And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses. And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.Exodus 1: 15-22 KING JAMES VERSION (KJV)
Genocide. Extermination. The End. The Apocalypse.
That is what the Hebrew midwives were facing. It was theirs to do. And what would they do when faced with such darkness and threat of violence? What would they do in the end- because that was the threat. As insignificant as they were, they did what was essential to save baby boys from genocide, the extermination of their people, the end of their race, the apocalypse now. The midwives did not choose to be born in such a time, but they were. And it was theirs to face. And they did.
The midwives possessed a piety that was born of the fear of God. Not man. Not monster.
Who did the midwives fear? The King? The mothers birthing sons? The enforcers? No. They feared God. This fear led them to disobey the King’s command and show great compassion to the mothers and sons of Israel.
The fear of God in Shiphrah and Puah produced courage, love, and wisdom.
This wisdom was a womanly wisdom, and it manifested as a deception. A lie. A device. A brilliant story about how amazing the Hebrew women were at the birthing stool- delivering their babies before the midwives could get there.
Would this device save the Hebrew children? Long enough. Just enough. We see at the end of this story, when the midwives out-maneuver the King, he commissions ALL HIS PEOPLE to cast the boy babies into the river. His clandestine plan to murder the babies failed, so he had to come out with his evil plans. The midwives did not participate in the darkness- they forced it into the light.
And God rewarded them with children and families of their own. Healthy and thriving families- houses.
Because God’s plan for saving the world through His Son Jesus Christ would not be thwarted. Not then, not now, not ever. His plan for the Incarnation required participation. A long line of the Righteous Ancestors of God.
I am drawn to this story over and over. I see it as a roadmap for the end. Whatever that end may be. I pray for and walk towards the piety that is born of the fear of God.