Exodus 1:10

ESV Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”
NIV Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.'
NASB Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, otherwise they will multiply, and in the event of war, they will also join those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.'
CSB Come, let's deal shrewdly with them; otherwise they will multiply further, and when war breaks out, they will join our enemies, fight against us, and leave the country."
NLT We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country. '
KJV 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.

What does Exodus 1:10 mean?

Pharaoh continues his discussion with his people (Exodus 1:9) by declaring the answer to the problem of the large Hebrew population is to "deal shrewdly" with the Israelites. He bases his decision on the fear that the Israelites will become so numerous they will join Egypt's enemies during war and escape from the land. This policy was likely enforced for many years since two cities were built following this command.

This effort to "deal shrewdly" included forced labor, or what we today would define as slavery. This would serve as the first of three phases of oppression noted in this chapter. After this first phase of enslavement verse 12 notes that the population of Israel continued to grow. Second, the Egyptians "ruthlessly" forced the Israelites to work as slaves, making "their lives bitter" with harsh labor as brick makers and workers in fields (Exodus 1:12–14). Third, the Pharaoh will later tell Hebrew midwives to throw newborn Hebrew sons into the Nile. This infanticide was intended to reduce population growth (Exodus 1:15–22). Yet the midwives let the children live out of fear of God, causing Pharaoh to extend this murderous command to all of the Egyptian people (Exodus 1:22). Despite these efforts, nothing could stop God's plan to turn the Jewish people into a mighty nation (Genesis 12:1–3).
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