Study Questions for Exodus 5:1-21

Exodus 5:1-21

Context: What is going on so far?

Verse 1—what did Moses and Aaron do when they go to Egypt?
Is it interesting that Moses and Aaron do not mince words at all? They just burst in and make their request.
This is the first instance of “thus saith the Lord….”
It also marks the first time that YHWH is used in public and the first time that Israel is considered a people, a nation, and in covenant with God himself.
The verb “let go” gives the idea of a person being sent away (BDB) or of being dismissed from “one zone of authority” to another (Mackay p. 104).
If Pharaoh had permitted the people to go into the desert to worship their god, he would have been admitting that he wasn’t God over all. And that the slaves were a people under another god than him. And if he had let them go because their god caused him to let them go, it would have meant that this other god was more powerful than he. Which god gets to decide how the people will live?

The apparent discrepancy between the fact that the people were really to leave and go to the promised land may well have actually been the way a middle eastern discussion (haggling) might have gone. From one level to the next as things progressed in a discussion.

Vs. 2—what was Pharaoh’s response?
Why did he respond this way?
He was god and there could be no compromise. The request was seditious, treasonous, blasphemous and rebellious (Mackay).
Who is the Lord brings the discussion right to where it needs to be. Who, indeed, is the Lord? (14:4, 18)
His answer shows that he understood the real request—they would not be back.

Vs. 3—What was Moses response to the Pharaoh’s questions?
Was there a difference in this request and the first one? Why?
Their response was much less of a demand and much more of a beg.
What were they afraid their God might do to them?
Was this a real fear?
Given what happened to him on the way to Egypt, it might well have been that Moses thought that if he couldn’t convince Pharaoh to let the people go that God would hold it against him or the people.

Vs. 4-9—How did the King respond this time?
What did the Pharaoh accuse Moses and Aaron of doing with the people?
Taking away = running wild and rampant (Mackay).
Why was that important?
Who went with Moses and Aaron to visit the Pharaoh? (3:18)
What did the number of people have to do with their resting from their labors?
Why did the Pharaoh make the people get straw?
Did he diminish the number of bricks the people were to make?
What did that have to do with their desire to go into the desert to worship God?
It was normal for slaves to not go to work on the pretense of offering sacrifices to their god (Mackay).
How was making the same with less supposed to help the situation?
In pagan systems making the people busier makes them less likely to rebel and escape.
Why did Pharaoh call what Moses said “vain words” (lies)?
Who is God?

Vs. 10-14—How did the Egyptian respond?
What happened to the Israelites when they slowed down, or didn’t reach their quota?
Spreading the people out to look for straw kept them from congregating in one area. It would be more difficult to rebel if they couldn’t get together.

Vs. 15-16—How did the Israelites deal with their oppression?
What is their attitude towards the Egyptians?
Who do the Israelites blame for their failure to make the required number of bricks?

Vs. 17-18—Pharaoh responds with what?

Vs. 19—What was the result?

Vss. 20-21—When they were leaving the palace, who did they run into?
What were Moses and Aaron doing outside?
Who is in charge at this point? Who is really in charge?
What did they say to Moses and Aaron?
What was the result of the Israelites not smelling good to the Egyptians? Gen 34:30
Whose fault was it?

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