By Mary Vee
Joseph took care of his brothers and their families until he turned 110 years old. He saw his great-grandchildren grow up. One day Joseph realized he would die. He called for his children, their families and his brothers, and their families together for a meeting.
"Pharaoh calls us the children of Israel. I want you to know God will take care of you after I'm gone, don’t be afraid. He will take you back to the land given to our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When that day comes, promise me you will carry my bones from here."
The children of Israel promised to do so. Many years passed. A new king came to power in Egypt. No one told him about Joseph or the great things Joseph did for the country. One day he called a meeting of his advisers.
"Have you noticed all the children of Israel who are living here?"
The chief advisor moaned. "Yes, Great Pharaoh. It concerns me. Recent numbers show there are more of them than us."
Pharaoh walked to his balcony. He noticed a few Israelite men in the court below. "They’ve grown into mighty men as well. What if a war starts? They might join with one of our enemies to overpower us."
"Might I suggest, Pharaoh, that we set taskmasters over them. Make them build cities, work in our fields, and do household labor."
Pharaoh nodded. "Excellent idea. They'll be too exhausted from working to get married and have families. Go at once. Take my ring and seal any document necessary. Put this plan into action at once!"
The armies of Egypt followed Pharaoh's orders. They took all the children of Israel and made them slaves. Egyptian taskmasters carried whips to punish any of their new slaves who wouldn't work fast.
A few years later Pharaoh called his adviser to his chamber again. "The plan has failed. Those Israelites have grown in number instead of decreasing."
"Great Pharaoh, my information confirms what your words. I don’t understand. I’ve checked on the taskmasters. They’re harsh just as we ordered. I don't know why; you’ve seen the buildings they’ve made.”
Pharaoh paced from the balcony back to the chamber. “What if we told the midwives to kill all baby boys?”
“Excellent idea, Pharaoh. A new generation will not rise up without boys.”
Pharaoh called for the midwives. “As the women of Israel give birth, you are to notice if they have a boy or girl. It the woman has a girl, let the baby live. If she has a son, kill him.”
Messengers reported baby boys continued to be born to the children of Israel.
Pharaoh called for the midwives. “Why didn't you kill the boy babies as I ordered?”
One midwife stepped forward. “Great Pharaoh. The women from the children of Israel are fast when giving birth to boys. The babies are born before we get there.”
Pharaoh is really angry. What will he do next? Why did he want to kill the boy babies? Why didn’t the midwives kill the boy babies?