The Egyptians eventually forgot Joseph’s contribution to their country: the Israelites came to be seen as a threat to national security. A brutal regime of population control was now in order:
- introduce slavery, to work the Israelites to death (the “plan to keep them from growing even more” 1:10)
- have the midwives kill all newborn Israelite (Hebrew) boys (they refused)
- have all Egyptians kill all newborn Hebrew boys by throwing them into the Nile River.
The Bible doesn’t tell us how effective the last strategy was, or how long it lasted. Was Moses the only male survivor of his generation?
Did the order to kill male babies stop when Pharoah’s daughter brought the new baby Moses home? Or was the program highly effective, and the survivors like Moses were the lucky ones? Or was it less harshly imposed over the years because the Egyptians became dependent on the forced labour?
The forced labour continued for at least another 80 years. Eventually it was time for God to do something about it:
Exodus 4:23-24 Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.