Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 1:19-21
At the beginning of Exodus, we see that all the good Joseph had done for Egypt was forgotten. His father’s descendents, gracious invited to take the best of the land, were now considered a danger and threat. The pharaoh demanded the Hebrew midwives to kill every newborn boy but they refused. When asked about the many baby boys that lived, the women told him, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”
Was this true? Probably not but the women lied to protect the children.
“So God was kind to the midwives....” Certainly he blessed them because of their refusal to kill the babies but, in the process, he also blessed their lies and their disobedience to the king.
Why does this matter? I’ve heard discussions where people assert that lying is so bad, they would never do it, regardless of the situation. But I would suggest there are times when it is appropriate: Those who were helping the Jews during World War II lied to protect the lives of many innocent people. Bible smugglers lie about their cargo as they cross international borders. In the case of the midwives, their lie didn’t serve themselves or even a family member they loved. It saved the lives of countless baby boys, including Moses, the future leader of God’s people.