What does Exodus 1:20-21 really mean?

Exodus 1:20-21 is about God’s favor and blessing upon the Hebrew midwives who choose to fear Him and protect the lives of the male children, ensuring that they are blessed with households of their own.

20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong.
21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.


Setting the Scene for Exodus 1:20-21

In Exodus chapter 1, we find ourselves in the land of Egypt during a time when the Israelites were multiplying rapidly. Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, became concerned about the growing number of Israelites and feared that they might become too powerful. In response to this fear, Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, to kill all Hebrew baby boys at birth. However, these brave midwives feared God and did not obey Pharaoh’s command, allowing the baby boys to live.

The scene unfolds in a small, dimly lit birthing room where Shiphrah and Puah are attending to a Hebrew woman in labor. The air is thick with tension as the midwives know they are risking their lives by defying Pharaoh’s orders. The mother’s cries of pain mix with the hushed whispers of the midwives as they make a secret pact to protect the innocent lives of the newborns. The flickering light of a single oil lamp casts shadows on the walls, emphasizing the gravity of the situation and the courage of these women who choose to follow their faith over the commands of a powerful ruler.

What is Exodus 1:20-21 about?

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to always have their families by their side, supporting them through thick and thin, while others struggle to maintain close relationships with their loved ones? This verse sheds light on the fact that when we fear and honor God, He bestows His blessings upon us, including the gift of family ties. It signifies that when we have a reverent and respectful attitude towards God, our relationships with our families are strengthened and enriched. Those who fear God are not only blessed with strong family bonds but also receive His favor in all aspects of life, emphasizing the mention of favor in this verse. This favor could manifest in various forms, such as protection, provision, and opportunities. It serves as a reminder that when we prioritize our relationship with God and live in reverence of Him, He showers us with His grace and blessings beyond measure. So, let us ponder upon this verse and reflect on the profound impact of fearing God in cultivating deep familial connections and experiencing His abundant favor in our lives.

Understanding what Exodus 1:20-21 really means

In the historical context of ancient Egypt, the narrative in Exodus 1:20-21 unfolds amidst Pharaoh’s cruel decree to kill all Hebrew baby boys. The key figures in this account are the Hebrew midwives, Pharaoh, and the Israelites. The phrase “God dealt well with the midwives” signifies divine approval and blessing upon their courageous defiance of Pharaoh’s orders. Despite Pharaoh’s oppressive measures, the Israelites continued to thrive, growing strong, which reflects God’s favor and protection over His people. The midwives’ fear of God led them to act with moral integrity, choosing to obey God rather than the earthly ruler, showcasing their faith and devotion.

Drawing parallels from related biblical passages, Proverbs 9:10 emphasizes the importance of fearing the Lord, echoing the midwives’ reverence for God. Psalm 127:3 highlights children as a blessing from God, mirroring how He rewarded the midwives with families of their own. Acts 5:29 reinforces the principle of obeying God rather than human authorities, resonating with the midwives’ decision to prioritize divine command over Pharaoh’s decree. These passages provide a broader theological context for understanding the significance of the midwives’ actions.

The story of the Hebrew midwives resonates with contemporary audiences by exemplifying moral courage in standing up for righteousness against powerful opposition. Their unwavering faith and obedience to God’s will inspire believers to trust in His plan and act in alignment with His principles, even when societal pressures conflict with divine mandates. The passage underscores the assurance that God notices and rewards those who honor Him, offering encouragement for individuals facing ethical dilemmas in their own lives.

Consider a modern-day scenario where a healthcare worker faces ethical challenges but chooses to uphold their values and professional ethics despite external pressures. This individual may encounter immediate repercussions, yet their integrity and faithfulness could lead to long-term respect and blessings, akin to the enduring legacy of the Hebrew midwives. The narrative serves as a timeless reminder of the rewards of fearing God and acting with moral courage, illustrating God’s faithfulness to bless and protect those who remain steadfast in honoring Him, even amidst adversity.

How does God bless those who honor Him?

God blesses those who honor Him by giving them families and increasing their numbers. This means that those who fear and obey God will experience fruitfulness and growth in their households. Additionally, God blesses those who honor Him with His provision and protection. Individuals who honor God invite His favor and goodness into their lives, ensuring that He takes care of and provides for them in all aspects of life. Those who honor God can expect blessings and goodness to be poured out upon them and their descendants for generations to come.


In life, we are often faced with difficult choices, where doing what’s right can feel like swimming against the current. Just like the midwives in Exodus, let us have the courage to stand up for our beliefs, even when it’s not the easy path. Let’s be unwavering in our commitment to what is just and true. Will you take the challenge to uphold your values, no matter the obstacles that may come your way?