December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who, accompanied by their households, migrated with Jacob into Egypt:
- 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah;
- Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin;
- Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher.
- 3 The total number of the direct descendants of Jacob was seventy. Joseph was already in Egypt.
- Now Joseph and all his brothers and that whole generation died.
- But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific. They became so numerous and strong that the land was filled with them.
- Then a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph 4 , came to power in Egypt.
- He said to his subjects, "Look how numerous and powerful the Israelite people are growing, more so than we ourselves!
- Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase; otherwise, in time of war they too may join our enemies to fight against us, and so leave our country."
- 5 Accordingly, taskmasters were set over the Israelites to oppress them with forced labor. Thus they had to build for Pharaoh the supply cities of Pithom and Raamses.
- Yet the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread. The Egyptians, then, dreaded the Israelites
- and reduced them to cruel slavery,
- 6 making life bitter for them with hard work in mortar and brick and all kinds of field work--the whole cruel fate of slaves.
- The king of Egypt told the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was called Shiphrah and the other Puah,
- 7 When you act as midwives for the Hebrew women and see them giving birth, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she may live."
- The midwives, however, feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt had ordered them, but let the boys live.
- So the king summoned the midwives and asked them, "Why have you acted thus, allowing the boys to live?"
- The midwives answered Pharaoh, "The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women. They are robust and give birth before the midwife arrives."
- Therefore God dealt well with the midwives. The people, too, increased and grew strong.
- And because the midwives feared God, he built up families for them.
- 8 Pharaoh then commanded all his subjects, "Throw into the river every boy that is born to the Hebrews, but you may let all the girls live."
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1  Sons of Israel: here literally the first-generation sons of Jacob. Cf Genesis 1:5. However, beginning with Exodus 1:7 the same Hebrew phrase refers to the more remote descendants of Jacob; hence, from here on, it is ordinarily rendered "the Israelites." Households: the family in its fullest sense, including wives, children and servants.
2  The sons of Jacob are listed here according to the respective mothers. Cf Genesis 29:31; 30:20; 35:16-26
3  Direct descendants: literally, persons coming from the loins of Jacob; hence, wives and servants are here excluded. Cf Genesis 46:26
4  Who knew nothing of Joseph: this king ignored the services that Joseph had rendered to Egypt.
5  Pharaoh: not a personal name, but a title common to all the kings of Egypt.
6  Mortar: either the wet clay with which the bricks were made, as in Nahum 3:14, or the cement used between the bricks in building, as in Genesis 11:3
7  And see them giving birth: the Hebrew text is uncertain.
8  The river: the Nile, which was "the" river for the Egyptians.
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