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Moses and the ExodusWhen we read about Moses and the Exodus, we learn the story of how the prophet Moses led the children of Israel to freedom after generations of captivity. Though it took a great show of God’s power to free them from their captors and it took forty years before they reached their destination, the children of Israel finally reached a promised land at the end of their long journey.

 Moses the Prophet

After the time of Joseph of Egypt, the children of Israel had lived in Egypt first as guests and then as slaves. Their servitude grew more and more intense.

Moses, on the other hand, grew up in the comfort of the royal house. The pharaoh had issued a decree that all male children of the Israelites should be put to death. Moses was an Israelite by birth, and his mother placed him in a basket and put him in the river in an attempt to save his life. The pharaoh’s daughter fished him from the river and raised him as her own in the palace.

Moses defended an Israelite slave from being beaten, killing the Egyptian taskmaster in the process. He fled Egypt and lived in the company of a shepherd named Jethro for many years after saving his daughter from bandits. He married Jethro’s daughter and started a contented life there.

One day, he came upon a bush that appeared to burn without being consumed. The Lord spoke to Moses at that holy place, telling him that it was time for him to return to Egypt to facilitate the release of his people—the Israelites.

Though Moses first resisted the task, feeling himself to be inadequate, he obeyed the Lord’s command and returned to Egypt. The Lord worked through Moses and smote the Egyptians with a variety of plagues to convince them to let the children of Israel go. Only when the Lord had smitten every Egyptian family with the death of their firstborn child did Pharaoh allow the children of Israel to leave.

Not long after the children of Israel were finally able to leave captivity, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his armies after them to force them to return. As the hostile forces approached, the Lord commanded Moses to part the waters of the Red Sea to let the children of Israel pass to safety. The waters parted and the children of Israel walked through on dry ground. Pharaoh’s army continued their pursuit through the divided waters, but all the pursuers perished as the Lord caused the waters to flow back into place. The children of Israel could now begin their journey to the promised land without fear of Pharaoh and his armies.

The Law of the Lord

The Lord led the children of Israel first to Mount Sinai, where He appeared at the top of the mountain to Moses and gave him a law graven on plates to bring back down to his people. When Moses returned to the children of Israel, he found them worshipping an idol—a golden calf— the type of image that the Egyptians had worshipped.

In despair, Moses broke the tablets on which the Lord had given him the law, and he returned to the top of the mountain. There, the Lord gave him a second set of tablets that contained the Ten Commandments and a portion of the Law of Moses. The children of Israel were not ready for the higher law, which would have brought them more blessings, but were given instead a lower law to prepare them to someday live the higher law.

As a punishment for their disobedience, the Lord decreed that He would not lead the children of Israel directly to the promised land, but that they would be forced to wander in the wilderness for forty years until all of the current generation died. Their children would then be allowed to inherit the promised land.

Arriving in the Promised Land

The children of Israel traveled in the wilderness for forty years. All the while, the Lord provided for their needs. So they would not suffer with hunger, the Lord sent a sweet bread-like food called manna every day that the children of Israel could gather and eat. Despite their miraculous preservation, and even though they received manna every day, they complained that they missed the meat they enjoyed in Egypt. The Lord sent them quail in such numbers that they soon tired of it. Time and time again, the Lord also delivered them from hostile tribes they encountered on their journey.

Even Moses was not exempt from making mistakes. There came a time when the Israelites complained that they did not have enough water. The Lord commanded Moses to call water from a rock to quench their thirst. Instead, Moses took credit for providing them water. Because of this incident, Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land.

Instead, an assistant to Moses named Joshua became the leader of the children of Israel after the death of Moses and led them into the promised land. He is the same Joshua who was victorious over the walled city of Jericho.

Though the Exodus was an actual journey out of captivity into the promised land, it is also symbolic of the journey that each of us must make in life. With the Lord’s support and direction we can come out of the captivity of sin and arrive someday in the promised land of heaven.

More about “Moses and the Exodus” 

“Moses and the Exodus” was written by Michael D. Young. The subject, “Moses and the Exodus” is important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you would like to know more about Mormons with no obligation, please click on the following links: