Shifra and Puah
Text: Exodus 1-6
In Exodus 1:15, Pharaoh calls on “מְיַלְּדֹת הָעִבְרִיֹּת” (the “Hebrew midwives” or the “midwives to the Hebrews,” depending on your preferred translation) to secretly kill all Hebrew baby boys on the birthing stool. They go out, but they don’t kill the infants; when Pharaoh asks them why, they say that the Hebrew women are like beasts of the field — they have birth so easily that by the time the midwives arrive, the children are already born and they have no chance to kill them.
This is the first act of civil disobedience recorded in history; Josephus even relates a similar incident in his historical writings. While the rabbis are uncertain whether these midwives were Egyptian midwives who served the Hebrew population or Hebrew women who were midwives (whom Rashi interprets to be Yocheved and Miriam, respectively), I chose to follow Rashi’s interpretation in my artistic representation of the women.
Shifra & Puah: Print