Thursday, December 14, 2017

A child is born 14: Shiphrah, Puah and the Hebrew mothers

Pharaoh said: “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live. But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live.”

We’re finally out of the book of Genesis but the story of Biblical childbirth doesn’t get any easier. Jacob and his family had come down to Egypt to escape famine in Canaan. There they had multiplied to the point where the Egyptians felt threatened by them. They were enslaved, and Pharaoh eventually ordered that all male Hebrew babies should be killed at birth. Two brave and cunning Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, decided upon a bold course of action, lying to Pharaoh that the Hebrew women were so strong that they gave birth without needing help. Shiphrah and Puah must have known that they were risking their own lives by lying to Pharaoh, whom the Egyptians worshipped as a living god, but that did not stop them.

Eventually Pharaoh took even more drastic action, and commanded the  Egyptian people to kill the Hebrew boys themselves, but Shiphrah and Puah’s actions saved many lives, and, according to the story God honoured them and gave them families of their own.

·         The Hebrew midwives displayed astonishing courage. How good are you at confronting things that are wrong? Can you recall times when you have done so, or failed to do so?

·         Are there any stories in your family history of the people, medically trained or not, who attended a birth? What do you imagine it is like to be a midwife? What joys and fears might midwives have?

·         Pray for midwives and other medical professionals who help mothers give birth. Pray also for those who do not have access to the medical help they need.

No comments:

Post a Comment