Midwifery and mission: contradicting darkness to bring forth life.
This sculpture depicts the events in Exodus 1:8-2:10 in which five women share in God’s mission to bring life and freedom to the world. It links this church’s inner story – centred on the Burning Bush and the Cross of Christ – with the imperative to offer life-giving service to the community.
In Egypt around 1280 BC the people of Israel had become a prosperous ethnic minority and were regarded as a threat. Pharaoh decreed all newborn boys were to be killed at birth. The God fearing midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, whose names mean beauty and splendour, defied this order. They were joined by Moses’ sister Miriam, Moses’ mother Jochebed, and Pharaoh’s compassionate daughter who assisted in preserving Moses’ life. The defiant intervention of these five women brought forth life in a dark context, to the glory and splendour of God.
The dark granite slab and the rock symbolise the oppressive force of Pharaoh’s regime. The water represents life which flows, even in darkness. Shiphrah and Puah are holding back the rock which threatens to block the flow. Jochebed is placing Moses into the water to carry him away to safety. Miriam, who watched over him, is keeping the stream of life flowing. The hands of Pharaoh’s daughter reach out to guide the water to freedom.
For the sculptor’s description of her work, click here.