May 2011
Billie Silvey
Egypt in
Jacobo's Joseph in Egypt
Moses before Pharaoh
The exodus
Giotto's Flight into Egypt
The fate of the nation of Egypt
was intertwined with that of the
Israelites through much of
Bible history, and the nation
comes to symbolize several
different things.

The first is plenty.  Egypt was
the breadbasket of the ancient
world, producing much of its
In the 12th chapter of the book of Genesis, Abraham goes to Egypt
to escape famine.  His wife Sarah was so beautiful, Abraham was
afraid the Egyptians would kill him for her  He had her say she was
his sister.  When they were discovered, they were sent away.
Abraham's great grandson Joseph
(above) was the next Israelite in
Egypt.  He was sold into slavery by his
jealous brothers, but he rose to be
second only to the Pharaoh (Genesis
41), in charge of distributing grain
during a later time of widespread
From being a place of provision, a
place to escape to, Egypt became a
place of slavery, a place to escape
from. That's the second theme that
Egypt had come to symbolize for the
Israelites by the time of  Moses, the
great deliverer.
Moses appeared before Pharaoh to demand the release of the
enslaved people of God.  At first he  refused, but God sent a
series of plagues, signs of his power over the natural world, over
the gods of Egypt and over the Pharaoh himself. Eventually,
Pharaoh sent them out in what has come to be known as the
exodus, a symbol of our escape from sin by God's power.
The account of the exodus in the second book of the Old Testament
moves from symbols associated with only one nation to symbols of a
coming deliverer who would be even greater than Moses, who
would come to save everyone in the world.   

The Israelites' escape from Egypt, guided by God, symbolizes our
escape from slavery to sin and guilt.  Their crossing the Red Sea
symbolizes  baptism.

The pillar of cloud and of fire that led them is symbolic of God's
word and will as we offer him control of our lives.

His provision of food and water symbolizes his provision of all our
Jesus was the one greater
than Moses.  He was the
Rock that followed the
Isrealites through the
wilderness, providing
life-sustaining water.

When the life of the baby
Jesus was threatened by King
Herod, Egypt became for the
last time a place of safety.

God warned Joseph, "Take
the child and his mother and
escape: to Egypt.  Stay there
until I tell you, for Herod is
going to search for the child
to kill him" (Matthew 2:13).
Ancient Egypt