Rav Yosef Karo: A New King
“And a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know of Joseph. He said to his people, “Behold! the people, the Children of Israel, are more numerous and stronger than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they become numerous and go up from the land.” So they appointed taskmasters over them… they built storage cities. They embittered their lives with hard work, with mortar and with bricks, and with every labor of the field. All their labors… (Exod. 1:8-14).
“And a new king arose,” that is, he was appointed, for the Sitra Achra wished to take away the abundance from the holy malchut. As it is written”asher lo yada et Yosef,” with the word “Yada,”having the same meaning as in the verse: “And Adam united with Eve, his wife.” Thus the verse means that the new king wished that there not be unity between malchut and the righteous Joseph. “So Pharaoh spoke to (the level of) his people.” “Hinei,”refers to this side, the holy side, referring to Knesset Israel, like the word “Hinei,” in the verse “Hinei mitato shel Shlomo,” [Song of Songs 3:7] [which means, allegorically:] “here is the resting place of He to Whom peace belongs,” i.e., the holy Tent of Meeting and the Ark which are located
in Knesset Israel. “The people, the Children of Israel, are more numerous and stronger than we.
“Come, let us deal wisely with them,” that is, let us take the abundance that goes to the lower Wisdom from the upper Wisdom. “Lest they become numerous … and go up from the land,” that is, lest they rise in the rise of “the land” which is malchut, i.e., Knesset Israel.
“So they appointed taskmasters over them,” etc., in order to subjugate Knesset Israel under the Sitra Achra. “And they built storage cities” – the word “miskeinot,”can be read to mean ‘storehouses,’ and it can be read to mean ‘places of wretchedness’ of the Sitra Achra. “And they embittered their lives”—the place was filled with bitterness.
Six [types of subjugation] are mentioned here: “they embittered” – one; “with hard work’ – two; “with mortar” – three; “and with bricks” – four; “and with every labor” – five, “of the field,” which hints at the apple field. “all their labors,” etc. – six. These hint at the six sefirot that give abundance to Knesset Israel. The Egyptians wanted to stop the abundance that was being drawn from the sefirot to Knesset Israel, and
to draw Knesset Israel instead to the Sitra Achra, to the place of bitterness.
[Exod. 1:22] “Every son that will be born—into the River shall you throw him!” Since the Egyptians worshipped the Nile River, Pharaoh commanded that newborn children of Israel be thrown into it to give it validity [as sacrifices]. “And every daughter shall you keep alive” [ibid.] – because a female is from the side of din “Judgment.” Also, since the Sitra Achra came from that side,