Commentary on Parashat Shemot


This Shabbat the reading is from the book of Exodus. Last Shabbat we finished the reading of Genesis and we are starting from chapter 1 of Exodus.

There are several things in chapter 1 of Exodus that excite me. One is the role of two Egyptian women that were working as midwives among the Israelites. These two women are little known among Christians. I have never heard anyone in church say much about them.

Before I speak about these two midwives I want to share with you a key verse for understanding the Israelite mentality: “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel.” (Ex. 1:12) The Egyptians had the impression that if they make life harder for the Israelites “and they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens.” Remember dear brothers the above verse 12 – the more you are afflicted them more they multiplied and grew. We are a stiff necked people and we don’t give into those who wish to harm us and terrorize our families. The most dangerous thing that can happen to the Jewish nation is to give them easy life of plenty and relaxation.

May be this is true not only about Jews but about people in general. If they don’t have challenges and some trouble they get fat and lazy and selfish and the worst of all they get complaisant and assimilate. The Pharaoh made life really easy for the Israelites. He gave them the land of Goshen which was the most fruitful part of Egypt. They were under the protection of Joseph. Life was easy and they multiplied and grew to the point that the Egyptians started to envy them and feel threatened by their number and their wealth and their power. This period of prosperity lasted several hundred years.

However, the Israelites did not loose their most characteristic trait. The same attitude and stubborn tenacity we see in the New Testament in the book of Acts after every persecution and hardship that was put on the disciples in the early chapters of Acts we read something like: “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7) The Israelites would not have been saved only on their attitude. They had to have God’s help and a “Savior” to take them out of Egypt, and when they cried to the Lord HE saw their anguish and sent them a savior.

The second thing that I want to point out from this Shabbat’s reading is the two midwives of the Hebrews Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah and commanded them to kill all the male babies at birth and only allow the female babies to live. “But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive.”

In this verse, stands a very important principle that is often forgotten. To fear God sometimes, and I would say more often, means not to fear man and his authority, that includes unrighteousness and evil governments. When Shiphrah and Puah were discovered and it became known that they are not doing their job and not killing the Hebrew male babies it says: ״So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive? And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.” (Ex. 1:17-19).

In the story of Exodus, we see that because of Pharaoh’s daughter, a non-Jewish woman, who did the same thing, disobeyed the Law of the Land, deceived her father the Pharaoh and saved a Hebrew child that was floating on the Nile River in a basket – Moses survived and was raised as an Egyptian Prince and used by God to save the people of Israel out of Egypt.

Let us as disciples of Yeshua have the kind of faith that is full of the fear of God much more than fearing man and sitting in the safe zone of political correctness and not doing a thing for the sake of righteousness and truth.

Pray that you and a your leaders and teachers and elders in your churches and in your synagogues have the fear of God and stand for what is right and Godly and righteous in your community and in your country.

This article originally appeared as a part of The Jerusalem Prayer List by Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry, January 19, 2017, and reposted with permission.