Why Talk About Midwives?

midwife assisting in birthThis week I was wondering why the book of Exodus opens with a discussion of midwives. Since God never does or says anything by accident, it must have significance.

During a Torah discussion, my rabbi pointed out that Israel was in the womb during her time in Egypt. The harsh treatment was birth pains saying, “Okay! It’s time to come out now. It’s time to be born.”

As the discussion progressed, someone pointed out that a woman is pregnant for 40 weeks and Israel was in Egypt for 400 years. That’s when it all became clear.

Just as the baby is in its mother’s womb for 40 weeks, the physical nation of Israel was in the womb of Egypt for 400 years. But that’s not all. Once the physical nation was born, they spent another 40 years in the womb of God growing as a spiritual nation.

And that brings me back to my initial pondering with a clear answer. A midwife helps a baby to be born. She delivers it. You could say she is a ‘deliverer’.

By presenting us with a discussion of midwives, God was setting the stage for what was about to happen for the whole nation. Despite the attempts of Pharaoh to abort the nation, God, as the Great Midwife, was about to deliver the newborn nation.


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