Who hasn’t felt like a nobody? I remember at my 40th high school reunion, one of my classmates asked me why I didn’t graduate with the class. What? He and I had gone all the way from kindergarten through high school together. Yet, he didn’t remember me after junior high. I was flabbergasted and a bit hurt. Was I really a nobody in High School? Guess so…at least not a very visible classmate to him.
In reading the opening chapters of Exodus, what struck me was the lack of names for key people. The Hebrew title for this book is ‘Names’, referring to the opening words written by Moses. Names are important. Some key ones are missing. Like the name of Pharaoh. ‘Pharaoh’ is actually the Egyptian word for King and not his personal name. No name given to him. Or for his daughter, the one who discovers Moses in that tar-pitch basket, hidden among the bull-rushes. No name given. Only her relationship to the Egyptian king. She’s Pharaoh’s daughter. Or Moses’ parents’ names(they are given elsewhere). Or Moses’ sister, who asks Pharaoh’s daughter if she might need the help of some Hebrew wet nurse for the baby. No names given… not ’til later in the story.
Bunch of nobodies? Hardly. Pharaoh…his daughter. These are somebodies! But who Moses remembers, whose identity he never wants anyone to forget, are the names of two seemingly insignificant women. Pharaoh has issued his orders that all male Hebrew babies are to be killed. Only the girls are to survive. The Hebrews are not to grow in number. Kill all the baby boys, so Pharaoh orders the midwives for the Jews. They can’t believe their ears. Kill what they have worked hard to deliver: of life at birth? Never! They vow never to go against God’s will by killing innocent lives, even if ordered by Pharaoh himself.
They don’t. Boldly… they defy Pharaoh’s sinful command. Courageously… they put their own lives on the line. Defiantly… they refuse to take life, but take all means to cherish it, especially with the most vulnerable. They fear God, not man. They obey God, first and foremost. And God blessed them with families of their own. God protected them for protecting the children. Their names are mentioned. Shiphrah and Puah–names not to be forgotten. Names…in the book of Names that shine for eternity. Two women of courage and faith and action. Two nobodies? No way! Shiphrah and Puah. Remember them. They pave the way not only for Moses…but for the Messiah as well. And He’s the Ultimate SomeOne!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for all the names, including our own, that You know and love and redeem. In the name of Your Only Son Jesus. Amen.