Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah…  Exodus 1:15

“Beautiful”. If you were to make a quick pencil sketch of “beautiful” you would need some more description or details. In our character study for this week the meaning of the midwife Shiphrah’s name is “beautiful”, but there is no description of her beauty, just what she did. That’s the way Hebrew narrative is written, with lots of detailed actions. Physical descriptions are very brief or non-existent but the actions tell of a person’s character, place in society, and circumstances. Every detail is given for a reason.

The names of the midwives Shiphrah (beautiful) and Puah (brilliant) are mentioned in Exodus 1 among the names of the Patriarchs and the 12 tribes of Israel. They are important, history-making women in a male-led and dominated culture. Their courageous acts (they didn’t do as the King of Egypt commanded, v. 17), compassion (they let the boys live, v. 17) and righteous actions (they valued human life) preserved the covenant and priestly heritage of the nation. Their brave behavior resulted in the nation flourishing by multiplying and becoming very mighty. It would be easy to overlook them, marginalize or make them insignificant. But there is power in the mentioning of their names in the narrative and describing their conduct as God-fearing (v. 17, 21), making a critical difference in Israel’s history (v. 20) and being worthy of honor and blessing (v. 21). What they did was beautiful.

Names are important. Try one or both of these suggestions. If you like drawing, make a quick sketch of your name and what it means. If you like words, write a paragraph of yourself describing your actions walking in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus. Just set a timer for ten minutes and stop when it rings. Perhaps meditating on this verse as you draw or write will inspire, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” Romans 10:15 AMP.

By Donna Burns