At the end of Chapter 1, after the Torah records how the midwives did not kill the Israelite baby boys, we read:
וַיְהִי כִּי יָרְאוּ הַמְיַלְּדֹת אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים וַיַּעַשׂ לָהֶם בָּתִּים.
And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that He made them houses.
This short verse contains several ambiguities:
- Who is the subject of "וַיַּעַשׂ"? Is it God who made the "בָּתִּים" or Paroh (or perhaps the Israelites1)?
- To whom does "לָהֶם" refer? Were the "בָּתִּים" made for the midwives or for the Israelite mothers/babies?2
- What are these "בָּתִּים" and what is their purpose? Why was there a need to build additional housing – did the midwives (or Israelite mothers) not already have homes?
In Exegetical Approaches we will see how different exegetes address these questions.