REV. DR. JEREMIAH WRIGHT JR.: His book, “Africans who Shaped Our Faith,” highlights two women who played a signiﬁcant role in saving Hebrew boys. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THEHISTORYMAKERS.ORG
Pharaoh the king of Egypt gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the birthing stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” – Exodus 1:1516
The government was determined to kill these baby boys! But as we know, to God all people matter.
In Africa, midwives have traditionally played a key role is in assisting mothers giving birth. The birthing stool was a midwifery instrument that aided the mother and the midwife in giving delivery because it helped by gravity. In those times, human birth was done like the other animals; while standing, they allowed gravity to do the birthing work.
“THE GOVERNMENT WAS DETERMINED TO KILL THESE BABY BOYS! BUT AS WE KNOW, TO GOD ALL PEOPLE MATTER.”
These two Black women, Shiphrah and Puah, faced a situation in which a Hebrew woman named Jochebed was about to give birth to a baby boy whose name would be Moses. They were living during one of the most dangerous and yet glorious periods in Egyptian history.
Today’s socialization process tries to destroy little Black boys. Give them guns; give them whiskey; give them drugs; give them AIDS; give them inferior education; give them no skills; give them no chance; give them no hope; give them no future.
Then give them a life with no father. Give them delightful, delectable delusions, and let them kill each other over those delusions, thus helping in destroying the inner child of the Black baby boy.
Despite the climate we are living in today, where we see the killing of young boys, particularly Black boys, despite all the deaths, I still believe that if we fear and obey God, we can, and will, save our boys and our families.
Scripture tells us, in the background of the story of the two Black Egyptian midwives, that this is a time of political transition from a benevolent Pharoah to a non-benevolent Pharaoh. Eventually a new king comes to power in Egypt who knew nothing about the Governor Joseph, nor what he had done in Egyptian history.
“Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the birthing stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live… and because the midwives (Shiphrah and Puah) feared God, He gave them families of their own.” – Exodus
Why mention the birthing stool? Because it allowed for a cover-up by the would-be murderers. The death of a baby boy could happen outside of the sight of the mother; you could smother the baby to death before he even takes his ﬁrst breath.
I thank my dear friend and brother in the Lord, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright
Jr., for the inspiration of this article and for his book which was a major help in preparation for Koinonia Worship Centers’ Biblical Black Studies classes. What started as a Blacks in the Bible class turned into a sermon and now into an article.
In his book “Africans who Shaped Our Faith,” Wright highlights the two Black women who played a signiﬁcant role in saving Hebrew boys.
The role of a midwife, spiritually speaking, is a role all can, and should be playing today in saving our Black boys. Special note: This happened again during the birth of another baby boy, Jesus! “Herod, sent soldiers to kill all the boys in around Bethlehem who were two years old or under.” – Matthew 2:16
Wright points out that this story happened “In the 18th dynasty of Egypt, a time of great prosperity when African Pharaohs were once again ruling Egypt.” Sometimes African kings and queens co-reigned. For example, think Viola Davis and the movie “Woman King,” and the real-world example of the 15th century Queen Nzinga of the kingdoms of Ncongo, now the Congo.
The great pharaohs of this dynasty had open minds and new trade with countries around the world. On any given day one could see mostly Black merchants from Punt and other countries, docking along the Nile, loading and unloading ebony, sycamore and palm trees, dyes, ﬁne linen and cattle.
However, for many reasons, most of the immigrant workers living at Goshen (a ghetto), one of many worker villages, were not so excited about these new multiethnic community developments. Most Israelites felt this new Egyptian pharaoh was not like the ﬁrst one; this new pharoah not only is unfair, he is cruel, dangerous and deadly.
The children of Israel were part of this mixed multitude of immigrant workers. No doubt there had been intermarriage between the Israelite and Canaanite children of Israel too, but by this time it is even more diverse in racial types of people, other than just the African-Canaanites, whom the Israelites had a special historic relationship with the Hebrew nation and from most of the other’s races. They were descendants of their ancestor Jacob who brought them to Egypt fleeing “the great Famine” in Canaan, and in Egypt Joseph intermarriage to Asenath (a Black priestess) this creates a mixed community, and this is centuries before this new pharaoh “who did not know Joseph” came into power.
Wright, says of Divine Law: “The Egyptians and the North Africans call it MAAT, which is seven cardinal virtues. West Africans call it the law of eternal return. Paul, who is also of African descent, put it this way in Galatians 6:7-8; as paraphrased in today’s circumstances his message would read, “Be not deceived (white) mn. Be not deceived, (slaveholder). Be not deceived, (racist). Be not deceived, (lawmaker). Be not deceived (America), be not deceived (Supreme Court), “God is not mocked” for as the scripture says. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
When we “fear and obey God,” we save our families.
Scripture tells us, “So, God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more powerful. And because the midwives feared God, He gave them families of their own.” – Exodus
These two Black women, Shiphrah and Puah, left us a powerful legacy. We must note, however, these are the women whom we would have normally been labeled the enemy. Yet repeatedly, God shows us that everyone who is our color is not our kind; everyone who is not our color is not automatically our enemy.
As we can see when we closely examine these women, serving God as midwives, the lord says, through them, we serve a God, who says that everyone matters!
These beautiful Black sisters had an unshakable faith in an unbeatable God that “something within them” allowed them to look death in the face and say yes to giving life and no to taking life. Shiphrah and Puah were God fearing Black women who were life givers!
Those of us with children, especially fathers, should be proud of all our children, our sons, and our daughters. We should be anxious to support them and stand with them. Following the example of Shiphrah and Puah, let us be “life givers.” Stop depending on the government, and become our own midwives, build our own birthing stools, and build our own communities!
We must as Pastor Jeremiah Wright said almost 30 years ago in 1995, Teach the boys!
“Teach our sons to read.
Teach them to respect Black women.
Teach them to love God and follow Jesus.
Teach them to prepare themselves. Teach them to prepare and work for a living and provide for their families.
Teach them to give life and not take it.
Teach those same Black sons whom the government has targeted for death, how to say no to death and yes to life.
Teach them that everything good that comes to them is not necessarily good for them.
Teach them to place God at the center of their lives.
Teach them that they do have a chance.
Teach them that they do have a future.
Teach them that they do have hope and with God all things are possible.” Teach the boys to fear and obey God, and then save our families!
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis, D. Min., is associate pastor, Koinonia Worship
Center & Village, 4900 W. Hallandale
Beach Blvd. He may be reached at 754230-7271 or at email@example.com.