Exodus Rabbah 1:14
1 א
שמות רבה (וילנא) פרשת שמות א:יד
2 ב
מהיכן נדע אם זכר אם נקבה, א"ר חנינא סימן גדול מסר להם אם פניו למטה דעו שהוא זכר שמביט באמו בארץ שממנה נברא, וכשהוא פניו למעלה היא נקבה, שמבטת בברייתה בצלע, שנאמר (בראשית ב) ויקח אחת מצלעותיו
How did they (the midwives in Egypt) know if it was a male or a female infant? Rabbi Hanina said: A great sign was transmitted to them—If the infant faces downward, know that he is male, since he looks toward the earth from which he was created. If the infant faces upwards, know that she is a woman, since she looks up towards the rib from which she was created, as it says “He took one of [Adam's] ribs (Genesis 2). [Translation by Rabbi Steve Greenberg]
3 ג

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. Note: This folk wisdom that identifies a downward faced infant in the womb as a male and an upward faced infant as a female derives from the sexual positions of the parents in coitus. The man on top is always looking down to the ground and a woman beneath him is always looking up to the chest of her male partner.

2. Using this method, the midwives could have known which babies were male and which female early on and so could have killed the boys without the mothers knowing. Here the rule, men above and women below, is a part of an Egyptian "selection" for death. Do you detect, not only in the biblical story, but in the rabbis retelling of it, a sense of resistance to this rule that the midwives represent?

4 ד
Time Period: Rabbinic (Maccabees through the Talmud)