Now the king of Egypt commanded ShifraShifra is one of the two Hebrew midwives mentioned in Exodus 1 who refuses Pharaoh's orders to kill the boy children, instead enabling them to live. She, along with her partner Puah, is instrumental in beginning the process leading to the Exodus. Shifra is often identified as Jochebed, Moses' mother. and PuahPuah, like Shifra, is one of the Hebrew midwives mentioned in Exodus 1 who defies Pharaoh's orders to kill the boy babies. This first act of defiance was instrumental in leading to the Israelite exodus from Egypt. Puah is often identified in the midrash with Miriam, Moses' older sister.
And he said,
“When a boy is born to a Hebrew woman you shall kill it!”
For the women were midwives,
Who helped the mothers of newborn babes.
But Shifra and Puah did not – would not –
Could not do as Pharaoh commanded.
Would not – could not – kill the sons of IsraelLit. ''the one who struggles with God.'' Israel means many things. It is first used with reference to Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel (Genesis 32:29), the one who struggles with God. Jacob's children, the Jewish people, become B'nai Israel, the children of Israel. The name also refers to the land of Israel and the State of Israel. –
Saved the children of Israel
From death decreed by Pharaoh.
That we may not forget, their names are inscribed in TorahThe Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general..
And a woman of the tribe of Levi
Had a little son
And she hid him, that the soldiers of Pharaoh
Might not kill him.
Out of reed she wove a little ark
And waterproofed it,
And placed her little boy within
And set it among the bulrushes at the edge if the river Nile.
And MiriamMiriam is the sister of Moses and Aaron. As Moses' and Aaron's sister she, according to midrash, prophesies Moses' role and helps secure it by watching over the young baby, seeing to it that Pharaoh's daughter takes him and that the baby is returned to his mother for nursing. During the Israelites' trek through the desert, a magical well given on her behalf travels with the Israelites, providing water, healing, and sustenance. the boy’s sister, hid among the rushes
To watch over him.
Came the daughter of the Pharaoh
And bathed in the waters of the Nile.
And she picked up the baby out of the basket.
And she smiled at the weeping infant.
Then from her place of hiding
The brave slave-girl, Miriam,
Approached the daughter of the king.
“Shall I find thee a nurse from among the Hebrew women?”
Thus did Pharaoh’s daughter hire the baby’s mother
To be his nurse
And paid her wages to nourish him –
For he was as the son of the daughter of Pharaoh
And he lived at the palace of the Pharaoh
And she called him MosesThe quintessential Jewish leader who spoke face to face with God, unlike any other prophet, and who freed the people from Egypt, led them through the desert for forty years, and received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. His Hebrew name is Moshe..
As it is written in Torah.
And thus, children, does the Torah tell
How the loving-kindness of Shifra, Puah and Miriam
And of Pharaoh’s daughter
Saved the lives of the children of Israel,
Saved the life of Moses, our teacher.
From Out of the House of Bondage, edited by Adele Bildersee (New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1982). Used with permission of the UAHC.