Balaam's advice was accepted by Pharaoh and the Egyptians. They knew that God pays measure for measure, therefore they believed that the drowning of the men children would be the safest means of exterminating the Hebrews, without incurring harm themselves, for the Lord had sworn unto Noah never again to destroy the world by water. Thus, they assumed, they would be exempt from punishment, wherein they were wrong, however. In the first place, though the Lord had sworn not to bring a flood upon men, there was nothing in the way of bringing men into a flood. Furthermore, the oath of God applied to the whole of mankind, not to a single nation. The end of the Egyptians was that they met their death in the billows of the Red Sea. "Measure for measure"--as they had drowned the men children of the Israelites, so they were drowned.
Pharaoh now took steps looking to the faithful execution of his decree. He sent his bailiffs into the houses of the Israelites, to discover all new-born children, wherever they might be. To make sure that the Hebrews should not succeed in keeping the children hidden, the Egyptians hatched a devilish plan. Their women were to take their little ones to the houses of the Israelitish women that were suspected of having infants. When the Egyptian children began to cry or coo, the Hebrew children that were kept in hiding would join in, after the manner of babies, and betray their presence, whereupon the Egyptians would seize them and bear them off.
Furthermore, Pharaoh commanded that the Israelitish women employ none but Egyptian midwives, who were to secure precise information as to the time of their delivery, and were to exercise great care, and let no male child escape their vigilance alive. If there should be parents that evaded the command, and preserved a new-born boy in secret, they and all belonging to them were to be killed.
Is it to be wondered at, then, that many of the Hebrews kept themselves away from their wives? Nevertheless those who put trust in God were not forsaken by Him. The women that remained united with their husbands would go out into the field when their time of delivery arrived, and give birth to their children and leave them there, while they themselves returned home. The Lord, who had sworn unto their ancestors to multiply them, sent one of His angels to wash the babes, anoint them, stretch their limbs, and swathe them. Then he would give them two smooth pebbles, from one of which they sucked milk, and from the other honey. And God caused the hair of the infants to grow down to their knees and serve them as a protecting garment, and then He ordered the earth to receive the babes, that they be sheltered therein until the time of their growing up, when it would open its mouth and vomit forth the children, and they would sprout up like the herb of the field and the grass of the forest. Thereafter each would return to his family and the house of his father.
When the Egyptians saw this, they went forth, every man to his field, with his yoke of oxen, and they ploughed up the earth as one ploughs it at seed time. Yet they were unable to do harm to the infants of the children of Israel that had been swallowed up and lay in the bosom of the earth. Thus the people of Israel increased and waxed exceedingly. And Pharaoh ordered his officers to go to Goshen, to look for the male babes of the children of Israel, and when they discovered one, they tore him from his mother's breast by force, and thrust him into the river." But no one is so valiant as to be able to foil God's purposes, though he contrive ten thousand subtle devices unto that end. The child foretold by Pharaoh's dreams and by his astrologers was brought up and kept concealed from the king's spies. It came to pass after the following manner.