your scriptures.
Who discovered the child?
What did she name him?
How was the child’s mother able to remain involved in his upbringing?
If it is available, open to Bible Maps, no. 9, “The World of the Old Testament,” in the back of the Bible, and locate the land of Midian. In Exodus 2:11–15 we learn that when Moses was grown, he defended a Hebrew slave by killing an Egyptian who was beating or attempting to kill the slave. When Pharaoh learned about the death, he sought to kill Moses, but Moses fled to Midian.
In Exodus 2:16–22 we learn that while he was in Midian, Moses married a woman named Zipporah and had a son.
While Moses was in Midian, the children of Israel remained in bondage in Egypt. Read Exodus 2:23, looking for what the children of Israel did because of their bondage.
Read Exodus 2:24–25, looking for what the Lord did when the children of Israel cried to Him. In Exodus 2:25, footnote a, we learn that in this context the term respect means that the Lord was cognizant, or mindful, of the children of Israel.
These verses teach that God hears and answers our prayers and that God keeps His covenants with His people. (You may want to write these doctrines in your scriptures next to Exodus 2:24–25.)
Although God hears the prayers of all of His children, His answers and His blessings are dependent upon our individual faithfulness to His commandments and our covenants with Him (see D&C 82:10). As you study the remainder of the book of Exodus, you will see evidence of the truthfulness of these two doctrines.
Think about something you have been praying about. Even though Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers, He will not necessarily answer them immediately or in the ways in which we hope He will answer them. For instance, at this point in the account in Exodus, the children of Israel were still in bondage and God had not yet delivered them. However, He had begun to prepare the way for them to be delivered through Moses even before they cried unto Him for help (see Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:24, 29 [in the Bible appendix]). Although you may not have recognized answers to your prayers yet, God may currently be preparing the way for those prayers to be answered.
In Exodus 3–4 we learn that the Lord appeared to Moses and called him to deliver the Israelites from their bondage to the Egyptians. Moses was a great prophet who was foreordained to deliver the Lord’s people out of their bondage in the land of Egypt (see Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:34–35 [in the Bible appendix]). He expressed concerns that he was not adequate to fulfill this call. The Lord explained to Moses that He would be with him and that He would provide Moses with the power he would need to fulfill his calling.
As you read Exodus 3:2–5, ponder why the ground Moses was standing on was holy ground. Why is the ground where temples are located considered holy ground today?
As you read Exodus 4, consider how the Lord responded to Moses’s fears and doubts about being called as the prophet to deliver the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. What did you learn about Moses from this account? What did you learn about God from this account?
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Exodus 1–4 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: