The Case/Cause of War
Exodus 1:1-22

Caveat: The NIV version is a poor translation to use in studying this text.

    The text of  Exodus opens by setting the stage for the holy war that will described later in the book.  A modern question that is imposed on the text is that of the justness of the war (jus ad bellum).  The concept of just war is a relatively recent development.  The question from a biblical standpoint is the justice of God (theodicy). The problem the reader has is that the chapter is a brief summary and a broad generalization of what took place over the first 350 years of Israel's stay in Egypt.

    The text breaks itself down into four sections by a threefold repetition of the rapid numeric growth of the Israelites. The intervening verses are taken to represent four different historical moments in the story.

Exodus 1:7   But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them.
Exodus 1:12  But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel.
Exodus 1:20  So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty.
    Chronologically the story begins with the entry of Jacob and his family into Egypt and ends at the time of the birth of Moses.  According to Exodus 12:40f. the Israelites were in Egypt four hundred and thirty years to the day.  Exodus 7:7 says that Moses was eighty years old at the time of the Exodus and so we calculate that he was born three hundred and fifty years after the entry of Jacob into Egypt.

    The story assumes the reader knows two things.  The first is the story of Joseph which was recorded at the end of Genesis.  In a multivolumed literary work the opening of the second book repeats or summarizes the conclusion of the preceding book.  The second assumption is that the reader is familiar with the traditions of the events in Egypt.

A.    The Descent of Jacob and Family

    Jacob's family is presented not in order of birth, but according to the child's mother and her status within the family. The text forms a chiasm with Rachel and her handmaiden Bilhah in the middle. Rachel was Jacob's favorite wife and Leah was not.  Of course Joseph is not in the list because he is already in Egypt.  Also absent from the list is the daughter Dinah who had been raped by Shechem.

Leah: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun
Rachel: Benjamin,
Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali,
Zilpah: Gad and Asher
    The text concludes by speaking of the death of Joseph and his generation.  How long was a generation? In Mosaic use of  language a generation could be counted as lasting as long as 100 years. Please note that precise time indicators are not given, but the text emphasizes the process of Israel growing.  Most of the language is a reuse of the language found in the first creation story (Gen. 1:1-2:3) that was used to describe the explosion of life on the planet at the creation.
Fruitful (hrp) 1:22, 28
Increased (#rv) 1:20f.
Multiplied (hbr) 1:22, 28
Countless (~c[) not found
B.    The New King that Knew Not Joseph

    The next image of the historical background to the Exodus is that of a change of power taking place in Egypt that will drastically alter Israel's place in society.  It is a carefully and succinctly stated summary of a major disaster that devastated Egypt.  The image that Exodus presents of this new situation is as follows:

1.    A new king arose over Egypt.
a.    He is just another king.
b.    He is a conqueror or usurper.  In Judges 9:18, 43 the phrase arose over (l[;. . . ~q'Y"ïw:) is used of violent overthrow.
c.    LXX, "avne,sth de. basileu.j e[teroj evpV Ai;gupton o]j ouvk h;|dei to.n Iwshf"
2.    He did not know Joseph ([d:ßy"-al{)). This is a difficult phrase as it could take on several meanings.
a.    He had no remembrance of Joseph and thus no allegiance to Joseph
b.    At best he does not approve of Joseph, but it could also mean that he hated him.
3.    He belonged to a ruling minority (the Israelites outnumbered them). Hyksos were a ruling minority over the Israelite and Egyptian populations)
4.    They were afraid of war breaking out.
5.    They were hated by a third group. This would be the Egyptians.
6.    They were afraid the Israelites would leave.
7.    They made the Israelites build the storage cities of Pithom and Rameses.
a.    Pithom (Tell el-Mashkuta/Per-Temu/Tjeku)

". . . there was a HYKSOS level below the remains of the city founded by Nekau II (610-595 BC) which was still flourishing in the Roman period (30 BC- AD 395)." (Shaw and Nicholson, p. 171).

b.    Rameses/Avaris/Tell el-Daba/ (3 Settlements)

(1)    Middle Kingdom Settlers
(2)    Hyksos Capital
(3)    Rameside Reconstruction

Foundation Stele of Temple of Seth at Avaris (Set up by Rameses II), ‘Year 400, fourth day of the fourth month of the inundation season of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt Seth, great of courage, son of Ra, chosen one, beloved of Ra-Horakty.”

c.    Store Cities (‘tAnK.s.mi yrEÜ[') - fortified city/storage cities? (Ex. 1:11; 1 Ki. 9:19; 2 Chr. 8:4, 6; 17:12; 32:28)
8.    The term Egyptian is not applied to them. Ignore the NIV
9.    The term Pharaoh is not applied to their king.
    If the traditional chronology is followed then this would fit into what is called the Second Intermediate Period. The main rulers of this period were Semitic invaders from Palestine called the Hyksos (hekau khaswt: rulers of foreign lands) who invaded Lower Egypt and ruled there for over 100 years.
1.    NAME: The meaning of their name is  a matter of debate.  The usual interpretation is that it “designates not a race of people, but their rulers. They were apparently a mixed bag of displaced persons, largely Semitic. . .” (Sinigen p. 58)

2.    Conquest of Egypt

a.    Violent?
(1)    New Kingdom Pharaohs
(a)    “Later Egyptian tradition consistently portrayed the Hyksos as bloody, uncouth savages who ‘ruled without Re’.” (Sinigen, 58)
(b)    Hatshepsut bragged about defeating them even after they were gone, which suggest either she was into developing a national/personal myth or the term became a pejorative term to describe any enemy.
(2)    Josephus, Contra Apionem, (Book I, 14), "with ease subdued it by force, yet without our hazarding a battle with them. . . . they afterwards burnt down our cities, and demolished the temples of the gods, and used all the inhabitants after a most barbarous manner; nay, some they slew, and led their children and their wives into slavery."
b.    Infiltration and Assimilation
(1)    Grimal, p. 185-187.
c.    Weaponry
(1)    Composite-Laminated Bow
(2)    Curved Sword (khepesh)
(3)    Body armor and helmets
(4)    Chariot as a Weapon
(5)    Fortified City (glacis)
d.    Policy
(1)    Assimilation of Peoples
(2)    Assimilation of Religion and Custom
3.    Overthrow
a.    Main Opponents: 17th Dynasty/Theban (Upper/Southern) Pharaohs.
b.    Egyptians adopt Hyksos weapons and effective war techniques.
c.    Instill hatred and anger in their people.
d.    Enlisted Aid of the Nubians.
e.    damnatio memoriae
f.    Quarrel of Apophis and Seqenenre
It once happened that the land of Egypt was in misery, for there was no Lord, l.p.h., <as> (sole) king. A day came to pass when King Seqenenre, l.p.h., was (still only) Ruler, l.p.h., of the Southern City (Thebes). Misery was in the town of the Asiatics (Avaris), for Prince Apophis, l.p.h., was in Avaris, and the entire land paid tribute to him, delivering their taxes, (and) even the north bringing every (sort of) good produce of the Delta.

So King Apophis, l.p.h., adopted Seth for himself as lord, and he refused to serve any god that was in the entire land ex[cept] Seth. He built a temple of fine workmanship for the eternity next to the House of the [King Apo]phis, l.p.h., and he appeared [at break of] day in order to sacrifice . . . daily to Seth, while the officials [of the palace], l.p.h., carried garlands, exactly as is practiced <in> the temple of Re-Harakhti.

 Now as for / King A[pophis], l.p.h., it was his wish to s[end] an inflammatory message <to> King Seqenenre, [l.p.h., the] Prince of the Southern City. And a[fter] many days following this, King [Apophis, l.p.h.], then had [the high official]s of his [palace] summoned, [and he proposed to them that a messenger should be] sent [to the Prince of the Southern City with] a complaint . . . [concerning the] river, [but he was unable to compose it himself. Thereupon his] scribes and wise men... and high officials [said: O so]vereign, [our lord, demand that there be a withdrawal from the] canal of hippopotamuses [which lies at the east of the City because] they don't let [sleep come to us either in the daytime or at ni]ght, [for the noise of them is <in> our citizens' ear(s). And King Apophis, l.p.h., answered them saying: I shall send} to the Prince of the [Southern Ci]ty... command... [that we may asses the power of the god who is] / with him as protector.  He does not rely upon any god that is in the [entire land] except Amun-Re, King of the Gods.

Now after many days following this, King Apophis, l.p.h., then sent to the Prince of the Southern City <with> the complaint that his scribes and wise men had concocted for him.  And when the messenger of King [A]pophis, l.p.h., reached the Prince of the Southern City, he was then taken into the presence of the Prince of the Southern City. Then One (Seqenenre) said to the messenger of King Apophis, l.p.h.: Why have you been sent to the Southern City? Wherefore have you come journeying here? The messenger then / told him: It is King Apophis, l.p.h., who has sent <me> to you in order to say, "Let there be a w[ithdrawa]l from the canal of hippopotamuses which lies at the east of the City, because they don't let sleep come to me either in the daytime or at night," for the noise of them is <in> his citizens' ear(s).

Then the Prince of the Southern City became stupefied for so long a while that he became unable to render [a reply] to the messenger of King Apophis, l.p.h. Finally the Prince of the Southern City said to him: Is it though this (remark) that your Lord, l.p.h., would investigate matters regarding [the canal of hippopotamuses which lies at t]he east of the Southern City? Then the messenger [said to him: Effectuate the m]atters for which he sent me. [Then the Prince of the Southern City caused] th[e messenger of King Apophis, l.p.h.], to be taken care of [with] good [thing]s: meat, cakes . . . . [The Prince of the Southern City said to him: Go and tell] your [lord], "As for whatever you will tell him, he will do it," so you shall tell [him] . . . [Then the messenger of King] Apophis, l.p.h., hastened to journey to where / his lord, l.p.h., was.

 So the Prince of the Southern City had his high officials summoned, as well as every ranking soldier of his, and he repeated to them every issue concerning which King Apophis, l.p.h., had sent to him. Then they were uniformly silent for a long while, without being able to answer him, be it good or bad.

Then King Apophis, l.p.h., sent to . . .

C.    The Harsh Labor Imposed by Egyptians & Genocide