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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

Shemot 13-1


Exodus 1:1-17

But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.

Ex. 1:17 ESV

Who do we have to obey?

All authority in this world is established by the Almighty. This is one of the seven commandments given to Noach and his descendants. (Gen. 9:6). If one is set in a context in which there is an authority that doesn't fulfill its task, that doesn't obey what is established by the Eternal or that forces its subjects to break any of the Eternal's commandments, one is not forced to obey that authority. We must obey God rather than men that He set as representatives of the Almighty on earth (Acts 4:19; 5:29).

Every man must obey and fear the authority figures that the Eternal has set upon him; parents, elder siblings, teachers, rabbis, other spiritual leaders, police authorities, politicians, judges, etc. (1 Peter. 2:13-15). The one who rebels against the authorities rebels against the Almighty (Rom. 13:1-7). We must obey the authorities in everything as long as they don’t contradict the Torah of the Eternal.

The Hebrew midwives submitted to the authority that the Eternal had set over them, the king of Egypt. However, there was a point in which a conflict between authority and principles arose. The king of Egypt wanted to force them to murder all male firstborns of the Hebrews. This is a violation of the commandment, "you shall not murder". So, on the one hand, there was the commandment regarding submission to all authorities; and on the other hand, there was the commandment against murder. The midwives could not fulfill both.

The principle stating that if there is a conflict between two commandments, that one of them has preference over the other and it is not necessary to obey it, applies here. In this case, they opted for the commandment that forbids murder, because it has preference over the commandment to obey the authorities.

The reason they could do that is because they feared the Eternal more than the human authority that the Almighty had established over them. This attitude was the right one. When there is a conflict between authorities the Eternal ALWAYS comes first. The Eternal protected and blessed the midwives for not obeying an illegal commandment from the king of Egypt.

Let's learn this lesson.

Shavua tov, Have a good week,


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