King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Exodus 1

The children of Israel increase in Egypt after the death of Joseph. (8-14) They are oppressed, but multiply exceedingly. (1-7) The men-children destroyed. (15-22)

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They are oppressed, but multiply exceedingly

1 Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.

2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,

3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,

4 Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.

5 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.

6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.

7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.

The children of Israel increase in Egypt after the death of Joseph

8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:

10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.

11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.

12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.

13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:

14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.

The men-children destroyed

15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:

16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.

17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?

19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.

20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.

21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.

22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 3. And Benjamin. He is mentioned here because he was the son of Rachel, as the preceding were the children of Lia. The offspring of the handmaids follow. H.

Ver. 5. Seventy: Sept. “75,” including the offspring of Joseph. See Gen. xlvi. 26.

Ver. 6. Generation, or race of mortals who had seen his wonderful works. The tyrant, who knew not Joseph, began his reign about 58 years after that patriarch’s death. C. — His name was Pharao Amenophis, (Perer.) or Ramesses Miamum. Usher.

Ver. 9. Numerous. Calvisius observes, that from Ephraim alone might have sprung 4,112,323,729 people. See S. Aug. q. 43, &c. H. — In the space of 215 years, 70 people may produce an immense multitude, as Bonfrere shews by an accurate calculation. God also was pleased to bless the Hebrews with fecundity, so that they sprung up (ebullierunt) like frogs or fishes, v. 7. In Egypt, the women had sometimes seven at a birth (Plin. vii. 3,) and Aristotle (Anim. vii. 4,) mentions one woman who had 20 children at four births. T. — Stronger. This might easily be true, if this king had only Thebais under his command. But if he was king of all Egypt, it seems an exaggeration. C. — Indeed, human policy often gives birth to all kinds of wickedness. The king justifies his cruelty on this pretext of self-defence. He wishes to keep the Hebrews under; yet he is not willing to let them depart, as he knew they intended, according to Joseph’s prediction. H. — God permitted this disposition, in order to punish his people for their idolatry, (Ezec. xxiii. 8,) to admonish them not to fix their abode in Egypt, and to manifest his power and glory in the destruction of the impious. M.

Ver. 11. Masters. Cruel like himself, who not only made them build without proper materials, (v. 14. and C. v. 10. H.) but oppressed them with heavy burdens of brick and tile. Hence Aristophanes calls the Hebrews in derision Plinthophoroi. This servitude is styled the iron furnace of Egypt, Deut. iv. 20. Jer. xi. 4. — Of tabernacles, or of storehouses. Ch. — To keep his treasures, Chal. or “fortresses,” Sept. It may also be the name of a city, Miscenoth. C. xii. 37. Phithom, perhaps the same as the town of Heroum, where the Sept. say Joseph first met his father. Gen. xlvi. 28. Ramesses was the capital, and situate in the Arabic nome. C.

Ver. 14. Service. They were forced to till the land, reap, &c. M.

Ver. 15. Midwives. Egyptian women, who assisted all of that district. Josephus xi. 5. There were others under them. Some think all these midwives were of Hebrew extraction, as their names are Hebrew, &c. C.

Ver. 16. The time, &c. Heb. “and you shall see them upon the two stones.” Abenaim. Jeremias (xviii. 3,) uses the same expression, speaking of a potter hard at work. C. — A woman, from whom nothing could be feared, to be reserved for service and for pleasure. M. — We must not obey princes in their unjust commands. Acts iv. and v. Matt. x. 28. W.

Ver. 19. Skilful, &c. Heb. Caioth means midwives: or they are full of vigour, or bring forth alive, like brutes. By this allusion they not only excuse themselves, but seem also to enter into the king’s sentiments of hatred and scorn for the Hebrews. M. — Women in Egypt, and in the eastern regions, are easily delivered, and hardly stand in need of any assistance. Ludolf. 1 K. iv. 19. Perhaps, therefore, the midwives spoke truth, with regard to the generality of the Hebrew women. But they gave way to a lie of excuse, with regard to some, (v. 17,) which S. Augustine would not allow, even to save all the Hebrew children. c. Mend. 15. It was not so easy to discover this delusion, as women in that country seldom appear in public; and hence Jochabed was enabled to hide Moses so long. C.

Ver. 21. Because the midwives feared God, &c. The midwives were rewarded, not for their lie, which was a venial sin; but for their fear of God, and their humanity: but this reward was only temporal, in building them houses, that is, in establishing and enriching their families. Ch. — This alone the Scripture specifies, thought hey might also be filled with heavenly graces. W. — Some conclude from this verse, that the midwives embraced the true religion. The Hebrew refers built them to the Hebrews, as if they multiplied in consequence of the humanity of these women; (C.) and the Vulgate may be explained in the same sense. H. — De Muis supposes, that Pharao ordered houses to be built for the midwives, where the Hebrew women were forced to appear when they were to be delivered, in the presence of commissaries.

Ver. 22. The river Nile, where the persecuting successor of this king found his end. H. — It seems this inhuman decree was not published till after Aaron was born, and it was probably revoked soon after the birth of Moses; for if it had been rigorously put in execution, there would have been nothing but old men 80 years after, when Moses led the people out of Egypt. C. — But perhaps even the Egyptians abhorred and refused to execute this edict. M.