Shiphrah and Puah: Faith in a Godless Culture

20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know || Shiphrah and Puah: Faith in a Godless Culture When the choice was to honor God's desire to preserve life or obey a godless leader and destroy life, these two brave women feared God.

Today we are jumping into looking at these women in Scripture and what we can learn from them. And today is a two-for-one deal. How’s that for a great start?

Shiphrah and Puah. Do you know those names? They were the midwives in Egypt when Moses was born. Pharaoh commanded them to murder the baby boys born to the Hebrew women.

20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know || Shiphrah and Puah: Faith in a Godless Culture

When the choice was to honor God's desire to preserve life or obey a godless leader and destroy life, these two brave women feared God.

Shiphrah and Puah: Faith in a Godless Culture

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives—the first whose name was Shiphrah and the second whose name was Puah—  “When you help the Hebrew women give birth, observe them as they deliver. If the child is a son, kill him, but if it’s a daughter, she may live.”

Exodus 1:15-16 CSB

Yeah, ruthless guy, right? {Should also sound like a story you have heard from the New Testament too … see Matthew 2:16.}

So the ruler in this extremely pagan culture desires to take extreme measures in order to protect his population from the potential of being overtaken by their slaves. And he orders two women, women who likely had no families of their own but were responsible for caring for the pregnant Hebrew women and delivering their children, to commit what is, in most of our minds, the most horrific act of evil we can fathom — the murder of newborn babies.

Two Brave Women

Stop here for a minute and put yourself in that place. The truth is, most of us really can’t fathom what that culture was like, especially for women.

Shiphrah and Puah were put in an unimaginable situation. How did they respond?

The midwives, however, feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live

Exodus 1:17 CSB

They defied the Pharaoh and, in doing so, put their own lives at risk. This guy wasn’t stupid, he knew something was going on. And he was going to find out.

So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this and let the boys live?”

Exodus 1:18 CSB

I imagine most of us would have crumbled in the face of such authority. But these women did not.

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.”

Exodus 1:19 CSB

They lied to him. I mean, there is no other way to view this. There may have been some of the Hebrew women who delivered their babies without the midwives’ assistance. But they had, undoubtedly, made the courageous choice to save the babies and defy the Pharaoh. Were they right? Was it right to lie? Let’s look at what Scripture says about God’s response.

So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied and became very numerous. Since the midwives feared God, he gave them families.

Exodus 1:20-21 CSB

Did you see that? God was GOOD to the midwives and he gave them families. Why? I think we find the key in two of these verses …

Look again at verse 17 — “The Hebrew midwives, however, feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them. And at verse 21 — “Since the midwives feared God, he gave them families.”



When the choice was to honor God’s desire to preserve life or obey a godless leader and destroy life, these two brave women feared God.

A Lesson for Us

Such a powerful lesson for us — to live out our faith in God, even when the cost could be our own lives.

A Prayer for Us

Lord, may we be faithful to you in every situation. May we be brave and courageous in our desire to honor you, even in the face of unimaginable fear and threats. As we live in an increasingly hostile world, may we have the faith and boldness of Shiphrah and Puah. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


This post is part of my series, 20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know. You can find every post in this series indexed here.

20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know || Learn about 10 women from the Old Testament and 10 from the New Testament — who they were, how they they were used by the Lord, and what we can learn from them as we seek to grow in our faith.

3 Replies to “Shiphrah and Puah: Faith in a Godless Culture”

  1. Walking out in faith takes a lot of bravery and courage as these women have displayed. I feel as though stumbling comes natural. We are called to be bold, at times. We are called to speak God’s truth at times. We are called to keep quite at times. We are called to love our God and obey Him. When the world is growing so vast and different than what God Says to do, every day is a day to suit up in the armor of God.
    Every day, for me anyways, is a day to go against what the world says, and walk as Woman of God.
    In the moments we grow weary. God will give us rest. God’s word is our protection.

    Thank you. have a good day.

  2. Gosh, I can’t imagine facing the KING in that situation.

    I love how beautiful God is. I love how He always loves, but then rewards obedience even more.

    And I’d never noticed their name before!

  3. […] Shiphrah & Puah: Faith in a Godless Culture […]

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