The Lord be with you
This is my third “Exodus Musings” post. As we are in the midst of transitioning from a facebook page which is just an extra page on my personal e-mail account to a facebook that is totally associated with Our Redeemer, I am unsure how the past posts have been received. At any rate, this one covers Exodus 1:13-22, and finishes chapter one. This is actually just a personal exercise in which I read the text and ask myself how it can remind me of Jesus. You may make other connections.
Again, the text I’m using is the English Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.
15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew [the name “Hebrew” may mean “to traverse” as in being a sojourner, or “to pass over” as the man who passed over the Euphrates, it can remind us that Christ had no permanent home (Matthew 8:20), or that Christ came for all people (John 3:16), even those who are across the Euphrates River that became the hereditary enemies of God’s people (nations like Assyria and Babylon)(Psalm 67:2). Some hold it comes from “Eber,” (“Eber” means “to cross over” and thus the possible meaning for “Eber” and “Hebrew” are the same) an ancestor of Abraham and would then mean “sons of Eber” (Genesis 11:19-26); counting Noah as 1st generation after the flood, Eber was 5th generation and Abraham was 10th generation; ten often is used to indicate completeness and might point to Jesus as the one who “completes” the Law on our behalf (Matthew 5:17) or to Jesus as the complete revelation of God (John 1:1-18; Colossians 2:9)] midwives [vocation (Colossians 3:23-24); humanly speaking, midwife is a small vocation, but there are no small vocations in the eyes of God for through our vocations God provides many “first article” blessings; may remind us of the birth of Jesus; we can also remember that Jesus had vocations, that of son, that of carpenter and, naturally, Redeemer. We don’t leave out neighbor, citizen, etc.], one of whom was named Shiphrah [name means “beautiful” and might remind us of the beauty of Christ (Psalm 27:4; Isaiah 4:2)] and the other Puah [the name means “radiant” and might remind us that Christ is the radiance of the Father (Hebrews 1:3); the “heroes” of God’s kingdom are not necessarily Kings and Prophets, most often they are “minor” individuals in the opinion of fallen humanity (consider Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus, most of the disciples, OT people like Ruth, and so on, what they have in common is not worldly power but faith in Jesus)], 16“When you serve as midwife [vocation again; we might also remember that Jesus came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for us (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45)] to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool [echo of both the command to be fruitful and multiply as well as pain in childbirth. Genesis 1:28; 2:16], if it is a son, you shall kill him [as Herod sought to enlist others to kill Jesus, first the wise men and then his own troops, so Pharaoh enlists other in his evil plans], but if it is a daughter, she shall live” [while men have often not considered women a threat nor considered them of note, God knows different, Jael, the wife of Heber, kills Sisera (Judges 4:17-22), Deborah was a judge in Israel (Judges 4:4 ff), and the heroines of this story, the midwives, Moses’ mother and sister, the daughter of Pharaoh. Scriptures extols the role of woman, wife and mother (Proverbs 31:10-31)]. 17But the midwives feared God [fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; Luke 12:4-5) ; fear not the one whose power ends with death but the one who can cast one into hell (Matthew 10:28)] and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them [obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29); Jonathan disobeyed his father, King Saul, and spared David’s life (1 Samuel 19)], but let the male children live [though Herod sought the life of the baby Jesus, he lived (Matthew 2:13) as was the case with Moses]. 18So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” [Evil fails to understand God’s mercy (Psalm 92:5-6; Proverbs 14:9, 12; 18:2; Isaiah 55:8-9), indeed it cannot understand God’s mercy but it seems like madness (Acts 26:24; 1 Corinthians 1:23)] 19The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them” [early commentators struggled with these ladies lying, they need not have, the Mosaic Law had not yet been given (Romans 2:12; 5:15-20); “to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.” (Psalm 18:26 NIV); as the wise men fooled Herod so these midwives fooled Pharaoh (Matthew 2)]. 20So God dealt well with the midwives [Daniel preserved (Daniel 3:28); Peter rescued (Acts 12:6-11), etc. “even if he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15); Shadrach, Meshack, Abendego (Daniel 3:16-18); the whole Joseph cycle beginning in Genesis 37 where his brothers intended evil against him but God intended good (Genesis 50:20); the wise men evade Herod’s wrath (Matthew 2:1-12, 16)]. And the people multiplied and grew very strong [again, the blessing/command given in Eden (Genesis 1:28); the growth of the Church in spite of persecution (Acts 13:49; 19:10, 20); Jesus, in spite of Herod’s efforts, was blessed and grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52 (which itself is a mystery of the two natures in Christ))]. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families [the blessing of children (Psalm 127:3-5), the blessing of family (Psalm 128), the blessing of Eden (Genesis 1:22); can remind us of the Holy Family]. 22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live” [murder by proxy, like how David killed Uriah (2 Samuel 11) and Herod sought to kill Jesus (Matthew 2); How many children died? Echo of the “slaughter of the innocents” (Matthew 2:16-18; Jeremiah 31:15)].
Clearly Pharaoh and the Egyptians are the “bad” guys and the Israelites need to be delivered, which will happen in the upcoming chapters. Some, ignoring the first two chapters, are disturbed by God delivering the Hebrews, feeling God is “hateful” and such nonsense. Was Wellington hateful when he defeated Napoleon at Waterloo? Was the retaking of the Philippines from the Japanese in WWII hateful? More examples of liberation, being delivered by force, being welcomed in human history can be easily found. Those being liberated, who felt the lash of the oppressor, never think of their liberators as perpetrators of hate. The oppressors are the haters. God’s upcoming actions have chapters one and two as their background. God is merciful to those who trust in him (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 145:18-20; Daniel 9:18). Cheering for the Egyptians is like cheering for the Axis Powers in WWII.
Another point clearly present is that the Hebrews are powerless. Their deliverance is completely in the hands of Christ. So also is our deliverance from sin, death and the power of the Devil. Grace is the order of the day.
Well, that’s it for the third paragraph of Exodus 1. I hope at least a few people find it worth reading.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert