Shmot, Exodus Chapter 1 And Medical Tyranny

Exodus, Chapter 1, verses 21 and 22. The context, Pharaoh had just commanded the midwives to kill Israelite boy babies in secret as they were being born. The midwives disobey, and do not kill the babies. Then the verse says:

“And it was that because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses. And Pharaoh commanded his people saying, “All boy babies shall be thrown into the Nile, and all girls shall live.”

Who made who houses? The classic explanation is that God made the midwives houses for not murdering the babies. But that makes little sense as a simple explanation. God doesn’t build houses for people, generally speaking. But Abarbanel provides a very different explanation, and a much simpler one. He says:

It can be explained that “he made them houses” does not refer back to God, and has nothing to do with any benefits given to the midwives mentioned above. Rather, it is connected to what is written afterwards, “And Pharaoh commanded his people saying, ‘All boy babies born should be thrown into the Nile.'”

The meaning of the verse then, is this: That when the midwives made excuses as to why they didn’t kill the babies, Pharaoh tried to remedy the problem by building official and recognizable government sponsored birthing centers, so that everyone should know that this is a birthing center, so that every woman in labor could go there and get a midwife. While commanding this, he told his people that when they hear a knock at the birthing center, they should take the baby and throw it in the Nile.

Abarabenel on Shmot

When the government wants to commit atrocities, it uses medical infrastructure to do so. And the reason why Pharaoh built those houses, is that he wanted to thin out the Israelite population.

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