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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: F.E. Marsh :: Readings 201-250 (Incorruptible - Kept)

F.E. Marsh :: 215. Israel's Bondage in Egypt

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EXODUS 1:1-14

SIN is presented to us in various ways in the Word of God. Sin is a consuming disease which has destroyed the organs of man’s spiritual sense. Sin is a huge barrier rising up like an impassable mountain, which keeps God from man and man from God. Sin is represented as a heavy burden, which oppresses the sinner with an awful weight when the conscience is awakened. Sin is as a lurking monster, which waits to pounce upon its unwary victim. Sin is a despotic master, who rules his subjects with an iron hand and a relentless will. Sin is stated to be such a master in Romans 6, and is illustrated in the Pharaoh who knew not Joseph.

  1. The cunningness of sin (Ex. 1:10). “Let us deal wisely with them,” was the conclusion the Egyptians came to, with regard to the Israelites; or, as the margin of Psalm 58:5 renders the term, “cunning,” where the word occurs in relation to the charmer seeking to charm the serpent. Sin’s policy is to present itself in as attractive a form as possible, and to hide its real purpose, which is to get its victim entirely in its folds, and then to crush to death, as the serpent, which first fascinates its prey and then folds it in the grip of death.
  2. The reign of sin. Pharaoh set taskmasters over the children of Israel (Ex. 1:11). The word here rendered “taskmaster” is one that is generally used for a “prince” or “ruler” (Ex. 2:14; 18:21). But these rulers soon developed into oppressors, for when they are spoken of again (Ex. 3:7; 5:6, 10, 13, 14) a stronger term is used, which means an “oppressor” (Job 3:18). The same expression is used of the Anti-christ (Isaiah 9:4; 14:4), when speaking of him as the “Exactor” (Dan. 11:20, M.). Sin is a hard taskmaster, and those who are under its rule find it to be a greater despot than even the King of Babylon, who when his command was disobeyed, caused the three Hebrew young men to be cast into the fiery furnace.
  3. The affliction of sin (Ex. 1:11). The meaning of the word “afflict” is to humble. The word is so rendered in Deut. 8:2, 16. What an affliction it was to the Israelites to come from being specially honoured by the king and his prime minister, to be humbled to the position of serfs, and to the lash of the taskmasters. Sin’s patronage may end in persecution. As the ruin of a stately castle will remind us of a glory passed away, so many an one who bears the humbling marks of iniquity, still carries with him a bearing which speaks of a position lost by sin. Anyone who has been in our common lodging houses will find many examples. Broken down clergymen, lawyers, and merchants are to be found in these places, like stranded vessels which are shipwrecked on the rocks, being broken to pieces by the waves as they dash against them.
  4. The burden of sin (Ex. 1:11). The way they afflicted Israel was with burdens. There is a pleasure in sin, but there is also pain. Many a boy who has had pleasure in playing truant from school has found that it has led to the cane upon his back, or twenty-four hours extra in bed, much to his chafing. One cannot help being impressed with the fact that many a man will put himself to great trouble in seeking to achieve his sinful purpose. The sinner convicted by the Holy Spirit specially finds that sin is a terrible burden, as Bunyan pictures in his Pilgrim’s Progress, when he depicts Christian with a heavy burden upon his back; and as the Psalmist confesses when he exclaims, “Mine iniquities are gone over mine head, as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (Ps. 38:4).
  5. The bitterness of sin (Ex. 1:14). Sorrow is the child of sin and the bitter fruit of iniquity. At the bottom of every cup of iniquity there is a snake that bites the quaffer and leaves its poison in the veins to torment its victim. The young fellow who has weakened his body by his sinful ways, and is filled with remorse at the prospect of an untimely death, knows the bitterness of sin. The drunkard with his aching head, parched throat, and unsatisfied thirst, knows the sorrow of his evil way; and the one who is put into prison because of his dishonest action, feels the misery of his evil ways as he is kept in durance vile and hard labour.
  6. The rigour of sin (Ex. 1:13-14). The Egyptians were really cruel to the Israelites, for so the term means as it is given in Ez. 34:4. By the sighs and cries which escaped the Israelites (Ex. 2:23-24) this is evidenced. They were pressed and oppressed beyond measure, and groaned beneath their hard lot. Sin is more cruel than the taskmasters of Egypt. It sears the conscience (1 Tim. 4:2), blinds the eyes of the understanding (Mark 8:18), dulls the moral sense (Eph. 4:19), kills kindly feeling (1 John 2:9), deafens the ears of the soul (Mark 8:18), binds the spirit with cords of iniquity (John 8:34), and separates from God (Isa. 59:2).

Jehovah graciously raised up a deliverer for Israel. In like manner the Lord has graciously sent a Saviour (John 3:16-18) for us. To receive Him is to be saved by Him, and thus to be redeemed from the rigour of sin.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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