Exodus 1–4

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 64–67


The first four chapters of Exodus introduce the prophet Moses and explain some details of his birth, how he became a member of Pharaoh’s family, and his calling as a prophet. These chapters remind us that the Lord calls and prepares prophets, reveals Himself to them, and gives them the necessary gifts to accomplish their work.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

weekly icon Exodus 1–4. The Exodus can be seen as a symbol of mankind’s journey through mortality and back into the presence of God. (20–30 minutes)

Note: You can use this entire teaching suggestion to overview the book of Exodus or use it in parts as you teach Exodus 1–4 and the other scripture blocks. Remind students to use the Joseph Smith Translation references in the footnotes for additional insights.

Write the word Exodus on the board and ask students what they think the book of Exodus is about. Encourage them to find the meaning of the word Exodus in the Bible Dictionary. Tell students that the book of Exodus tells the story of the “exit” of the Israelites from Egypt and of their journey through the wilderness toward the promised land.

Write Life is a journey on the board and review with students Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, helping them see it as a journey (see the diagram in “Plan of Salvation Overview. Suggestion 2,” p. 18). You could also provide paper and have them draw a brief representation of their own life’s journey.

Tell students the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt to the promised land may be viewed as a type or symbol of mankind’s journey back to Heavenly Father. Identify the four main stages of Israel’s journey by reading the scriptures that accompany the following headings:

Make a chart like the one following, writing in only the scripture references. Either read the references as a class and discuss them, or assign individual students or groups of students one of the stages and have them report what they learned. Fill in the chart with the ideas you discuss.

Israel’s Physical Journey to the Promised Land

Israel’s Spiritual Journey to the Celestial Kingdom


Exodus 1:13–14 (Israel was in bondage to the Egyptians.)

2 Nephi 1:13; Mosiah 3:19 (Natural man is in bondage to sin.)

Exodus 5:1–2 (Israel was subject to Pharaoh.)

Alma 12:11 (Through sin we become subject to Satan.)

Exodus 3:10 (Moses was sent to deliver Israel.)

2 Nephi 6:17; Alma 11:40 (Jesus Christ was sent to deliver covenant Israel.)

Exodus 4:14–16 (Aaron was a spokesman for Moses.)

D&C 1:38 (Prophets speak the words of Christ.)


Exodus 7:3–5 (The ten plagues demonstrated the Lord’s power over all earthly entities.)

1 Nephi 7:12–13; 2 Nephi 31:19 (The Lord has power to save His children.)

Exodus 12:1–27 (Israel was spared destruction through the blood of a lamb.)

1 Peter 1:18–19; 2 Nephi 9:7–9 (We are spared from eternal destruction through the blood of the Lamb of God.)

Exodus 14:16 (The Israelites went through the Red Sea on their way out of bondage.)

1 Corinthians 10:1–2; Moroni 6:1–4 (We must go through the waters of baptism to be delivered from the bondage of sin.)

Exodus 13:21 (Israel was protected and led by the divine presence in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.)

John 16:13 (The gift of the Holy Ghost can protect and lead us daily.)


Exodus 16:14–15; 17:6 (The Lord supplied manna and water to preserve the lives of the children of Israel.)

John 6:31–35; 7:37–39 (Jesus Christ is the “bread of life” and the “living water.” His Atonement sustains our very lives.)

Exodus 17:8–13 (When Israel supported their prophet they defeated their enemies.)

D&C 1:14 (We must sustain the prophets and apostles or be “cut off.”)

Exodus 20:1–23 (Through Moses the Lord gave Israel commandments to prepare them to enter His presence.)

D&C 76:50–62; 93:1 (Through modern prophets the Lord gives us commandments to prepare us to live in His presence.)

Exodus 25:2–9; D&C 84:23–24 (Israel was commanded to go to Mount Sinai and, later, to build a tabernacle for sacred ordinances and as the house of the Lord.)

D&C 124:27–28, 40–42 (We are commanded to build temples for sacred ordinances and as houses of the Lord.)


Numbers 14:29–33; Joshua 1:1–9 (When they had become sufficiently faithful, Joshua led Israel into their promised land.)

Revelation 3:5, 12, 20–21; D&C 76:50–70; 88:17–20 (Those who overcome the world are promised an inheritance in the celestial kingdom.)

Numbers 14:22–30 (Many Israelites lost the privilege of entering the promised land because of disobedience.)

D&C 88:21–24 (Many will be denied entrance into the celestial kingdom because they do not accept the gospel and become sanctified.)

Discuss each stage of Israel’s journey, and ours. The following questions and scriptures may help your discussion:

  • Bondage: How are we in bondage in our lives? (see 2 Nephi 1:13). How does sin enslave us? (see Alma 34:35).

  • Deliverance: How aware was the Lord of the children of Israel in bondage? (see Exodus 3:7–10). What do the scriptures tell us about the Lord’s feelings concerning His children being in bondage to sin? (see Ezekiel 18:23; 3 Nephi 9:1–2, 5). How does the Lord deliver us from sin? (see Alma 7:13–14). Point out that as the children of Israel left Egypt they passed through the Red Sea, symbolic of baptism (see 1 Corinthians 10:1–2).

  • Wanderings in the wilderness: What guided the children of Israel as they wandered through the wilderness? (see Exodus 13:21–22). What guides us today and has also been described as “fire”? (see 2 Nephi 31:13; 2 Nephi 32:5). In the wilderness the Lord fed the children of Israel and gave them drink to sustain them on their journey (see Exodus 16–17). How does the Lord spiritually sustain His people? (see 1 Corinthians 10:1–4; 2 Nephi 32:3; D&C 20:77–79).

  • Entrance into a land of promise: What is the land of promise we seek? (see Hebrews 11:14–16). What did the Lord require before the children of Israel could enter the promised land? (Obedience to commandments and covenants, such as the Ten Commandments.)

Exodus 1–2. Choosing to do what is right is often difficult. (30–35 minutes)

Hand out half a sheet of paper to each student. Have the class turn to Exodus 1 and cover that page in their scriptures with the paper. Instruct them to uncover selected verses only as they are directed. Have students read the verses in the first scripture block below, leaving the verse with the answer covered. Ask the question and have students predict the answer. Have them then uncover the answer verse and discuss as needed. Repeat for the remaining scriptures and questions.

Write the following on the board:

Divide the class into three groups. Assign each group one of the preceding scripture blocks to read and have them find answers to the following questions:

  • What did that person or those people do that required courage?

  • Why did they do it?

  • How was it an act of faith?

  • How did the Lord bless them afterwards?

Have each group share their answers with the class. (If students have questions regarding Moses slaying the Egyptian, refer to the commentary for Exodus 2:11–15 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, p. 105.)

Give students a few minutes to write about the person or persons discussed in this lesson whom they learned from and explain why. If there is time, invite a few students to share what they wrote.

Exodus 1–2. Women have a vital role in fulfilling Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. (10–15 minutes)

Have students read Exodus 1–2 and look for references to women. Identify each one on the board. (Midwives, Moses’ mother, Moses’ sister, Pharaoh’s daughter, Zipporah and the other six daughters of Reuel [Jethro].) Ask:

  • How did these women influence Moses’ life?

  • What do these women have in common? (They all helped Moses. Some even preserved his life.)

Discuss the important role of women in the lives of your students. You may wish to use the following insights and questions:

  • Discuss the influence of women in your life. Ask what we can do to show we are aware of their influence.

  • Which of your successes can you attribute to the influence of important women in your life?

  • What was their motivation for blessing your life?

Share the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball:

“It has been said that ‘When you educate a man, you educate an individual; but when you educate a woman, you educate a whole family.’ (Dr. Charles D. McIver) We want our women to be well educated, for children may not recover from the ignorance of their mothers” (Men of Example [address to religious educators, 12 Sept. 1975], 9–10).

Ask students what they think that means. Share your testimony of the vital role women have always had in Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. Women often do not receive recognition for their contribution. Encourage students to take time to recognize and express gratitude to women who have blessed their lives.

Exodus 3:1–10. Reverence invites revelation. (15–20 minutes)

Ask students to be very quiet and listen for sounds they normally would not notice. After one minute ask them what sounds they heard. Point out that those sounds were always there, but it took special attention to hear them. Compare the experience of carefully listening for common sounds to the importance of listening for the whisperings of the Spirit. Just as our silence is needed to hear some common sounds, we must have reverence to feel the communication of the Holy Ghost.

Speaking about the importance of reverence in our Church meetings, Elder Boyd K. Packer said:

“Reverence invites revelation.

“The reverence we speak of does not equate with absolute silence” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 28; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 22).

Write the word reverence on the board and ask students to list elements of reverence that invite the spirit of revelation (such as clean thoughts, humility, avoiding distractions, sacred music, and pondering scripture). Ask students how reverence helps us receive inspiration from our Father in Heaven.

Moses demonstrated great reverence for the Lord when he went to the mountain. Have students read Exodus 3:1 and 19:18 and identify the two names of this mountain of the Lord. Have them turn to the map section in their Bibles and use the index of place names to locate Mount Sinai (see “Sinai, Mount”).

Read Exodus 3:2–6. Tell students that the Prophet Joseph Smith changed the word angel in verse 2 so that it reads: “And the presence of the Lord appeared unto him.” Help them understand the need to have reverence for the Lord by asking what Moses was asked to do as he approached the burning bush. Have them think of a moment in their lives when they felt like they were standing on holy ground. Invite some to share where they were and how they felt.

Teach reverence for the Lord when participating in seminary by sharing the following counsel from Elder Packer:

“When we meet to learn the doctrines of the gospel, it should be in a spirit of reverence” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 27; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 21).

Ask students to recall class activities that helped them feel the closest to their Heavenly Father. Compliment them for their past efforts to invite the Spirit into the class through their reverence. Share your testimony of the need to always do what most invites the spirit of reverence during their study of the gospel.

Exodus 3:7–10. The lives of the righteous often remind us of the life of the Savior. (10–15 minutes)

When Moses was called to be a prophet, the Lord told him, “Thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth” (Moses 1:6). Read Deuteronomy 18:15 and explain that the Prophet Moses prophesied of is Jesus Christ. The similarities between the life of Moses and the life of Jesus Christ are interesting and instructive. Consider preparing a handout of the chart at the end of this teaching suggestion. Leave the “Similarities” column blank and let your students fill it in as you study the scripture references.

This teaching suggestion could be used several different ways:

  • Use it here as an overview of the life of Moses.

  • Use it in Exodus 17 as a review of the miracles Moses performed.

  • Divide your class into small groups and assign them parts of the chart. Have them read the scripture references for Moses and the Savior and describe the similarities they find.

  • Display a large chart in the classroom. Read through the first two or three sets of scriptures and help the students discover the similarities. Encourage them to discover other similarities on their own as they study. Invite them to add to the chart, sharing scriptures and similarities with other students as they find them during their study of the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy.

It is important for students to understand that all things, including the lives and teachings of prophets, testify of Jesus Christ (see Jacob 7:10–11; Moses 6:63).



Jesus Christ

Exodus 1:15–16, 22; 2:1–3

Both escaped a decree of death while in their infancy.

Matthew 2:13–16

Exodus 3:7–10

Both were called to deliver Israel.

2 Nephi 6:17

Moses 1:1, 8, 11

Both were carried away by the Spirit to a high mountain where they were shown the kingdoms of the world.

JST, Matthew 4:8

Moses 1:12–22

Both overcame confrontations with Satan.

Matthew 4:3–11

Exodus 4:19

Both remained in exile until the kings who sought to kill them had died.

Matthew 2:19–20

Exodus 14:21

Both controlled the winds and the sea.

Mark 4:37–39

Exodus 16:15–18

Both miraculously provided bread.

John 6:35

Exodus 17:5–6

Both provided lifesaving water.

John 4:10–14

JST, John 1:17

Both were great lawgivers.

3 Nephi 15:5–10

Deuteronomy 9:16–20, 23–26

Both were mediators between God and their people.

1 Timothy 2:5

Exodus 3–4. The Lord helps those who accept calls to serve Him, and He can help resolve our personal doubts and insecurities if we will let Him. (30–40 minutes)

Make up a mission call to a place your students would know very little about. Have it state that the person being called will be serving without a companion. Read the call to the class, and ask:

  • How would you feel if you received a mission call to a place you had never heard of or knew nothing about?

  • What would strengthen your courage to accept this call?

Briefly review with students Moses’ call in Exodus 3. Have them search Exodus 3:11–15 and 4:1–17 and complete activity A for Exodus 4 in their student study guides (p. 43). After they complete the activity, review how the Lord helped resolve Moses’ concerns and how the Lord’s solutions might help us as we accept challenging callings. The following summary might help in your classroom discussion:

  • First concern: “Who am I that I can do such things?” (see Exodus 3:11). Ask students what they think Moses meant. The Lord’s answer was a message of encouragement (see v. 12). He would be there to help Moses.

  • Second concern: “What do I say when the people want to know who sent me?” (see v. 13). Ask students what two names the Lord gave to Moses (see vv. 14–15). Help them understand the significance of the title “I Am” (see the commentary for Exodus 3:11–18 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, p. 105). Ask : How do we receive the Lord’s name today? How can receiving His name by covenant through baptism and the sacrament help us meet the challenges we face?

  • Third concern: “What if they don’t believe me?” (see Exodus 4:1). In answer to this concern, the Lord performed a miracle using Moses’ rod. Ask: What might a rod symbolize? (Authority; see Bible Dictionary, “rod,” p. 763.) What authority did Moses receive from Jethro in Midian? (The priesthood; see D&C 84:6.) What is the priesthood? (The authority to act in the name of God.) What difference might it make to missionaries to know they have authority to represent God?

  • Fourth concern: “I am not a very good speaker” (see Exodus 4:10). Have students read the Lord’s response in Exodus 4:11–12. Moses, however, was still reluctant to be God’s spokesman. (See the commentary for Exodus 4:10–17 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, pp. 105–6, to help students understand his feelings of inadequacy.) Ask: How did the Lord respond to Moses’ feelings? (see vv. 14–16). What does this tell us about the Lord’s concern and willingness to help us?

Have students read Exodus 4:27–31 to discover how the children of Israel responded to Moses when he returned. Ask students:

  • What callings or responsibilities might someone feel afraid of or inadequate to accept? (For example, speaking assignments, service projects, or serving a mission.)

  • How does the Lord strengthen us and help us overcome these feelings? (see 1 Nephi 3:7; D&C 60:2–4).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 6:14, 20–24 or Moroni 10:3–5 and discuss the blessings others have received from the Lord. Share your testimony that the Lord will support and strengthen us as we need it and that, as President Thomas S. Monson testified, “Whom God calls, God qualifies” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 54; or Ensign, May 1987, 44).