July 24 Edevotional
The midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, Moses’ mother, and Moses’ sister Miriam, practice an amazing, creative, and powerful unraveling of the systemic evil and oppression within the institutional system they find themselves. From their experiences we can learn a lot about where we find ourselves.
When Joseph reconciles with his brothers and moves his family—his father and mother, his brothers and all their families into Egypt where Joseph was brought into exile and has become the wise restorer of food and agriculture—Israel’s family grows, expands, and prospers.
When Joseph dies and a new Egyptian monarch is in power, this amicable relationship between the Egyptians and the immigrant Israelites is completely forgotten. The new Egyptian monarch, Pharaoh, is paranoid of the growth of the Israelite community and orders them into slavery for his empire. But it seems that the more the Israelite people are oppressed, the more they grow and prosper.
When Pharaoh makes a new law that the midwives for the Israelite community kill all the baby boys that are born to Hebrew women, the midwives resist. When Pharaoh finds out that the midwives are not obeying, then Shiphrah and Puah write back that just as Pharaoh believes, the Hebrew women are animals, not proper humans, and they give birth without the midwives being able to get there! (Brilliant resistance! Playing on the Pharaoh’s own fears and beliefs)
When Pharaoh again makes a new law that all the Hebrew boy babies must be thrown into the Nile River to drown, Moses’ mother—when Moses is born and she sees her baby’s goodness and light—refuses to drown him in the river and instead builds a little ark, puts baby Moses into it and then into the river and walks away, praying that somehow he will be safe.
Pharaoh’s own daughter comes down to the river to bathe and finds the little ark with a baby inside. When she rescues the baby from the river, Pharaoh’s daughter names the reality of what her own father has decreed, “This must be one of the Hebrew babies.”
It is then that Moses’ sister comes our from hiding and steps forward to the princess to ask, “Should I find one of the Hebrew women who can nurse this baby for you?” (Brilliant resistance and speaking out by these two young women!) Moses’ own mother is able to nurse her baby until he is old enough to be adopted by the princess and brought up in the very home of the Pharaoh who had decreed Moses’ death!
The resistance of these women, their gathering up of the unraveled threads of their life and the threat of genocide, are such brilliant examples of how to “resist evil and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves” as we promise in our baptism vows. We too, in Northbrook United Methodist Church, in our ministries, and with a task force formed within our conference to find a new way of moving forward within an oppressive system, are working to unravel the powers that insist on death and punishment (in a Traditional Plan). We are forming creative ways of building God’s justice, of writing, speaking, and resisting. (Our own member, Alice Lonoff, is part of the Task Force of the Northern Illinois Conference, to create and develop such ways of resistant moving forward.)
Pray for God’s Spirit to move, guide, and direct, building on a long history of resisters and Jesus-followers.
Pastor Sherrie Lowly