In the Wednesday evening bible study we are making our way through the Book of Exodus and the stories of Moses – the great leader who engaged with the mystery of the Holy One in the burning bush, in the plagues, at the Red Sea, in the wilderness, and on Mt. Sinai. Moses interferes when he witnesses injustice. Moses advocates for the freedom of the people of Israel. Moses delivers the Ten Commandments. And yet Moses’ life wouldn’t have been possible without the bold and courageous actions of several women.
First, we remember Jochebed, Moses’ mother. Despite the threat of terror and persecution by Pharaoh and the Egyptians, she courageously chose to birth a child into the world, making space for something (or someone) new, and taking all sorts of risks to offer him the best life, even in another household. There is his sister, Miriam, who bravely followed the basket floating down the river carrying her younger brother and boldly negotiated his rescue with Pharaoh’s daughter. There are the 2 mid-wives, Shiphrah and Puah, who not only blatantly defied Pharaoh’s orders to commit genocide, they also outsmarted him to evade punishment and continued to nurture new life. Scholar Rabbi Jonathan Sacks considers them some of the first to practice civil disobedience, supporting
These women are some of the bravest figures in the bible, living with hope, courage, bravery, boldness, intention, and moral integrity. They took risks. They collaborated. They honored and nurtured life. They were not distracted by narrow thinking or limiting beliefs. They made heroic choices. They acted with love – a deep, wholehearted, all in kind of love. As we celebrate the women of our sacred stories during this Merry Mary Month of May, may we all aspire to follow their leadership, living with courage, seeking to be of service, and opening our hearts to each other.