We will read the Book of Exodus.
Exodus 1:1-22 NIV
The Israelites Oppressed
1These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah;3Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; 4Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. 5The descendants of Jacob numbered seventya in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.
6Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.
8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9“Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”
11So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13and worked them ruthlessly. 14They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.
15The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16“When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”
17The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”
19The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”
20So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21And because the midwives feared God, He gave them families of their own.
22Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
Introduction to Exodus
1. The book of Exodus consists of two distinct portions. The first Exodus 1-19 gives a detailed account of the circumstances under which the deliverance of the Israelites was accomplished. The second Exodus 20-40 describes the giving of the law, and the institutions which completed the organization of the people as "a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation" Exodus 19:6.
The name "Exodus" (ἔξοδος exodos), i. e. "the going forth," assigned to it by the Alexandrian Jews, applies rather to the former portion than to the whole book.
The narrative is closely connected with that of Genesis, and shows not only that it was written by the same author, but that it formed part of one general plan. Still it is a distinct section. The first events which it relates are separated from the last chapter in Genesis by a considerable interval, and it presents the people of Israel under totally different circumstances. Its termination is marked with equal distinctness, winding up with the completion of the tabernacle.
The book is divided into many smaller sections; each of which has the marks which throughout the Pentateuch indicate a subdivision. They are of different lengths, and were probably written on separate parchments or papyri, the longest not exceeding the dimensions of contemporary documents in Egypt. They were apparently thus arranged for the convenience of public reading. This general view of the structure of the book is what might have been expected.
2. Some of the most convincing evidences of the Mosaic authorship are supplied by the contents of this book. One argument is drawn from the representation of the personal character and qualifications of Moses, a representation perfectly intelligible as proceeding from Moses himself.
The expressions in this verse are special and emphatic. "A new king" is a phrase not found elsewhere. It is understood by most commentators to imply that he did not succeed his predecessor in the natural order of descent and inheritance. He "arose up over Egypt," occupying the land, as it would seem, on different terms from the king whose place he took, either by usurpation or conquest.
The fact that he did not know Joseph implies a complete separation from the traditions of Lower Egypt. Many of the Egyptian scholars identify this Pharaoh with Rameses II, but all the conditions of the narrative are fulfilled in the person of Amosis I (or, Aahmes), the head of the 18th Dynasty. He was the descendant of the old Theban sovereigns, but his family was tributary to the Dynasty of the Shepherds, the Hyksos of Manetho, then ruling in the North of Egypt. Amosis married an Ethiopian princess, and in the third year of his reign captured Avaris, or Zoan, the capital of the Hyksos, and completed the expulsion of that race.
The use of brick, at all times common in Egypt, was especially so under the 18th Dynasty. An exact representation of the whole process of brickmaking is given in a small temple at Thebes, erected by Tothmosis III, the fourth in descent from Amosis. Immense masses of brick are found at Belbeis, the modern capital of Sharkiya, i. e. Goshen, and in the adjoining district.
All manner of service in the field - Not merely agricultural labor, but probably the digging of canals and processes of irrigation which are peculiarly onerous and unhealthy.
Hebrew midwifes - Or "midwives of the Hebrew women." This measure at once attested the inefficacy of the former measures, and was the direct cause of the event which issued in the deliverance of Israel, namely, the exposure of Moses. The women bear Egyptian names Shiphrah and Puah, and were probably Egyptians.