child, then you need not kill it, but you may save it alive." The
midwives returned: "How are we to know whether the
child is male or female?" for the king had bidden them kill
it while it was being born. Pharaoh replied: "If the child
issues forth from the womb with its face foremost, it is a
man child, for it looks to the earth, whence man was taken;
but if its feet appear first, it is a female, for it looks up
toward the rib of the mother, and from a rib woman was

The king used all sorts of devices to render the midwives
amenable to his wishes. He approached them with amorous
proposals, which they both repelled, and then he threatened
them with death by fire.[16] But they said within themselves:
"Our father Abraham opened an inn, that he might

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