Acts 7:19

Sharing the Good News.

Monday, 25 April 2022

This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies, so that they might not live. Acts 7:19

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Stephen just referred to “another king” who “arose who did not know Joseph.” He now continues referring to that king, saying, “This man dealt treacherously with our people.” Here, Stephen uses a word found only this one time in Scripture, katasophizomai. It is a compound verb coming from kata (bring down) and sophizó (make wise). As such, it signifies to deal craftily with or to act subtly.

This is a reference to the treatment of Israel as is first noted in Exodus 1 –

“Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, ‘Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; 10 come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.’” Exodus 1:8-10

Stephen next says, “and oppressed our forefathers.” That is certainly what is next stated in the Exodus narrative –

“Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. 13 So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage—in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.” Exodus 1:11-14

In this state of oppression, Stephen next explicitly describes at least a portion of their treatment with the horrifying words, “making them expose their babies, so that they might not live.”

An attack against the male babies was first noted in the ongoing narrative of Exodus –

“Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; 16 and he said, ‘When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.’” Exodus 1:15, 16

That directive from Pharaoh took an unusual turn and was not effective at meeting his goals, and so he made a command which was intended to reduce the number of Hebrews to a manageable level –

“So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, ‘Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.’” Exodus 1:22

The narrative, as given by Stephen, has carefully followed the words of Exodus 1, revealing the progression of what happened at that time.

Life application: What is unstated by Stephen, but which is something that would have been known to every Israelite, even from their earliest days as the parents talked about their history, is what is said about why the first attempt to reduce the male population failed. That is recorded in Exodus 1 as well –

“But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. 18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, ‘Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?’
19 And the midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.’
20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. 21 And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.” Exodus 1:17-21

Stephen skipped right over this, and yet by doing so it would have been its own reminder of the events to those he stood before. By simply recalling a story, the memory of the story would come to mind. In not mentioning this portion of it, it would surely have highlighted it in the minds of those who heard. It is in our nature to fill in the blanks of such things.

As this is so, it would be a reminder that non-Hebrews had been obedient to the inner moral standard placed in humans by God. They had not committed such a wicked act by being disobedient to the king’s edict. This would be an appeal, all by itself, to have the council consider their own wicked deeds by ignoring the words and actions of Christ and then, later, the obvious signs and wonders that have come through the apostles and which have been done in the name of Jesus.

Sometimes, what is left unstated is as poignant as what is openly stated. It is a good tool for each of us to consider. Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, “let your words be few.” It is good advice to remember before God and man. The few words we speak should carry weight, and the words we refrain from speaking can be just as heavy.

Lord God Almighty, help us to be wise in our speech, carefully considering everything we have to say, and only speaking out that which is wholesome, helpful, and pleasing in Your sight. It is so easy for us to allow our tongues to go beyond that which is proper, so help us in this Lord! For sure, we need it. Amen.