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How Did the Hebrew Women Deliver?

You’ve probably heard many things about “Hebrew women delivery”. I’ve even heard of women refusing caesarean sections because they want to “deliver like the Hebrew women.”

It’s not a bad thing to want a vaginal delivery – it certainly has its advantages –but when this desire becomes spiritualized to the point of demonizing Caesarean sections and insisting on a vaginal birth or nothing, it is nothing short of ridiculous.

It becomes even more tragic when you settle down to read your Bible and realize that the entire “deliver like the Hebrew women” movement is largely driven by ignorance. How do I mean?

The phrase, “deliver like the Hebrew women” comes from Exodus 1:19. At this time, the Hebrew people were slaves in Egypt and the days of their bondage were coming to an end. Their God-ordained deliverer, Moses, would soon be born.

About this time, Pharaoh, the King of Egypt decided that these Israelites were simply too many. Their number kept increasing despite the fact that they were increasingly oppressed by their slave masters. Pharaoh said to his people, “Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.”

A central part of the plan they came up with was the killing of all Hebrew baby boys at birth. Pharaoh ordered the midwives thus: “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.”

However, the midwives did not obey their king. Verse 17 says, “But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too.” They delivered the Hebrew women of their babies and spared the boys’ lives, and the Bible says God blessed them greatly for it.

Of course, it didn’t take too long for Pharaoh to realize that his orders were not being carried out, and he sent for the midwives and queried them. “Why have you done this?” he demanded. “Why have you allowed the boys to live?”

The midwives could not tell their king that they delivered the Hebrew babies but deliberately allowed the boys to live because they feared God.

So, they lied. The fabricated an excuse that went thus: “Oh king, it’s not our fault. The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women. They are more vigorous and have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time.”

They lied. The midwives delivered the Hebrew women of their babies just as they did other women (using whatever methods existed back then!) and decided to spare the boys’ lives.

The Hebrew women didn’t have their babies before the midwives got there; Exodus 1:17 makes this clear. That’s just something the midwives made up to avoid Pharaoh’s wrath. This is very clear to anyone who settles down to actually read the story in a language they understand (simple English is not simple enough for everyone).

We need this Hebrew women delivery nonsense to stop, both on and off the pulpit.

Let’s not be unfortunate, please. If you need medication, take it when it is offered. If you want an epidural and it’s available, take it. If a Caesarean section will save your life and that of your unborn child, by all means, go for it!

How did the Hebrew women deliver? Like every other woman in that time! Apart from this one lie the midwives told, no other special form of delivery is mentioned anywhere in the Bible!

We need to educate as many women as we can. Come down to their level if necessary, please. It’s okay to want the smoothest delivery possible, and if that happens, great. Just don’t call it “Hebrew women delivery” – something that never even existed – and then try to make other women who didn’t have this kind of delivery feel less spiritual, less loved by God, or even feel like they’re under a curse. It is our responsibility to gently and firmly squash this deadly ignorance every chance we get and replace it with the light of knowledge.

Life to mothers and their babies everywhere!

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Joy Ehonwa

Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at] yahoo.com

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Diana

    23rd April 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Perfectly on point – we need to know exactly what the Bible says on issues rather than live by the doctrines of men… thank you for a much-needed expose.

    • Avatar

      service

      28th January 2018 at 7:33 pm

      To me,delivery like the Hebrew women doesn’t mean if you know panadol will save your life and you don’t use it, then you’re ignorant. But one should pray to God for favour of delivery like the Hebrew women explained in the bible. Don’t mislead people

      • Avatar

        Ade Ebimomi

        15th July 2020 at 12:59 pm

        She hasn’t misled anyone. Exodus 1:17 is very clear that the Egyptian midwives lied to their king that the Hebrew women delivered their babies extraordinarily. They were afraid to disclose that the Hebrew women delivered as naturally as any other women but that the fear of God would not let them (the midwives) kill the male children as instructed by their king.

        In essence, there was no special strength or prowess that the Hebrew women had. The phrase, “deliver like the Hebrew women” was built on the lies the Egyptian midwives told their king.

        It’s time to stop that nonsensical phrase and stop demonizing or looking down on CS births.

  2. Avatar

    Oge

    24th April 2017 at 9:42 am

    [* Shield plugin marked this comment as “trash”. Reason: Failed GASP Bot Filter Test (comment token failure) *]
    This is an amazing article. As a doctor, I’m faced with these challenges on a daily because of the beliefs by our mothers, grandmothers, mother in laws et al who believe that if a woman doesn’t put to bed vaginally then she’s not a ‘real’ woman.
    Thanks once again for this piece.

  3. Avatar

    wunmi

    24th April 2017 at 11:28 am

    thanks for this article. It’s enlightening in the least, it took me back to the bible, and while I could see that the methods for the Hebrew women delivery was same as the others (I dont know the issues people have with CS anyways – I believe it’s a life saving process), I couldn’t confirm that the women lied. Just saying it, cos that caught my attention from the work. Hebrew women are ‘vigorous’ they said – nothing else in the narrative suggests they were lying.
    Facts are not always exclusive of each other – CS is a life saving method of delivery doesn’t mean that Hebrew women were not vigorous in child delivery. They can both exist side by side. I wish all of us safe deliveries.
    lovely write up Joy.

    • Avatar

      Joy E

      14th June 2018 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks for reading Wunmi, I appreciate it.

      If I deliver you of your baby, and later say that I did not, -that in fact you delivered before I arrived- I have lied. Simple. Whether you are vigorous or not is not the issue.

      We cannot build a doctrine on this kind of thing and have women die because they want to “deliver like the Hebrew women”.

      God will give us what is best for us in every situation, if we trust him.
      Thanks again for your insightful comment. Cheers!

  4. Avatar

    Temiloluwa Paul

    26th April 2017 at 1:45 am

    [* Shield plugin marked this comment as “trash”. Reason: Google reCAPTCHA was not submitted. *]
    Very interesting and apt read. Thanks for sharing

  5. Avatar

    Seun

    2nd May 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Lovely article.

    There is no evidence the midwives lied, the Hebrew women must have been unusually strong during child birth to make such excuse believable. There has been such deliveries in recent history thus it is unlikely it was just a made up excuse.

    CS is another ‘potential’ life saving surgical procedure and like others of its nature it is not at all full proof. All surgical procedures have peculiar risks reason I believe doctors require a consent to administer a CS.

    I am yet to hear a demonizing message about CS (like other life saving surgical procedures) but clearly there is a remarkable preference for natural birth for good reasons. People truly need to know medical assistance is available where needed and letting people know is the job of the doctor I believe.

  6. Avatar

    Gere Lucille

    28th September 2017 at 3:14 am

    Good article. I believe the Hebrew women were blessed by God because they were the called out ones, river crossers, a chosen race. God also required of them to multiply and eventually produce the 12 tribes of Israel. So if there’s something such as them being unusually strong in childbirth, well, we know where the source of this strength would have been from. God of course! But I do agree that we don’t need to take this “Hebrew women thingy” to a ridiculous extent of refusing medical help either, and making others feel less of a woman if they don’t give birth the vaginal way! Makes it weird, lol!

  7. Avatar

    Ashley

    6th February 2019 at 8:02 pm

    Beautiful, however you are somewhat misguided. The article is nice but the undertone is simply put, a promotion of unnatural means to do that which should be natural and celebrated in its true holiness. We were created in the image of Yhwh The Most High. We were not created with flaws or defects. Instead of excusing the “need” for medical intervention, we should be encouraging and empowering women to birth in the strength of the Lord. Where there is Faith, there is no more fear. Let them know that they were made for this. To teach otherwise is to say that a woman’s body cannot handle the workings of pregnancy, childbirth and nation-raising!….and THAT (theory) is worthy of ridicule.

    • Avatar

      Mayor

      7th February 2020 at 11:32 am

      God bless you sir.

  8. Avatar

    Olatayo Mayor

    7th February 2020 at 11:28 am

    In as much as am not against what this article is trying to achieve with our pregnant women, but am strongly against the means of trying to achieve that. After reading this article I was forced to go over carefully again the book of Exodus chapter one from which you free your reference. I was out to see where it was written in ink that the midwives lied to Faroah to justify the claim by you but I could not find any.

    You see, I really respect the medical profession, but not at the expense or the integrity and infallibility of the word of God. You claimed they lied but not one verse in the whole book has the word lie in it. And from the contexts . it was not written the midwives were scarred hence the need to lie, they in fact spoke as though expressing what has been their normal experience with the Hebrew women. So please defend your profession but not faulting the truth of God’s words, because contending with the word is like throwing a fresh egg against a rock, you know what the outcome would be, may that not be your portion in Jesus name.

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