Exodus 1:19 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Exodus 1:19, NIV: "The midwives answered Pharaoh, 'Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.'"

Exodus 1:19, ESV: "The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”"

Exodus 1:19, KJV: "And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them."

Exodus 1:19, NASB: "The midwives said to Pharaoh, 'Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.'"

Exodus 1:19, NLT: "'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.'"

Exodus 1:19, CSB: "The midwives said to Pharaoh, "The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.""

What does Exodus 1:19 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Pharaoh has ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill male babies born to Jewish women, in an effort to curb the growth of the nation of Israel. Seeing this is not occurring, he confronts the women to whom he'd given his initial order. The midwives responded to Pharaoh with a lie, telling him the Hebrew women give birth before midwives arrive. This may have been true on some occasions, but was also clearly an excuse given to help protect innocent lives (Exodus 1:18). The claim presented to the Egyptian king is that Jewish women are giving birth without a midwife, then hiding the newborn child to protect his life. Pharaoh would address this excuse by adding the command to throw every Hebrew son into the Nile River (Exodus 1:22). By expanding the command to all of Egypt, the king takes away the ability of the midwives to oppose his plans.

Interestingly, this command must have been limited according to some kind of time frame. For example, Moses was hidden as a newborn to protect his life. However, no mention is made regarding a similar situation for his older brother Aaron. Aaron was likely born early enough to avoid being thrown into the Nile, though Moses was under threat of dying in this way. God's sovereign plan allowed their births to occur at exactly the right times to allow His plan to unfold and bring Israel from slavery to freedom.