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19He dealt craftily with our race and forced our ancestors to abandon their infants so that they would die.

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19. Dealt subtilely. The old interpreter did not translate this amiss, to deceive. 406406     “Circumvenire,” to circumvent. For Stephen meaneth that the king of Egypt did craftily invent new shifts and wicked pretenses, that he might every now and then lay heavier burdens upon the people, like as almost all tyrants do; for how unjustly soever they vex their subjects, they are [but] too witty to invent excuses. And it is not to be doubted but that Pharaoh abused this honest color, that it was not meet that the Jews, who were sojourners, should have a place of abode in his realm for nought, and that they should be free from all burthens, seeing they did enjoy great commodities. Therefore, he deceitfully made them vile bondslaves of free-men. When Stephen saith that this tyrant knew not Joseph, hereby it appeareth how soon the remembrance of benefits passeth away among men, For although we do all with one consent detest unthankfulness, yet is there no vice more common amongst us.

Lest they should be increased. Erasmus translateth this improperly, in my judgment. For [Ζωογονεισθαι] expresseth more than lest their children should live. For the word is fet [fetched] thence, because the people doth all always remain alive in the offspring. And, furthermore Stephen doth not reckon up all the parts of their evil-entreating, but putteth down one example of extreme cruelty. Whence we may easily gather how near the whole seed of Abraham was to destruction. For Pharaoh seemed to have murdered them all with that commandment as with one stroke of a sword. But such violent barbarism did the more set forth the unlooked-for and incredible power of God; because when Pharaoh hath, by all means possible, striven against God, yet all is in vain.