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Editor’s Note: This series on the Bible is from the book Catholicism & Scripture. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well.

Special Course On Catholicism And Scripture (Chapter 7)

The people of Israel prospered until a Pharaoh came to power who did not remember Joseph. He was worried about the growing number of Israelites and instituted policies that (1) put the Israelites to work as slaves building cities and (2) ordered all Hebrew midwives who assisted in the birth of children to throw all boy babies into the river but to let girl babies live.
But one Hebrew woman who gave birth to a son concealed him for three months and then put him into a sealed basket and sent him floating down the river. The boy’s sister Miriam followed the basket and saw the Pharaoh’s daughter rescue him. She adopted the boy, named him Moses, and raised him in the king’s household.
Many years later, Moses, who had remained a Hebrew at heart, saw an Egyptian strike a Hebrew and responded by killing the Egyptian and burying him in the sand. The following day Moses intervened in a fight between two Hebrews, and one of them asked, “Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” (Exodus 2:14).
Frightened that word would get back to Pharaoh, who would order his death, Moses fled to another country and worked as a shepherd for a man named Jethro after marrying his daughter Zipporah. Meanwhile, while the Israelites in Egypt were crying out to God for relief from their slavery, He appeared to Moses in a burning bush in the desert and told him to go to Egypt to free His people from their slave masters.
Moses said that he was not capable of such a mission, but God promised to be with him and to send along his brother Aaron as his spokesman. He also performed two miracles to convince Moses (changing Moses’ staff into a serpent and back to a staff again and afflicting Moses’ hand with leprosy and then healing him).
When Moses asked God what His name was, the Lord responded, “I am who am. . . . This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14-15). God was telling Moses that He was a personal God who was always interested in the well-being of His people, and not some aloof and uncaring god. So, Moses returned to Egypt and he and Aaron asked the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go into the desert to offer sacrifice to God.
Pharaoh refused, so God sent a series on plagues on the country. The plagues included water turned to blood, swarms of frogs, flies, and locusts, and three days of total darkness. But Pharaoh still refused to release the people.
So, God imposed the final and deadliest plague by decreeing that He would go through Egypt at midnight and strike down every firstborn child in the country. To protect the Israelites, God told them to kill a lamb and smear its blood over the doorways of their houses, and He would “pass over” those houses, “thus no destructive blow will come upon you” (Exodus 12:11-13). God told the people to celebrate this feast of Passover forever. Jesus and the apostles celebrated a Passover meal at the Last Supper, and the next day Jesus (the “Lamb of God”) shed His blood for our sins.
Pharaoh then let 600,000 Israelites go, but soon sent his whole army after them. They had been guided by a cloud during the day and a column of fire at night until they came to the Red Sea. The people thought they were trapped, but God performed a miracle by telling Moses to stretch his hand over the waters. The sea parted and the people crossed on dry land. But when the Pharaoh came after them, Moses stretched out his hand again and the waters flowed back, drowning the Pharaoh’s entire army.
God continued to help His people as they crossed the desert to the Promised Land, feeding them with a special bread from Heaven called manna and making it possible for them to get water from a rock. They reached Mount Sinai after three months and God gave to Moses the Ten Commandments so that people would know how to live holy and virtuous lives.
These are Commandments, not suggestions, and they are summed up in two great Commandments, according to Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

List of Answers:

AARON
BASKET
BLOOD
BOYS
BUSH
COMMANDMENTS
EGYPTIAN
“I AM”
LOVE
MANNA
MIRACLE
MOSES
PASSOVER
PHARAOH
PLAGUES

Quiz:

  1. A new ____________ who had never heard of Joseph took power in Egypt and began persecuting the Israelites.
  2. He put them to work as slaves and ordered the deaths of all newborn ________.
  3. One Hebrew woman hid her newborn son and floated him down the river in a _.
  4. The boy was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter, who named the child ___________.
  5. After killing an ___________________ who was beating a Hebrew years later, Moses had to flee the country.
  6. One day God appeared to Moses in a burning _________ and told him to go back to Egypt and free the Israelites from slavery.
  7. God told Moses that His name was “___________.”
  8. Moses’ spokesman was his brother __________________.
  9. God sent ten _________________ on Egypt to get Pharaoh to free His people.
  10. The night of the final plague is referred to as ___________________ because God passed over the houses of the Israelites and did not kill the oldest child in each family.
  11. The Israelites were protected by smearing the _______ of a lamb over their doors.
  12. God performed a ______________ at the Red Sea to help His people escape through the water from the pursuing Egyptian army, all of whom drowned in the sea.
  13. He fed His people in the desert with ____________ from Heaven.
  14. On Mount Sinai, God gave Moses the Ten__________________________________________.
  15. Jesus said that the greatest commandment of all was to ___________ God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
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