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    Store cities for Pharaoh

    Slavery in Egypt, from the Barcelona Haggadah, 14th century

    Pharaoh imposed hard labour on the Israelites, but to what purpose?

    The root translated as “store cities” – samech-chaf-nun – means, according to the Jewish commentators, “to take care of”. The cities thus designated could have been either storage depots for food, or military equipment bases (cf. I Kings 9:19 where Solomon had cities for storage and depots for his chariots and horsemen).

    Hence the Israelites were put to work creating facilities for Egypt’s military system, not merely for its economy.

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