Under oppression – Exodus 1:8-22
Today’s Reading Schedule: exodus 1-3(CEB)- Click to read
8 Now a new king came to power in Egypt who didn’t know Joseph. 9 He said to his people, “The Israelite people are now larger in number and stronger than we are. 10 Come on, let’s be smart and deal with them. Otherwise, they will only grow in number. And if war breaks out, they will join our enemies, fight against us, and then escape from the land.” 11 As a result, the Egyptians put foremen of forced work gangs over the Israelites to harass them with hard work. They had to build storage cities named Pithom and Rameses for Pharaoh.12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they grew and spread, so much so that the Egyptians started to look at the Israelites with disgust and dread. 13 So the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites. 14 They made their lives miserable with hard labor, making mortar and bricks, doing field work, and by forcing them to do all kinds of other cruel work.
15 The king of Egypt spoke to two Hebrew midwives named Shiphrah and Puah: 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women give birth and you see the baby being born, if it’s a boy, kill him. But if it’s a girl, you can let her live.” 17 Now the two midwives respected God so they didn’t obey the Egyptian king’s order. Instead, they let the baby boys live.
18 So the king of Egypt called the two midwives and said to them, “Why are you doing this? Why are you letting the baby boys live?”
19 The two midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because Hebrew women aren’t like Egyptian women. They’re much stronger and give birth before any midwives can get to them.” 20 So God treated the midwives well, and the people kept on multiplying and became very strong. 21 And because the midwives respected God, God gave them households of their own.
22 Then Pharaoh gave an order to all his people: “Throw every baby boy born to the Hebrews into the Nile River, but you can let all the girls live.”
What Does the passage Mean to Me/US?
The call story of Moses in Exodus 3 is my favorite story of the Bible.
My heart, however, was drawn to reflect on the beginning of the story of Moses.
The new king, Pharoh, was afraid of the Israelites growing among the nation. We see how the number of the family of Jacob was around seventy when they arrived in Egypt, but years later they multiplied to a point of making Pharoh fear. Then Pharoh says to the people,
“There are way too many of these Israelites for us to handle. We’ve got to do something: Let’s devise a plan to contain them, lest if there’s a war they should join our enemies, or just walk off and leave us” (Exodus 1:9-10 The Message)
He didn’t want them to leave because they provided a benefit to the society, neither did he want them to grow. So he put them into workforces and oppressed their labor. He also asked two midwives to kill the babies, if they were boys, while the Hebrew women gave birth.
Now, we see the two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who feared God, instead Pharoh.
They did not do what Pharoh commanded but instead came to Pharoh with a report, which is full of wisdom.
The Bible talks about fear in two different ways.
It tells us not to fear the world. When we fear the world and the happenings, we have a tendency to be like Pharoh. We will devise plans, even to a point of being evil, to console our fear. Look what happened to Pharoh, despite his plan the fear of the people leaving became reality. Even worse, it literally destroyed the nation.
On the other hand, the Bible talks about fearing the Lord.
In the CEB translation, it says, “Now the two midwives respected God” (v. 17 CEB), while other translations use the word ‘fear.’
Both are correct. The Hebrew word ‘yare’ is to be translated in ‘fear’ but the meaning is closer to the ‘respect of God.’
When we fear God, not the world, God gives us the wisdom to overcome the world.
“Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7 CEB)
Do you need wisdom in the situation that makes you fear? Don’t fear people but instead fear the Lord.
Lord, give us the courage to stand against fear of the world, with the fear of you. Let the wisdom that comes from you be our strenght. In Christ Name, we pray, AMEN
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