A gem cutter is called a lapidary. They consider all the various cuts to a gem as well as seeking to enhance its brilliance, and lessen its flaws and imperfections. This has been the journey of our study on these women who are unnamed. Their particular role is vital to God’s bigger story and each one of us bring a different facet as we chisel away at the story through our own experiences about these anonymous women.
This is the case with Rachel’s midwife. Her story revolves around Jacob’s clan. She came from Paddan-aram which is modern day Iraq and Syria. She is only mentioned in four verses (Genesis 35:16-20), but her story actually begins when Jacob takes his wives, children, and the rest of his household and livestock to head towards his father’s home. They settled for a bit in Bethel. Somewhere in that time, Rachel conceives and it’s not until they begin the final leg of their journey, she goes into labor. Sometimes we hear stories of women giving birth in a taxi, car, or ambulance. But Rachel was riding on the back of a camel. The thought of that while in labor and after a birth is not appealing to any woman. That makes delivering a baby in car with soft leather seats and privacy not so bad.
The job of a midwife was important as there were no physicians at that time. They were skilled in their work as they were technically and emotionally trained. They most likely learned this skill through other midwives. They not only coached the mother through the birthing process, but also gave her prenatal care and cared for the child post birth. They may have been single women and had never experienced childbirth for themselves because of their responsibility to the mothers and children they cared for. Because of the importance of the midwives throughout the Old Testament, God blessed them for their sacrifice. It is likely that after God gave Moses the law, that they were outcasts as they would be considered unclean due to the blood they were dealing with through the childbirth, and in this midwife’s case, the death of Rachel.
This midwife was an important part of this story. She was probably there when Joseph was born. But this birth was different. She saw that Rachel was struggling through labor. The delivery was hard. She could see that Rachel was in such pain that maybe she feared the baby would not survive so she encouraged Rachel to bond with him, to make eye contact. When Rachel saw her baby son, in her last breath she named him, Benjamin, which means son of my right hand. (In the Jewish tradition, the right hand was a symbol of strength). She spoke a name over her baby that she clearly was not experiencing in that moment. Did she name him this because of the encouragement of the midwife who was at her right hand, to bond with her newborn son when she was at her weakest? This midwife was present during these two major life transitions, the birth of one life and death of another. All at the same time. This also added more responsibility to her role in Joseph and Benjamin’s life, as she was likely the one to help raise them since they had no mother.
This is story does not have a happy ending. In fact, it
leaves one wondering why God would not heal Rachel. In a previous chapter, when
Jacob flees under the cover of night from Laban’s oppression, Rachel steals her
father’s idols and keeps it a secret. When Laban discovers they have left and
his idols are missing, he goes after Jacob. When he reaches Jacob’s clan, Jacob
confidently tells Laban that he nor anyone in his group has the idols. He goes
so far as to cursing death upon the one who stole them (Genesis 31:32). He had
no idea his favored wife had taken them and hid them. This is an important reminder
to be careful what you speak. Words are powerful!
A midwife’s role was to encourage the birthing mother to “let
go” and allow herself to become a conduit for this great force to flow through. We
see this job as a very important one, not only in this story, but in our own lives.
Her encouragement to Rachel was needed in this time of tragedy and trauma. We
see through these four verses the necessity of a “spiritual midwife” in our lives.
As women, the power of words can shape us for the good or the bad. Proverbs
18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it
will eat its fruit.” Studies have shown women speak more words in a day than
men. This means words are the main ingredient
into women’s emotional well-being. As spiritual midwives, we can become life
coaches to one another to encourage and help one another accomplish God’s
purpose in His great story. We have the ability to help another birth what God has placed in them.
A midwife brought comfort during the time of intense pain. We can bring encouragement to each other during intense seasons. Think about Rachel’s birthing experience. There were no epidurals, no medical tools, IV treatments, and surely the woman giving birth was not quiet. The groans and blood-curdling screams could probably be heard throughout the camp and the only way to ease the pain was the coaching and encouragement of life-giving words the midwife offered. There was a grace upon her to see the birthing mother through to the end.
As we chipped away at this “gem-of-story” that is inserted in the bigger story, we discovered the important role we are in each other’s lives. For example, a diamond in natural form is imbedded in coal and it has to be chipped and chiseled. It is then placed on a device called a dop where it is cut by another diamond. Only diamonds can cut another diamond. Only women can help other women. We understand the female emotional and physical make up and God places us in each other’s life to help us to become as brilliant as He intends for us to be.
It’s not a coincidence that God told Abraham that he would have as many sons as the stars in the sky. Stars look like diamonds on a black velvet backdrop. It was the job of the midwives to make sure that promise was fulfilled so generations later, the Morning Star, Jesus could be born and shine above all others and bring abundant and eternal life to ALL of God’s children. Our job as spiritual midwives, is to make sure we help speak the life of the Holy Spirit into others so they may be born again. Our job is to train the next generation in this skill so the birth of new Believers can continue from generation to generation until the promise of Jesus’ return is fulfilled.
Encouragement to focus on while P.U.S.H.ing!
Proverbs 21:21 (NLT) - Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.
John 10:10 (NLT) - The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
Psalm 71:20 (NLT) - You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. 21 You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.
41:10 (NLT) - Don’t be afraid,
for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Psalm 34:4-5 (NIV) - I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
Psalm 89:9 (NIV) - You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.
Compiled by the R.E.A.L Women Bible Study out of Hills Church of Laguna Hills, CA.
 Chabad.org - Midwives