(If interested in more Women of the Bible posts, check them out here!)
The story starts like this: Two women were given a command from a king. The command was to take newborn babies from their mothers and kill them.
But that’s not how this story played out. These two women, Shiphrah and Puah, heard the unjust law and refused to obey it, because it went against what their God commanded.
Here’s from the NIV translation:
“The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “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.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, He gave them families of their own.” Exodus 1:15-21
What a story no? These women were committed to life. Committed enough to defy the most powerful man in the world.
They were courageous. They were brave.
Would any of us have been brave enough to do the same? Would we have trusted God more than an earthly authority? And here’s what makes the story even more extraordinary. Neither Shiphrah nor Puah knew what the consequences would be for disobeying Pharaoh’s command. Would they get caught? If they did, would they be put to death? It didn’t matter.
And how did their earthly stories end? They are not only remembered forever in Scripture, but God blessed them and they had their own families.
God does not ask us to obey authority when it goes against His commands and His Word. He asks us to follow Him. Christ calls us to something far greater and something much more. To love others. To see Imago Dei in all people.
I wonder if Peter quietly thought of these women, when centuries later, he reminded us, that as believers our call is to God and Him alone:
“And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:27-29 ESV