Joseph," Ex. 1 : 8, was so severe, prolonged, and hopeless, v. 14, that it has become proverbial and typical. Since every male child was to be put to death, v. 22, it is clear that the purpose of the Egyptians was nothing less than complete extermination. "It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth": if that be true, then the children of Israel derived good from the school of discipline in which they grew up. True, as we read their later story, we feel that no people could be more fickle. Yet there is no other nation with which to compare Israel. And it is very probable that no other nation would have been serious-minded enough even to receive and grasp the divine revelation and leading of Moses' and Joshua's time. God, who had "seen the affliction of his people," who had "heard their cry" and sent Moses to them to organize their deliverance, wrote forever on this nation's soul the message of salvation in a historical record. At the start of their national life there stood the story, which they could never deny or forget, and which told them of God's power and grace.
Exodus, Chapters 5 to 15
All this lay in Israel's experience in Egypt. The next lesson will tell of the character and work of the man whom God chose to be leader. The means by which Moses succeeded in the seemingly impossible task of marching a great horde of slaves out from their masters' country, was the impression of God's power on the minds of Pharaoh and his people. It was a continued, combined, and cumulative impression. Of course it could not be made without the use of supernatural means. We must not, therefore, be surprised to find the story in Exodus bristling with miracles. To be sure, the "plagues" can be shown to be largely natural to that land where they occurred. And the supreme event of the deliverance, the passage of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground, was due, according to the narrative itself, to a persistent wind, Ex. 14 : 21, such as often lays bare the shallows of a bay, only to release the waters again when its force is spent.
Nevertheless, it is not possible to remove the "hand of God" from the account by thus pointing out some of the means God used to accomplish his special purposes. It was at the time, in the way, and in the order, in which Moses announced to Pharaoh the arrival of the plagues, that they actually appeared. This was what had its ultimate effect on the king's stubborn will. And when Israel was told to "go forward," with the waters right before them, and when the Egyptians