What does Exodus 1:9 mean?
ESV: And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us.
NIV: Look,' he said to his people, 'the Israelites have become far too numerous for us.
NASB: And he said to his people, 'Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are too many and too mighty for us.
CSB: He said to his people, "Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and powerful than we are.
NLT: He said to his people, 'Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are.
KJV: And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:
NKJV: And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we;
Verse Commentary:
Pharaoh describes a growing problem to his Egyptian people. This problem involves two specific areas. First, he notes Israeli numbers had grown from seventy (Exodus 1:1–7) to somewhere possibly in the millions or nearly two million. Later verses indicate that Israel would continue to grow, despite oppression (Exodus 1:12). Second, Egypt's king worries the Israelites are "too mighty for us." Based on numbers alone, he is also concerned the Israelites could form an army and defeat the Egyptians in a time of war. Or, they could be convinced to join the enemies of the Egyptians to defeat them in an invasion (Exodus 1:10).

The first resolution attempted by Egypt's king is forced labor (Exodus 1:11). The enslaved Israelites are noted for building two cities, Pithom and Raamses (Exodus 1:11). Both cities were south of the capital of Zoan along tributaries of the Nile River leading to the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea. They were known as store cities. Though the exact meaning of "store cities" is uncertain, it is clear these cities were some kind of supply areas used by the Egyptians. They may have served as a continuation of Joseph's food storage efforts from the seven years of plenty when all Egyptians began the tradition of storing part of their grain.
Verse Context:
Exodus 1:1–14 describes the explosive growth of the nation of Israel and the erosion of their relationship to Egypt. Joseph's efforts in the past saved Egypt from ruin, and his family was welcomed into the land. Generations later, the drastic increase in their population is seen as a threat to the Egyptian people. Motivated by a combination of fear and disgust, the king of Egypt brutally enslaves the people of Israel in an attempt to reduce their numbers. This effort fails, and the following passage shows Pharaoh resorting to infanticide in an effort to control the Hebrews.
Chapter Summary:
The children of Abraham and Jacob grow rapidly, forming a prosperous nation made up of twelve tribes, one for each son of Jacob. This inspires fear and hate from the Egyptians. Their king first tries to slow down the Hebrews' growth by enslaving them. Next, he increases the brutality of their work. Then, he tries to command Jewish midwives to kill their own people's newborn baby boys. When these all fail, he openly orders the murder of all Jewish infant boys. Inadvertently, this creates the very situation which leads to the rise of Israel's eventual leader, Moses.
Chapter Context:
Exodus chapter 1 establishes the difficult reality faced by the nation of Israel. At the end of Genesis, Abraham's descendants were finally safe. In this passage, they become prosperous and expand rapidly. This, however, results in fear and hatred from the native Egyptians, who enact a program of slavery and infanticide against the Hebrews. This sets the scene for the arrival of Israel's greatest leader, the prophet Moses, who will speak for God during this time of Israel's rescue. The next chapter explains Moses' dangerous childhood and exile in the desert.
Book Summary:
The book of Exodus establishes God's covenant relationship with the full-fledged nation of Israel. The descendants of Abraham prosper after settling in Egypt, only to be enslaved by a fearful, hateful Egyptian Pharaoh. God appoints Moses to lead the people out of this bondage. Moses serves as God's spokesman, as the Lord brings plagues and judgments on Egypt, leading to the release of Israel.
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