Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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WMA: Shiphrah and Puah

By Judy Wallace

Who are Shiphrah and Puah? Two of David’s mighty men? Leaders of enemy kingdoms that Israel faced during their long history of battles? They were neither of these, but they were mighty warriors, and they were leaders that God used in a mighty wayin an enemy kingdom. In Exodus 1, we are given the amazing story of two common women who participated in a very uncommon and important event that God used in a mighty way. Shiphrah and Puah were the midwives that attended Jochebed at the birth of Moses.

The Problem

At the end of Genesis, we see that Jacob’s family had grown to 70 people. Now over 400 years later, they are called the children of Israel. God had made them fruitful, increased them abundantly, made them exceedingly mighty and now filled the land of Egypt with them. Yay for Israel!

But it was not so “yay” as far as Egypt was concerned. Instead, there was a problem. Many generations had passed since Joseph had died, and the new pharaoh knew nothing of him and cared nothing for these people. Instead, he had grown fearful of the increase in their numbers and was concerned that they might join other nations in a war against Egypt. The problem now for the new pharaoh was to figure out a plan to not only reduce their numbers but to basically destroy their existence.

Pharoah’s Plans

His first try was given to us in Exod. 1:11-14: “Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens… But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage… all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.” The term rigor means harshness, severity or cruelty and comes from a root word meaning to break apart or crush. But during this harsh persecution, the Israelites flourished and grew in numbers. Now Pharaoh had to go to plan B! His planB became Shiphrah and Puah’s problem number one! The king called these two women in and told them when they assisted the Hebrew women at their time of delivery, they were to kill all the boy babies but could let the baby girls live.

Their Position

They were now put in a position where they had to make a decision. This could have proven to be a huge problem for these two ladies but evidently not. The head of the country was certainly to be feared and he had given them orders to take the lives of all baby boys. But they had a greater fear: “But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive” (Exod. 1:17). When Pharaoh asked about this, they told him the Hebrew women were strong in their delivery. Some say they lied. We don’t know that! It could have been the Israelite women were more physically strong and of greater fortitude than the Egyptians. Whatever the case, they followed God and God responded!

God’s Provision

God never leaves obedience unrewarded. “Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses” (Exod. 1:20-21). In this case, he made the midwives’ houses. This term “houses” may have meant children of their own because midwives often took these jobs because they were childless. It could also have been actual, physical homes. Either way, they obeyed under difficult circumstances, and He blessed them in response.

But, the Lord also used these women to help bring Moses into the world — the very same Moses that would be the great deliverer of the Israelites from the land of Egypt. They knew God! They feared God! They obeyed God! Their actions helped the lineage of our Messiah be protected!

Scripture — Acts 4:19; 5:29; Psa. 111:10; Prov. 9:10; Dan. 11:32

Respond — Two common ladies doing a common job but in a mighty warrior kind of way. How?

• They feared God and the Scriptures say the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

• Because of this, they knew they ought to obey God rather than man.

• People that know God shall be strong and do exploits.

What problem or hard decision are you facing? Keep your thoughts and efforts on knowing God and obeying what He shows you. There is no telling how you will be blessed and be a blessing to others.

Use the meaning of these ladies’ names to describe what obedience can mean to ourselves and others:

• Shiphrah means “fair; to make beautiful; to adorn”

• Puah means “splendor; to glitter; brilliant”

Prayer — “Father, you may call us into situations where we don’t know what to do: times when our faith is challenged, and You test us with problems and decisions that are hard. Help us keep our efforts on staying CLOSER (see WMA article in the June 14 issue for more on this acronym) to you, knowing You better and obeying at all cost.”

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” (Corrie Ten Boom)

— These articles are shared via the National WMA web page blog that can be accessed at nationalwma.org/blogs.

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