The Message

Exodus 1

11-5 These are the names of the Israelites who went to Egypt with Jacob, each bringing his family members:

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,

Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,

Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.

Seventy persons in all generated by Jacob’s seed. Joseph was already in Egypt.

6-7 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers—that whole generation. But the children of Israel kept on reproducing. They were very prolific—a population explosion in their own right—and the land was filled with them.

“A New King . . . Who Didn’t Know Joseph”

8-10 A new king came to power in Egypt who didn’t know Joseph. He spoke to his people in alarm, “There are way too many of these Israelites for us to handle. We’ve got to do something: Let’s devise a plan to contain them, lest if there’s a war they should join our enemies, or just walk off and leave us.”

11-14 So they organized them into work-gangs and put them to hard labor under gang-foremen. They built the storage cities Pithom and Rameses for Pharaoh. But the harder the Egyptians worked them the more children the Israelites had—children everywhere! The Egyptians got so they couldn’t stand the Israelites and treated them worse than ever, crushing them with slave labor. They made them miserable with hard labor—making bricks and mortar and back-breaking work in the fields. They piled on the work, crushing them under the cruel workload.

15-16 The king of Egypt had a talk with the two Hebrew midwives; one was named Shiphrah and the other Puah. He said, “When you deliver the Hebrew women, look at the sex of the baby. If it’s a boy, kill him; if it’s a girl, let her live.”

17-18 But the midwives had far too much respect for God and didn’t do what the king of Egypt ordered; they let the boy babies live. The king of Egypt called in the midwives. “Why didn’t you obey my orders? You’ve let those babies live!”

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “The Hebrew women aren’t like the Egyptian women; they’re vigorous. Before the midwife can get there, they’ve already had the baby.”

20-21 God was pleased with the midwives. The people continued to increase in number—a very strong people. And because the midwives honored God, God gave them families of their own.

22 So Pharaoh issued a general order to all his people: “Every boy that is born, drown him in the Nile. But let the girls live.”

New International Reader's Version

Exodus 1

The Israelites Become Slaves in Egypt

1Here are the names of Israel’s children who went to Egypt with Jacob. Each one went with his family. Jacob’s sons were

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah,

Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin,

Dan, Naphtali,

Gad and Asher.

The total number of Jacob’s children and grandchildren was 70. Joseph was already in Egypt.

Joseph and all his brothers died. So did all their children. The people of Israel had many children. The number of them greatly increased. There were so many of them that they filled the land.

Then a new king came to power in Egypt. Joseph didn’t mean anything to him. “Look,” he said to his people. “The Israelites are far too many for us. 10 Come. We must deal with them carefully. If we don’t, there will be even more of them. Then if war breaks out, they’ll join our enemies. They’ll fight against us and leave the country.”

11 So the Egyptians put slave drivers over the people of Israel. The slave drivers treated them badly and made them work hard. The Israelites built the cities of Pithom and Rameses so Pharaoh could store things there. 12 But the worse the slave drivers treated the Israelites, the more Israelites there were. So the Egyptians became afraid of them. 13 They made them work hard. They didn’t show them any pity. 14 The people suffered because of their hard labor. The slave drivers forced them to work with bricks and mud. And they made them do all kinds of work in the fields. The Egyptians didn’t show them any pity at all. They made them work very hard.

15 There were two Hebrew women named Shiphrah and Puah. They helped other women having babies. The king of Egypt spoke to them. He said, 16 “You are the ones who help the other Hebrew women. Watch them when they get into a sitting position to have their babies. Kill the boys. Let the girls live.” 17 But Shiphrah and Puah had respect for God. They didn’t do what the king of Egypt had told them to do. They let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt sent for the women. He asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

19 The women answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like the women of Egypt. They are strong. They have their babies before we get there.”

20 So God was kind to Shiphrah and Puah. And the number of Israelites became even greater. 21 Shiphrah and Puah had respect for God. So he gave them families of their own.

22 Then Pharaoh gave an order to all his people. He said, “You must throw every Hebrew baby boy into the Nile River. But let every Hebrew baby girl live.”