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