Why did Pharaoh only try to throw boys into the Nile or kill first-born boys?

Jacob Wright argues that both Genesis and Exodus have been reshaped as post-exile stories that emphasize how survival in this new Persian empire depends on fertility. So while Pharaoh comes out with an army, Moses has an army of babies. Genesis has a similar contest between Jacob and Esau. So Pharaoh is afraid that the Hebrew babies will grow up to be an army. This tells post-exile Jews to concentrate on fertility instead of fighting, to preserve their identity against their powerful overlords, the Persians.┬áThis story valorizes fertile women and midwives, but it also reaffirms the patriarchal value that women’s value is as the mother of sons.

Because this is essentially a P story that explains the origin of Passover, God’s redemption of the first-born sons of Israel with calf’s blood must be repeated three times a year in sacrifice. The second-temple or post-exile period was dominated by national days of sacrifice in which the Israelites sacrificed a goat or lamb to pay for the redemption (or substitution–see how this word is used in Ruth) of the first-born sons and to repeat it.

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