Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
Exodus 1:1-7 (ESV)
Israel Increases Greatly in Egypt
1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5 All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.
Exodus is an amazing and beautiful story filled with great miracles and dramatic irony and these opening verses are an important setup. First, the names of the “sons of Israel” show that this is a continuation of the story of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (renamed Israel – Gen. 35). Second, we are beginning to see the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham. In Genesis 12:2, God promised to make Abraham’s family into a great nation which begins to happen, but becomes a threat to the Egyptians. Finally, by linking the story to Genesis we are reminded that Joseph (a son of Israel) saved the Egyptians from a severe famine (Gen. 41). In what bigger story is your life rooted? Who first told you the stories of the Bible and shared with you the goodness and love of God? How has God moved in your life and been faithful? These are still important things for us to think about today!