Jacob’s Family in Egypt
1When Jacob, also called Israel, went to Egypt, he took his sons. And each son took his own family with him. These are the names of the sons of Israel: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, 3Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, 4Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5There was a total of 70 people who were descendants of Jacob. Jacob’s son Joseph was already in Egypt.
6By some time later, Joseph and his brothers had died, along with all the people who had lived at that same time. 7But the people of Israel had many children, and their number grew greatly. They became very strong, and the country of Egypt was filled with them.
Trouble for the People of Israel
8Then a new king began to rule Egypt. He did not know who Joseph was. 9This king said to his people, “Look! The people of Israel are too many! And they are too strong for us to handle! 10We must make plans against them. If we don’t, the number of their people will grow even more. Then if there is a war, they might join our enemies. Then they could fight us and escape from the country!”
11So the Egyptians made life hard for the people of Israel. They put slave masters over the Israelites. The slave masters forced the Israelites to build the cities Pithom and Rameses for the king. These cities were supply centers in which the Egyptians stored things. 12The Egyptians forced the Israelites to work even harder. But this made the Israelites grow in number and spread more. So the Egyptians became more afraid of them. 13They forced the Israelites to work even harder. 14The Egyptians made life hard for the Israelites. They forced the Israelites to work very hard making bricks and mortar. They also forced them to do all kinds of hard work in the fields. The Egyptians were not merciful to them in all their hard work.
15There were two Hebrew nurses named Shiphrah and Puah. These nurses helped the Israelite women give birth to their babies. The king of Egypt said to the nurses, 16“When you are helping the Hebrew women give birth to their babies, watch! If the baby is a girl, let the baby live. But if it is a boy, kill it!” 17But the nurses feared God. So they did not do as the king told them. They let all the boy babies live. 18Then the king of Egypt sent for the nurses. He said, “Why did you do this? Why did you let the boys live?”
19The nurses said to him, “The Hebrew women are much stronger than the Egyptian women. They give birth to their babies before we can get there.” 20God was good to the nurses. And the Hebrew people continued to grow in number. So they became even stronger. 21Because the nurses feared God, he gave them families of their own.
22So the king commanded all his people: “Every time a boy is born to the Hebrews, you must throw him into the Nile River. But let all the girl babies live.”