With Shemot, the defining drama of the Jewish people begins. In exile in Egypt, they multiply until they are no longer a family but a nation. Pharaoh, fearing that they pose a threat to Egypt, enslaves the Israelites and orders their male children killed. Moses, an Israelite child adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, is chosen by God to confront Pharaoh and lead the people to freedom. Reluctantly, Moses agrees, but his initial intervention only makes things worse, and on this tense note the parsha ends.