Exodus 1:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Exodus 1:17, NIV: "The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live."

Exodus 1:17, ESV: "But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live."

Exodus 1:17, KJV: "But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive."

Exodus 1:17, NASB: "But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live."

Exodus 1:17, NLT: "But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king's orders. They allowed the boys to live, too."

Exodus 1:17, CSB: "The midwives, however, feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live."

What does Exodus 1:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Three observations should be made regarding these midwives. First, the midwives "feared God." Abraham had been praised for fearing God (Genesis 22:12), leaving an example for his descendants. These women would rather obey God than men (Acts 5:29).

Second, the midwives risked their own lives to save the lives of the newborn sons of the Jews. Not only were these women slaves, they were defying the orders of an absolute king. Disobedience, even in secret, would have put their own lives at risk. And yet, they absolutely refused to follow such evil orders, even when confronted about it later. This concept of obeying God, even if it means defying men, will continue into the New Testament church (Acts 4:19–20)

Third, the midwives are specifically noted to have "let the male children live." They could not bring themselves to put newborn boys to death. As midwives, they regularly witnessed the amazing beauty of new life entering the world. They also likely knew the experience of a stillborn child and the sorrow it brought to a family. These midwives protected vulnerable infant lives. God honored their decision, blessing them with children of their own (Exodus 1:21). The fact "God dealt well" with the midwives (Exodus 1:20) shows God's attitude regarding the value of newborn children.