Moses as Midwife
Updated: Jun 17, 2019
“You pulled me from my mother’s womb.” Psalm 71:6
Musing on Moses. I’m thinking he qualifies as a midwife. Do you see it? As part of my journey to understand the masculine and feminine aspects of self, I’ve been excavating tired internalized biblical paradigms. When it comes to Moses I didn’t have to look hard to find his feminine side.
The Exodus deliverance story is driven by women and feminine imagery. After a short historical recap, we read in Ex 1:7 “...but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.” What we have at the beginning of our story is a full to bursting ready to be born new nation of Israel. Enter two brave midwives: Shiphrah and Puah defy Pharaoh’s population control orders to kill the male Hebrew infants and save the baby Moses in the process. Ex 38:8 speaks of women who would later serve at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the tabernacle. Surely a type of these two midwives standing at the gate of the birth canal of Israel.
Moses’ birth mother, his sister, adopted mother, and his first wife all put themselves at risk to protect the prophet. There is no Exodus as we know it without these women. In a sense all six served as midwives to the birth of the nation of Israel. Moses is the seventh.
A story that begins with midwives just might be about midwifery. As Moses was delivered, he in turn helped deliver. Moses led his people through plague contractions, blood soaked doorways and parted waters into new life. Gestations ,labors, and births abound in Exodus. The same number in weeks it takes to grow a human it took in years for the new nation to form. 40 years of wandering, learning, and becoming. 40 years of gestation to prepare for a new home. Of course Moses had his own 40s in preparation for the job. New life is everywhere in Exodus with Moses assigned to see it through right up to that last gate of transition, the river Jordan. Yep, midwife.
And the moon! New life and the moon go together. God pointed to the birth of the new moon just before the journey began and told Moses to start a new calendar, a lunar calendar, a calendar that would hold the commanded feasts that foretell the story of Jesus, who delivered the world. Indeed Passover (Easter) is celebrated on the double whammy of new life, the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. The moon is a feminine symbol. It connects to water, tides, fertility, menstrual cycles and birth. At first I wondered why God didn’t reveal the emerging moon to Moses’ sister Miriam. ( I’ll write on Miriam another time). After all, she was a trinitarian leader in the Exodus as well. Micah 6:4 “For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam” I wanted to blame the choice on patriarchy but that was too easy.
While Miriam’s worship, prophecy, and connection to life- giving water associates her with the Holy Spirit, Moses literally reflected the Father as the moon reflects the sun. His face shone with glory from all that face to face time with Yahweh. Israel follows a solar and lunar calendar. These reflect the feminine and masculine natures of God. We don’t get to separate or isolate them. They work together. Moses’ work as father and deliverer contained both and he wore both well. Moses is also a type of Christ. Just as Jesus treated women with uncommon respect and dignity as equal children of God, Moses honored and reflected the feminine attributes of God while he walked in his calling. Hmm, that places Moses as a trinity within a trinity. I love the layers in scripture.
Why do we not see female strength in Deliverer God? Why weren’t we taught as women to read Exodus and marvel at our own God likeness? Read the Exodus story imagining Moses as a midwife and see what reveals itself to you. May we all have eyes to see what we’ve been trained to ignore.
Psalm 22:9 Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother's breasts.
Job 10:18 “Why did you bring me out from the womb? Would that I had died before any eye had seen me”
Isaiah 66:9 "Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery?" says the LORD. "Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb?" says your God.