Every boy that is born, throw him in the Nile. (Exodus 1:22, MSG)
Pharaoh wasn't happy that the Hebrews were growing in numbers. He made them slaves, he gave them the hardest possible work, and when that didn't slow the birth rate, he commanded the midwives to kill all Hebrew boy babies.
The midwives refused, and then Pharaoh took a radical course. He offered his final solution to the problem of too many Hebrews. (Hitler was far from the first to try to get rid of the Jewish people.)
This much of the story I knew. But I saw something different when I read Exodus 1:22 in The Message. I read it once, then went back and read it a second time. Then I looked at Exodus 1:22 in all forty translations included in Bible Gateway. A small majority, 5/8ths, say "Hebrews boys."
The remaining 3/8ths, almost half? They simply say that Pharaoh ordered every boy to be thrown into the Nile.
Pharaoh was so obsessed with getting rid of the Hebrews, that he was willing to kill his own people to achieve his aims.
I bet there were a lot of Egyptian parents wondering why . . . questioning their own gods--their king. Why does a Supreme Being allow this to happen?
A little more than a month has passed since the Sandy Hook shootings. I lived in Denver at the time of the Columbine shootings, and now I live in Oklahoma City, where a national memorial was raised to honor the victims of the bombings.
Why does evil happen to good people? Why does evil so often target the most innocent and most vulnerable, our children? No one can visit the National Memorial in the heart of Oklahoma City without being shaken by the nineteen child-sized chairs, representing the day care children who died.
I have no easy answers--the possibility of evil is implicit in our freedom to choose--but I take comfort in this verse from the end of Exodus 2: "God listened to their groanings. God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw what was going on with Israel. God understood."
God understood. And He acted.
In my favorite words ever heard on television, from a long-defunct comedy that I can't even name anymore, "God's heart was the first to break."
When the Israelites cried out, God understood and He sent Moses.
When I trusted Jesus as my Savior, God intervened and removed the man who had abused me for six years of my life. He listened--and He acted.
That is the only answer I've found that eases the hurt. God sees, and He cares.
God understands. That's a truth we can grab onto.