The Exodus from Egypt

Map of possible routes out of Egypt

 

According to the Bible, many Hebrews had gone down into

Egypt because there was a famine

in Canaan and they had no food. Instead of returning home

to Canaan, they stayed in Egypt

for a long time. The number of Hebrews living in Egypt

grew very large.

This upset the pharoah

who became afraid that the Hebrews would become

powerful enough to upset his rule.

To prevent this, he made the Hebrews

(also called Israelites) into slaves.

 

Wall painting from 15th century BC Egyptian tomb

Treatment of laborors in Egypt was cruel during the time

of the Israelites' bondage. In this

wall painting from a 15th century B.C. tomb,

a farm overseer is thrashing a slave while

another slave begs for mercy. According to the book

of Exodus, it was treatment

like this that caused Moses to kill an Egyptian

and run away from Egypt.

 

15th Century B.C. Egyptian tomb fresco

This fresco, or wall painting, is from a

15th century B.C. tomb in Egypt.

When you study this painting closely, you will see the types of work

the Hebrew slaves did while they were in captivity in Egypt.

 

After more than 400 years of slavery,

in the early 1200's B.C., Moses was born.

Although an Israelite, Moses was raised in the

pharoah's household. This pharoah

was probably Ramses II. According to the Torah,

God asked Moses to ask the Pharoah

to let the Israelites leave Egypt. Pharoah refused.

God gave Moses miraculous powers,

including the ability to cause outbreaks of

disease and destruction called plagues.

Each time a plague happened, Pharoah

promised to let the Israelites go, but

each time he changed his mind.

Finally, according to the Torah, a plague came in

which the first-born child of all the Egyptians

died - even Pharoah's son. After this terrible plague,

Pharoah finally let the

Israelites leave Egypt.

 

Israelites leaving Egypt