The text describes the death of Joseph’s generation and a new king or pharaoh as if the events happened in close proximity. They did not. According to the Bible, there were about 350 years between the time that Israel and his sons moved to Egypt and the birth of Moses (see Ex. 12:40).
The problem that occurred during that several century time span was an apostasy. There did not seem to be a continuance of the Patriarchal, or Melchizedek Priesthood. There was a partial loss of the gospel, a forgetting of the traditions of the fathers, a loss of the covenants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. How do we know this? It is evident looking at the Israelites in retrospect.
For the next forty plus years Moses will have to lead the children of Israel. Their rebellion, faithlessness, reliance on signs, and hardened hearts are the product of a people who had lost the Spirit of God. The Aaronic Priesthood and Law of Moses that they would be placed under was not for a righteous people but for a wicked people—a people with little understanding, quick to forget God, oblivious to the difference between clean and unclean, holy and unholy. At this point, the children of Israel are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in name more than in spirit.
“The children of Israel had been in the land of Egypt 430 years by the time the Lord called Moses to lead them out of bondage. (See Ex. 12:40) During their long years under the Egyptian yoke, they became not only physically enslaved but also spiritually sick. Having gone for generations without a prophet to counsel and guide them, the greater part of the children of Israel drifted into apostasy.
“Before they were ready to enter the land of promise, they had a long way to go—not only in the geographical distance to be covered but also in spiritual progression to be accomplished. Some scholars and students of the Old Testament say, ‘It was harder for Moses to get Egypt out of the children of Israel than to get the children of Israel out of Egypt.’ At times, the children of Israel placed more trust in the gods of Egypt than in the God of Israel.” (LDS Church News, 1994, 02/26/94)
Exodus 1:7 the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied
By the time Moses is born, records indicate that the number of Israelites was 600,000 (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book I, 9:3) That is impressive given they started with only 70 souls, but it was over a period of more than 350 years.
Exodus 1:10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply
The first concern seems to be the rapid population growth among the Israelites. But that fear gives way to the fear of a deliverer prophesied to crush Egypt and free the Israelites. Thus there are progressive stages to Pharaoh’s oppression:
1. Enslave and overwork them in cities away from their wives so they don’t have more children.
2. Increase the difficulty of the work “with hard bondage, in morter, and brick, and in all manner of service in the field” (v. 14)
3. Instruct the midwives to kill the male children
4. Instruct all of Egypt that Hebrew male infants must be cast into the Nile
Exodus 1:11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them
And it came to pass that the more the Egyptians afflicted them, the more they multiplied, and the more they spread abroad. And they continue to increase in spite of Pharaoh’s command, that those who did not complete the required tale of bricks were to be immured in the buildings between the layers of bricks, and great was the number of the Israelites that lost their lives in this way. Many of their children were, besides, slaughtered as sacrifices to the idols of the Egyptians. (Ginzburg, Legends of the Jews, vol. 2, chap 4)
Exodus 1:11 they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses
Tradition states that the Pharaoh was concerned about the relative weakness of these two exposed cities. They were to be reinforced by the Hebrew slaves to protect Egypt from attack, and to get the Hebrew men away from their women as a means of curbing the Hebrew population explosion. (Ginzburg, Legends of the Jews, vol. 2, chap. 4) From this verse (and from the famous movie, “The Ten Commandments”) comes the idea that Ramses II was the Pharaoh of Exodus. There is no good evidence identifying which Pharaoh it was.
Pharaohs in the Book of Exodus
“The Bible tells how the Israelites are enslaved in Egypt and eventually escape under the leadership of Moses. At least… two pharaohs are involved, the "pharaoh of the oppression" who enslaves the Israelites, and the "pharaoh of the exodus", during whose rule the Israelites escape. The biblical story of the written Torah alone, does not name either, nor does it give enough information to identify the period in which the events are set, with the result that there have been many suggestions as to which of Egypt's many rulers was involved…
“Candidates put forward for the role of Pharaoh of the Exodus include:
“ Second Intermediate Period
· Dedumose I (died c.1690 BC): David Rohl's 1995 A Test of Time revised Egyptian history by shortening the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt by almost 300 years. As a by-result the synchronisms with the biblical narrative have changed, making the 13th Dynasty pharaoh Dedumose I (Dudimose, Dedumesu, Tutimaos, Tutimaios) the pharaoh of the Exodus. Rohl's theory has failed to find support among scholars in his field.
“New Kingdom of Egypt
“Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt
· Ahmose I (1550-1525 BC): Most ancient writers considered Ahmose I to be the pharaoh of the Exodus.
· Thutmose II (1493 or 1492 to 1479 BC). Alfred Edersheim proposes in his "Old Testament Bible History" that Thutmose II is best qualified to be the pharaoh of Exodus based on the fact that he had a brief, prosperous reign and then a sudden collapse with no son to succeed him. His widow Hatshepsut then became first Regent (for Thutmose III) then Pharaoh in her own right. Edersheim states that Thutmose II is the only Pharaoh's mummy to display cysts, possible evidence of plagues which spread through the Egyptian and Hittite Empires at that time.
· Amenhotep II (1425-1400 BC). Shea suggested that there were 2 Amenhotep II's. The first one died in the Sea of reeds, after which his brother took the same title.[better source needed]
· Akhenaten (1353–1349 BC). Sigmund Freud in his book Moses and Monotheism argued that Moses had been an Atenist priest forced to leave Egypt with his followers after Akhenaten's death.
“Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt
· Ramesses II (c.1279-1213 BC) Also known as Ramesses the Great, he is the most commonly imagined figure in popular culture (most widely via the 1956 film The Ten Commandments), being one of the most long standing rulers at the height of Egyptian power, but there is no documentary or archaeological evidence that he chased any slaves fleeing Egypt. Ramesses II's late 13th century BCE stela in Beth Shan mentions two conquered peoples who came to "make obeisance to him" in his city of Raameses or Pi-Ramesses but mentions neither the building of the city nor, as some have written, the Israelites or Hapiru. Additionally, the historical Pithom was built in the 7th century BCE, during the Saite period.
· Merneptah (c.1213-1203 BC): Isaac Asimov in his Guide to the Bible makes a case for him to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
“Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt
· Setnakhte (c.1189–1186 BC): Igor P. Lipovsky in his book "Early Israelites: Two Peoples, One History: Rediscovery of the Origins of Biblical Israel" makes a case for him to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus. ISBN 061559333X” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharaoh_of_the_Exodus#Pharaohs_in_the_Book_of_Exodus
Exodus 1:15-16 When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women… if it be a son, then ye shall kill him
One of those sacred scribes, who are very sagacious in foretelling future events truly, told the king, that about this time there would be a child born to the Israelites, who, if he were reared, would bring the Egyptian dominion low, and would raise the Israelites; that he would excel all men in virtue, and obtain a glory that would be remembered through all ages. Which thing was so feared by the king, that, according to this man’s opinion, he commanded that they should cast every male child, which was born to the Israelites , into the river, and destroy it… He enjoined also, that if any parents should disobey him, and venture to save their male children alive, they and their families should be destroyed. (Antiquities of the Jews, Book I, 9:2)
Exodus 1:17-22 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them
Here is the first occasion wherein Moses is a type for Christ.
· Both were born when the children of Israel were in bondage
· Both were born when the ruling king was wealthy, wicked, and paranoid
· Both kings were told by prophecy of the birth of a Deliverer that would take away their power (Matt. 2:2-3)
· Both kings sought to secretly kill the would-be heir: Pharaoh by charging the midwives to kill the male children; and Herod by charging the wise men to tell him the location of the child (Matt. 2:8)
· In both cases the evil plan was foiled by the wise: the wise women (midwives) who feared God more than Pharaoh; and the wise men who followed the counsel of the angel (Matt. 2:12)
· Both kings were infuriated that their plan of secrecy failed and openly ordered infanticide—the death of the male children (Matt. 2:16)
· Both times the Lord God showed his power over kings by saving the Prophet who would deliver Israel
These midwives are heroes of courage and righteousness. They had no power compared to Pharaoh but didn’t care—they did the right thing anyway. Though their lives depended on it, they would not do such wickedness. They “feared God… Therefore God dealt well with the midwives” (v. 17, 20)
“In issuing his decree to the midwives, the king obviously relied upon the ease with which the baby could be killed at the moment of delivery by means not easily detectable in those days. What is not clear is whether these midwives were Israelite or Egyptian women, for the Hebrew text can be rendered “Hebrew midwives” or “midwives of the Hebrew women.”
“It would have been strange for the king to have expected the Israelites to kill the males of their own people. Another oddity is that only two midwives are mentioned for such a large population. Either they were the overseers of the practitioners and were directly responsible to the authorities for the women under them, or the two names, Shiprah and Puah, are those of guilds or teams of midwives called after the original founders of the order. At any rate, the names are Semitic.
“What is remarkable is that the names of these lowly women are recorded, whereas, by contrast, the all-powerful reigning monarch is veiled in anonymity. In this way the biblical narrator expresses his scale of values. All the power of the pharaoh, the outward magnificence of his realm, the splendor of his court, his colossal monuments—all are, in the ultimate reckoning, insignificant, and they must crumble into dust because they rest on foundations empty of moral content.
“Seven times in this brief episode the term midwife is repeated, an index of the importance that scripture places upon the actions of the women in their defiance of tyranny and in their upholding of moral principles. “The midwives, fearing God, did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live.” (Ex. 1:17.)
“Faced with an irreconcilable conflict between obedience to the sovereign’s depraved law and allegiance to the moral law of God, the midwives chose morality. Their noncompliance with the law, however, was not publicly announced but privately effected. They could not disclose the truth in response to the pharaoh’s interrogation because they would have been removed from a situation in which they could save lives.
“Thwarted once again in his evil designs, the pharaoh then enlisted “all this people” in a national effort to annihilate the people of Israel. All newborn males are to be drowned in the River Nile. (Ex. 1:22.) That decree is ultimately tinged with irony, for the very agency of destruction that he chose—water—eventually carries the instrument of his own punishment, the infant Moses, into the arms of his sister.” (Nahum M. Sarna, “Who Was the Pharaoh Who ‘Knew Not Joseph’?” Ensign, Dec. 1987, 56-57)