Exodus 1:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Exodus 1:12, NIV: "But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites"

Exodus 1:12, ESV: "But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel."

Exodus 1:12, KJV: "But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel."

Exodus 1:12, NASB: "But the more they oppressed them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they dreaded the sons of Israel."

Exodus 1:12, NLT: "But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became."

Exodus 1:12, CSB: "But the more they oppressed them, the more they multiplied and spread so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites."

What does Exodus 1:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

These words reveal how God's plan continues to move forward regardless of human efforts to stop it. Despite Pharaoh's purposefully harsh slave labor, the Israelites "multiplied." The rapid growth of the Hebrew people continues to concern Pharaoh. In fact, he adds further slave work to stop them (Exodus 1:13). Moses uses this verse to show how God's efforts are more powerful than those of the Egyptian king. In addition, God continues to fulfill His promise to make Abraham's descendants a nation (Genesis 12:1–3).

The idea that the Hebrews "spread abroad" is often overlooked. Some have wrongly viewed this term to mean Hebrews were moving to other nations. However, the context is clear that the rapid growth of the Jewish people involved a tremendous population change. The land of Goshen was considered "abroad" to the native Egyptians, and there the Jews continued to grow more densely populated, raising concern among Pharaoh and the Egyptians. However, the Jews were brutalized slaves at this time, and lacked freedom to move to other lands.

The Egyptians were "in dread" meaning they feared the rapid growth of the Jews. The Egyptians were a superstitious and polytheistic people who saw the growth of the Jews as something concerning to security as well as perhaps a spiritual sign. This was also an issue of racism: the Hebrew phrase here, yā'qu-su mi pene, also implies disgust and hatred. Egypt's attitude towards the people of Israel involves not only fear, but loathing as well.