1:15 The king of Egypt [Pharaoh; cf. Ex. 1:8; this Pharaoh repeatedly opposed God] said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah [possibly representatives of the midwives; possibly two who were particularly brave],
1:16 “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy [only males posed a military threat], kill him [Pharaoh’s attempt to manage the increasing Hebrew population; Pharaoh wanted enough Jews to fulfill his labor needs but not enough to pose a possible military threat to Egypt (cf. Ex.1:10)]; but if it is a girl, let her live.”
1:17 The midwives [courageously acted to protect human life], however, feared [“to stand in awe of” or “to reverence”] God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.
Note: How can reverence for God motivate you to take a courageous stand for God, even in the face of overwhelming odds?
1:18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”
1:19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”
1:20 So God was kind to the midwives [because He was pleased with their efforts to save Hebrew children] and the people increased and became even more numerous.
1:21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families [including male children, the very thing Pharaoh was trying to prevent] of their own.
1:22 Then [a desperate solution] Pharaoh gave this [specific] order to all his people: “Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile [the Nile represented a life-giving force to the Egyptians but an instrument of death to the Israelite baby boys], but let every girl live.”