1 These are the sons of Jacob* who went with their father to Egypt, each with his family:1
2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah,
3 Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin,
4 Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.
5 Joseph was already down in Egypt. In all, Jacob had seventy* direct descendants.2
6 In time, Joseph and each of his brothers died, ending that generation.
7 But their descendants had many children and grandchildren. In fact, they multiplied so quickly that they soon filled the land.
8 Then a new king came to the throne of Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done.
9 He told his people, "These Israelites are becoming a threat to us because there are so many of them.
10 We must find a way to put an end to this. If we don't and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country."
11 So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves and put brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down under heavy burdens. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king.
12 But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more quickly the Israelites multiplied! The Egyptians soon became alarmed
13 and decided to make their slavery more bitter still.
14 They were ruthless with the Israelites, forcing them to make bricks and mortar and to work long hours in the fields.
15 Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah:
16 "When you help the Hebrew women give birth, kill all the boys as soon as they are born. Allow only the baby girls to live."
17 But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king and allowed the boys to live, too.
18 Then the king called for the midwives. "Why have you done this?" he demanded. "Why have you allowed the boys to live?"
19 "Sir," they told him, "the Hebrew women are very strong. They have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time! They are not slow in giving birth like Egyptian women."
20 So God blessed the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful.
21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: "Throw all the newborn Israelite boys into the Nile River. But you may spare the baby girls."
Read Exodus 2