The Sons of Israel (Exodus 1:1-3)
Verse 1 Now these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob; they came each one with his household: Twelve patriarchs, the sons of Jacob, who were heads of the twelve tribes, whose names are here given; since the historian is about to give an account of their coming out of Egypt, and that it might be observed how greatly they increased in it, and how exactly the promise to Abraham, of the multiplication of his seed, was fulfilled: or, and these are the names, this book being connected with the former by the copulative and; and when this was wrote, it is highly probable there was no division of the books made, but the history proceeded in one continued account: every man and his household came with Jacob; into Egypt, all excepting Joseph, and along with them their families, wives, children, and servants; though wives and servants are not reckoned into the number of the seventy, only such as came out of Jacob's loins: a man with the men of his house, as if only male children were meant, the sons of Jacob and his grandsons; that women were never reckoned in Scripture as of the household or family; but certainly Dinah, and Serah, as they came into Egypt with Jacob, are reckoned among the seventy that came with him thither, Genesis 46:15. This book is called by the Jews Veelleh Shemoth, from the first words with which it begins, and sometimes Sepher Shemoth. It is by the Septuagint called Exodus, from whom we have the name of Exodus, which signifies a going out.
Verse 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; That this book is of divine inspiration, and to be reckoned in the canon of the sacred writings, is sufficiently evident to all that believe the New Testament; since there are so many quotations out of it there by Christ, and his apostles; particularly Mark 12:26 and that it was wrote by Moses is not to be doubted, but when is not certain; it must be after the setting up of the tabernacle in the wilderness; the greatest part of what is contained in it, he was an eye and ear witness of; it plainly points out the accomplishment of the promises and prophecies delivered to Abraham, that his posterity would be very numerous, that they would be afflicted in a land not theirs, and in the fourth generation come out of it with great substance. It treats of the afflictions of the Israelites in Egypt, after the death of Joseph, until their deliverance by Moses; of his birth, calling, and mission to Pharaoh, to demand of him to let the children of Israel go; of the ten plagues upon him and his people, for refusing to dismiss them; of the departure of Israel from Egypt, the institution of the passover on that account; of their passage through the Red sea into the wilderness, and of the various exercises and afflictions, supplies and supports they met with there; giving of a body of laws unto them, moral, ceremonial, and judicial; and of the building of the tabernacle, and all things appertaining to it; and throughout the whole, as there is a figure, representation of the passage of the people of God out of spiritual Egypt, through the wilderness of this world.
Verse 3 Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; Benjamin; the youngest of all Jacob's sons is placed here, being his son by his beloved wife Rachel. Joseph is not put into the account, because he did not go into Egypt with Jacob. To the heavenly Canaan, and of various things they must meet with in their passage, so there are many types of Christ, his person, office, and grace, and of his church, his word, and ordinances, which are very edifying and instructing. The book contains a history of about one hundred and forty years, from the death of Joseph, to the erection of the tabernacle. This chapter begins with an account of the names and number of the children of Israel that came into Egypt with Jacob, Exodus 1:1 and relates that increase of them after the death of Joseph, and the generation that went down to Egypt, Exodus 1:6 and what methods the Egyptians took to diminish them, but to no purpose, as by obliging to cruel bondage and hard service; and yet the more they were afflicted, the more they increased, Exodus 1:9 by ordering the midwives of the Hebrew women to slay every son they laid them of; but they fearing God, did not obey the order of the king of Egypt, which when he expostulated with them about, they excused, and so the people multiplied, Exodus 1:15 and lastly, by ordering every male child to be cast into the river, Exodus 1:22 and which is the leading step to the account of the birth of Moses, which follows, some account is given of losses, and the restitution of them.