Call The Midwives

There is a great story in the Old Testament book of Exodus about two women who defy the Egyptian Pharaoh, upending the rule of law and choosing humanity first. Exodus chapter one picks up the story of the Pharaoh of Egypt looking around him and seeing that the non-Egyptian population — the Hebrews, often called the Israelites — were growing into a sizable force, possibly surpassing their minority status.

Such a large group could ally themselves with the enemies and rise up against us, he reasoned. So he enslaved them, making them work more and more for less and less pay. Still the Hebrews increased. What to do? It can’t be tolerated.

So the Pharaoh, whose name is not mentioned in the Exodus story commands two midwives who attended the prolific Hebrew women at the birthing stool to kill all the male children. But Pharaoh overestimated the power he had over these women. In defiance of the order, they do not kill the baby boys and they report to Pharaoh that the Hebrew women are vigorous and that the babies are always delivered before anyone had the chance to call the midwife.

Now that is a great story of civil disobedience, of life over law, and of feisty women who won’t be told what to do. And another interesting thing is that in the Hebrew text, it is not clear if these women — whose names are Shiphra and Puah — are Egyptians or Hebrews. The translation could go either way. They might be midwives of the Hebrews, or Hebrew midwives, either way its ambiguous. And that to me is brilliant.

Here we have these two women who save the babies and we don’t know which party they belong to. Were they Egyptians or Hebrews? Left or right? CNN has no story to tell, Fox News has nothing to report. NPR is left to speculate — oh wait, they all do that ad infinitum. Who gets credit for this daring rescue?

Imagine all the people, living life in peace.


Charme Robarts
Community Advocate


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