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Shiphrah & Puah

The Hebrew Midwives Fear of God

From the time that Pharaoh had given the order, when it came to the male Hebrew babies being killed; something would drastically happen, after these two women had left Pharaoh's presence: "But the midwives feared God, and it's for this reason, they did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them. But what they had done instead, was to have saved the male children from being killed." -- Exodus 1:17

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Exodus 1:17-22

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In the last article we'd learned that Pharaoh had decided to increase his efforts, when it came to him afflicting the Israelites. Pharaoh try to enactment his plan, this new level of affliction, through the very women, who were in charged of delivering the Israelites infants; women who were simply known as the Hebrew midwives. But when it comes to this particular record, know that there were two midwives, who were actually mentioned by their names:

"Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other was Puah, by saying: 'When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and when you see them on the birth stools -- if it's a son, then you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.'" -- Exodus 1:15,16

So it would be these two women (Shiphrah and Puah) that Pharaoh would use, when it came to carrying and relaying his decree to the other Hebrew midwives.

Remember, Pharaoh's decree, declared that every male Hebrew baby that was born from the day the decree was given, the Hebrew midwives were ordered to kill them.

And only the male babies would be killed, and not the female babies, for they were, to be kept alive.

And just like I'd also pointed out in the last article, when it came to Shiphrah and Puah; they weren't the only Hebrew midwives that had helped with the delivery, and the settling of the newborn babies. There were many women, who'd helped as Hebrew midwives. For we must keep in mind, this was at a time, where the Israel population was rapidly growing, into the hundred of thousands.

And it's for this reason, it's very likely, Shiphrah and Puah were in charge of the Hebrew midwives. I'd like to think, they'd played the role, of perhaps being what one could call : The Head Hebrew Midwives. For they were the ones, who took direct orders from Pharaoh; and they would in turn, make sure, the other midwives would follow suite.

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Pointing out the Other Duties of the Midwife

Nonetheless, aside from them following Pharaoh's decrees, when it came to child birth. I would like to quickly point out, the other main duties of the Hebrew midwife. For they include the cutting of the baby's umbilical cord, and the cleaning of the baby, in which they did with water. The Hebrew midwife was also responsible for salting the baby with salt, and after this was done, they would wrap the infant up, in swaddling clothes.

Now on a quick side note, while we're here: Know that when it came to the "salting the baby with salt" this is simply a birth practice, that is used to help clean off, the rest of the placenta, along with the amniotic fluid, and that creamy, waxy cheese like substance (which is known as: vernix) off of the baby's body. Also note: That the salting of the baby with salt, also helped to prevent rashes from forming on the baby's skin as well.

Needless-to-say, the midwives would have been able to provide some type of cover for Pharaoh, when it came to him, having them, carry out his wicked and evil plan against the Israelites. For the cover that the midwives would have provided, would have been done in a very subtle way, being that the midwives, could have easily claimed, that the baby had simply died during the child birth.

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Did the Midwives Fear God? 

Nevertheless, as we begin to move forward, we find, that from the time that Pharaoh had given the order, when it came to the male Hebrew babies being killed, something drastically happened, after these two women had left Pharaoh's presence: "But the midwives feared God, and it's for this reason, they did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them. But what they had done instead, was to have saved the male children from being killed." -- Exodus1:17

And this is why in the last article, I'd also addressed, what ethnic background that Shiphrah and Puah had probably came from. For I did this, in regard to some teaching, that stated that Shiphrah and Puah were probably Egyptian, and not Hebrew? And of course, I'd pointed out, that I was in disagreement, when it came to this very popular theological viewpoint. For I'd like to think, that this very small detail, is very important to know, and the Scripture in reference above, shows why. Also keep in mind, if Shiphrah and Puah were Egyptian, they would not have feared the God of Israel, being that they didn't know nothing about Him, during this time.  

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If They Were Egyptian?

They wouldn't have defied Pharaoh

For I want you to know, that if these two women were Egyptian? Understand that when the Scripture revealed to us, that they had a fear of God. Know that this little insightful detail, probably would have been, referring to the Egyptians sun-gods: Atum and Ra, if these two women were Egyptian, like some Bible scholars are claiming. Pharaoh served these false deities well, and with that being the case, if Shiphrah and Puah had a fear of these false deities, they would have obeyed Pharaoh, instead of defying him.

Again, the reason why I'm pressing this issue, deals with the idea, that they wouldn't have known about the God of Israel, during this time. And actually, they wouldn't have known much of anything, outside of what the Egyptians believed. So again I stress, when it comes to Shiphrah and Puah, know that they weren't Egyptian, for they were Hebrew. And so therefore, with this being the case, when it comes to the reference that deals with them having the "fear of God" know that the Sacred Record was simply referring to the God of their forefathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

And although Shiphrah and Puah didn't know God personally, they knew enough. For they knew, that it wouldn't be wise, to go against the Most High God. So what they had decided to do instead, is to defy the so-called mighty Pharaoh, by refusing to follow his orders, when it came to them carrying out the execution of the male Hebrew babies that were to be born.

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Pharaoh Was Not Pleased with the Midwives

Needless-to-say, when Pharaoh had eventually heard about Shiphrah and Puah's disobedience, he'd once again summoned them. And when they had came before him, he'd asked:  "Why have you done this thing! Why did you save the lives of the male children?" -- Exodus 1:18

Now Shiphrah and Puah were wise enough, not to tell Pharaoh that they had outright refused his orders, being that it would have surely brought about their own demise. So they told the Egyptian ruler: "Know that the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are lively, which in turn, causes them to give birth before the midwives are able to come to them."

Now from within this statement, one could lean towards the notion, that Shiphrah and Puah had tried their best, to carry out Pharaoh's wicked plan. But I want you to know, this was simply not the case. For the Scripture specifically states: "But the midwives feared God, so therefore, they did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them. So what they did instead, they'd saved the lives of the male children."

And actually, this is as clear-cut as it gets. And what this simply means, is that Shiphrah and Puah had lied to Pharaoh, in order to save their own lives.

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What Did God Think of This?

Now judge Shiphrah and Puah as you will, but let's see how God dealt with them, when it came to their loyalty towards Him, and the very young Israel nation: "Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the Hebrews multiplied and grew very mighty. And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them as well." -- Exodus 1:20,21

Now let's look at these Scriptures for a moment, for I want you to see how God deals with His people. How He deals with those, who are found to be in a covenant with Him. Notice how I said: "...found to be in a covenant with Him." For I'd like to think, that this statement deals directly with us today. Understand that we too, are in a covenant with God. And when it comes to this covenant, know that this is made possible, through the tremendous sacrifice that Jesus Christ had made for us, on our behalf.

And by us making this choice, when it comes to accepting Jesus (Yeshua) Christ as our one and only Savior, this personal commitment, places us in a covenant with God as well. My friends, don't ever make the silly mistake, of thinking that none of this applies to us today, you know, here in modern times. Don't fall for the lie, that insists, the Bible is somehow outdated.

Understand that God never changes, and being that the Lord kept His word when it came to the Israelites (regardless of the time period) I want you to know, that He will do the same, when it comes to those people, who have made the choice to be in His covenant. And again, a covenant that was made possible, through the blood of Jesus (Yeshua) Christ.

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Taking A Closer Look

Now quickly, let's take a look, at what the Lord did for Shiphrah and Puah: "Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the Hebrews multiplied and grew very mighty. And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them as well."

Now notice how this Scripture reveals, that God had "dealt well with the midwives." Which basically means, that He gave them recompense, or rewarded them for their courage and loyalty towards Him and their people. I want you to know, that this is nothing strange, nothing to be skeptical of, for this is how God operates: 

"Know that the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they, more than gold -- yea, much more, than fine gold. Sweeter also are they, which is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward." -- Psalms 19:9-11

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God Rewards Shiphrah & Puah

For you see, when Shiphrah and Puah stood with God, by defying the mighty Pharaoh, they weren't doing it for reward, they were just doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord. And because of their obedience and courage, God rewarded them: "He provided households for them." Which means, that He'd gave Shiphrah and Puah families of their own, and they too, were prosperous in all that they did.

And what about the rest of the Israelites? Know that God was still with them as a whole: "...and the people multiplied and grew very mighty" in spite of their oppressors, and the immense affliction that was being brought upon them.

But when it came to Pharaoh, know that he would not be denied. So what he did instead, when trying to be subtle in his wickedness wouldn't work, he doubled down, by putting forth the decree: "So Pharaoh commanded all his people saying: 'Every son who is born unto the Israelites, you shall cast them into the river. And every daughter that is born, you shall keep alive.'" -- Exodus 1:22

In the next Bible Study Online Article:

In the next article, we'll zoom in closer, as this bloody chaos begins to go forth from within the Egyptian kingdom. But in spite of all this, something fascinating was developing, as the Egyptians were going house to house in search of the Hebrew male babies. What was it? Seriously! What good could come from all of this, at a time such as this? What was God starting to reveal, when it came to the next stage that we are about to enter, when it came to the overall plan, that He had for the Israelites? What was God really up to, at this point in time?

May God blessings be upon you, and thank you for your support

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Bible Study Online Series:

Joseph the Overseer of Egypt

Jacob Becomes Ill

The Prophecies of Jacob


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Bible Study Online - Current Series:

128) Moses the Historian

129) The Exodus Stage

130) The Fall of the Hyksos Kingdom

131) A New Pharaoh Rises

132) The Egyptian Affliction

133) Israel a Nation within Transition

134) Israel's New Generation

135) The Hebrew Midwives - Shiphrah and Puah


137) Moses the Son of Levi

138) The Adopted Son of Egypt

139) Moses the Sympathetic Killer

140) Moses the Exiled Son

141) Moses Finds Refuge in Midian

142) Moses A Man On The Run

143) Moses the Midian Dweller

144) Moses In The Wilderness

145) The Call of Moses

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