Joseph and his brothers died, and the children of Israel multiplied in the land of Egypt. Soon after King Pharaoh also died, and a new king ascended the throne. He had no sympathy and love for the children of Israel, and chose to forget all that Joseph had done for Egypt.

He decided to take action against the influence and growing numbers of the children of Israel. He called his council together, and they advised him to enslave these people and oppress them before they grew too powerful.

Pharaoh embarked upon a policy of limiting the personal freedom of the Hebrews, putting heavy taxes on them, and recruiting their men into forced labor battalions under the supervision of harsh taskmasters.

The children of Israel were forced to build cities, erect monuments, construct roads, work in the quarries, and hew stones or burn bricks and tiles.

But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, and the harder became the restrictions imposed upon them, the more the children of Israel increased and multiplied.

Finally, when King Pharaoh saw that forcing the Hebrews to do bard work did not succeed in suppressing their growing numbers, he decreed that all newly born male children of the Hebrews be thrown into the Nile River. Only daughters should be permitted to live.

Thus he hoped to end the numerical increase of the Jewish population, and at the same time, to eliminate a danger which, according to the predictions of his astrologers, threatened his own life in the person of a leader to be born to the children of Israel.

The only group of Jews that escaped enslavement was the tribe of Levi. Levi was the last of Jacob's sons to die, and his influence over his tribe was great and lasting.

They had taken over the Torah academy Jacob had established in Goshen and they instructed the children of Israel in the knowledge of G‑d and His holy teachings.

Thus they were occupied with spiritual matters and did not mix with the Egyptians, while many of their brethren had given up their old customs and way of life. Except for their language, clothing, and names, many of the children of Israel had become completely assimilated into the social and cultural environment of their Egyptian neighbors, and they were the ones to arouse the wrath of the Egyptians.

The children of Levi, however, were spared the slavery and oppression which the Egyptians imposed upon the rest of the children of Israel.

Levi's grandson Amram, the son of Kehat, married Jocheved, and she bore him three children. Their first child was a girl by the name of Miriam, who was later to become a great prophetess of the Jewish people. The second child was Aaron, the highest priest of G‑d, famous for his extraordinary love of peace.

Next to Moses, he was the greatest leader of our nation in his time. It was Amram's youngest son Moses who was destined to lead the children of Israel from Egypt and to receive for them the Holy Torah on Mount Sinai.