Welcome friends to another book of the Christian Old Testament & the Jewish Pentateuch. This book overall is a law book, mostly. It does have other entries, such as Moses & the burning bush (chapter 3) or the Israelites worshiping the golden calf. Chapter 1 is about the Israelites being oppressed by a new pharaoh in Egypt. Enjoy!
The names of the sons of Israel/Jacob who went to Egypt with Jacob/Israel (all with their families): Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan Naphtali, Gad & Asher. Joseph was already in Egypt. The descendants of Jacob/Israel were 70 (Acts 46:27 says the number was 75.)
Joseph & all his brother & all that generation died. The Israelites took God’s directive literally & were fruitful & multiplied. Then a new king/pharaoh, who didn’t know about Joseph, came into power in Egypt. The new king/pharaoh says to his people: The Israelites have become too numerous. We must deal with them or they’ll become even more numerous. What if a war breaks out & the fight against us? What if they leave the country?
So they put slave masters over them (the Israelites. Yes, this is the point of the story where: 1) the Israelites are consistently called this now. 2) where they become slaves as a whole group of peoples.) to oppress them with forced labor. They built Pithom & Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But in a turn of irony, the more they (the Israelites) were oppressed, the more they flourished as a people. So the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.
The Egyptians made their lives bitter with hard work in brick & mortar. (There are some groups that think that it was the Israelites who made/built the pyramids.) The Egyptians also made them do all kinds of work in the fields.
The king/pharaoh (the bible uses these 2 terms interchangeably.) says to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah & Puah: When a Hebrew woman has a son, kill the kid (yep, it’s like that!). But they have a girl, let the kid live. The midwives feared God & didn’t do what the pharaoh wanted. They let all the Hebrew children live.
The king/pharaoh summoned the midwives & asked them why they did this. The midwives said that Hebrew women aren’t like Egyptian women, that Hebrew women are vigorous & gave birth before the midwives got there.
So God was kind to the midwives. The Israelite community got even bigger. And because the midwives feared God, the midwives got families of their own.
Then Pharaoh gave an order that all males born to the Hebrews are to be killed by throwing them into the Nile. But that every girl should live.