14 day plan

Women of the Bible You Need to Meet

Day 2 of 14

Exodus 1:17

17The midwives, however, feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live.

Reflection:  Puah and Shiphrah 

For further reading see Exodus 1:1-22

Shiphrah and Puah are early examples in the Bible of resistance to an oppressive government. A situation we are familiar with has happened. One ethnic group within a country has become larger (the Israelites here), making others afraid. Those in power seek to reduce their numbers, in this case by killing baby boys at birth. Shiphrah and Puah as midwives are ordered to carry this out. But they recognise that in this case the government asks them to participate in evil. In order to save these children and their people, they disobey this law and even lie in order to protect them. We are told that in saving these babies they pleased God. Shiphrah and Puah show courage and moral wisdom. Different principles can come into conflict. It is good to obey civil law, and to tell the truth. Yet sometimes we are called to resist evil power.

Question:  Can you think of other examples in which it has been good to resist those in power – why was it necessary in these cases?

Prayer:  Lord, help me to always put my allegiance to you first. Give me wisdom in when to obey and when to resist. Amen.

Exodus 1:1-22

Israel Oppressed in Egypt

1These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob; each came with his family:

2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah;

3Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin;

4Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher.

5The total number of Jacob’s descendants was seventy; Joseph was already in Egypt.

6Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation eventually died. 7But the Israelites were fruitful, increased rapidly, multiplied, and became extremely numerous so that the land was filled with them.

8A new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. 9He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and powerful than we are. 10Come, let’s deal shrewdly with them; otherwise they will multiply further, and when war breaks out, they will join our enemies, fight against us, and leave the country.” 11So the Egyptians assigned taskmasters over the Israelites to oppress them with forced labor. They built Pithom and Rameses as supply cities for Pharaoh. 12But the more they oppressed them, the more they multiplied and spread so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. 13They worked the Israelites ruthlessly 14and made their lives bitter with difficult labor in brick and mortar and in all kinds of fieldwork. They ruthlessly imposed all this work on them.

15The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives — the first, whose name was Shiphrah, and the second, whose name was Puah —  16“When you help the Hebrew women give birth, observe them as they deliver. If the child is a son, kill him, but if it’s a daughter, she may live.” 17The midwives, however, feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live. 18So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this and let the boys live?”

19The midwives said to Pharaoh, “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.”

20So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied and became very numerous. 21Since the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22Pharaoh then commanded all his people, “You must throw every son born to the Hebrews into the Nile, but let every daughter live.”