Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: “When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too.
So the king of Egypt called for the midwives. “Why have you done this?” he demanded. “Why have you allowed the boys to live?”
“The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women,” the midwives replied. “They are more vigorous and have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time.”
So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
Relate: In the book The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom tells of a time when her family was hiding a group of Jews from the Nazis. There was a small compartment under their floor hidden by a rug and the dining room table that these Jews would hide in when anyone would come by. One day, Nazi soldiers were at their house looking for Jews and collaborators and asked if there were any Jews in hiding. Corrie’s sister Betsy was honest to an annoying fault and answered, “Oh yeah. They are under the table.” Fortunately, the soldiers thought she was either joking or being sarcastic and they continued on their way without looking under the rug. Betsie spoke the honest truth in a situation where, if ever, a lie would have been acceptable, and yet God still intervened to protect the Ten Booms and those they were hiding. Later, the family would get caught. Corrie’s father died in a hospital after getting sick in prison, Betsie would die at Ravensbruck concentration camp, and Corrie, who survived Ravensbruck, would go on to become an amazing speaker on grace and forgiveness in spite of injustice and persecution. My question is, was Betsie right in telling the truth? Should she have lied? Would you have lied in her place? Would that be OK? Should she have, perhaps, stayed quiet even if that silence implied guilt?
React: When we close out the book of Genesis, the Hebrews are held in high esteem in Egypt. Joseph had saved Egypt and the entire known world from famine and that act did not go unnoticed. But as time went by, that favor dissipated. Part of it is that familiarity breeds contempt. Another part is that apparently, the Hebrew women were breeding like bunnies and the Egyptians decided they needed to put some population controls in place. He called the midwives together and demanded that they start performing some partial birth abortions for any woman about to give birth to a boy. The midwives lied to Pharaoh and the boys continued to be born. In a similar type of situation to that of the Ten Booms, the midwives chose to lie. Ultimately, Pharaoh instead resorted to infanticide, but I want to propose a question, did God bless the Hebrew midwives because they lied? When it is OK to lie?
Normally, I close out with a prayer. I encourage you to spend time contemplating moments you have “bent the truth” or outright lied. Confess those to God and ask Him to help you be a better reflection of His truthful nature. But also, please comment in answer to the questions posed above or any thoughts on truth and lies that might have sprung from the two stories of Betsie Ten Boom and the Hebrew midwives.
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Who Do You Say I Am? (90+ comments)