Jacob’s Family Grows Strong

When Jacob[a] 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: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. There was a total of seventy people who were descendants of Jacob. Jacob’s son Joseph was already in Egypt.

Some time later, Joseph and his brothers died, along with all the people who had lived at that same time. 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

Then a new king began to rule Egypt, who did not know who Joseph was. This king said to his people, “Look! The people of Israel are too many and too strong for us to handle! 10 If we don’t make plans against them, the number of their people will grow even more. Then if there is a war, they might join our enemies and fight us and escape from the country!”

11 So the Egyptians made life hard for the Israelites. They put slave masters over them, who forced the Israelites to build the cities Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. 12 But the harder the Egyptians forced the Israelites to work, the more the Israelites grew in number and spread out. So the Egyptians became very afraid of them 13 and demanded even more of them. 14 They made their lives bitter. They forced the Israelites to work hard to make bricks and mortar and to do all kinds of work in the fields. The Egyptians were not merciful to them in all their painful work.

15 Two Hebrew nurses, named Shiphrah and Puah, 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 her live, but if it is a boy, kill him!” 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 and 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.”


  1. 1:1 Jacob Also called Israel.