Exodus 1:15—How could two midwives take care of so many Hebrew women?
Problem: According to Exodus 12:37 and Numbers chapters 1–4, the size of the nation of Israel as they departed from Egypt must have been about 2 million persons. This would mean that there must have been several hundred thousand women. However, Exodus 1:15 states that Pharaoh spoke only to the Hebrew midwives who were Shiphrah and Puah. How could two midwives care for such a large number of women?
Solution: Pharaoh spoke only to them because they were the leaders of the midwives of the Hebrews. History records that the Egyptian society was highly organized. There were individuals who functioned as overseers for almost every profession and craft in Egyptian society. Much of the commerce was regulated by the government, and craftsmen were required to take orders from the government official in charge of their district. It would be in keeping with this type of structure for the Israelites to have appointed these two individuals to function as superintendents of a large group of Hebrew midwives (cf. Ex. 18:24–25). This type of organizational structure would have facilitated interaction with the Egyptian officials. When Pharaoh, or some other Egyptian official, needed to communicate some new mandate to the group, he would do so through these two superintendents.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.