This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why Israel Suffered Slavery in Egypt

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

In the Old Testament of the book of Genesis, Jacob's son, Joseph, is sold into slavery by his brothers and raised up to be 2nd in command next to Pharoah in Egypt. The Israelites traveled to Egypt for food during a famine and ended up staying and living there. They prospered in wealth and population even more than the Egyptians. This means God must have blessed them, and He wouldn't have blessed them if He wasn't pleased with them.

Then in Exodus chapter one, the Bible says that Joseph and all his generation died. A new Egyptain king came to power who never knew Joseph. While an exact time isn't given, there must have been 3-4 generations. Due to the Israelites' prosperity, the Egyptians enslaved them because they feared the Israelites would grow to be more powerful and overtake the Egyptians in their own land. 

Exodus 12:40
Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.

Genesis 15:13
And he [God] said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed [descendants of his son Israel, ie Israelites] shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.

This is a very long time. In fact, it was many generations. What happened during those 400 years? Why does the Bible skip over this period of history? Based on the prophesy in Genesis to the fulfillment in Exodus, the Israelites were treated well for the first 30 years.

I've often wondered WHY God allowed this to happen to the Israelites since they were his chosen people. Some have ventured that it happened the way it did so God could show His mighty miracles and prove that He is God to Pharoah, all the land of Egypt, and to Israel. While I believe this to be true, God could have shown His mighty power whether they had been enslaved 30 years or 400. I believe there is more to it than that. God is a multi-dimensional God. When God does something, it is for multi-purposes. 

Could it have been a punishment or a consequence from a deed the Israelites committed? Granted, I'm speculating at this point, but I can't help wondering. Right after God had performed all those mighty miracles for Israel to bring them out of the bondage of slavery, they grew so bored and impatient that they created a golden image of a calf to worship while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments--on their behalf! 

It's hard to imagine them doing this if they hadn't done it before. Their allegiance to God was short-lived. Therefore, I'm thinking it's most likely they had been corrupted by the Egyptians' culture and false religion to the pagan gods. Moses' brother, Aaron, led them in this corruption rather than reminding them of what God had done for them. How could God answer the prayer of people who were not faithful to him? The moment things didn't go their way, they turned to idols. The Bible says that the Israelites were a stiff-necked people. One would think after so many years of slavery, they would be broken, soft-hearted, and thankful. Their behavior showed none of this, instead we read about continuous disobedience throughout their 40 years in the dessert. 

What are your thoughts? Why do you think the Israelites were enslaved to the Egyptians for so many years? 


You may have a point here, Jennifer. I think the Bible is clear in the major purpose... the building of a nation through whom the Lord Jesus Christ could come to save us from our sin. They had to grow from 70 people into a nation and needed a "protective womb" until they were ready to be born as a nation. Once they were, the birth pangs had to prompt them to leave. Their misery was the impetus for their birth.

Grace, Great concept on the birthing process of the nation.

God clearly says they were a stiff necked people. Ex. 32:9 They immediately said of the calf they created, "This is your god who brought you out of Egypt." Ex. 32:4 and 8
Their own tendency to forget God was as prevalent, it would appear, as the king of Egypt who didn't know Joseph and cared not for the promises made to him. I even think that the king of Egypt might have reasoned that the growing nation of Israel was as wild and hostile spirited nation, as Moses found them to be in Ex. 32:25. God saw the heart of the sons of Jacob, able to sell Joseph into slavery, develop - as sin will - in succeeding generations. Still, God made a promise to their fathers, Abraham, Issaac and Jacob, and HE kept it, building upon the promise made in Eden to crush the head of Satan with the seed of woman. Holy Pity trumps over all evil. Christ, save and changes our wild hearts back to HIM.

The point i dont clearly get is this prophecy was told Abraham years before it happened and im tempted to think it has got something rather to do with abrahams sin with Hagar. Hagar was from egypt. The same group that Sarah and Abraham were hoping to use to speed up God's promise.

Perhaps because the brothers sold Joseph into slavery so God places Israel into slavery? Sowing and Reaping?

Nothing brings people together like hardship. If you look at modern times, African-Americans are the 1st race within America that began calling each other "brother/Sister" even when they were not linked by blood. Why? Because they recognized that they were brothers & sisters in suffering. Read the story of Judah in Genesis 38, he had left his brothers and started his own family, and had gone into a Canaanite woman. How long would Israel maintained their lineage if they were busy intermarrying into the same Canaanites whom God wanted to destroy? Remember we call these people (the Jews), Israelite's because they were the sons of Israel. So as someone else has pointed here - they needed a protective womb to allow them to grow as a nation until their time had come.
Now the ways of God are marvelous to us Men, and sometime what seems like a horrible thing ends up being for our ultimate good and we rejoice in it later on. In this case, for Israel to remain together, they had to suffer as a family, because they were a family. (If only 1/2 of the Hebrews had been enslaved, the others wouldn't want to be considered Hebrews (Just as many Afro-Americans today don't want to be called Africans...) and thus though this is a hard lesson - we see that for all that suffering the Jews went through... God was still with them and had a view for their future as a nation. Like we control a baby from doing what it wants, though it cries - we know that what we are doing for the baby is for its long term good.


The reason is becoz Sarah mistreated Hagar so God punished her decendents down to the 4th generation