1 When 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: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, 4 Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5 There was a total of 70 people who were descendants of Jacob. Jacob’s son Joseph was already in Egypt.
6 By some time later, Joseph and his brothers had died, along with all the people who had lived at that same time. 7 But 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
8 Then a new king began to rule Egypt. He did not know who Joseph was. 9 This king said to his people, “Look! The people of Israel are too many! And they are too strong for us to handle! 10 We 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!”
11 So 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. 12 The 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. 13 They forced the Israelites to work even harder. 14 The 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.
15 There 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!” 17 But the nurses feared God. So they did not do as the king told them. They let all the boy babies live. 18 Then the king of Egypt sent for the nurses. He said, “Why did you do this? Why did you let the boys live?”
19 The 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.” 20 God was good to the nurses. And the Hebrew people continued to grow in number. So they became even stronger. 21 Because the nurses feared God, he gave them families of their own.
22 So 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.”
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