August 23 — Shiphrah and Puah: Family faith formation at home


Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy to begin your time of learning together. 

One:    Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Christ, the light of the world.
(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.
(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the Scriptures.
(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God.
(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the table.
(Place a symbol of communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread, grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.

God sightings and prayer offerings 

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something — a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer.

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world. [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for… [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Connecting with Scripture: Exodus 1:8-21

Read the Scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

There are many aspects to this story but today we will be focusing on the midwives, Shiphrah (shif-raw) and Puah (pu-ah). Their courage and resistance to the expectations of power are remarkable. For the second reading, invite people to close their eyes and imagine what Shiphrah and Puah were thinking or feeling at each stage of the story. Share and discuss as you are comfortable.

Connecting through story

Watch this episode of Steve Hartman’s “On the Road.”

  • Who cares most about winning in football?
  • Why is it so important to win?
  • Why do you think the players were willing to sacrifice a win in order to give Keith the experience of making a touchdown?


Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • Why did Pharaoh want the male children of the ancient Hebrew people to be killed?
  • Why do you think he went to the midwives first?
  • Why did Shiphrah and Puah decide to resist Pharaoh?
  • How did the midwives’ small act of resistance make a big difference?
  • Why is it important to live according to God’s ways even in the face of great pressure?
  • Who pressures you to conform or make decisions inconsistent with God’s ways?
  • How do you resist, or not?
  • What is your motivation for resisting? What could strengthen your ability to resist?
  • What is one example from your life where you were a Shiphrah or a Puah?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • In the Bible, women’s names are often left out and are unknown (e.g., Noah’s wife), yet in this story we actually get to know their names and their important role in the biblical story.
  • Women in ancient times did not have much (or any) power or status, yet these two very brave women stood up to the power of the empire in a small but profound way.
  • The “fear” of the Lord is more complex than simply being afraid, but rather a mixture of the fear that emerges when encountering something of deep reverence and awe. Shiphrah and Puah revered the Lord more than they feared Pharaoh and the government.
  • Sometimes doing what God wants us to do – doing what is right and pleasing to God – is difficult. There is often great pressure from friends or society to conform, to go along and do what “power” (however you define it) wants you to do.
  • This story teaches us that even people without a lot of status or power can resist what they know is inconsistent with God’s ways and actually do good instead.
  • Many of us will never find ourselves with great power or in a position like Shiphrah and Puah, but every one of us has to make the decision every day to do what is right and pleasing in the sight of the Lord over what the world thinks is right.
  • The Olivet football team were not Shiphrah and Puah saving baby Moses, but they acted in a caring and loving way that resisted the pressure to win at all costs because they knew their decision was life-giving.

Use the responses that emerge from the questions above or brainstorm some scenarios from your lives where the world would want you to do something that is inconsistent God’s ways and priorities. Turn them into case studies and then act out or talk through what resisting looks like and what faithful looks like.



Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.

REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.