The Book of Jasher
And it came to pass after these things, that all the counsellors of Pharaoh, king of Egypt,
and all the elders of Egypt assembled and came before the king and bowed down to the
ground, and they sat before him.
And the counsellors and elders of Egypt spoke unto the king, saying,
Behold the people of the children of Israel is greater and mightier than we are, and thou
knowest all the evil which they did to us in the road when we returned from battle.
And thou hast also seen their strong power, for this power is unto them from their fathers,
for but a few men stood up against a people numerous as the sand, and smote them at the
edge of the sword, and of themselves not one has fallen, so that if they had been numerous
they would then have utterly destroyed them.
Now therefore give us counsel what to do with them, until we gradually destroy them from
amongst us, lest they become too numerous for us in the land.
For if the children of Israel should increase in the land, they will become an obstacle to us,
and if any war should happen to take place, they with their great strength will join our enemy
against us, and fight against us, destroy us from the land and go away from it.
So the king answered the elders of Egypt and said unto them, This is the plan advised
against Israel, from which we will not depart,
Behold in the land are Pithom and Rameses, cities unfortified against battle, it behooves
you and us to build them, and to fortify them.
Now therefore go you also and act cunningly toward them, and proclaim a voice in Egypt
and in Goshen at the command of the king, saying,
All ye men of Egypt, Goshen, Pathros and all their inhabitants! the king has commanded
us to build Pithom and Rameses, and to fortify them for battle; who amongst you of all Egypt,
of the children of Israel and of all the inhabitants of the cities, are willing to build with us, shall
each have his wages given to him daily at the king's order; so go you first and do cunningly,
and gather yourselves and come to Pithom and Rameses to build.
And whilst you are building, cause a proclamation of this kind to
be made throughout Egypt every day at the command of the king.
And when some of the children of Israel shall come to build with you, you shall give them
their wages daily for a few days.
And after they shall have built with you for their daily hire, drag yourselves away from them
daily one by one in secret, and then you shall rise up and become their task-masters and
officers, and you shall leave them afterward to build without wages, and should they refuse,
then force them with all your might to build.
And if you do this it will be well with us to strengthen our land against the children of Israel,
for on account of the fatigue of the building and the work, the children of Israel will decrease,
because you will deprive them from their wives day by day.
And all the elders of Egypt heard the counsel of the king, and the counsel seemed good in
their eyes and in the eyes of the servants of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all Egypt, and they
did according to the word of the king.
And all the servants went away from the king, and they caused a proclamation to be made
in all Egypt, in Tachpanches and in Goshen, and in all the cities which surrounded Egypt,
You have seen what the children of Esau and Ishmael did to us, who came to war against
us and wished to destroy us.
Now therefore the king commanded us to fortify the land, to build the cities Pithom and
Rameses, and to fortify them for battle, if they should again come against us.
Whosoever of you from all Egypt and from the children of Israel will come to build with us,
he shall have his daily wages given by the king, as his command is unto us.
And when Egypt and all the children of Israel heard all that the servants of Pharaoh had
spoken, there came from the Egyptians, and the children of Israel to build with the servants of
Pharaoh, Pithom and Rameses, but none of the children of Levi came with their brethren to
And all the servants of Pharaoh and his princes came at first with deceit to build with all
Israel as daily hired laborers, and they gave to Israel their daily hire at the beginning.
And the servants of Pharaoh built with all Israel, and were employed in that work with
Israel for a month.
And at the end of the month, all the servants of Pharaoh began to withdraw secretly from
the people of Israel daily.
And Israel went on with the work at that time, but they then received their daily hire,
because some of the men of Egypt were yet carrying on the work with Israel at that time;
therefore the Egyptians gave Israel their hire in those days, in order that they, the Egyptians
their fellow-workmen, might also take the pay for their labor.
And at the end of a year and four months all the Egyptians had withdrawn from the
children of Israel, so that the children of Israel were left alone engaged in the work.
And after all the Egyptians had withdrawn from the children of Israel they returned and
became oppressors and officers over them, and some of them stood over the children of
Israel as task masters, to receive from them all that they gave them for the pay of their labor.
And the Egyptians did in this manner to the children of Israel day by day, in order to afflict
in their work.
And all the children of Israel were alone engaged in the labor, and the Egyptians refrained
from giving any pay to the children of Israel from that time forward.
And when some of the men of Israel refused to work on account of the wages not being
given to them, then the exactors and the servants of Pharaoh oppressed them and smote
them with heavy blows, and made them return by force, to labor with their brethren; thus did
all the Egyptians unto the children of Israel all the days.
And all the children of Israel were greatly afraid of the Egyptians in this matter, and all the
children of Israel returned and worked alone without pay.
And the children of Israel built Pithom and Rameses, and all the children of Israel did the
work, some making bricks, and some building, and the children of Israel built and fortified all
the land of Egypt and its walls, and the children of Israel were engaged in work for many
years, until the time came when the Lord remembered them and brought them out of Egypt.
But the children of Levi were not employed in the work with their brethren of Israel, from
the beginning unto the day of their going forth from Egypt.
For all the children of Levi knew that the Egyptians had spoken all these words with deceit
to the Israelites, therefore the children of Levi refrained from approaching to the work with
And the Egyptians did not direct their attention to make the children of Levi work afterward,
since they had not been with their brethren at the beginning, therefore the Egyptians left them
And the hands of the men of Egypt were directed with continued severity against the
children of Israel in that work, and the Egyptians made the children of Israel work with rigor.
And the Egyptians embittered the lives of the children of Israel with hard work, in mortar
and bricks, and also in all manner of work in the field.
And the children of Israel called Melol the king of Egypt "Meror, king of Egypt," because in
his days the Egyptians had embittered their lives with all manner of work.
And all the work wherein the Egyptians made the children of Israel labor, they exacted with
rigor, in order to afflict the children of Israel, but the more they afflicted them, the more they
increased and grew, and the Egyptians were grieved because of the children of Israel.