Old Testament Lesson 13 (Exodus 1–6)
March 21–27


Israel in Egypt

Genesis 50:22–26  Israel became a great nation. While the children of Israel stayed and were protected in Egypt for a time, a small family of 70 grew into a mighty nation.

Exodus 1:1–7  “The children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly.”

Exodus 1:8–14  Israel was drawn into bondage as eventually Egypt became ruled by “a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph” (v. 8).

— The Hyksos kings who knew Joseph were Semitic—from north and east of Egypt.
— The Pharaohs before and after them hated them.
— The long-standing dispute over the priesthood remained.
— They expunged all mention of the Hyksos kings from their history and monuments.
— After the departure of the Israelites, they erased all mention of their history as well.

Genesis 15:12–16  Abraham had foreseen these circumstances.


The Greatness of Moses

● So great was Moses that forever after the Lord and His people have used him as a standard, or model, of a prophet. Even Jesus Christ was called a prophet like unto Moses (Acts 3:22; 7:37; Deut.18:15,18–19; 1 Nephi 22:20–21; 3 Nephi 20:23–24).

Moses 1:6  Moses was a similitude or living symbol of Jesus Christ.

Numbers 12:3  The key to Moses’ character is his meekness, the capacity to be molded by the Lord and His Spirit. “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.”

1 Nephi 4:2  Moses was also strong and steadfast in keeping the commandments of the Lord. Nephi said: “let us be strong like unto Moses.”

● Mark E. Petersen said, “Moses was one of the mightiest men of God in all time . . . He walked and talked with God, received of divine glory while yet in mortality, was called a son of God, and was in the similitude of the Only Begotten. He saw the mysteries of the heavens and much of creation, and received laws from God beyond any other ancient man of whom we have record.”1

Moses’ Rise to Power

JST Genesis 50; 2 Nephi 3:9–10, 17  Joseph prophesied concerning the coming of Moses.

Exodus 1:15–22  The Pharaoh ordered all newborn sons of Israel killed. Both Josephus and Jonathan ben Uzziel, ancient Jewish writers, recorded that the pharaoh had a dream wherein he was shown that a man soon to be born would deliver Israel from bondage, and this dream motivated the royal decree to drown the male children.2

● The oppressive measures of the pharaoh were not able to thwart the purposes of God. Through the courageous faith of the midwives and their refusal to carry out the pharaoh’s orders to execute the male children, Israel continued to prosper.

Exodus 2:1–6  Moses was born, placed in a basket, and saved by Pharaoh’s daughter.

— This was only 64 years after Joseph’s death.
— vv. 1–2 Moses was a descendant of Levi through both his father, Amram and his mother, Jochebed.

Exodus 2:7–9  Moses’ mother likely taught him the principles and righteous traditions of the Hebrews as she nursed and cared for him.

Exodus 2:10  Moses became a mighty prince of Egypt.

— v. 10 He was raised as a prince of Egypt in Pharaoh’s household.
— Acts 7:22 Stephen said: “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.”
— Josephus said that Moses was a very handsome and educated prince and a mighty warrior in the cause of the Egyptians, saving Egypt from invasion by the Ethiopians.
— Numbers 12:1 As part of this victory, he married an Ethiopian woman—the daughter of the king of the Ethiopians—to solidify the truce between these two nations.

Moses Slays an Egyptian

Exodus 2:11–14  The story of killing the Egyptian.

Acts 7:23, 25  Stephen said Moses understood who he was and his responsibility the help Israel.

Hebrews 11:24–26  Paul agreed. “Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; . . . esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.”

— Elder Mark E. Peterson said:

“‘Smote’ and ‘slew’ in King James English are both translated from Hebrew nakhah, meaning ‘to beat down’; it is the word used in describing the action taken by soldiers in combat against each other. It would be correct to say that Moses slew a man who was slaying another, or took a life in saving a life. His looking ‘this way and that’ before doing so, simply indicates that he was aware that the Egyptians would not condone his defense of a slave.”3

“However, the historian Eusebius says that the slaying was the result of a court intrigue in which certain men plotted to assassinate Moses. In the encounter it is said that Moses successfully warded off the attacker and killed him.”4

“In the Midrash Rabbah, the traditional Jewish Commentary on the Old Testament, it is asserted that Moses, with his bare fists, killed an Egyptian taskmaster who was in the act of seducing a Hebrew woman. This is confirmed in the Koran.

“Certainly there [was a] good reason for Moses’ act, and most assuredly the Lord would not have called a murderer to the high office of prophet and liberator for his people Israel.”5

The Midianites

Exodus 2:15–23  Moses fled to Midian. The Midianites lived in Midian, an area on the east coast of the gulf of Aqabah, directly south of Edom. The Midianites were caravaners and traders, who were later associated or grouped with the Ishmaelites. Joseph of Egypt was bought by one of these groups, taken to Egypt and sold into slavery.

Exodus 2:18; Exodus 3:1; Numbers 10:29  Jethro. The more common name for Reuel is Jethro. Jethro was a descendant of Midian, who was a son of Abraham and Keturah who was Abraham’s last wife. (Gen. 25:1–6). Jethro was not an Israelite, but was righteous and had the priesthood. Jethro gave Moses the priesthood (D&C 84:6). And Moses learned the gospel from Jethro and his people.

Exodus 2:21  Moses married Zipporah, daughter of Jethro, and they had two sons, Gershom and Eliezer.

Exodus 2:23; Acts 7:30  The “process of time” described here was another forty years.
— Moses was 40 years old when he arrived in Midian.
— Moses was 80 years old when he returned to Egypt.


The Burning Bush

Exodus 3:1–10  Moses was attracted to a burning bush and received his call.

— v. 1 Horeb is Mt. Sinai—Moses named it Sinai, which means “bush.”
— v. 2 The Hebrew word “malkh” is usually translated “angel” or “messenger.”
— JST Exodus 3:2 Tells us that it was “the presence of the Lord.”

— “A manifestation was given to Moses by a messenger of light, causing a bush to appear to burn; it was really not afire and was not consumed . . . [The] flame in a bush . . . herald[ed] a message from God. . . . After Moses’ attention was drawn to the bush, the voice of the Lord Himself spoke to Moses; Moses responded in awe and reverence.”6

— vv. 1–6   When Moses approached the burning bush he was commanded to remove his shoes as a sign of reverence.

— v. 6   Moses was astonished at hearing the voice of the Lord, and was “afraid to look upon God.”

Exodus 3:11  “Who am I that I should go unto Pharaoh?” Moses felt inadequate to do this great task.

Moses 1:1–10, 24–39; 6:31–39, 47  The Lord blesses His servants with increased power to do his work.

The Great “I Am”

Exodus 3:11–18  Moses was told to tell the Israelites that he was sent by I AM. “I AM” is Jehovah—the literal of meaning of Jehovah is “he who exists” or “he who causes to exist.”

— Abraham 1:16 It was Jehovah appeared unto Abraham.
— John 8:58 Christ referred to himself “I Am.”
— D&C 29:1 Our Redeemer is the “I Am.”

Exodus 6:3  The Bible says Jehovah’s name was not known before Moses. This is an obvious error.

— Genesis 4:26 The name “Lord” [YWHY – Jehovah] first appears early in Genesis.
— The “Lord” [YWHY”] appeared several times to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
— JST Exodus 6:3 The Prophet Joseph Smith rendered this passage as follows: “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob. I am the Lord God Almighty; the Lord JEHOVAH. And was not my name known unto them?”


Reactions to Moses’ Message and the Plagues

Exodus 4:1–9  The Lord gave Moses power to perform three miracles to show the children of Israel that He had sent Moses.

Exodus 4:27–31  Aaron and Moses told the people of Moses’ call and mission.

Exodus 5:20–23  Although their initial reaction when they saw the signs was very positive, at the first indication of challenge and adversity their commitment began to waver.

Ezekiel 20:5–9  The children of Israel in Egypt had become rebellious and persisted in worshiping the idols of Egypt.

Exodus 5:1–2  When Moses and Aaron asked Pharaoh to “let my people go,” he responded with “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.”

Exodus 5:3–14  Pharaoh hardened his heart and increased Israel’s burdens.

Exodus 5:15–21  The children of Israel complained to Moses.

Exodus 5:22–23  Moses, in turn, complained to the Lord about the results.

Exodus 6:1–9; JST Exodus 6:3, 8, 12  The Lord identified Himself as Jehovah (v. 3) and reaffirmed Moses’ call and his promises to the children of Israel.

— v. 3, footnote c The JST clarifies that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew the Lord by His name.
— v. 9 But the children of Israel were now too afraid to believe Moses and Aaron.

Exodus 6:14–27; JST Exodus 6:26–29  These verses recite the genealogy of the tribe of Levi and of Moses and Aaron.


1.  Moses, 49.
2.  Antiquities of the Jews, bk. 2, chap. 9, par. 2; Clarke, Clarke, Bible Commentary, 6 vols. [n.d.], 1:294).
3.  Rasmussen, Introduction to the Old Testament, 2 vols. [1972], 1:74.
4.  Eusebius IX:27.
5.  Moses, 42.
6.  Introduction to the Old Testament, 1:74.