The Story of Passover
The story of Passover began with the arrival of Jacob and his family in Egypt to be with son Joseph who had become Viceroy of all Egypt. When Joseph and his brothers died and the children of Israel multiplied in the land of Egypt, King Pharaoh chose to forget all that Joseph had done for Egypt - transforming it into the wealthiest country in the world at the time. He decided to take action against the influence and growing numbers of the children of Israel. He summoned his council and they advised him to enslave these people and oppress them before they grew too powerful. Pharaoh embarked upon a policy of limiting the personal freedom of the Hebrews, putting heavy taxes on them and recruiting their men into forced labor battalions under the supervision of harsh taskmasters. The children of Israel were forced to build cities, erect monuments, construct roads, work in the quarries and hew stones or burn bricks or dies. But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the children multiplied. Finally, when King Pharaoh saw that forcing the Hebrews to do hard work did not succeed in suppressing their growing numbers, he decreed that all their newly born male children be thrown into the Nile River. Only daughters should be permitted to live.
Jacob's great-grandson, Amram, who married Yocheved, had a daughter Miriam, later to become a great prophetess, and a son named Aaron who later became the High Priest. When Yocheved bore a third child, she placed him in a basket, which she hid amongst the reeds at the edge of the Nile River in order to escape the king's soldiers who were snatching all the male babies and casting them into the Nile. When Pharaoh's daughter came to bathe in the Nile she discovered the baby and, seeing his unusual radiance, recognized that this child was someone very special. She called him Moshe and decided to raise him herself in the palace. She hired the baby's mother Yocheved to be his nurse, who also taught him about his rich Jewish heritage. When the children of Israel could no longer endure their terrible suffering at the hands of their cruel overlords, their cries for help coming from the very bottom of their hearts pierced the heavens. God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and decided to deliver their descendants from bondage. Moshe was 80 years old and his brother 83 years old when they entered the palace of King Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked the two brothers what they wanted. The message sounded like a command: "The God of Israel said, 'Let My people go, that they may serve me.'" Pharaoh refused, saying that he had never heard of the God of the Israelites. He further accused Moshe and Aaron of a conspiracy against the government and of interfering with the work of the Hebrew slaves. At Moshe's suggestion, Aaron then performed the miracles God had enabled him to perform, but Pharaoh was not greatly impressed, for his magicians could do almost as well.