Praise for Shiprah and Puah and all their descendants – Baptist News Global
The Bible is full of female heroes, examples of courage. We don’t pay attention to them, and very few end up in stained glass. Two of these heroes are Shiphrah and Puah, Hebrew midwives in Egypt during the time of Hebrew slavery.
Remarkably, the name Shiprah was found on a list of Egyptian slaves. They were annoying women too, creating what John Lewis called “good trouble.”
Moses’ story of God’s deliverance of the Hebrew people from slavery begins with the first chapter of Exodus and with these two women. Why did the author of Exodus remind us of them in the story? Because without them, Moses might never have come into the world. They were not only remembered, they were named: Shiphrah and Puah.
Pharaoh, paranoid at the number and strength of Hebrew slaves there and fearing a slave uprising, ordered Hebrew midwives to strangle all Hebrew baby boys at birth. Power breeds paranoia.
In 1964, Richard Hofstadter wrote an influential essay entitled “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”. Want to win an election? Play on people’s fear and paranoia, spread conspiracy theories. Do you want to be Of course to win? Sprinkle with a little religion.
Today white paranoia is fueled by the racist idea called “white replacement theory”. Whites are losing power, he argues, as America grows darker and blacker. We must therefore prevent them from coming to the country and make the vote as difficult as possible. America is on its way to becoming a minority / majority nation by 2042. Beware!
The Jim Crow Laws enacted shortly after Reconstruction (which stripped black citizens of their power and lasted until the 1960s), the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 in North Carolina (provoked by the number of citizens black people elected to public office and which ousted most of the city’s black population), the band of new voting restriction laws sweeping the United States today have all been fueled by one version or another of white replacement theory.
Scripture says the harder the Egyptian the overlords oppressed the Hebrew slaves, the faster they multiplied. Making babies as a seditious act. A king cannot control all, but Pharaoh tried. The first decree of death was to strangle all baby boys at birth.
Enter Shiphrah and Puah and these enthralling words: “But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded. “
Women have done such things throughout history, breaking laws, rules, and customs in the name of higher law and deeper morality. This is how God works, surprising the great and the mighty.
Paul wrote: “But God has chosen that which is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, the things that are not, to nullify the things that are.
Shiphrah and Puah committed civil disobedience because the law of God was higher than the laws of man. They “feared God,” which means not abject fear, but respect, loyalty and obedience to a higher law.
Acclaimed novelist Zora Neale Hurston writes about what was at stake in Egypt: “The Hebrew birthing beds were matters of state. The Hebrew womb had fallen under Pharaoh’s heel.
“The Hebrew birthing beds were a matter of state. “
We shudder at the words and actions of those today in our nation who want to use the power of the state to control women’s bellies. Recently, 650 women’s marches were scheduled for the same day across the country to protest Texas’ abortion law and the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear it. Embarrassing women.
When he is brought before Pharaoh To explain why so many Hebrew baby boys survived, Shiphrah and Puah said, “These Hebrew women are so strong and vigorous, well, they give birth so fast that by the time we are there, the babies are already here!
We smile at their words and their ingenious defense. The fear of the Lord in the hearts of nurse midwives is greater than that of all the pharaohs in the world. We praise Shiphrah and Puah and all the women throughout history who have followed through their school of courage.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Majority Leader at the time, once ruled Senator Elizabeth Warren out of order as she attempted to call Coretta Scott King’s testimony. He said of her: “She was warned, she was given an explanation, yet she persisted,Words that launched a million T-shirts.
“The first preacher I heard preaching on Shiphrah and Puah was Nancy Hastings Sehested.”
The first preacher I heard preaching on Shiphrah and Puah was Nancy Hastings Sehested. In a later sermon to the Baptist Alliance, she challenged them to become a “Shiphrah and Puah Society”. Want to join?
Enraged by disobedience midwives, Pharaoh issued a second decree of death: All Hebrew baby boys were to be cast into the Nile, thus turning their river of life into a channel of death.
Then came three other heroines: Moses ‘mother, who hid him in rushes of the Nile, Moses’ older sister who watched over him and, believe it or not, Pharaoh’s own daughter, who welcomed him.
The pharaoh wanted all the baby males to be killed, but it seems that was the women that caused most of the trouble.
What about other troublesome women in the Bible and throughout history? Where would you start?
Truth of stay, the freed slave who became a champion of the abolition of slaves and the emancipation of women. Jesus appeared to her in a vision and called her to be a preacher and emancipator. Once, while she was giving a sermon in a public place, the heckling started. A man shouted, “Who do you think you are? A woman cannot preach! She replied, “And where do you think Jesus came from? From God and a woman! Man has nothing to do with it!
Susan B. Anthony and the suffragists who risked everything for women’s right to vote. Anthony’s gravestone in Rochester, NY, is covered each election day in “I Voted!” stickers. On election day in 2016, when Hillary Clinton was at the polls, more than 10,000 women made the trip to put their stickers on the stone.
Francoise Perkins who on March 21, 1911, was visiting a friend near Washington Square in New York. They witnessed in horror the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. Young workers, mostly women, were leaping from windows to their deaths to escape the blaze. The large factory had no fire escape stairs. God called her out of the burning building as clearly as God called Moses out of the burning bush. She has become a champion of workers’ rights. She joined Franklin Roosevelt’s cabinet as Secretary of Labor, the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet, and served there for 12 years, the longest term of any cabinet member. In this position, she played a key role in the development of social security, unemployment insurance and the minimum wage. Today the Department of Labor is located in the Frances Perkins building.
Fanny Lou Hamer, one of the unsung heroes of the civil rights movement. When she first started participating in a civil rights campaign, she was imprisoned and beaten so badly that she never fully recovered from some of the injuries. She chaired the Mississippi Freedom Party delegation to the 1964 Democratic Convention, challenging the all-white Mississippi delegation. In the darkest moments of that time, she taught and led civil rights crowds to sing “This little light of mine, I’ll let it shine.”
Dorothy Day was perhaps the greatest Catholic social reformer of his time. At the start of her young adult life, she was an atheist and an activist for others. She became a Christian and joined the Catholic Church when her daughter Tamar was born. She served the poor of New York City and beyond in her Friendship Houses. The paper she started The Catholic Worker, has been read by thousands for years. Towards the end of his life, he was asked questions about his life. She paused, then said this, “I sat there and thought of our Lord, and His visit to us all those centuries ago, and I thought to myself that my great luck was. have been in my head for so long in my life. ”Our great luck too.
Who would you add? I think of Malala, the young teenage girl on her way to school on a school bus who was shot in the head by a Taliban terrorist, who survived and became a world leader in girls’ education. And Greta Thunberg, a teenage climate change activist who, with her autistic laser focus, has stared at governments.
I could go on and on. I am running out of time. You could too. In my 50 years of ministry, I have seen the crucial role of women in the life of the church. Their leadership, spirit, and work have kept the church alive and vital.
Some men decried what they called the “feminization of the church” and the “feminization of society,” denouncing the number of women taking leadership in the church and in society. I think guys with white replacement theory anxiety also have male replacement anxiety.
So let us praise Shiphrah and Puah and all their descendants who, by their courage and conviction, made and make our world closer to what God wants us to be.
Etienne shoemaker serves as the pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Statesville, NC Previously pastor of Myers Park Baptist in Charlotte, NC; Broadway Baptist in Fort Worth, Texas, and Crescent Hill Baptist in Louisville, Ky.
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