Sonnet: Exodus 1

This sheet on Exodus 1 was written by Ilana Kurshan for 929 and can also be found here

These are the names – and all of them are male
The sons of Jacob who to Egypt came
Just seventy at first – it was small scale
Then rose a king who knew not Joseph’s fame.

The king saw Jacob’s sons and grandsons – lots!
For they had babes and babes and babes galore
A demographic crisis! He could not
Keep letting Jews have babies anymore.

He made them work as slaves, and lest they fight
Appointed taskmasters who said: Make brick!
They toiled all day long, no end in sight
And still they had more babes – what was their trick?

Said Pharaoh: Throw all boys into the Nile
But girls may live. (He knew not of their wiles.)

(א) וְאֵ֗לֶּה שְׁמוֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל הַבָּאִ֖ים מִצְרָ֑יְמָה אֵ֣ת יַעֲקֹ֔ב אִ֥ישׁ וּבֵית֖וֹ בָּֽאוּ׃
(1) These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each coming with his household:

Ilana Kurshan is the author of If All the Seas Were Ink, winner of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.

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