In Ancient Egypt, Yocheved, a Hebrew mother, and her two children, Miriam and Aaron, watch as the newborn Hebrew boys are taken and ruthlessly killed as ordered by Pharaoh Seti, who fears that an alarming increase in Hebrew slaves could lead to rebellion. Fearing for her own newborn son's safety, Yocheved places him in a basket afloat on the Nile River, not before bidding him farewell with a final but powerful lullaby. Miriam follows the basket to the Pharaoh's palace and witnesses her baby brother safely adopted by Queen Tuya, who names him Moses.
Years later, Moses and his brother Rameses are scolded by their father for accidentally destroying a temple during one of their youthful misadventures. At Moses' suggestion, Seti, seeking to give Rameses the opportunity to prove that he is responsible, names him Prince Regent and gives him authority over Egypt's temples. As a tribute, the high priests Hotep and Huy offer him a beautiful young Midianite woman, Tzipporah, whom Rameses gives to Moses, appointing him Royal Chief Architect.
Later that evening, Moses follows Tzipporah as she escapes from the palace and runs into the now-adult Miriam and Aaron, but he does not recognize them. Miriam then sings her mother's lullaby, which Moses remembers; he returns to the palace, eager to return to familiar surroundings. The truth about his past is later confirmed by a nightmare, and finally by Seti himself, who disturbs Moses by claiming the Hebrews are "only slaves". The next morning, Moses accidentally kills an Egyptian guard while trying to stop him from whipping a Hebrew slave. Horrified and ashamed, Moses flees into the desert in exile, despite Rameses' pleas to stay.
While in the desert Moses defends three young girls from bandits, only to find out their older sister is Tzipporah. Moses is welcomed by Tzipporah's father and the high priest of Midian, Jethro. After assimilating this new culture, Moses becomes a shepherd and marries Tzipporah. One day, while chasing a stray lamb, Moses discovers a burning bush through which God tells him to go back to Egypt and guide the Hebrew slaves to freedom. God bestows Moses' shepherding staff with his power and promises that he will tell Moses what to say. Moses and Tzipporah return to Egypt, where Moses is happily greeted by Rameses, who is now Pharaoh.
When Moses requests the Hebrews' release and changes his staff into an Egyptian cobra to demonstrate his alliance with God, Hotep and Huy boastfully recreate this transformation, only to have their snakes eaten by Moses' snake. Rather than be persuaded, Rameses hardens and doubles the Hebrews' workload. Moses inflicts nine of the Plagues of Egypt, but Rameses refuses to relent and, against Moses' warning (foreshadowing the final plague), vows to never release the Hebrew slaves. Disheartened, Moses prepares the Hebrews for the tenth and final plague, instructing them to sacrifice a lamb and mark the doorposts with the lamb's blood. That night, the final plague kills all the firstborn children of Egypt, including Rameses' son, while sparing those of the Hebrews. A grief-stricken Rameses finally gives Moses permission to free the Hebrews. Moses leaves and weeps in the streets, heartbroken at the pain he has caused his brother and Egypt.
The following morning, the Hebrews leave Egypt, led by Moses, Miriam, Aaron, and Tzipporah. At the Red Sea, they discover that Rameses is closely pursuing them with his army. Upon arrival, Moses uses his staff to part the sea, while a writhing pillar of fire blocks the army's way. The Hebrews cross the open sea bottom; and when the fire vanishes and the army gives chase, the water closes over the Egyptian soldiers, sparing Rameses alone.
Because DreamWorks was concerned about theological accuracy, Jeffrey Katzenberg decided to call in Biblical scholars, Christian, Jewish and Muslim theologians, and Arab American leaders to help his film be more accurate and faithful to the original story. After previewing the developing film, all these leaders noted that the studio executives listened and responded to their ideas, and praised the studio for reaching out for comment from outside sources.
The Prince of Egypt