Today my reading plan took me into Exodus, and with a desire to see women empowered and midwifery more accepted, this passage stood out to me in a new light. As I continued to write this post, it took a shift, but still is aplicable to women empowered.
Disclaimer: by NO means am I equating America to the “promised land” or the “chosen people”. Below is just an exhortation to love better.
So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.
15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16
To say the Israelites at this time are a marginalized people group would be an understatement. This is a people group facing slavery and racism.
“When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”
Destroying a people group, in fear of a leader, a future King to come from them. You could probably say the Egyptians and the King of Egypt at that time felt a bit insecure and worried at the potential power growing within the Israelite community.
17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.
Way to go, midwives! Standing up for justice and being faithful to God’s calling on their lives.
18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”
19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”
And so through the midwives obedience and tenacity, Moses is born to a Hebrew woman.
But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrusbasket[b] for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
She longed for her baby to live, and not be killed. So at three months old, she sent off her precious baby boy.
5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him.
Moses’ sister, watching the encounter, is called on to get a Hebrew woman to continue nursing the baby. And so Moses’ mother gets a little more time with her son. Some research points to babies around this time nursing for a few years.
10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses,[c]saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
But in the end, she had to give her baby to the Egyptians to be raised. I can’t even imagine the trauma that was on both mother and baby. To take a mother’s baby from her as soon as breastfeeding is no longer needing. To take a child from a mother causes so much trauma, and this just because of one nation’s fear a growing minority. I hope this sentence drew your attention to the close similarity happening today. I started this post with hopes to talk about the necessity of midwives, and I will continue that thought in a moment. But I am pausing for this point. Out of fear, we (America – sadly as a citizen I say we even though I don’t agree with it) are separating families. We are forgetting passages like this;
Moses is reminding the Israelites not to follow in the Egyptians ways, but to live more lovingly – Leviticus 19 “ ‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
We are forgetting that God did not call people to become Christians for wealth, prosperity and safety. We need to revisit the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5;
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
We aren’t to be like the Egyptians of that time. Thinking of one people group higher than another (dare I say, racism?), casting people away, separating families, and the like.
And if you are in on the side of thinking that all immigrants are a threat, please do some research. With an open mind, because without you will only find the close-minded bigotry the country wants you to see, then here is a starting point:
Now I will return to the importance of midwifery. In US hospitals today, Black women and children have worse mortality rates during pregnancy and the first year of childbirth than white women. That is unacceptable.
Your chances of growing a family and surviving pregnancy should not be based on your race. It sounds a bit like when the Egyptians were growing fearful of the Israelites…
We are one of the most powerful nations in the world and yet nothing is being done at these devastating statics that could be changed very simply. Or so one would hope. But our country has proved that racism is deep. Pride is powerful. And greed surpasses the common good. So let’s raise our glasses to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Or we could take a knee and do something…
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.