As we know, Joseph and his family had increased while living in Egypt. There were a whole lot of Israelites running around. :)
7But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.
This wasn't a problem for the old Pharoah, he knew Joseph and trusted him. But Joseph died. The old Pharoah died and so things changed.
8Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land."He didn't know Joseph or his people, and he certainly didn't trust them. All he saw were these strangers living in his land that as Pharoah was had to protect. So he devised a plan.
11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.Unfortunately for the Pharoah, this didn't work. The Israelites kept on multiplying. The worse he treated them, the more babies they had. He didn't much like that. In fact, all the Egyptians started to be afraid of the Israelites.
12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.
They were ruthless in their treatment of the Israelites.
I have to admit, when I read this, I wonder if it was part of God's plan. Well, okay I KNOW that it was part of God's plan because otherwise God wouldn't let it happen, but I still just wonder. Here the Israelites are living a pretty cushy life. They are minding themselves, their critters, their families. Life is good for them in Egypt. Mind you, they aren't living in the land that God promised them, but they are living a good life. And then things changed. And the change wasn't so good for them.
It got to the point where
... the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16"When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live."He wanted them dead. No more boy babies. If they have no more boys, then they can't increase in numbers. AND it keeps all the women for himself! (well, for him and his people) besides...how many women are going to rise up and fight against you?
But see this:
17But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.So you see how they disobeyed their civil authority? They were ordered to do something that was against God's laws. They were told by the HIGHEST authority in the land to do something. And they said no. Why? Because they feared God more than they feared man. I read this and I have to wonder.....would I have done the same thing? Would I have said no way man, I'm not doing it? Or would I have feared for my life as I'm sure these women did and did what I was told? I really hope I would have had the faith and fear to do what they did.
Granted...they didn't come right out and say no way man. What they did was say... But sir, we can't. You see the Israelite women have their babies so quickly we can't get their in time.
18So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this, and let the male children live?" 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."But God honoured the women for what they did, for the stand they took.
20So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.God gave them families of their own. Isn't it neat?
Two women chose to put God first. Two women showed their fear of God. Two women showed that obeying God is more important than anything else. And God dealt well with them. And the whole nation of Israel prospered because of it.
Makes me wonder....what if I am faithful to the Lord? How will it affect my family, my people, my church?
What if YOU joined me in this? What kind of impact would that make?What kind of difference would it make if we stood up against what the world wants us to do and we said No, we Can't do that. And if people asked why... we would tell them that God's people are stronger than that. That we feared God more than we feared man. What impact would that really make?
My guess is that God would knock our socks off! :)
Since Pharaoh couldn't trust the mid-wives to kill the boy babies, he then "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."This sets the stage for the next part of the story.