“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be my people.”

Jeremiah 31:33

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Shiphrah and Puah ~ women of conscience

Exodus 1:15-21

When the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt, there was a new pharaoh who was deeply concerned that too many Israelites were being born and that the growing numbers could threaten Egyptian rule. The pharaoh told the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, that whenever they attended the birth of a Hebrew woman and the child was a boy, they should kill him. (Exodus 1:16).

But these brave women did not obey the king. They took care of the labouring mothers and let both the boys and the girls live. Pharaoh noticed that Hebrew boys continued to live and confronted the midwives. They lied and said that Hebrew women were not like Egyptian women. They were hardy and gave birth before the midwives could get there.

Shiphrah and Puah risked their lives by disobeying the instructions of the pharaoh and choosing instead to obey God’s law. This act of civil disobedience saved the lives of many children. God blessed their faithfulness.

We know that many women in South African history risked arrest and imprisonment by refusing to follow unjust apartheid laws. Like Shiphrah and Puah, they chose to follow their conscience rather than allow themselves to be complicit in the evil being done to people by the state.

If we are instructed by those with power over us to do something which goes against God’s law and is destructive of human life, whose law will we obey?

Gracious God,
When we see injustice and are asked to be complicit in it, may we follow the inner voice of conscience you have given us, and do your will?
Amen.

 
Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell has worked in the area of Ignatian Spirituality for 19 years and heads up the work of the Jesuit Institute School of Spirituality. Her primary focus is the training and supervision of spiritual directors and the giving of retreats. She is also a registered Psychologist and her PhD focused on the interface between Christian Spirituality and Psychology. Annemarie is an editorial advisor to “The Way” journal of Spirituality and has authored a number of articles relating to the training of Spiritual Directors in an African context. She has contributed to several books, most recently co-authoring a book of Lenten Reflections: “Long Journey to the Resurrection”. She has contributed to international conferences and consultations in Spirituality in the United Kingdom; the United States; Rome; Spain, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

a.paulin-campbell@jesuitinstitute.org.za @annemariepc_c
See more from Annemarie Paulin-Campbell
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