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Enslavement

Enslavement

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Art: Zalman Kleimna
Art: Zalman Kleimna

Arrival in Egypt

Jacob and his children had arrived in Egypt to be close Joseph; he was second in command to King Pharaoh, and with his ingenuity had saved the people of Egypt, and by extension those from neighboring countries, from death by famine. Jacob and his children were settled in the city of Goshen and prospered wonderfully--their numbers grew and grew.

As long as Jacob's son's are alive, the Children of Israel are accorded honor and respect, but after the passing of Joseph, "There arose a new king in Egypt who knew not Joseph"--some commentaries say, chose not to know Joseph--"And he said to his people. 'Behold the Children of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply...'"(Exodus 1:8-10).

Enslavement

The Egyptians' way of dealing with their "Jewish Problem" is to enslave the Jews. They are all forced into backbreaking labor, compelled to build cities of treasure houses for Pharaoh. But still, the Jews continue to multiply, to Pharaoh's eyes, at an ever frightening pace. To put a stop to this, Pharaoh summons the Jewish midwives, Shifra and Puah, and commands them to kill all Jewish newborn males. This, he is certain, will put an end to the propagation of this race. When the midwives defy his order, he commands that they cast all the newborn males into the Nile--his stargazers had predicted that the savior of the Jews would die through water--and Pharaoh hopes his plan will ensure an early death for any potential Jewish leader.

Moses' Birth

Jocheved, the wife of the Levite Amram, gives birth to a son. Because he is born three months early, she is able to conceal him for that amount of time. When she can no longer hide him, she builds a small water-proof cradle and puts her child on the brink of the Nile. The child's sister, Miriam, hides among the brush to watch the child.

Pharaoh's daughter comes to bathe in the river when she sees the floating cradle. When she opens it and sees the weeping baby, she realizes that this is a Jewish child, but her compassion is aroused and she resolves to take the baby home. She names him Moses "he who was drawn from the water."

Miriam approaches the princess and offers to find a wet-nurse for the baby. When Pharaoh's daughter accepts, Miriam brings her Jocheved, whom Pharaoh's daughter hires to nurse and care for the child. When Moses grows older, he is returned to the palace, where Pharaoh's daughter raises him like a son.

Painting by Chassidic artist Zalman Kleinman.
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Discussion (5)
March 6, 2013
Well written, very nice.
Gideon Marange
March 26, 2011
cool
nicely explained and well written. helped a lot for my project.
Anonymous
NYC, U.S
April 12, 2009
wow
amazing I didnt know that! :D
coby
ojai, C.A
April 2, 2009
comment
Well structured and explained, nice picture.
Anonymous
coral springs, usa
April 11, 2008
jewish festivals
very informative
debbie hendryx
leliegh acreas, fla.
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