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Remarks.—Our Key note is not the golden text of the International lessons, it is intended to be an expression of the leading thought of the Scripture lessons appointed for the day ; and its design is to keep in view the progress of the Church year. No order of Divine worship and of religious instruction could be better adapted to its end, than that which is based on the Church year; and this, we are convinced, is the order which is followed in most of our churches. With this order, therefore, the exercises of the Sunday-school ought to be in general harmony; and it is the purpose of our Key-note to serve, at least in some measure, to maintain this harmony, while we are studying the International series of lessons. It is hardly necessary to say, however, that, in many instances, it is very difficult to determine what ought to be regarded as the fundamental thought of the Scripture selections, that is, the Key-note of the day. There is often much room for difference of opinion, and our conclusions may not always be in agreement with the views of others. We shall do the best we can, without claiming infallibility for the result.
Notes.—The book of Scripture to the study of which we now turn, is called Exodus (going out, departure), because it contains a history ot the departure of the children of Israel from the land of Ejrypt, in the year 1492 B.C., after a sojourn there of 430 years.
Verses 1-5. The circumstances which led to the settlement of the children of Israel in Egypt were the selling of Joseph by his brethren, and the subsequent great famine The history of these events is related in Gen. xxxviixlvii. Israel (warrior of Qod) is the name which God gave to Jaeob after that mysterious conflict at Peniel (Gen. xxxii. 28). 'i he term children of Israel in the Bible denotes, first, the $ons of Jacob, and then, generally, the posterity of Jacob Jacob, according to the prevalent oriental custom, had two wives, Leah and Rachel, and two concubines, Bilha and Zilpah ; and of these he had twelve sons, whose names, with their signification included in parentheses, arranged in the order of their birth, were the following: Reuben (behold a son), Simeon (hearing), Levi (joined together),
Judah (praised), Dan (judgment), Naphtali (my 'wrestling), Gad (o troop), Asher (happiness), Is»achar (reward), Zebulun (habitation), Joseph (adding), and Benjamin (son of the right hand). Of these, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judab, Issachar and Zebulun were sons of Leah; Dan and Naphtali, sons of Rachel's maid, Bilha; Gad and Asher, sons of Leah's maid, Zilpah; and Joseph and Benjamin, sons of Rachel. All, except the last, were born at Haran in Mesopotamia, within about seven years of each other. Benjamin was born near Bethlehem, in the land of Canaan, and was about fifteen years younger than Joseph.
Seventy souls.—Compare Gen. xlvi. 26. This number iucl tides Jacob himself, together with his children and grandchildren. It must not be supposed, however, that they were all born already at the time of the settlement in Egypt. Benjamin, for instance, was not over twenty-three or twenty-four years old when he came into Egypt, and could not then already have had ten sons, as we are told he had (Gen. xlvi. 21). They were, born afterwards in Egypt. Joseph was in Egypt already. He had been there twenty-two years, during nine of which he had been Pharaoh's prime minister.
Verse 6. And Joseph died, and all his brethren. Joseph died a hundred and ten years old (Gen. 1. 26); and as he was thirty-nine years old when his father and brethren came into Egypt, his death occurred seventy-one years after that event. His brethren, who were nearly of the same age, died probably about the same time. And all that generation- All who were included in the number of the seventy souls mentioned above, some of whom were mere infants, and some of whom were not yet born, at the time of the descent into Egypt. Supposing the average duration of their lives to have been about one hundred years, all (hat generation would have died within about one hundred and ten or twenty years after their settlement in Egypt.
Verse 7. The time covered by this verse extends from the settlement of Israel in Egypt to within a few years of the birth of Moses, and therefore embraces a period of 330 or 340 years.
During this time the children of Israel I were fruitful, and increased abundantly, j &c. This rapid increase of their number and power was in accordance with God's promise given to Jacob (Gen. xlvi. 3). God never promises any thing that does not come to pass. The condition of Israel in Egypt, during the time here in question, was most favorable to Buch increase. They possessed a large and fertile tract of country, unoccupied by the Egyptians, where there was ample room for their multiplication and expansion ; while politically they were free, and enjoyed the protection and favor of the Egyptian government. It was only towards the end of this period, when the land was filled with them, that is, when they began to spread beyond the province of Goshen, and to become mixed up with the Egyptian population that trouble began to arise.
Verses 8-10. In addition to the cause of trouble just mentioned, there now came another: There arose up a new king over Egypt, which kneiv not Joseph. From the language here used Josephus and others have inferred the rise of a new dynasty. It is, however, more probable that the expression new king simply denotes a king of a different spirit and feeling from those who had preceded him. And the declaration that he knew not Joseph, then simply means that, as the traditions about Joseph and his services had gradually become obscured, this king finally ignored them entirely, and adopted a new policy in reference to the Israelites. The subject of Egyptian kings and dynasties is about as intricate a thing as the Egyptian labyrinth itself, and we could, of course, here not venture on a discussion of it. We simply state that it seems most probable, that the king here referred to, was Raraeses II, surnamed Miamoun, by the Greeks called Sesostris, the father of Amenophis who was the last king of the eighteenth dynasty, and under whom the Israelites departed from Egypt, ltameaes began to reign about five years before the birth of Moses, and is said to have reigned 66 years. He carried on war against Cyprus and Phoenicia, and against the Assyrians and Medes, and in the sixth year of his reign he was called back from his career of conquest by a conspiracy in Egypt
I formed by his brother Amaris, th
Verse 11. Therefore they did set over them task masters, literally, masters
of tribute. The children of Israel were probably from the beginning obliged to pay a certain amount of tribute or tax to the Egyptian government for the use of their land, and this tribute was generally rendered in the form of service. This relation now became the occasion of their oppression. To afflict them with their burdens. Their feudal labor was employed in the construction of public works, such as digging canals, making bricks, building magazines, &c The object of the tribute-masters, who were probably Egyptian noblemen, was to oversee their work, and to force as much out of them as possible, and thereby to break their spirit, and to keep their number within certain limits. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, i. e. magazines, depots of ammunition and provisions. Pithom and Raamses, i. e. Patumus and Heroopolis. They were both fortified cities, situated on the canal which anciently connected the Pelusiac branch of the Nile with the western head of the Red Sea. The object of building them was to guard against foreign invasion of the country. Raamses is the same as Rameses, the name of the Pharaoh or king here in question.
Verse 12. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied. The system of oppression adopted by the king did not accomplish its object. Just the contrary result followed. Their multiplication was in proportion to their oppression. This was contrary to the law of nature, according to which national increase is in proportion to national prosperity; and shows that there was at work here a sup ruatural power and a supernatural law. Times of outward repression are frequently the times when the kingdom of God advances most rapidly ; and times of persecution thoBe in which the ppople of G.id multiply most rapidly. It was so in the case of the early Church. '"The blood of the martyrs became the seed of the Church." The counsels of men can not frustrate the purposes of God. Compare Ps. ii. The king of Egypt thought his policy was a wise one. But no policy in the end is wise that rests on wrong. It is never wise to do evil. This is the reason that the plans and counsels of so many astute diplomatis'.s come to
nought. Being based on mere expediency, without regard to righteousness, they turn out in the end to be mere stupidity and folly. Were there no God to protect the weak, and to avenge wrong, then oppression aud wrong might sometimes be expedient; but as it is, the only wise policy in public or in private affairs, is that which rests on righteousness. In the case of the Egyptians kindness towards the Israelites would have been a much better policy than the system of oppression and cruelty which they adopted.
Verses 13-14. They made their lives bitter vnth hard bondage. In this the Egyptians fulfilled God's prediction made to Abraham long before (Gen. xv. 13); though the prediction is not in any sense the cause of the cruelty of the Egyptians. But while the Egyptians did wrong in thus afflicting the children of Israel, the affliction answered a good disciplinary purpose. It prevented the Israelites from identifying themselves with the Egyptians, and caused in them a desire to escape from the land of bondage, and seek for liberty and happiness in the land of their fathers. Had it not been for the oppression which they suffered in Egypt, they would never have been willing to endure the hardships of their journey to Canaan. Thus all afflictions have their uses. One use of the afflictions of this world, no doubt, is to produce in us a more ardent desire and hope of heaven, and thus to prevent us from becoming too worldly. We ought to bear our afflictions, therefore, in a spirit of resignation to the will of God, knowing that "He will make, whatever evils He sends upon us in this valley of tears, turn out to our advantage." SeeHeid. Catechism, Q. 26.
"I Was once very shy," said Sidney Smith, "but it was not long before I made two very useful discoveries; first, that all mankind were not wholly employed in observing me (a belief that all young people have); and next, thatshauiming was of no use; that the world was very clear-sighted, and soon estiraa'ed a man at his just value. This cured me, and I determined to be natural and let the world fiad me out."
Fourth Sunday after Trinity. Key-note: "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful."
The Coming Deliverer.—Exod. ii. 5-15.
5. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side: and when she saw the ark among the nags, she sent her maid to fetch it
6. And when she had opened it, she saw the child; and, behold, tbe babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and raid, This is one of the Hebrews' children.
7. Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?
S. And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother.
9. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child and nursed it.
10. And ihe child grew, and ehe brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became
her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
11. And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew, one of his brethren.
12. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
13. And when he went out the second day, behold two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?
14. And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.
15. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing he sought to slay Moses. But Muses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the landof Midian and he sat down by a well.
Repeat the key-note. Whence is it taken? How is this Gospel related to that for last Sunday?
What is the subject of our lesson to-day? Who was the deliverer 1 When and where was Moses born? Who were his parents? What commandment had Pharaoh given in regard to Hebrew children? What therefore did Moses' mother do with him? verse 2. What did she do afterwards? What is an ark? Why did she thus expose him?
Verses 5-6. What is said of Pharaoh's daughter here? Do we know her name? What was the name of this Pharaoh? Was her coming to the river at this time providential? What did she do when she saw the ark 1 Whom did she find therein? How old was he at this time? How did she know that he was a Hebrew child? Was she a good woman?
7-8. Whose sister is meant? What was her name? Numb. xxvi. 59. How did she come to be there? verse 4. What did Miriam propose to Pharaoh's daughter? Did the latter accept the proposition? Whom did the maid call then?
y-10. What did Pharaoh's daughter say to the mother of the child? Was this favorable issue the result of chance or providence? Can (hose perish over whom God is watching? What
parallel is there in this respect between the infancy of Moses and of Christ? How old was the child when his mother gave him back to Pharaoh's daughter? Did the latter then adopt him as her son? What did she call him 1 What does Moses mean? How was Moses educated? Acts vii. 22. Was this a benefit to him?
11-12. What did Moses do when he wasgrown? Why did he go un o his brethren? Did he now openly identify himself with the Israelites? From what motive? Heb. xi. 24-26. How old was he at this time? Acts vii. 23. What did he see now? Did the Eayptiau taskmasters often beat their servants? What did Moses do to the Egyptian? How must we judge of this act?
13-14. What did he witness when he went out the second time? What did he Ray? Should we in like manner rebuke wrong? What answer did he r, ceive? What does that imply as to the character of the Hebrews at this time? Were they yet prepared lor deliverance?
Verse 15. What did Pharaoh do when he heard of what Moses had done? What did Moses do then? Where was Midian? How were the Midianites related to the Hebrews? How long did Moses reside in Midian? Acts vii. 30. Were these years of preparation] for his great work?
1. Jesus, I my cross have taken,
Perish every fond ambition,
All I've sought, or hoped,, or known; Yet how rich is my condition I
God and heaven are still my own.
Notes.—Our key-note is from the Gospel for the day, whose leading theme is the duty of the Christian to exercise mercy and kindness toward his fellowmen. In the Gospel for last Sunday, we have an exhibition of God's mercy in desiring and seeking the salvation of sinners. This mercy of God exercised toward sinners, ought to awaken in these similar dispositions toward their fellow-sinners.
In the lesson for the day we have an account of the birth and training of Moses, the deliverer of the children of Israel from their Egyptian bondage. Moses was born B.C. 1572, in the reign of Pharaoh Rameses II, in lower Egypt, and, as it would seem, not far from Zoan or Tanis, which was situated on the eastern side of the Tanitic side of the Nile, near its mouth, and was at that time the residence of the Egyptian kings. The parents of Moses are said to have been Amram and Jochebed, the former a grandson, and the latter a daughter of Levi, (Exod. vi. 20. Num. xxvi. 59).
This subject, however, is involved in difficulties connected with chronology, and with the number of male descendants of Kohath as stated in Num. iii. 27-28. If we suppose the Israelites to have dwelled in Egypt 430 years, then Jochebed, if she was really a daughter of Levi, must have been at least 267 years old when Moses was born! If on the other hand, with Josephus, we reduce the 430 years to 215, then it is hardly possible that Kohath, the reputed grandfather of Mr sea, should, at the time of the exodus, have had 8600 male descendants. In view of these facts it is perhaps best to adhere simply to the indefinite statement of Exod. ii. 1, only holding that Moses belonged to the tribe of Levi.
Pharaoh, seeing that the oppressive measures spoken of in our last lesson, •did not accomplish their object, at last issued the cruel command, that all male • children of the Hebrews should be thrown into the river and drowned. Moses was born but a short time after this decree had been issued. His mother kept him in concealment for three months; and when she was no longer able to conceal him, she made an ark or chest, of bulrushes, a species of
papyrus, which was a strong rush, something like the bamboo, and was much used by the Egyptians for making light and swift boats; and in this ark the mother placed her child, and laid him in the flags, another species of papyrus, by the river's brink, in the hope that some favorable occurrence would take place by which his life would be preserved.
Verses 5-6.—The daughter of Pharaoh, Her name is differently given in ancient traditions. Josephus calls her Thermuthis. The Pharaoh at this time was Rameses II. Came down, to wash herself at the river. What a common thing that was, and yet what mighty consequences depended upon it. It was not accident or chance, that brought Pharaoh's daughter to the river just at the right time to save the life of the future deliverer of God's people, but divine providence. Our steps are ordered by the Lord, and the most common acts of life may become the beginnings of long chains of event?, which shall exercise most important influences not only on ourselves, but also on the history of the world at large. This thought ought to inspire us with serious views of life.
She saw the child. He was now three months old. She had compassion, on him. In spite of the cruel command of her father, she had compassion on this outcast child, whom she knew from his abandoned condition to be one of the Hebrews' children. This woman's heart was different from that of her father. Even wicked and carnal parents may sometimes have pious aud good children. Children ought never be reproached with the sins of their parents.
Verses 7-8. Then said his sister. Miriam, the sister of Moses, must have been about ten or twelve years older than the latter. When his mother placed the child among the flags of the river, she stationed Miriam at some distance to observe what should become of him. Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women f She had either been instructed by her mother, or was prompted by divine influence, to make this proposition. It was of the utmost importance that, in his infancy and earlyyouth, Moses should be nursed and trained by his pious Hebrew mother.