The Book of Exodus begins, not at the very beginning; but at a point in history where the number of Israelites residing in Egypt had grown tremendously in number.

A new king, who did not know how Joseph had saved Egypt from famine, was afraid. The king harboured pathological fears regarding the increase in the population of Israelites residing in Egypt. To assuage his fears, he appointed taskmasters over the Israelites to afflict them with hard labour (Exodus 1:11).

The Pharaoh’s plan backfired. Instead of growing fewer in number, the Israelite population continued to grow. When the Pharaoh’s first ‘plan’ failed, the next measure he employed was population control. He ordered the midwives of the land to kill all male offspring.

The measures the unnamed Pharaoh employed never stopped. It was one thing after another. No matter what plague befell him, he would not change his ways. He was not only recalcitrant, but incorrigible. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be done to save him.

Moses, however, was saved. He was placed in a basket and sent off on the river. It was the river that ultimately took him where he needed to go and be. Moses would have a mini-departure of his own before the actual departure took place: a departure where he took all his people with him.

The Exodus specifically refers to a mass departure of people. The word comes from the Ancient Greek and it means ‘way out’, ‘path’ or ‘road’. They left under extenuating circumstances. They left because they could no longer stay.

Departure was the only option they had left.

Aaron was Moses’ elder brother and a brotherly sentiment existed between the two. Aaron served as Moses’ spokesperson and prophet during the Exodus from Egypt. He would go on to become the first high priest.

The Israelites Leaving Egypt by David Roberts

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