The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” – Exodus 1:15-22
Well we have entered the book of Exodus and arrived at a somewhat difficult passage. Much has happened since the end of the book of Genesis. Joseph has died and the Israelites have fallen out of favor with the Egyptians. This passage comes at the end of a narrative describing how the Israelites have increased in number in Egypt after Joseph and Jacob’s deaths. The Egyptian rulers were encouraging the Israelite midwives to practice infanticide on the male Israelites to keep their numbers down. When the Israelite midwives refuse to be complicit in this plan Pharaoh had to come up with another plan. He turns to the mighty Nile River which he has deified in the past into a killing machine. The plan is for the Egyptians to throw the Hebrew boys in the Nile, transforming this river of life giving water into an instrument of death.
This is an extreme and disgusting example of turning a blessing into a curse by choices, but if I am honest have to admit to doing this in smaller ways with God’s blessings. How many times have my choices resulted in something other than what God intended. How many times have I misused gifts given by God for my own purposes and plans? The choosing that happens in our lives may not be a matter of life and death as it was for Pharaoh. It may be as simple as choosing to slow down and listen to a friend, or a colleague who is hurting. For some, our choice may be a matter of life and death.
Although this is a somewhat horrific story, God has a way of turning cursing into blessing. Moses will come into the Pharaoh’s own household and become a blessing for the Israelites because of Pharaoh’s poor choice to kill all the Hebrew baby boys.
Prayer: God help me to be a good steward of the people, plans, and blessings you have put in place in my life so that I may receive them as blessings.