These two woman are probably names you have never heard but they were faithful so they are mentioned in the first chapter of Exodus. At this time the children of Israel are still in Egypt but it has been many years since the time of Joseph. The current Pharaoh doesn’t remember the good that Joseph did for Egypt and became afraid that the Israelites (or children of Israel), who were growing in number, would turn on them and help their enemies. So, Pharaoh decided to make them all slaves. The Bible mentions that while slaves they built the cities of Pithom and Raamses. This places the time frame in the reign of Ramses II because he is recorded to have ordered the building of Rameses.
Verses 11-14 tell us that the Egyptians were cruel to the Israelites but their numbers continued to grow. So, Pharaoh developed another plan. He ordered Shiphrah and Puah, the Israelite midwives or birth helpers, to kill every boy Israelite as it was born. Shiphrah and Puah knew this was wrong and would anger God. And since they knew God was more powerful than Pharaoh, they didn’t do it. When Pharaoh realize that the boy babies were surviving he summoned the midwives in to see him and asked why they were letting the boys live. They told Pharaoh that the woman had their babies before they got there so they didn’t get a chance. Was that true? Probably not, but God didn’t punish them for lying about why they were letting the babies live. In fact God rewarded them for letting the boys live by giving them families of their own. God looked at their hearts and knew they were disobeying Pharaoh to do the right thing that was pleasing to Him. He forgave their sin of lying because in their hearts they were trying to do the right thing. God understands that we aren’t perfect and don’t get things right every time.
Shiphrah and Puah are important characters because they remind us that God’s law is above man’s law. Pharaoh made the rules in Egypt but these women knew that just because it was legal didn’t make it right. So they obeyed God and knew He would take care of them.
Do you know of anything that our laws say is okay but that God’s law says isn’t? What choice should you make? (Depending on the age of the child you could discuss cussing, drinking or abortion.)