Exodus | 1-2 | 3 | 4 | 5-6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20-40 |

These small group studies of Exodus 1 and 2 contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Exodus 1-2 Bible Study – Pharoah Enslaves Israel and the Birth of Moses


I. The Israelites multiplied in Egypt (1:1-7)

II. The Egyptian king makes the Israelites slaves (8-14)

III. The Egyptian king seeks to reduce their numbers. The Midwives disobey him (15-22)

IV. Moses is born and put in a basket (2:1-4)

V. Moses is adopted by Pharoah’s daughter (5-10)

VI. Moses is drawn to help his brethren (11-14)

VII. Moses flees to and settles in Midian (15-22)

VIII. Israel cries out to the Lord and God hears them (23-25)

I. The Israelites multiplied in Egypt (1:1-7)

Why did the Israelites go to Egypt in the first time? What is the main points of the story of Joseph?

Was it in God’s plan for them to move out of the Promised Land to Egypt? What might God’s purpose have been in this? What does this tell us about how God works in our lives and in the world?

Genesis 45:7, 46:1-4 – God said He would go with them to Egypt and bring them back again a great nation.

1. Describe the background of how/why the Israelites had relocated to Egypt.

2. God’s prophecies (see above) were being fulfilled and the prophecies that Abraham would become a great nation were finally being realized. This wasn’t a smooth or easy path, but God often leads His people through the valley before taking them to the mountaintop. In Exo 12:37 we see numbering the men of war shows over 600,000 males 20 and upwards, which would indicate a total population of around 2 million. Assuming 35 marriages and three children on average (this is low/conservative for the Jews) in only 10 generations the total population could surpass two million. Considering that there was roughly 340 years since they moved there and this is 18 twenty year generations, it falls easily within reason that they could expand to this number in this period of time.

II. The Egyptian king makes the Israelites slaves (8-14)

Discussion Questions

Why did the new king not appreciate what Joseph had done for Egypt?

What does this tell us about how long after Joseph’s death this was?

Are there any other clues that a long time period had elapsed (they had multiplied many times over)? How would you describe the new king’s attitude toward the Israelites?

What national policy was adopted toward the Israelites?

What was the result of this policy?

Why do you think historically persecution accomplishes the opposite of what the governments intended?

Genesis 15:13 – God told Abraham they would be enslaved in another country for 400 years.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. A national policy of forced slavery was adopted. Taskmasters were appointed over the Jews. A lot of details would have to be handled to allow this kind of thing to happen on a nationwide scale. You would have to control housing. This means there would likely be restricted areas of the cities where they could live and probably guards/soldiers enforced curfews and the travel . Like in WWII there would likely have to be some kind of a mark to identify easily Jews from non-Jews (they could do that based on appearance perhaps such as beards, but they would want to ensure no Jews mixed with and pretended to be Egyptians.) There would have to be some kind of registration system or paperwork for births and lineage so that only Jews would be forced to be slaves. There would have to be a permanent guard night and day guarding against revolt. This would also mean that Jews would be banned from owning any kind of weapons such as swords, bows, or spears. It would mean there could be regular unannounced inspections where soldiers broke in homes and into meetings to make sure no protests were being planned or Jews were hiding and not working. In other words, this was a massive national undertaking. It is not the only time in history the Jews have been singled out and abused by entire governments, nor was it or will it be the last.

2. Throughout the Bible we see an almost miraculous pattern of persecution, BOOM, expansion. When Jews/Christians were methodically persecuted by governments, they tended to expand and grow much more rapidly then when everything is smooth. Any other examples of this? At least all through Judges we see that when the Jews were enslaved they turned to God and God preserved a remnant. In the NT, we see this happen with the early church. Even today this phenomenon is occurring in China. Foreign missionaries were thrown out of the country before the cultural revolution and the church was methodically persecuted. The result when missionaries came back was a much larger and thriving underground Chinese church! It had exploded many times over. The same thing is still happening today. How can this be explained? What does this show us about God? How can this strengthen us to face persecution today?

III. The Egyptian king seeks to reduce their numbers. The Midwives disobey him (15-22)

Discussion Questions

What new policy was adopted in these verses (ethno-gender-genocide)?

How could two women handle so many births?

Why do you think they did not obey the Pharaoh?

What does the Bible have to say about this policy?

Were the midwives truthful to Pharaoh? Why not? Is this an acceptable form of lying?

What was Pharaoh’s new plan?

Can you think of any modern day policies similar to do this? (One child policy)

What is your view of the one child policy and abortions either forced or voluntary to avoid fines? What do you think God would say about this issue?

As we cannot set nationwide policy, what can we do about this issue to make an influence for God?


Acts 4:19, 5:29 – We must obey God rather than man.

Proverbs 1:7 – Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

“Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5).

“What then shall I do when God rises up? When He punishes, how shall I answer Him? Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?” (Job 31:14-15)

“For You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

This is what the LORD says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you…(Isaiah 44:2).

Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you (Isaiah 46:3-4).

You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13).

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked (Psalm 82:3-4).

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. This, like abortion, is murder. There is no acceptable case for murdering babies, whether in the womb or not. God gives life and forms us in the womb from CONCEPTION. Devastating consequences and even the risk of death is not an excuse for having an abortion. The mid-wives are a great example of doing what is right even when man/authority is pressuring to do wrong.

2. As Christians in a dark world, we must do everything we can, like the mid-wives to protect lives. This can include praying, sharing, and especially counseling. You might be surprised how many people around us are facing this kind of decision. I have personally known of SEVERAL of either my family or friends who have had the opportunity to counsel women considering an abortion. Two of my cousins in the US counseled a lady who was going into an abortion clinic and she decided not have it. A life was saved. We should know that sometimes a lady will at the moment agree not to have an abortion, but later give in to the pressure of her family who thinks it is too big of a financial risk. Continue praying and counseling to the end.

3. Disobeying authority is sometimes acceptable. Explain.

4. Human life, in every form (healthy or not) is valuable. We are made in the image of God. Other applications include things like Down Syndrome tests (because abortions are suggested if positive.)

5. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

6. We don’t learn from this passage that lying is OK. Their actions to save the lives was right, while their faith may have been lacking to stand up to Pharaoh. This is a narrative passage that praises the fact they do not murder the babies, but does not comment on the morality of lying.

IV. Moses is born and put in a basket (2:1-4)

What do you think of the mother’s actions? What might the risk have been to do this? Did she do rightly? What can/should a Christian family in China do about the one-child policy?

Why did she put the basket in the reeds by the river?

V. Verses 5-10

Was this a coincidence? What does this passage tell us about God? Why do you think God wanted Moses found by a member of the royal family? What can we learn from Pharaoh’s daughter? How might growing up as a member of Pharaoh’s household prepared Moses to fulfill God’s calling in his life?

1. God is sovereign. Everything happens for a reason. There are no coincidences. God moved in Pharaoh’s daughter’s heart to move her to compassion.

2. God puts people in the right place for a reason to accomplish His purposes. He uses all kinds of people high and low, rich and poor, to accomplish His plans. We have to be willing to be used by God where we are.

3. Even though we might not be able to change a whole country’s policy or we think we can do very little, we can make a difference on a one to one individual level. We can’t change the whole world by ourselves at once, but we can impact the people around us. We can have a hand in saving one life, which will have an impact on many others’ lives after that. Make the commitment to be used by God where you are. Don’t hesitate or get scared of the consequences.

VI. Moses is drawn to help his brethren (11-14)

What can we learn in these verses about Moses’ heart? Did he care for his people? What can we learn about his morals? How might having grown up in Pharaoh’s family have affected his values? Was Moses right or wrong to do this? Isn’t our motivation the most important? What can we learn in these verses about the Israelites’ attitude toward Moses? Why might they have felt such disdain for him?

1. Moses had a heart for his brethren. Later God would use this compassionate heart to accomplish great things.

2. Moses was, however, not ready to be a leader or God would have used him right then and there. Clearly he still lacked something, very likely the moral values and understanding of and relationship to God that would be necessary for a good leader. A good leader can only be a good leader if he is a good man first.

3. Right motivation by itself does not make an action right. For example vigilante justice (like we see here), euthanasia, white lies, etc. It is necessary to have right motivation and right actions for something to be right in God’s sight. Murdering was not the right way to solve this problem.

4. At this point Moses was in essence a person without a people and without a home. He was odious to the Jews. They probably disliked him because they viewed him as a traitor. While they were slaving away in agony, he was enjoying the riches and delights of noble living. He was the privileged, spoiled, rich kid with connections that the common people love to hate. And the Egyptians likely didn’t really accept him either since he was a Jew. They would feel he didn’t really belong and would never truly be one of them. They have been fearful too that he would eventually turn against them to help his people.

VII. Moses flees to and settles in Midian (15-22)

What can we learn about Moses’ character from these verses?

Why is this character quality important in a leader?

What can we see about Middle Eastern culture (hospitality).

How might this time (40 years) in Midian been helpful for Moses?

Is it a coincidence that he became part of a family of worshipers of the true God?

Exodus 18:12-23 – More about Jethro.

Genesis 25:1-4

1. The Midianites were also descendants of Abraham through Keturah, explaining their knowledge of and worship of the true God. (However, later in their history they seemed to turn almost exclusively to idol worship.)

2. Apparently at this point Moses looked like an Egyptian (probably hair/beard style and clothes indicated this.)

3. Moses showed a willingness to mix with and help commoners. He didn’t appear to have a snobby “better than thou” attitude even through he grew up in the royal family. This indicates he had a humble attitude accepting his low circumstances.

4. Moses defended the helpless girls from the hand of some shepherds. This shows a leadership quality and also bravery. Leaders should be both brave and care for people who ar