Who were the midwives who concealed Moses birth?

Estimated read time 3 min read

Jews, Christians, and Muslims all recognize the story of Moses as a prophet of God. The Passover would not have occurred if the threat to Moses life at his birth had not been averted by heroic midwives who risked their lives lying to Pharaoh. Their story also reflects their role in promoting Jewish survival during Egyptian enslavement. Who are these heroes?

The story of Moses is familiar to Christians in the Biblical Book of Exodus. But the Jewish narrative reflected in the Torah, Midrash, and other traditions is more revealing than just the Christian Bible.

According to the Jewish Midrash, the Egyptian Pharaoh was warned by his astrologers that a Jewish male had been born to lead an insurrection against him. Before this time midwives had been told to encourage the birth of strong males to facilitate building the Egyptian rulers many construction projects. Pharaoh wanted to end this strong male lineage and break the spirit of the Hebrews who believed in a powerful monotheism. Some have said that the Pharaohs also valued the strength and beauty of Hebrew women such that they wanted to merge them into Egyptian blood lines.

As the Jewish population was very large it was not likely that just two midwives served the whole population. Two midwives who may have been the heads of all midwives involved in deliveries of Hebrews traditionally named Shiphrah and Puah were called to appear before Pharaoh because his order to kill all male newborns failed.

They told him that Hebrews were different then Egyptian babies tending to be stronger and born early before midwives could arrive. Pharaoh then orders that all Hebrew male newborns should be thrown into the Nile. In Exodus and other writings God is pleased with midwives who concealed the truth of Moses birth and for helping to build a strong Jewish population.

Were the midwives Egyptian gentiles or were they Hebrew? Jewish scholars have discussed this controversy for centuries. Were they Hebrew midwives or midwives to the Hebrews? Translation of their “title” makes both or either possible. Their names may also refer to the idea that they were skilled in attending to newborns in consoling them or straightening their limbs. Some believe they became Jewish converts while others believe they were gentiles perhaps a part of God’s hidden Tzaddiqim , a select group of people, not always Jewish, known only to God who exist to help repair a broken world.

These midwives played a role in preserving not only the life of the prophet, Moses, but also in preserving the survival of the Jewish people as a whole. Christians should extend their knowledge of the Old Testament by becoming familiar with Jewish religious writings beyond the Christian bible.

Professor Tony Magana https://myfindinggrace.com

Dr. Tony Magana is Professor Emeritus in Neurosurgery who spent many years doing international teaching and research including 10 years in Ethiopia. Over the past 15 years he concomitantly intensified his Christian faith through study and worship through the Episcopal Church. He grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Attended Texas A&M University, Harvard Medical School, and trained at the University of Miami. Additionally he took the University of South Education for Ministry as well as attending the Southeast Florida Episcopal Diocesan School for Christian Studies.
Professor Tony Magana, a seasoned neurosurgeon, has not only dedicated his life to medical practice but also embarked on a profound spiritual journey. Over the past 15 years, he has deepened his Christian faith through study and worship within the Episcopal Church. His experiences span international teaching, research, and a decade of service in Ethiopia
Dr. Tony Magana’s writings blend faith, compassion, and wisdom, inviting readers to explore the intersection of spirituality and the human experience. His journey serves as an inspiration for those seeking deeper connections with faith and humanity.

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