aIn order to understand the book of Exodus, it is important to understand the life of Joseph. 

REVIEW:  The Life of Joseph Lesson #5

  •  Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers and taken to a foreign country. This country was very powerful and their king was called Pharoah. To what country did he go?  Genesis 37:28
  • Through many unusual circumstances, Joseph interpreted a dream for Pharaoh. As a result of Joseph’s wisdom, what did Pharaoh do?  Genesis 41:38-40
  • Joseph’s brothers came in search of food because of the great famine. When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, what did he tell them about their father and their families?
    Genesis 45:4-11

Bible Reading: Exodus 1-3:15

Approximately 400 years has now passed between the death of Joseph at the end of Genesis and the beginning of the book of Exodus. A new Pharoah rules Egypt who did not know Joseph. It is estimated that the Israelite people have grown from 75 people (Joseph’s family who moved to Egypt during the famine) to more than 1 million people (all descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). They now lived not as guests of Pharoah, but as his slaves. 

EXODUS means to depart or to leave (as in the word “exit). The book of Exodus tells of the miraculous return of the Israelites (the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) to their homeland. Exodus also reveals God’s name (this lesson #6), God’s justice, truth, mercy, faithfulness and holiness (Exodus chapter 3, 6, 33-34), the Ten Commandments (lesson #7) and how the people of Israel or Jews established the worship of one God. 

In the book of Exodus, we meet another very important man named Moses.  

God Reveals His Name to Moses

God appeared to Moses on a mountain. God told Moses to go to Egypt to lead the Jewish people from slavery to freedom from their bondage. Moses was very afraid to do this.  [Why do you think Moses was afraid?]

Moses asked God, “Whom shall I say sent me?” God answered, “I AM.”

“I AM” is very significant. God was saying He is always present – in the past, present and the future. God is with you in the now. God was telling Moses that He has existed since before time began. He has no beginning and no end and that He never changes.

John 8:58

In the Gospel of John (the New Testament), John records Jesus having a discussion with the Jewish religious leaders. They were discussing Abraham, the father of the Jewish faith, who lived 2,000 years before these events.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was, I AM!” (John 8:58).

By repeating God’s name in this way, Jesus was proclaiming Himself to be God.  After Jesus made this statement, the Bible says, “At this, they [the Jewish religious leaders] picked up stones to stone Him, but Jesus hid Himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.”

Discussion

It seems every culture has a unique way of giving names to their children. Traditionally in the United States a woman legally changes her maiden name to her husband’s family name. Children also take the family name of their father. The given name is considered the first name and the family name (aka surname) is the last name. Most people following this practice also have a middle name.

Bible names, such as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Rebecca, Sarah or Abigail are popular in America. Family names of the first European immigrants were often based on their occupation, for example “baker” or “smith”.  Another common source of names has been from the home country of immigrants and has richly diversified the mix of names found in America. Some names have historical meaning attached to them but are not often thought about in Western culture.

In the Bible, names and their meanings were very important.

  1. How are names given and used in your culture versus in America?
  2. Do you know what your name means?
  3. What do you understand about the meaning of the words “I AM”?
  4. When Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I AM”, why do you think the Jewish leaders understood immediately what Jesus was saying?

Word List

  • aka – abbreviation for “also known as”
  • smith – the most common family name in most of the English-speaking world. From an English surname meaning “metal worker, blacksmith”, derived from Old English smitan “to smite, to hit”
  • Jewish – descendants of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, the children of Israel
  • bondage – to be a servant by force
  • New Testament – the second part of the Holy Bible that records the life and teachings of Jesus, as well his early followers, regarding the Christian life
  • versus – compared to or by contrast; abbreviated vs.

For further reading: What does it mean when a person adds the words “in Jesus’ name” at the end of their prayer?  “What praying in Jesus’ name means”