The Jewish people were fertile and prolific. They increased and grew very, very mighty, and the land was filled with them.
The Jewish people were fertile and prolific. They increased and grew very, very mighty
The six words in this verse allude to the Jewish women giving birth to sextuplets (Rashi).
Each set of sextuplets was united at its source; thus, causing harm to even one of the siblings could harm them all. This can be understood more broadly as indicating that all Jews are united at their source (Likutey Moharan I, 69). Any kind of damage caused by strife to one Jew harms all Jews, particularly in financial matters.
The Jewish people were fertile and prolific
The "growth" of the Jewish nation represents an increase in their knowledge of Godliness (Likutey Halakhot II, p. 188). This is what aggravated Pharaoh and made him decide to force them into slavery.
A new king who did not know Joseph arose over Egypt.
A new king who did not know Joseph arose over Egypt
Some say he was literally a new king who did not know Joseph. Others say he was the old king who pretended not to recall the good that Joseph had done for the Egyptians and renewed his decrees against the Jews (Rashi).
The evil forces always try to entrap a person and prevent him from doing good. These forces are symbolized by MitZRayIM (Egypt), which represents MeitZaRIM (narrow straits, constrictions)—i.e., the suffering and difficulties that result from sin. Whether Egypt is ruled by a new king or an old one, the result is the same: sometimes new obstacles arise to challenge one's good intentions to serve God, and other times new decrees and statements challenging God inhibit people from recognizing Him. In either case, the forces of evil pretend not to "know Joseph”—they do not recognize the tzaddik and his ability to assist people in their quest for Godliness. Instead, they seek to enslave and repress people with “hard labor”—these are the hard questions people have regarding their devotions and their difficulties in attaining clear answers (Zohar I, 27a).
Yet the Jews survived because of the midwives Shifrah and Puah. ShiPhraH is related to meShaPeR (beautify), and PuAH refers to PoeH, breathing life into the newborn infants by cooing and speaking to them softly and kindly (Rashi). The midwives represent the tzaddikim who constantly find merit in the Jewish people and speak to them with compassion and direction, helping them strengthen themselves despite all the difficulties they face.
Pharaoh decreed to kill the male infants and keep the females alive. The son/male represents joy, which Pharaoh tries to repress so that one cannot draw any vitality into his devotions. The daughter/female represents the aspect of depression (cf. Proverbs 5:5: “Her feet descend unto death”), which Pharaoh tries to heighten so that he can dominate his subjects. But the midwives—the tzaddikim—ignore Pharaoh’s attempts and keep joy alive, bringing freshness and vitality to those who search for Godliness (Likutey Halakhot III, p. 79a-158).