Pharoah had an immigration problem. Although Jacob had seventy direct descendants when they settled in Egypt, the children of Israel in succeeding generations swarmed. “They grew mighty in number and the land filled up with them.”
Pharoah said “Hey these guys are mightier in number than we are! If a war comes, what if they side with the enemy!”
So they set gang-captains over the Israelites and forced them to work building storage cities.
Then the king of Egypt called over the Hebrews’ midwives, Shifra and Pu’a and ordered them to kill all Hebrew babies just as soon as they were born.
Now these were two shrewd midwives. Also they “held God in awe.” They didn’t kill the infants. Pharoah called them to him and demanded to know why they weren’t doing what he told them to do.
Now here’s the shrewd part. They told Pharoah that the Hebrew babies were so “lively” that they were born before the midwives got there.
So the babies continued to be born.
Pharoah once again ordered the midwives to kill all the boy babies by throwing them into the Nile River.
Well, a Levite married a woman who became pregnant and had a baby boy. For three months she hid the baby. Then she built him a little ark made out of papyrus, put the baby in it and placed it in the reeds alongside the River Nile. The baby’s sister stationed herself far off, so she could know what happened to the baby.
Along came Pharoah’s daughter, opened the ark, and there was the baby, crying. The baby’s sister approached the king’s daughter and said “Shall I go and call a woman who will nurse the child?”
OK, says Pharoah’s daughter and the sister fetched the baby’s mother, whom Pharoah’s daughter hired.
Pharoah’s daughter called the baby Moses.
Next thing we know, Moses was all grown up. He saw an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew man. After looking all around, he knocked the Egyptian dead and buried him in the sand.
He went out the next day and saw two men scuffling. When he yelled at them, they said “What right do you have to judge us. Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”
Moses realized he was in deep trouble. Pharoah wanted to kill him, so he ran away.
He went to the land of Midian and sat down by a well. Along came seven daughters of the priest of Midian to give water to their father’s sheep. But some rowdy shepherds started to run them off. Moses drove the shepherds away and poured water for the sisters.
When the high priest heard about this, he had Moses come in and break bread with them. Moses agreed to settle with them. He married Tzipporah, one of the daughters, and they had a son named Gershon.
Many years later, the king of Egypt died. The children of Israel were still suffering from their servitude and they cried out to God. And God heard their cries.
Food for Thought
Why do you think we don’t hear about the Israelites’ reaction to the killing of the babies?