And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.
Fear, we know, is a powerful motivator, but it is often an evil one. It is too easy to miss the line between self-preservation and bigotry and hatred. And let us not presume that good people are immune.
The word dread here shows that what may have begun as caution on the part of a leader had turned to an pervading, irrational, and consuming emotional force. Earlier in the chapter we are told "there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph." That king led his people into forgetfulness. Once they forgot history, forgot the good Joseph and the people of Israel had done for his kingdom, it would take little time to assume a threat where none existed.
We must cast fear aside, not only for our own well-being, but also that justice and peace may prevail, permeating our culture rather than fueling oppression. The scriptures tell us, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." And so we must labor, doing the hard work of love; otherwise we live in destructive dread.
Lord God who is Love and teaches us love: Perfect us in love that we not live as slaves to fear, but have the courage to mirror your Love and live in Peace with You, our selves, and the world. We ask this in the Name of Him who is Our Peace, Jesus Christ. Amen.