Exodus 1:15

ESV Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah,
NIV The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah,
NASB Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah, and the other was named Puah;
CSB The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives--the first, whose name was Shiphrah, and the second, whose name was Puah--
NLT Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah:
KJV And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:

What does Exodus 1:15 mean?

Pharaoh's first attempts to decrease the Hebrew population have failed (Exodus 1:12). This verse introduces a new plan, clearly added in addition to the slave labor mentioned in verses 11 through 14. Pharaoh, called "king of Egypt," spoke to two Hebrew midwives named Shiphrah and Puah. There were certainly more than just two midwives in Israel, based on the population of the Jews. However, these two women may have superintended over the other midwives who served Jewish women in childbirth and were therefore mentioned by name. The two women have Hebrew names and were most likely Jewish women themselves.

Pharaoh's plan, as described in the next verses, is murderous. He wants the Hebrew midwives to kill all of the male Israeli babies as they are born.

Prior to this time, Genesis mentioned midwives on two occasions. In Genesis 35:17, a midwife speaks to Rachel as she gives birth to Benjamin and dies. In Genesis 38:28, the midwife tied a scarlet thread around Perez's hand when he came out to indicate which twin was born first. No other mention of midwives occur beyond Exodus 1, leaving much unknown about their work in Old Testament times. However, these verses reveal the important role of midwives, as well as their faithful response to God when faced with the ungodly demands of an evil political leader.
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