Seeds of Promise Series by Shenica Graham
Puah & Shiprah: Hebrew Midwives
Women of The Bible
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Memory Verse: 20 So God dealt well with the midwives and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21 And because the midwives revered and feared God, He made them households [of their own]. Exodus 1:20-21 AMP
Devotional Reading: Exodus 1:6-22 AMP
6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7 But the descendants of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, and the land was full of them. 8 Now a new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph. 9 He said to his people, Behold, the Israelites are too many and too mighty for us [and they [a]outnumber us both in people and in strength]. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply more and, should war befall us, they join our enemies, fight against us, and escape out of the land. 11 So they set over [the Israelites] taskmasters to afflict and oppress them with [increased] burdens. And [the Israelites] built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more [the Egyptians] oppressed them, the more they multiplied and expanded, so that [the Egyptians] were vexed and alarmed because of the Israelites. 13 And the Egyptians reduced the Israelites to severe slavery. 14 They made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar, brick, and all kinds of work in the field. All their service was with harshness and severity.
15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, of whom one was named Shiprah and the other Puah, 16 When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, she shall live. 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded, but let the male babies live. 18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, Why have you done this thing and allowed the male children to live? 19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; they are vigorous and quickly delivered; their babies are born before the midwife comes to them. 20 So God dealt well with the midwives and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21 And because the midwives revered and feared God, He made them households [of their own]. 22 Then Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son born [to the Hebrews] you shall cast into the river [Nile], but every daughter you shall allow to live.
Though Joseph had been second in all the land of Egypt, the history was not passed on the next generation. Consequently, after Joseph died and was buried; and after his generation also slept with their fathers in the grave, there arose a generation that had no honor for what Joseph had established, and they knew him not. The Egyptians eventually felt threatened by the Israelites because God multiplied them greatly. Thus the people of Pharaoh’s kingdom conspired to weaken the obvious advantage of their perceived threat – by enslaving and oppressing them with a great offence. To Pharaoh’s dismay, the more the Egyptians oppressed the Children of Israel, the more they grew strong and multiplied. The next attempt to conquer the great multitude of the Israelites was a desperate call from a fearful people. Pharaoh asked the midwives to help put an end to the Hebrew Zerah – the seed of the people, by killing every male born child. Pharoah’s ambition to kill every male was a setup. The Egyptians knew that the Hebrews did not serve the gods that they had set up in their various temples. However, they thought that by reason of the oppression, they would be able to halt what they saw as an opportunity for rebellion or revolt, in a sense to curse what God has blessed. They did not know that you cannot curse what God has blessed. While God’s blessing was on the people, He was an enemy to their enemies; thus God defied the armies and taskmasters of Pharaoh by making the Israelites an exceeding, strong people. Even when Pharaoh tried to break their backs by requiring outrageous labor – such as building bricks without straw, the Hebrew slaves produced more in their lack than when they had ample supplies.
Though they tried to break the spirit of the Israelites, the Egyptians could not altogether break them because their spirits were in covenant with the Spirit of God. These were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whom God promised to bless and multiply like the sands of the sea and the stars of the sky. Even malnourished, the Hebrew slaves were stronger on their weak days than the Egyptians, because they had the strength of God on their side.
Thankfully, the Hebrew midwives feared God – and it’s a good thing, too, because God had a plan for the offspring that they were ushering into the world. Had the midwives slain the children as they were instructed by Pharaoh, it is almost certain that not only would God’s wrath have been kindled against Pharaoh for giving such a command, but the Hebrew midwives would undoubtedly also have suffered severely as they understood that there was a connection between God and man, and that their slaying of a manchild (or anyone else), would have been counted against them as murder. The midwives were not blind followers of their employer, Pharaoh. They were servants of God who reverenced His omnipotence and would not stand in the place of God, as one who should determine what child would live and what child would die. God instructs his people to obey the laws of the land; however, when conflict exists, the believer is to obey God rather than man. In turn, for saving the male children alive, God enlarged the tents of the midwives.
The Hebrew midwives did not dare defy God by slaying the babes. Pharoah’s perceived problem was growing along with his desperation, thus he made a second call upon murderous audacity and commanded all his people to become murderers by casting any male Hebrew child seen into the Nile river to drown. Now this decree was made before the birth of Moses, whom Pharoaoh’s sister claimed as her own son.