Exodus 1:17-22

17 But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too.
18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives. “Why have you done this?” he demanded. “Why have you allowed the boys to live?”
19 “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.”
20 So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful.
21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live.”

Exodus 1:17-22 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO EXODUS

This book is called by the Jews Veelleh Shemoth, from the first words with which it begins, and sometimes Sepher Shemoth, and sometimes only Shemoth. It is by the Septuagint called Exodus, from whom we have the name of Exodus, which signifies "a going out"; see Lu 9:31, Heb 11:22, because it treats of the going of the children of Israel out of Egypt; and hence in the Alexandrian copy it is called the Exodus of Egypt; and so the Syriac version entitles it the second book of the law, called "the going out"; and to the same purpose the Arabic version. The Jews sometimes give it the name of Nezikin, as Buxtorf {a} observes out of the Masora on Ge 24:8 because in it some account is given of losses, and the restitution of them. That this book is of divine inspiration, and to be reckoned in the canon of the sacred writings, is sufficiently evident to all that believe the New Testament; since there are so many quotations out of it there by Christ, and his apostles; particularly see Mr 12:26 and that it was wrote by Moses is not to be doubted, but when is not certain; it must be after the setting up of the tabernacle in the wilderness; the greatest part of what is contained in it, he was an eye and ear witness of; it plainly points out the accomplishment of the promises and prophecies delivered to Abraham, that his posterity would be very numerous, that they would be afflicted in a land not theirs, and in the fourth generation come out of it with great substance. It treats of the afflictions of the Israelites in Egypt, after the death of Joseph, until their deliverance by Moses; of his birth, calling, and mission to Pharaoh, to demand of him to let the children of Israel go; of the ten plagues upon him and his people, for refusing to dismiss them; of the departure of Israel from Egypt, and the institution of the passover on that account; of their passage through the Red sea into the wilderness, and of the various exercises and afflictions, supplies and supports they met with there; of the giving of a body of laws unto them, moral, ceremonial, and judicial; and of the building of the tabernacle, and all things appertaining to it; and throughout the whole, as there is a figure and representation of the passage of the people of God out of spiritual Egypt, through the wilderness of this world, to the heavenly Canaan, and of various things they must meet with in their passage, so there are many types of Christ, his person, office, and grace, and of his church, his word, and ordinances, which are very edifying and instructing. The book contains a history of about one hundred and forty years, from the death of Joseph, to the erection of the tabernacle.

{a} Lexic. Talmud. col. 1325.

\\INTRODUCTION TO EXODUS 1\\

This chapter begins with an account of the names and number of the children of Israel that came into Egypt with Jacob, Ex 1:1-5 and relates that increase of them after the death of Joseph, and the generation that went down to Egypt, Ex 1:6-8 and what methods the Egyptians took to diminish them, but to no purpose, as by obliging to cruel bondage and hard service; and yet the more they were afflicted, the more they increased, Ex 1:9-14 by ordering the midwives of the Hebrew women to slay every son they laid them of; but they fearing God, did not obey the order of the king of Egypt, which when he expostulated with them about, they excused, and so the people multiplied, Ex 1:15-21 and lastly, by ordering every male child to be cast into the river, Ex 1:22 and which is the leading step to the account of the birth of Moses, which follows in the next chapter.

Exodus 1:17-22 In-Context

15 Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah:
16 “When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.”
17 But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too.
18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives. “Why have you done this?” he demanded. “Why have you allowed the boys to live?”
19 “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.”
20 So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful.
21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live.”
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