The other night I was watching a YouTube series on adoptees who reconnected with their birth families. This one particular girl found out when she was a baby she had been left on the street. She didn’t know much more than that until she stumbled on some papers in her house when she was older. She found a note from her birth parents asking her to meet on a certain day on a famous bridge in China, once when she was 10 years old and once when she was 20 years old. She at the time was 18.
She was angry with her parents for not telling her, but her parents were afraid. They had truly made this little girl her daughter, and they didn’t want to be the “adoption babysitters” for 18 years. In the meantime the biological parents went on national Chinese television to talk about their heartache and their longing to reconnect with their daughter. Somehow the adoptive parents got wind of this. After their daughter confronted them, they gave her permission to go meet the birth parents. And at 20 years of age, she met them on the predetermined bridge. It was a beautiful reunion.
When she asked them why they had given her up and put her on the streets, they told her it was because China at that time had a 1 child only policy. When they found they were pregnant again, they didn’t want to abort the baby as was required. So they had the baby in secret and kept her hidden for several months. But they realized they couldn’t do this forever. So the father tucked a note in the baby’s clothes that talked about meeting on the bridge every decade mark, and then put the little girl alongside the road and hid in the bushes. He waited until someone took her. Then he went home heartbroken, never certain he ever see her again.
A Genocide of the Boys
Thousands of years ago Joseph was brought to Egypt by God and was used to save the Egyptians through navigating a nation through the famine. The descendants of Israel also came to Egypt to live during this time. But that generation died and the Pharaoh in charge did not know the history of the goodness of the Israelites in saving Egypt. He just determined that they were a threat to the Egyptians if the Hebrew people ever left.
So the Pharaoh called in two of the midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, probably head midwives and told them to dispose of all the Hebrew babies if they were boys, but to let them live if they were girls. Perhaps the girls were allowed to live because they were the objects of pleasure to many an Egyptian? I don’t know.
The midwives refused. At the cost of their own lives, they feared God more and protected the boy babies. Pharaoh found out about and confronted them. They told Pharaoh that the Hebrew wives had babies quickly, before the midwives could arrive (Ex 1:19).
That is a very interesting. It seems like as soon as the babies drew a breath, the midwives were no longer bound to kill them. Although how would the Hebrew wives know the gender to kill them unless the baby was born? Maybe there was a window and that if they would have killed them the second they found it was a boy without the mother knowing, then Pharoah would have found it Ok. But if the baby was put in the arms of the mothers, then it wasn’t Ok? Not sure but it seemed like there was a “time” in the life of an infant that Pharaoh agreed that it was no longer Ok to dispose of the baby.
Another genocide happened around the time of the birth of Christ. Herod had heard that another king was born and he was afraid and jealous. So he ordered that all boys under the age of two years old be murdered (Mt 2:16). The parents of Jesus had been warned in a dream to escape ironically to the safe place of Egypt. The other children perished at the fury of Herod.
Once again a genocide of boys.
In modern times it isn’t the boys who are often the subject of infant genocide but girls. In China a boy is much to be desired and so if the sonogram shows a girl, the baby has a target on her to be aborted. In a nation I was at in Africa a boy had much more value, and so baby girls were barely cared for in childhood.
But it goes beyond this sadly. In the US if the baby has Down’s syndrome or another deformity there oftentimes is a recommendation of abortion. In Iceland they proudly are almost to the state of “Down’s Syndrome Free” because babies with Down’s are aborted (see here). And 90% of those in the UK abort Down’s babies (see here).
Abortion is genocide all over again. If a baby has a beating heart, a fully developed brain and is seconds away from being delivered, in many places of the world they can abort. And in other places they say if the baby is at 22 weeks or under, the baby can be aborted. Life is being determined by a judicial committee.
Why Get Rid of the Babies?
The killing of babies has always been rooted in fear. Always. In the time of the Exodus Pharaoh feared that the Egyptians might leave (Ex 1:10). Surly the Israelites did the labor the Egyptians did not want and were an economic contributor to Egypt. Pharaoh was afraid he would lose all that. Losing that would mean a loss of power.
The killing of baby boys in the time of Jesus around his birth was also rooted in fear. King Herod feared that he would lose his power to another king. So he took drastic measures to kill young boys, further arousing anger and hate and division. But his fear of being displaced was greater than his fear of the people.
Modern day abortion is also always rooted in fear. A woman fears what other people will think of her if she has become pregnant out of wedlock. She is afraid of how a baby will alter her life. She is afraid she can’t take care of the baby, especially if its deformed. It’s rooted in fear.
Fear is such a powerful thing in the life of a human that people will kill to avoid the object of dread. Kill. Literally. Whether it was babies sacrificed to the gods of Molech in the ancient days or whether its the “sanitized murder” of today–abortion, people continue to kill.
That’s why once again it comes down that we do indeed need to fear. But to fear God. If our fear of God is greater than other fears, we will honor him. Even if it may cost our lives.
It’s what Shiphrah and Puah had to face. And because they feared God greater than Pharaoh at the expense of their own lives, he honored them with families of their own (Ex 1:21).