previous next
[205] While the affairs of the Hebrews were in this condition, there was this occasion offered itself to the Egyptians, which made them more solicitous for the extinction of our nation. One of those sacred scribes, 1 who are very sagacious in foretelling future events truly, told the king, that about this time there would a child be born to the Israelites, who, if he were reared, would bring the Egyptian dominion low, and would raise the Israelites; that he would excel all men in virtue, and obtain a glory that would be remembered through all ages. Which thing was so feared by the king, that, according to this man's opinion, he commanded that they should cast every male child, which was born to the Israelites, into the river, and destroy it; that besides this, the Egyptian midwives 2 should watch the labors of the Hebrew women, and observe what is born, for those were the women who were enjoined to do the office of midwives to them; and by reason of their relation to the king, would not transgress his commands. He enjoined also, that if any parents should disobey him, and venture to save their male children alive, 3 they and their families should be destroyed. This was a severe affliction indeed to those that suffered it, not only as they were deprived of their sons, and while they were the parents themselves, they were obliged to be subservient to the destruction of their own children, but as it was to be supposed to tend to the extirpation of their nation, while upon the destruction of their children, and their own gradual dissolution, the calamity would become very hard and inconsolable to them. And this was the ill state they were in. But no one can be too hard for the purpose of God, though he contrive ten thousand subtle devices for that end; for this child, whom the sacred scribe foretold, was brought up and concealed from the observers appointed by the king; and he that foretold him did not mistake in the consequences of his preservation, which were brought to pass after the manner following: -

1 Dr. Bernard informs us here, that instead of this single priest or prophet of the Egyptians, without a name in Josephus, the Targum of Jonathan names the two famous antagonists of Moses, Jannes and Jambres. Nor is it at all unlikely that it might be one of these who foreboded so much misery to the Egyptians, and so much happiness to the Israelites, from the rearing of Moses.

2 Josephus is clear that these midwives were Egyptians, and not Israelites, as in our other copies: which is very probable, it being not easily to be supposed that Pharaoh could trust the Israelite midwives to execute so barbarous a command against their own nation. (Consult, therefore, and correct hence our ordinary copies, Exodus 1:15, 22. And, indeed, Josephus seems to have had much completer copies of the Pentateuch, or other authentic records now lost, about the birth and actions of Moses, than either our Hebrew, Samaritan, or Greek Bibles afford us, which enabled him to be so large and particular about him.

3 Of this grandfather of Sesostris, Ramestes the Great, who slew the Israelite infants, and of the inscription on his obelisk, containing, in my opinion, one of the oldest records of mankind, see Essay on the Old Test. Append. p. 139, 145, 147, 217-220.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (B. Niese, 1892)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (2 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: