Tag Archives: Levi

Exodus part 2

I’m writing about my reading in Exodus and the wisdom I’m gaining from doing so. The first part, I gave some history on the tribe of Levi, which is where Moses descended from and I think it’s important to know that history going into the story of Moses. You can read that here.

In the beginning of Exodus, we read that a new king was ruler over Egypt where the Israelites lived because of the great famine that had occurred. This new king did not know Joseph, who was Levi’s brother, that had saved Egypt from the famine.

This new king greatly feared the Israelites that lived among them because they were very “fruitful” and were growing in number greater and mightier than the Egyptians.

He took a heavy handed approach and it backfired as things things so often do. He told his taskmasters to work the Israelites harder and make their labor excruciating and exhausting. The Israelites waxed even mightier the harder he worked them. The very thing meant to weaken them ended up making them stronger.

We see this specifically repeat throughout history. The Christian religion did not die with the murders of the disciples. The US government tried to blackmail Martin Luther King Jr and it didn’t work. Further, his assasination did nothing to stop the movement he had started but further propelled the change.

We see it again and again. These leaders get scared of a perceived threat so they oppress and oppress hoping to eradicate the threat, but history teaches us it doesn’t work.

So when the heavy handed approach didn’t work, he doubled down and turned to murder.

He first asked the midwives to kill baby boys during labor. This makes me think that he didn’t want people to know what he was doing because, I’m thinking people probably wouldn’t have gone along with it. It’s one thing to work people to the bone but it’s another to start killing off people’s babies. Maybe he promised the midwives special privileges for carrying out his evil deeds? It doesn’t say so we can only wonder.

Either way, the midwives wouldn’t do it. They feared God more than they feared this king. So then once again, the king responded by telling “his people” to drown any boy babies in the river.

Much is NOT said about how they went about this. Was it done by force? Were male babies ripped from their mother’s arms and just thrown in the river? We don’t know for sure because it’s not explicitly stated but there’s some clues in the surrounding text that lead me to believe that it was possibly still done in a covert manner.

I mean, for one thing, if you are mightier than the Egyptians and they start murdering your children, I would think there would be a great deal of pushback. What if it was carried out in secret? But people started to notice that all the male babies were mysterious going missing and they knew that something wasn’t quite right? Again, we don’t KNOW how it happened so I’m just trying to figure out what life was like for the Israelites. Were there whispers? Were people afraid?

Moses’s mother, a descendant of Levi, gives birth to Moses and it says she saw that he was a “goodly child” so she hid him for 3 months. Again, the text is so interesting in what it says and what it doesn’t say.

His mother clearly knew she needed to hide him, but how did she do it? Again, this makes me think that babies were not openly ripped from mother’s arms but something happened that they all were more or less suspicious or aware of.

So she made a basket and he floated over to where the King’s own daughter would be bathing. And it was the King’s own daughter that had compassion on the babe and raised him as her own. It says she knew he was a Hebrew baby, and she even hired Moses’s mother as a wet nurse. Do you think she knew it was his own mother? Again, we don’t know for sure but as a mother myself, my thought is that she did know. The baby bonded with his mother for 3 months and my thinking is that it would have been obvious to the princess to see how the baby responded to his own mother.

The princess was not afraid to raise a Hebrew baby, so again, it doesn’t seem as though there was obvious murder of Hebrew males that all the people were aware of. But I could be wrong about that.

Later, as Moses grew, he definitely knew he wasn’t an Egyptian. He comes across a taskmaster beating a Hebrew man and the words used here are “his brethren” to describe the Hebrew man. Here’s where Levi comes back to mind. Remember how Levi was prone to acting in anger? Moses kills the taskmaster in his anger. He later realizes that his murder is known so he flees to escape punishment.

Why is this mentioned in the text? I think for a couple reasons. One, we see that Moses very much has some of the same weaknesses to sin that his ancestors did. Since he identified the Hebrew man as “his brethren” that was being beaten and berated by the Egyptian, we see that he acted on his pride and on his anger. Killing this one mean taskmaster did nothing to help his people.

The other reason I think it’s mentioned is because God used Moses, a murderer and someone prone to pride and sinful anger and violence to free His people from slavery. The lesson for me is that sometimes God uses unlikely leaders with sinful pasts to accomplish His plans.

So Moses flees and ends up working for a man named Jethro who is a minister of many gods. It was very common for tribes of that time to practice religion that worshipped many gods and the Israelites were separate from this because they worshipped the one God, the God of Abraham.

Jethro likes Moses and gives him his daughter to marry and they have two children. The story tells us that Moses seemed to be doing just fine out there with his new family, seeming to have escaped from his past when God starts talking to him one day and changes everything.

Exodus

I’m currently reading in Exodus and must say that each time I read it, I realize how relevant it is today and also something new always jumps out at me that gives new meaning to getting to know God and putting it all together.

I highly recommend Christians read in the Bible daily and recommend reading all of it. Not just the New Testament or the same verses that help when we’re struggling, because reading the entire Bible over and over again is like seeing the entire picture and putting all the pieces together.

I truly think even secular people can find value in this. The Bible is not just rules and regulations but it’s beautiful stories and poetry and it’s quiet amazing how it nails human nature so perfectly.

Before I dive in, I have to give some character background. These are some of the pieces you put together over reading the entire Book and it can help give context, especially to those not familiar.

Let’s start with Abraham, who is the one who God made His covenant (agreement, promise) with that God would make a people from him that would outnumber the stars.

God carried out this promise through Abraham’s son Isaac, and through Isaac’s son Jacob.

The Exodus, is the story of Moses. Even if you didn’t grow up in the church like I didn’t you probably have heard about Moses and possibly watched the movie that was on tv as a child like I did.

Moses was a descendant of Levi and Levi was Jacob’s son. Jacob was later named Israel by God, and his 12 sons are the 12 tribes of Israel.

One of Jacob’s 12 sons was Levi. Levi was one of Jacob’s sons by his first wife Leah.

There’s something interesting about Leah. Jacob wanted to marry Rachel, Leah’s sister. He worked for their father Laban 7 years under the agreement that he would get to marry Rachel.

The day of the wedding they have a big party and Laban basically gets Jacob drunk and then places his older daughter Leah (that we are told was not as beautiful) into the bridal suite.

The next morning Jacob realizes what’s happened and confronts his father in law and Laban basically tells him that he will give him Rachel also, for another 7 years of work!

So Leah, the unloved wife, kept having sons hoping that it would win her husband’s love. One of these son’s was Levi.

The whole thing with Leah and Rachel ended up causing issues among their children as we see how sin passes down from generation to generation.

Rachel’s son Joseph ended up being Jacob’s favorite among his 12 sons. This (and probably the unequal treatment by Jacob of their mom compared to his favorite, Rachel, made his brothers hate him (and it didn’t help that Joseph kept telling his brothers that he had prophetic dreams that he would rule over all of them). Additionally, their dad gave Joseph lavish gifts, making the favoritism well known.

So the brothers, including Levi, plotted to kill him but instead realized they could turn a profit by selling him to Egyptians. They poured blood on his coat and told their father he had been ripped to pieces. And then they all let their father believe for years that he was dead and watched him grieve. Yeah. Pretty wicked stuff. And it shows that even what we think of as “minor sins” like having a favorite child can have unintended disastrous consequences.

Levi also ended up killing an entire town of men after one of them raped his sister. He first got all the men to circumcise themselves by deceiving them and when they were sore and recovering he and his brother slaughtered them all and their animals. Their father Jacob (Israel) is angered by their actions. When confronted, instead of humbling himself, Levi gets defensive and says that the men treated his sister as a whore and he was not to let that go unpunished. His comment shows that his rage was not so much fueled by his sense of justice but rather his own pride.

When Jacob (Israel) is giving a blessing to his children at the end of his life, he has this to say about Levi and his brother that killed the men with him, “their swords are weapons of violence”, “they have killed men in their anger”, “cursed be their anger”, “I will scatter them”, and we can see it holds true as we learn the full story of Moses.

Some of the things we learned about Levi are that he is taken over by his anger and passions and he is a deceiver. He suffers from jealousy and pride and he let his father think his brother was dead!! I’ll talk about how the sons of Levi passed down to Moses next.