96-97 : The Israelites Are Treated Harshly
THE children of Israel were fruitful.
They increased greatly in number and prospered, and the land of Egypt became filled with them.
But there arose a new king over Egypt who did not know Joseph and the great work he had done.
This new Pharaoh said to his people: "The children of Israel are more and mightier than we are.
Let us deal wisely with them. For, if they continue growing in numbers,
they may join our enemies and fight against us in time of war and go away from our land."
Therefore the Egyptians set taskmasters over the children of Israel and forced them to work for them. They built for Pharaoh the treasure cities of Pithom and Rameses.
But the more the Egyptians oppressed them,
the more the Israelites grew in strength and increased in number.
So the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, saying:
"When a Hebrew woman gives birth and you see that it is a son, then you shall kill him.
But if it is a daughter, she shall live."
But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them.
Instead, they let the men children live.
So the king called the midwives and said to them: "Why have you done this thing?
Why have you let the men children live?"
"Because," answered the midwives, "the Hebrew women give birth without our knowing of it before we come to them."
God was pleased with the midwives and dealt well with them.
And the people continued to increase and grow stronger.
So Pharaoh commanded his people, saying: "Every Israelite son that is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall let live."
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