A new king arises in Egypt and forces the Israelites to become slaves. Exodus continues the story of the family of Jacob in Egypt which concluded the book of Genesis. Israel's turn in fortunes
from a people of honor to a people of slavery fulfills God's words to Abraham in Gen 15.12–16
: Israel will go to a land not theirs and become slaves for four hundred years.
The growing number and strength of the Israelites fulfills the promises of many descendants made to the ancestors in Genesis
(Gen 13.16; 32.12
The new king of Egypt is not named, but some identify him as Rameses II (13th century BCE) in light of
and the building of a city called Rameses. The new ruler did not have the same high regard for Joseph and his family as had
the previous ruler (Gen 47.1–12
The claim that the Israelites are more numerous and more powerful than the Egyptians may well be an exaggeration that shows the paranoia of the Egyptian ruler.
It is not clear whether these two midwives are Hebrew midwives or Egyptians who act as midwives for the Hebrew women. The names of these heroic women, Shiphrah and Puah, suggest they may
be Hebrew in origin. On the other hand, the information in vv. 17 and 21
that they feared God can refer to non-Israelites who acknowledge or obey Israel's God (Gen 20.1–11
Killing all the baby boys would cut off all the male lines of descent and thus eventually kill off the whole people.
The midwives' deceptive claim that Hebrew women give birth more quickly is a way to cover up their refusal to obey the ruler's
command to kill the Israelite babies.
The Egyptian ruler or Pharaoh expands the command to kill Israelite boys to all his people, not just the midwives. All Egyptians are now guilty and will be subject to God's judgment.
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