May 20, 2010

Examining The Scripture VIII: The Midwives Tale

If you begin reading the second book of the Bible/Pentateuch, Exodus 1 and you leave behind the "Wandering Aramean" you firmly enter the "gift if the Nile", Ancient Egypt. We quickly learn the decendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are no longer favored by those in control of Egypt. The Hebrews had been very fruitful and multiplied as God had commanded them and the Egyptians began to be wary that, in the event of war, the Hebrew’s numbers in the joining the ranks of the Egyptian's enemies would be too much to overcome. So immediately in the first chapter of Exodus we see the subjugation of the Israelites. The paranoid king in Egypt enslaved the Hebrews and oppressed them horribly. Inevitably they began to fear a slave revolt also. An ethical situation arose. Pharaoh had passed an edict that required that Shiprah and Puah kill any son/male born to a woman on the birth stool/giving birth as opposed to a daughter which was allowed to live.The midwives having a fear of God disobeyed the Pharaoh and allowed male children to live. Although they appeared to be Egyptian they did not obey Pharaoh. According to Wiersbe, this is the first instance in scripture of a “civil disobedience” or refusal to obey an obviously evil law because of a higher moral law or good (Wiersbe 181).

The midwives are confronted by Pharaoh and asked why they allowed the male Hebrew newborns to live. The midwives essentially passed blame to the pregnant Hebrew woman stating they were “vigorous and give birth before the midwife gets to them” or forced their labor along. We do not know for sure from the text that this wasn’t the truth. I’ve heard knowledgeable people say they did lie and it is dubious at best to day they didn’t but the text doesn’t appear to tell us for sure. It only tells us that God gave the midwives their own families as a blessing and I have a hard time believing God would reward lying. The only clue is the words “said unto Pharaoh” in Hebrew the word for said is ‘amar (Strong’s H559: ‘amar [Qal]: this can mean to say in one's heart or to swear/make oath in this context). In modern English this could mean they swore/made oath to Pharaoh, possibly even in truth. A fear for their lives could’ve caused this too.

Normal human reasoning says they might’ve fibbed to save their lives but we are talking about the Bible and God acting directly in the creation. In these situations, all bets are off. When we enter into God’s reality (even in a Bible reading) we often times need to suspend disbelief in things that seem too far-fetched because we end up limiting an infinite God. If we do not suspend belief, what otherwise may have been fact appears to be myth or fiction. This instance with the midwives very well could’ve been God’s providence and sovereignty at work allowing these women one possibility of an honest exit out of this moral dilemma. I’ve learned not to limit God’s ability to get things done even when it appears the avenue of escape is too narrow to get through (aka Red Sea). Of course Pharaoh was a fool and kept trying to kill the newborn males and God equally continued to thwart and frustrate him. God is an amazing God.

Wiersbe, Warren W.. "Dark Night Of The Soul." The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament Genesis-Deuteronomy (The Pentateuch) (Bible Exposition Commentary). Acambaro: Victor, 2001. 181. Print.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...