Uncanny how history repeats itself. This afternoon I was reviewing Parshat Shemot, in the very interesting version of Meam Loez of Rabbi Yaakov Culi. Really a brilliant expose, with so many sources, so many historical facts. I was struck by the story, almost identical to what is happening today: Pharaoh's character, his tricks, his deceptions, the progression of the persecution against the Jews, the failures.... let us hope that the outcome will also be the same, with a Geula Shelemah, B"H.
Please follow the saga with me.
But first, an interesting historical note, from Sefer Hayashar, Midrash Tanchuma, Shemot Rabbah; Meam Loez, pages 239, 241, 244 (summary)
The pharaoh who ruled when Moshe fled to Midian was Amenhotep IV, or Ikhnaton. He developed a very great hatred for Moshe, even though they had grown up together in the palace. The previous pharaoh, Amenhotep III, was the father of Batyah who raised Moshe, and he died when Moshe was 26. The Midrashic description of Amenhotep IV, who was called Adikam before he became pope - oops, I meant pharaoh! - fits the statues made of Ikhnaton.
Ikhnaton learned about monotheism from Moshe, but wanted to start his own CULT, so he replaced the worship of God with the worship of ATON, THE DISC OF THE SUN. Still, of all the pharaohs, he is the one who came closest to monotheism. His successor, Ay, was overthrown by the pharaoh of the Exodus, a commoner, Horemheb, who reintroduced the ancient Egyptian cult and idol worship.
Look at the worship in Catholicism: interesting, isn't it? A cult that draws on monotheism but can't quite come to terms with it. See the 'monstrances' attached, an important part of the catholic cult. - or should we say, the CULT OF ATON? The CULT OF THE SUN(day).
Now, back to the story of oppression and infanticide ( which started before Moshe was born):
It is worth reading the whole account in Meam Loez for all details: EXODUS I, really a precious text.
The Egyptians' motive was to reduce the fertility rate of the Israelites....according to one opinion, Pharaoh wanted the midwives - Shifrah, Puah and their associates - to abort the fetuses before they were born. He ordered that the matter be kept TOP SECRET, not to be revealed to anyone, Egyptian or Israelite.... no one would know that the children died because of the decree... the mothers would simply assume that their children had been stillborn .
Pharaoh did not dare kill the Israelites openly, even though it would have been easier, because it would have given him a bad name, so he sought ways in which to exterminate them secretly....
The midwives refused orders, did not cooperate, did everything they could to help the babies to be born, no matter what....
....Then Pharaoh gave the orders to the Egyptians to kill the baby boys. At first he was ASHAMED to let the world know that he was spilling innocent blood, but when he saw that HIS GOALS WERE NOT BEING ACCOMPLISHED, he got his own men to do the dirty work.
"Throughout all this, the Israelites did not know that it was a plan devised against them by Pharaoh. They were led to believe that such ghastly acts were being done by individual Egyptians on their own initiative. Many Israelites even complained to the authorities, and were told that if proper witnesses would be brought, the perpetrators would be punished.
Eventually, of course, the Israelites discovered the truth. As it became known, the Egyptians began to commit such murders openly......."
Rings a bell? History repeating itself? Uncanny how the Talmidei Chachamim got the motivation right, down to the last detail...