The Hebrew people are in Egypt. A new king oppresses them. The Midwives become heroes of the faith.
VERSE 1. Now these are the names of the sons of Israel, who came into Egypt (every man and his household came with Jacob):
VERSE 2. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,
VERSE 3. Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,
VERSE 4. Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.
VERSE 5. All the souls who came out of Jacob’s body were seventy souls, and Joseph was in Egypt already.
souls. The Hebrew word is נֶ֛פֶשׁ (“nephesh”). It means a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion.
Joseph died … all that generation. This was a great loss.
That generation had the benefit of direct experiences of the LORD God. They received the promises firsthand. Now they are gone.
In the minds of the people, all that remains is folklore. Myths.
VERSE 7. The children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.
there arose a new king over Egypt. The text does not tell us the identity of this new king. It may have been Rameses II, who reigned from 1279–1213 BC.
didn’t know Joseph. This new king did not know any of the Hebrew leaders. He did not honor the commitments made to them by his predecessor.
Everything was undone.
VERSE 9. He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we.
Behold. The Hebrew word is הִנֵּה. It means look at, take notice, observe, see, or gaze at. It is often used as an interjection.
VERSE 10. Come, let’s deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it happen that when any war breaks out, they also join themselves to our enemies and fight against us, and escape out of the land.”
VERSE 11. Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. They built storage cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Raamses.
they set taskmasters over them to afflict them. That is, slave masters to make their lives a living hell.
VERSE 12. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out. They started to dread the children of Israel.
they multiplied … spread out. The LORD God blessed them, even in the midst of their hardship.
VERSE 13. The Egyptians ruthlessly made the children of Israel serve,
VERSE 14. and they made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and in brick, and in all kinds of service in the field, all their service, in which they ruthlessly made them serve.
VERSE 15. The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah,
VERSE 16. and he said, “When you perform the duty of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birth stool, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.”
if it is a son, then you shall kill him. This requires the Midwives to execute all baby boys born to a Hebrew woman.
However, in the next chapter, a woman disobeys this law. She shields one such baby from execution. He will be Moses.
Exodus 2:2. The woman conceived and bore a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.
VERSE 17. But the midwives feared God, and didn’t do what the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the baby boys alive.
God. The Hebrew word is אֱלֹהִ֑ים (“Elohim”).
didn’t do what the king of Egypt commanded them. Sometimes our faith compels us to disobey an unjust law. That is called civil disobedience.
Think of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, for example. He disobeyed laws that were unjust.
VERSE 18. The king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said to them, “Why have you done this thing and saved the boys alive?”
VERSE 19. The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women aren’t like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”
God dealt well with the midwives. The LORD God blessed them for their civil disobedience.
VERSE 21. Because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.
VERSE 22. Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “You shall cast every son who is born into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.”
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.