In the beginning of the Exodus were the women—two women, Shiphrah and Puah. And then there were the mothers. Their names are not known, beyond the first two, but God uses a collective “she” to deliver Israel.
This moment in Scripture, often read as a story of deliverance, is also a creation story. Through their resistance, Shiphrah and Puah created fertile ground for the Israelites to multiply and prosper.
When I imagine Shiphrah and Puah standing before Pharaoh to answer his questions about why they had not killed the Hebrew baby boys, I imagine a scene like one in The Sound of Music. At the end of the movie, a pair of nuns disable the Nazi’s vehicle, letting the Von Trapp family escape to the Austrian border. While the failed engine grinds in the background, the two nuns sheepishly draw pieces of machinery from under their habits, revealing to their superior that they were responsible for the act of resistance that helped the family escape.
We see in both stories that resistance can be holy. Sometimes our no is the best way to make the world hear the yes in God’s creation. This story in Exodus is gruesome and hard to digest. There’s a reason that there isn’t a Sunday school felt board depiction of Shiphrah and Puah at the birthing stool. But, perhaps through the bravery of these women, we can see that hope outlives death decrees and creation finds ways to evade oppression. That is good news.
Like the midwives who feared God, when have you sensed God nudging you to engage in “good trouble?”
Blessed Creator, give us the wisdom to know when to say no, and the heart to hear your affirming love. Amen.