Tuesday, August 07, 2018

All the Heroes in This Story are Heroines

Our Bible study lesson on Sunday came from Exodus 1 and 2.  The text presents the status of the Hebrews under a Pharaoh “to whom Joseph meant nothing” (Exodus 1:8, NIV), the attempts to marginalize the descendants of Jacob, and the birth and growth into manhood of Moses, the one who would lead God’s people out of bondage.

A key insight was provided by James Semple, the writer of the teacher commentary.  Semple points out that all the heroes in this story are women. The Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah,who are instructed to kill all the male children participate in an act of civil disobedience by ignoring the order.  When questioned, they simply reply, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” (1:19).

When Pharaoh commands the Hebrews to cast their male children into the Nile, Moses’ mother Jochebed complies but she does so by placing the child in basket that will float on the water, then leaves the rest to God.

Pharaoh’s daughter finds the child, recognizes his Hebrew origin, has compassion on him, and defies her father’s order by keeping the baby alive.

Miriam, Moses’ sister, serves as the means of connecting her mother with the child so that he can nourished until he becomes part of Pharaoh’s household.

When Moses flees into the wilderness after killing an Egyptian taskmaster, he encounters Zipporah and her sisters at a well.  She provides an entrée for this stranger into the home of her father Jethro, becomes Moses’ wife, and bears him a son.

The motivations of these women to take a stand against authority are varied.  Some do it out of faith in God, some for love of family, and others simply because it is the right thing to do.  Although they, too, are marginalized people in their society, they do the right thing when the time of testing comes.

Thanks be to God for faithful women with the courage to take a stand when it is crucial to the work of the Kingdom of God.

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