|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:15-22 The Egyptians tried to destroy Israel by the murder of their children. The enmity that is in the seed of the serpent, against the Seed of the woman, makes men forget all pity. It is plain that the Hebrews were now under an uncommon blessing. And we see that the services done for God's Israel are often repaid in kind. Pharaoh gave orders to drown all the male children of the Hebrews. The enemy who, by Pharaoh, attempted to destroy the church in this its infant state, is busy to stifle the rise of serious reflections in the heart of man. Let those who would escape, be afraid of sinning, and cry directly and fervently to the Lord for assistance.
Verse 19. - They are vigorous. Literally, "they are lively." In the East at the present day a large proportion of the women deliver themselves; and the services of professional accoucheurs are very rarely called in. The excuse of the midwives had thus a basis of fact to rest upon, and was only untrue because it was not the whole truth.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women,.... Not so tender, weak, and feeble, nor so ignorant of midwifery, and needed not the assistance of midwives, as the Egyptian women:
for they are lively; or midwives themselves, as Kimchi (k) says the word signifies; and so (l) Symmachus translates the words, "for they are midwives"; or are skilful in the art of midwifery, as Jarchi interprets it; and so the, Vulgate Latin version is, "for they have knowledge of midwifery"; and so could help themselves; or, "for they are as beasts" (m), as animals which need not, nor have the assistance of any in bringing forth their young; and so Jarchi observes, that their Rabbins (n) explain it, they are like to the beasts of the field, who have no need of a midwife; or they were so lively, hale, and strong, as our version, and others, and their infants also, through a more than common blessing of God upon them at this time, that they brought forth children as soon as they were in travail, with scarce any pain or trouble, without the help of others: nor need this seem strange, if what is reported is true, of women in Illyria, Ireland, Italy (o), and other places (p), where it is said women will go aside from their work, or from the table, and bring forth their offspring, and return to their business or meal again; and especially in the eastern and hotter countries, women generally bring forth without much difficulty, and without the use of a midwife (q):
and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them; which doubtless was true in some cases, though not in all, because it is before said, they saved the men children alive; and had it been so at all times, there would have been no proof and evidence of their fearing God, and obeying his commands, rather than the king's; and in some cases not only the strength and liveliness of the Hebrew women, and their fears also, occasioned by the orders of the king, might hasten their births before the midwives could get to them; and they might not choose to send for them, but use their own judgment, and the help of their neighbours, and do without them, knowing what the midwives were charged to do.
(k) Sepher Shorash. "sie alii", "quia obstetrices ipsae", Pagninus, Montanus; so the Syriac version. (l) , Symmachus apud Drusium. (m) In T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 11. 1. Chronicon Mosis, fol. 2. 1. (n) Vid Wagenseil. Sotah, p. 249. & Varro & Gataker in ib. (o) Posidonius apud Strabo. Geograph. l. 3. p. 114. (p) See Harte's History of the Life of Gustavus Adelphus, vol. 1. p. 233. (q) Ludolph. Ethiopic. l. 1. c. 14.
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