The Imperative for Civil Disobedience
150 years ago the author Henry David Thoreau wrote about the need for civil disobedience when governments overstepped moral and ethical boundaries. 3,000 years earlier, the first recorded incidence of civil disobedience appears in our portion of Shemot. What made the act committed by the midwives, who disobeyed Pharaoh's orders, so incredible?
The midwives; Shifra and Puah, who saved the Hebrew male babies from being thrown into the river Nile, may not have been Hebrew themselves. It is incomprehensible to think that Pharaoh would have chosen Hebrew midwives to murder their own people's children. Therefore the assumption must be that they were Egyptian midwives. Either way, they are the very first documented example of civil disobedience where their form of moral courage transcends nationality and race.
In reality they were being asked to commit a crime against humanity and they refused to do this. All we know about these two courageous women is that they "feared God and did not do what Pharaoh had instructed them to." By refusing to obey an immoral order, they redefined the moral imagination of the world.
As a reward for what they did, "God made them houses." What does this mean; As midwives, they probably had no children of their own. Houses = home which = a family; so God gave them children as a reward for defining the future of humankind and specifically the birth of Moses and all that followed.
What's in a Name?
The strength that made it possible for the Hebrews to go through the hard Exile without assimilating came from the counting and naming they received. We see from this that a name has a special power. A name is not just a way to identify someone. Your name defines your identity and the way you are in life.
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