Israel Multiplies in Egypt
1 Now these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob; each came with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; 4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. 5 All the descendants of Jacob were seventy people; Joseph was [already] in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation, 7 but the [a]Israelites were prolific and increased greatly; [b]they multiplied and became extremely strong, so that the land was filled with them.
8 [c]Now a new [d]king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph [nor the history of his accomplishments]. 9 He said to his people, “Behold, the [e]people of the sons of Israel are too many and too mighty for us [they greatly outnumber us]. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, so that they will not multiply and in the event of war, join our enemies, and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 So they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with hard labor. And the sons of Israel built Pithom and Raamses as storage cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more they multiplied and expanded, so that the Egyptians dreaded and were exasperated by the Israelites. 13 And the Egyptians made the Israelites serve rigorously [forcing them into severe slavery]. 14 They made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar, brick, and all kinds of field work. All their labor was harsh and severe.
15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah (beauty) and the other named Puah (splendor), 16 “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God [with profound reverence] and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded, but they let the boy babies live. 18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and allowed the boy babies to live?” 19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth quickly and their babies are born before the midwife can get to them.” 20 So God was good to the midwives, and the people [of Israel] multiplied and became very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God [with profound reverence], [f]He established families and households for them. 22 Then [g]Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born [to the Hebrews] must be thrown into the Nile, but every daughter you shall keep alive.”
- Exodus 1:7 In general, sons (children, descendants) of Israel or Israel or Israelites refers to all the people (males and females) of the various tribes descended from the twelve sons (Gen 35:23-26) of Jacob (later renamed Israel by God). In verses concerning things such as warfare or circumcision sons of Israel or Israel or Israelites usually refers only to the males. Tribes of ancient people were identified by the name of their founding ancestor. Therefore, this same general rule applies when referring to individual tribal groups, e.g. sons of Reuben, Reuben, Reubenites and so throughout.
- Exodus 1:7 Over two hundred years have passed since the death of Joseph.
- Exodus 1:8 The political attitude toward the Israelites living in Egypt changed from friendly and welcoming to suspicious and hostile, and Israel’s struggle for existence led to one of the most dramatic and memorable interventions that God would make in human history.
- Exodus 1:8 The identity of this pharaoh is uncertain. Some scholars think he was Ahmose I (1570-1546 b.c.), founder of the 18th dynasty of Egypt’s New Kingdom or Ahmose’s successor, Amenhotep I (1546-1525 b.c.). Others believe that this Pharaoh was one of the first of the Hyksos rulers; the Hyksos were foreign invaders.
- Exodus 1:9 This is the first record of the descendants of Israel (Jacob) being regarded as a separate nation (also see Gen 34:7 and note).
- Exodus 1:21 Lit made them houses.
- Exodus 1:22 If the early date of the exodus (1446 b.c.) is acknowledged, as most conservative scholars hold, then this pharaoh is likely Thutmose I (1525-1512 b.c.).