Biblical Babes: The Midwives

Shifrah and Puah, The Midwives

In this month of Sivan, we celebrate receiving the Torah, the most central text of Judaism. How we got this essential text stretches back through a long and improbable chain of events. If it wasn’t for Moses who led Exodus, the Israelites wouldn’t have been given the Torah.

“ But if it weren’t for Shifrah and Puah, the midwives who saved Moses’ life as a baby when Pharaoh ordered the killing of all firstborn sons of the Israelites, they would have remained slaves in Egypt. ”

When we receive the Torah on Shavuot, Jews thank the midwives Shifrah and Puah for starting the mighty chain of events that brought the Jewish people into existence. These midwives are fascinating characters.

First of all, they’re recognized by name, which is significant for female characters in the Bible.

Secondly, they went against the decree of Pharaoh and chose to spare the life of baby Moses.

Thirdly, their nationality is mysterious. Were Shifrah and Puah personally impacted Israelites? Or, were they exceptionally sympathetic Egyptians? It’s unclear. Whoever they were, their actions lead to the same conclusions: these midwives were badass in their willingness to stand up for what they believed in, and deeply empathetic to other human beings, regardless of ethnicity.

“There’s no greater hope for humanity than actions like those taken by these biblical midwives. If it weren’t for their radical kindness, Jews might not be around today.”

During this month of Sivan, take a moment to pause in awe of the women who have helped bring life to this world for thousands of years — midwives. Imagine what it must have been like to be a midwife in Egypt.

If you’re pregnant or have given birth, who were the people who taught you the most about your body and the birth process? What did it mean to you to have that support? And, for goodness’ sake, send some love to the women who brought you into this world. If we look closely enough, we can see the long lineage of woman nurturing the continuation of humanity through the ages.

Click here to learn more about modern day midwives and doulas.

Biblical Babes: The Midwives
At The Well
At The Well

We're here to support your journey to wholeness throughout every stage of your life. At The Well is spreading the word about Jewish rituals that can help you connect more deeply — to yourself, to your body, and to community.

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