Exodus 1

8 It would be difficult to believe that no record survived. At the very least, Joseph's coffin remained. The new Pharaoh either did not care about history or simply did not respect the memory of Joseph.
9 The Israelites had managed to keep their national identity, although they only lived a few miles from the center of Egyptian society. The Israelites were numerous, and their strength came from a tradition of manual labor.
10 The Egyptians were suspicious even though the Israelites had not done anything to deserve this suspicion.
11 Pharaoh decided to make slaves of the Israelites. Perhaps this is an ironic twist: Joseph, and Israelite, had the Egyptians build supply cities. Here, the Egyptians forced the Israelites to build supply cities. This difference was that Joseph was doing something good for the Egyptians. Here, the Egyptians wanted to destroy the Israelites.
12 Pharaoh's plan backfired. Instead of destroying the Israelites, they were multiplying. Since they had now made themselves enemies of Israel, it would be certain that they would rebel and join any enemy that attacked Egypt.
13 The plan was not working, so the Egyptians decided to step up the intensity.
14 This verse indicates that the Israelites were doing all the manual labor: building, farming, and tending livestock. Perhaps the Egyptians did not realize that manual labor was making the Israelites physically stronger, while they themselves were becoming weaker.
16 It is quite an irony that Pharaoh asked women dedicated to helping deliver babies to kill them instead. If sterilization or abortion had been developed in this day, Pharaoh would have undoubtedly used them. In many places today, abortions are offered as a method of birth control or reducing the offspring of "unwanted" people.

Pharaoh (and other rulers like him) wanted to kill the male children for two reasons. First, the males tend to be more aggressive and take leadership roles. Secondly, if a "foreign" woman married an Egyptian, the children would be considered Egyptian.

17 Whether Pharaoh used threats or bribery, the women would not obey the Pharaoh's command because God provided better incentives. In our lives, we may have people tell us to do bad things. We must remember that no matter what people threaten, it can not compare to pleasing God. No matter what people offer, it can not compare to the reward God offers.
19 Verse 17 would indicate that this was not the whole truth, although it could have been true in many cases. It is unlikely that Pharaoh knew very much about childbearing, so he would not know if there was really any difference between Egyptian and Hebrew birthing.
20 Even if the midwives faltered in the truth before Pharaoh, they pleased God by sparing children instead of killing them.
22 Pharaoh is still reluctant to get blood on his own hands, so he forces people to drown their own sons. It is not said how Pharaoh got parents to kill their own children. Perhaps he threatened to kill the parents and their children.

This combination of genocide and infanticide must have been truly horrific. The drowning of the babies in the Nile may have been equivalent to offering sacrifices to it, since the Egyptians worshiped the Nile. It is ironic, though, that the Nile, considered a giver of life to Egypt, was to be the grave of the Hebrew people.