15 ¶ And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: 16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. 18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? 19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. 20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. 21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses. 22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.
Apparently, the midwives had a sort of hierarchy, perhaps official even, with Shiprah and Puah as their leaders. Common sense dictates that two midwives could not handle the population. The Pharaoh gives his command to kill male babies. This they did not do. The midwives’ leaders underscored the strength and health, the vigor, of the Hebrew women while exaggerating to justify their disobedience to this human king and their loyalty to God. They disobeyed the civil authority because to obey would have been disobedience to God.
In Genesis 30:3 comments I talked about the phrase she shall bear upon my knees.
In verse 16 see the reference to birthing stools. The modern child-bearing position is on your back. The ancient was sitting on someone’s knees or a stool, a birthstool, pictures of which relics can be found on the internet if you are interested. I have read, though I cannot confirm, that birthstools were used in Europe during the Middle Ages. One Jewish source I read reported that ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics show the development of a chair type device with a hole where the seat is normally, much like a toilet seat today.
God blessed the midwives and made them houses. Now, lest you think God is in the business of building suburban developments near Cairo understand that a house can be a family, or a dynasty, that goes on for generations.
Exodus 6:14 These be the heads of their fathers’ houses: The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi: these be the families of Reuben.
1Samuel 20:16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David’s enemies.
As well as a building…
1Kings 9:10 And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the LORD, and the king’s house,
So, depending on the context house can be short for household as well including servants, wives, and children.
Genesis 45:2 And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.
So, a question for fundamentalists arises naturally from this. Is this reference following a physical building or a group of people characterized in type as a spiritual building?
1Corinthians 14:23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
How do physical buildings come together to meet? Seems an absurdity.
Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence…24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
The church is Christ’s body on earth, not a building.
Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
1Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
So, what is the house of God, to the Roman Catholic ‘wannabes’ of Protestant fundamentalism, the Vatican’s auxiliaries? Has the gate of heaven reference in Genesis 28:17 confused you? Do you consider your specific church building, the place where your church meets, the ladder between heaven and earth? What about Christ in John 1:51? And what about these verses?
1Corinthians 3:16 ¶ Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
The Hebrews had a high birth rate and grew rapidly in number. Then, Pharaoh gives a wicked command to all of his people to murder the sons of the Hebrews as they are born, to throw them into the river.