The descendants of Jacob were called Hebrews or Israelites. Over the years, their numbers greatly increased in Egypt.
They were treated well until a new Pharaoh came to power. He didn’t remember Joseph or anything he did. This new Pharaoh felt he needed to do something about the Hebrews, since their population was growing, and they were becoming powerful.
His first plan was to enslave the people and force them to make bricks and build cities. Still, the Israelites grew in numbers. So the Egyptians increased their workload and beat them. In spite of this, the Hebrew population continued to grow.
Pharaoh thought of an idea of how to stop this. He told the midwives, “When you help an Israelite woman deliver a child, kill all the baby boys as soon as they are born. Only the baby girls are allowed to live.”
The midwives didn’t obey Pharaoh. Instead they feared God and allowed the boys to live as well as the girls. They told Pharaoh, “The Hebrew women are much stronger than Egyptian women. They deliver their own children before we get to them.” God blessed these women because they refused to kill the children.
The Israelite population continued to increase in number, so Pharaoh issued a new law for the nation. “Every Hebrew boy-child is to be thrown into the Nile River.”
During this time of persecution, a boy was born to one of the Hebrew families. His mother hid him for three months, but it became more difficult with each passing week.
Finally, she realized she needed to do something different. So she made a waterproof basket, put the child inside, and placed it in the Nile River among the reeds near the banks. The boy’s sister was Miriam. She hid nearby to see what would happen to her brother.
Soon Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river to take a bath. She saw the basket floating among the reeds and sent her servants to get it. When she opened the basket, the baby started to cry and she felt sorry for it. She said, “This must be one of the Hebrew children.”
Miriam came out of her hiding place and spoke up. “Do you want me to go find a Hebrew mother who can nurse this child?”
“Yes. I’d like that. Go get a nursing mother.” So the girl went and got her own mother—the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Nurse this child for me and I’ll pay you.”
When the boy was old enough, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter and the boy became her son. She called him Moses (which means “pulled out”) saying, “I pulled him out of the water.”