Lessons from Midwives and a Princess
31 Days of Women from Scripture
Saving a Nation
Day Seven: Hebrew Midwives & Pharaoh’s Daughter
Ex. 1:15-22; Ex. 2:5-10; Ac. 7:21-23; Heb. 11:24
Making a plan and seeing it come to fruition. It’s an awesome thing.
It’s really awesome when it is God who has done the planning!
The Bible is full of God’s promises being kept. It is full of prophecies of events that will come to pass far into the future – and they all occur just as promised. Women play a part in many of those events in Scripture and God does not fail to highlight them.
God told Abraham that the nation that would come from his descendants had some things to go through before they acquired the land God promised Abraham would be theirs (Gen. 12:1-7; Gen. 15).
God had told Abraham that the nation would be oppressed for 400 years in another land, but that the people would come out of that enslavement with “many possessions” (Gen. 15:13-14).
The time has now come for these things to begin.
The nation of Israel is in Egypt thanks to Joseph’s placement there. But after Joseph died, there came a new king of Egypt who knew nothing of Joseph and that history (Ex. 1:8). He sees a foreign people living in his country and he needs to prevent their becoming mightier than Egypt. He puts God’s people to work.
The work didn’t do much to keep these people from multiplying! So, the king made a law and gave this law directly to the midwives of the Hebrews. These two women were named Shiphrah and Puah (Ex .1:15).
The king tells these women that all baby boys are to be killed at birth, but baby girls may be allowed to live.
But here is a place where God uses women to bring His plans about!
These women feared God! They’ve been in Egypt for generations, Joseph is long gone, and a deliverer has not yet been sent to tell them that God will bring them out. Nonetheless, these two women feared God.
The midwives did not obey the king’s command and baby boys were left alive. The king finds out about this and calls the women to him. He asks why they have done this. The women simply say that the Hebrew women are so healthy they give birth before a midwife can get there.
The king now takes the law to ALL the people. He tells them to cast every baby boy into the Nile river, but baby girls may live (Ex. 1:22).
I often wonder if Pharaoh had thought that he would intimidate these midwives into submission. He took the law directly to them himself (Ex. 1:15). He thought that controlling these two women would be all he needed to meet his objective. Whether he underestimated these women or overestimated his power, I do not know. But the power of God trumped it all!
These women showed great faith in God by refusing to obey the king’s command. They understood what the apostles’ expressed in the face of persecution – “We must obey God rather than men” (Ac. 5:29).
Jochebed is the next woman to play a part in God’s plan. If He is going to bring His people out of Egypt, they will need a leader. Jochebed is the mother of a baby boy (Ex. 2:2). Hebrews 11:23 tells us that the great faith of this boy’s parents caused them to hide him for three months. Then it became hard to hide him.
Jochebed crafted a water-tight basket and put her young son into it along the banks of the Nile river (Ex. 2:3). She set her daughter to watch “to find out what would happen to him” (Ex 2:4). Not to watch to keep him safe. Not to watch to keep him from floating away. Which I’m sure she did that too, but to watch in anticipation of something happening.
Enter our fourth woman who God used to move this story along.
The princess comes to bathe in the Nile. She and her maidens are walking along the river and the princess notices the basket among the reeds.
She sends her maid to get it and to bring the basket to her. She opens this basket and finds a crying baby boy!
Scripture says she “had pity on him” and recognized that he was a Hebrew child.
That big sister who was keeping watch, she was ready. She walked up to the princess who is holding her baby brother and offers to find a nurse from among the Hebrew women. The princess agrees and who does that girl go get but the baby’s own mother, Jochebed (Ex. 2:8)!
The princess arranges with the baby’s mother that she will nurse the baby and the princess will pay her. Once the child was weaned, Jochebed took him to Pharaoh’s daughter to raise as her own son. The princess named him Moses because she “drew him out of the water” (Ex. 2:10).
We are told in Acts 7:21-23 that Pharaoh’s daughter “nurtured” Moses as her own son. He was well educated in the way of the Egyptians, and he became a “man of power in words and deeds”. But it seems, she also had taught him of his own heritage. Because when he was nearing the age of 40 years old, Moses decided to visit his “brethren, the sons of Israel.” It is at this time that he lays down all the benefits of his raising and joins himself to his own people (Heb. 11:24-26).
Midwives of great faith at a time when great faith would be needed.
Parents of great faith choosing their son over abiding by the law of the land.
A sister obedient and vigilant to care for her baby brother.
A princess with a heart that was open to this baby boy despite knowing her father’s law.
These women were integral to God’s plan. Moses was the man God had chosen to lead Israel out of Egypt. The events that allowed that to happen took place when Moses was 80 years old (Ex. 7:7). These women helped to get Moses into place for God to use him.
There were other people involved – Moses’s father, Amram, played a part in his being saved at birth and hidden from three months (Heb. 11:23). But it is the women in this story God chooses to highlight here. He didn’t have to give us the names of the midwives. He didn’t have to show us the compassion of Pharaoh’s daughter. The events could have been drawn out for us without this information.
God didn’t give us a cold telling of historical facts. He shows us caring women who are right where they are needed for things to progress as God planned. Women we can learn from.
These women did something that we, at least in the USA, are not often asked to do. Disobey the law in order to do what is right before God. Each one of them knew what Pharaoh’s law was – Hebrew baby boys were to be killed at birth. Each of them refused to obey it.
The midwives and Jochebed disobeyed because of their faith in God.
Pharaoh’s daughter disobeyed because something inside of her recognized what is natural – all life is beautiful and it is wrong to destroy it. Even with all the idols around her and all the history of her people telling her there is more than one God, she still responded in a natural way to this baby boy and chose not to have him killed (Rom. 1:18-22, 28-32).
What about you? What about me?
There could come a day when we must choose God or the laws of men.
Keep these women and their faithfulness close to your heart. They disobeyed the laws of man and God blessed them. He did the same for the apostles who also took a stand (Acts 5:29). More persecutions may come, but if we are like Ezra and prepare our hearts to seek God’s will and “to do it” (Ezra 7:10) we will withstand.
The ultimate blessing that we are looking for is heaven. Like Abraham we are not looking for a country here, but rather a better country (Heb. 11:16).
We should always pray that the country we live in will allow us to live godly, quiet lives (1 Tim. 2:2). But, God’s word is a sword and it will divide us from the world (Heb. 4:12; Mt. 10:34).
Are you ready? Is your armor well-fitted for the battle?
As women, our battles may look different – like midwives helping women give birth to babies while people seek to kill those babies – but they are battles none the less.
Other women have gone before you – learn from them and seek the same source of their strength and make it your own.
A woman of strength, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. Proverbs 31:10.