When we pray, God answers. When God answers, He is intervening with our world. In other words, Heaven is crashing into Earth. This happens more frequently than we think, because this beautiful collision is often subtle (although the byproduct may be easier to spot). Exodus is one of those stories.
In this story, Pharaoh is never named. Symbolically, God is unknown to Pharaoh, and therefore Pharaoh unknown to God. God is against empires. Empires are mostly about self-preservation and self-exaltation at the expense of the marginalized.
When the narrator tells us that Pharaoh did not know Joseph, it implies he has no regard to the history of Egypt. He disregards the past rulers and only thinks his own ways are legitimate. In today's terminologies, Pharaoh would say that he is a"self-made man."
At the core of the Pharaoh's problem (and thus, the problem of everybody in Egypt) is his insecurity. The natural human tendency is to mask the insecurity with oppression, power, and threats. On the other hand, a truly secure person is inviting.
-Exodus 1:15- 2:10-
Did the midwives lie, and was it a wrong of them to do so? Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian from the mid-1900s argues that they did not lie. How is this so? Because the question in itself is a lie. In his book on ethics, he gives an example. If a Nazi soldier comes knocking on your door asking, "Do you have any Jews hiding in there?" the question really is, "Are there any human beings in this house that is valued less than the Nazi's, thus needs to be killed?" The premise of the question is a lie, therefore, Bonhoeffer says that we should answer, "No!" without hesitation. When Pharaoh asked the midwives, "Why have you let the boys live?" the question was in essence, "Why have you not killed the Jewish boys that are a threat to my empire, which needs to be eliminated?" The midwives cannot answer truthfully a untruthful question, no matter how honest they may be.
This section has many unexpected turns. This is because the Kingdom of God does not follow the same reasonings and philosophies as Pharaoh's empire. The following hi-lights the many ironies that takes Pharaoh for a spin.
The Hebrew midwives have names known to God while the percieved powerful king does not. The midwives bring life into the world, while Pharaoh takes it away. The one with the perceived power is actually powerless in this story, while the perceived weak characters are instrumental in Israel's deliverance.
Pharaoh is convinced that the threat are the males, and so he annihilates them. However, God uses the women to destroy his empire - the midwives, Moses' mother, Moses' sister, and even his own daughter.
Pharaoh uses the Nile River to destroy God's movement. But it was the Nile River that rescued Moses into the arms of caring people.
Mother saves Moses by following Pharaoh's orders.
Egyptian royalty heeds to the advice of an marginalized unknown Hebrew.
We will see in the coming chapters, that the only power Pharaoh has is to destroy. God has the power to destroy and create. When God begins to destroy Egypt, Pharaoh can only further destroy his own empire.