Exodus 1:8

ESV Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
NIV Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.
NASB Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
CSB A new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt.
NLT Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done.
KJV Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
NKJV Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.

What does Exodus 1:8 mean?

This verse transitions from the introduction regarding the growth of Jacob's family to the situation just prior to the birth of Moses. A new king (Pharaoh) arose in Egypt who "did not know Joseph." The implication is that previous Pharaohs respected Joseph's role in saving their nation, while this new ruler had either no knowledge or no concern for this history. Despite popular use of the name Rameses, the exact identification of this Pharaoh is uncertain. Likely candidates are Thutmose I, Neferhotep I, or possibly Amenhoteph I. The capital city during these times was Zoan, known as Tanis in Greek.

Whoever this specific ruler was, he saw the Hebrew people as a threat to Egyptian rule. The Egyptians had recently struggled against a people group known as the Hyksos, and were likely focused on establishing a greater nationalism. The Pharaoh would focus on three different ways of decreasing the threat of the Hebrew people in the remaining verses of this chapter. His rule was oppressive and violent, leading to God's intervention among the Hebrews and the midwives who served among them.
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