The chapter starts out with the recitation of the sons of Jacob who were fruitful and multiplied. We don’t get the names of any of the offspring, but they were prolific and exceedingly strong.
Apparently, the twelve sons of Israel were really, really busy being fruitful because their multiplication outnumbered the Egyptians, so the new Pharaoh (not the same one as in Genesis, but I’ll still use Yul Brynner’s picture where necessary, you’re welcome) set about oppressing them. He appointed to taskmasters to force them to work building supply cities, but the more they were oppressed, the more they were fruitful.
Pharaoh, in an effort to stop the Israelites from multiplying, told the Hebrew midwives to kill all of the baby boys, but let the girls live. Of course, the midwives feared God and let the boys live.
18So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” 19The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 134). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
Pharaoh commanded his people to throw all of the boys born to the Hebrews into the Nile, but allow the girls to live.
Obviously, the authors are building the villain of the story. Having read and watched much about Egyptian history, this whole book is a work of fiction. The Israelites were never enslaved in Egypt, and there is no record in the meticulously kept records of Egypt about two million people leaving. Sorry, I guess I should have said, “Spoiler alert.”
I always thought the story of Moses’ birth and youth was longer than it is. It’s only a few paragraphs and includes his birth, being placed in a mini-ark (a basket with bitumen and pitch), the Pharaoh’s daughter finding him, and Moses’ actual mother nursing him. After he had grown up, which is a sentence later, Pharaoh’s daughter took him as her son.
Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave and thought nobody had seen, but two other Hebrews had and apparently told Pharaoh, so Moses fled to Midian. There, he helped some Midianite women water their flocks after a group of shepherds tried to chase them away. For this act, the women’s father, a priest, invited him to dinner and gave him one of his daughters and she bore him a son, Gershom.
Eventually, this Pharaoh died and the Israelites cried out and God heard them. Once again, we have a non-omniscient moment from God. He hears the Israelites call out and it’s then that he remembers his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What else is going on that he can’t keep straight his covenants without a reminder. He’d probably think about flooding the world again until he noticed a prism in sunlight and saw the rainbow. Anyway, on to the next chapter.