A Midwife Suffers Divine Retribution

'One can cheat people, but not Heaven, Earth, and the gods.' (Image:  InSapphoWeTrust via   flickr/ CC BY-SA 2.0)
'One can cheat people, but not Heaven, Earth, and the gods.' (Image: InSapphoWeTrust via flickr/ CC BY-SA 2.0)

In June of the fifty-seventh year of Qing Emperor Qianlong, a pregnant woman in a village in Andong County was going to give birth. She invited a midwife to help her. After the woman safely gave birth to a baby boy, the midwife stayed overnight in the woman’s home, and left the next morning.

Soon, the woman’s husband, who worked in the fields, returned. After embracing his son happily, he was going to pay for a sacrifice ritual, as it was a tradition to worship the gods with such rituals to ensure the safety of the wife and child.

While looking for the money he had hidden under a pillow, he was shocked, asking his wife:

After asking his wife the details, he learned that the midwife had slept on that pillow during the night, and he thought that the midwife probably took them. So he went to the midwife’s home to ask her to return the money, and he promised to give her half of it as a reward, as he would use the other half to pay for a sacrifice ritual to respect the gods.

To his surprise, the midwife went into a rage and cursed him:

After hearing the midwife’s oath, he did not suspect the midwife anymore, but thought that his wife probably took the money and blamed others. Three days later, it was time to invite the midwife to hold a baptism to wash the baby. The midwife, however, did not come that day, and instead sent her daughter to wash the baby.


Washing a baby, which is held on the third day after a baby is born, is a local custom. (Image: David D via flickr/CC BY 2.0 )

It came as a surprise when the midwife’s oath seemed to come true. During the night after the baptism, the baby suddenly died shortly after the midwife’s daughter left. The couple was deeply saddened, burying their baby in a wooden coffin, and saying while crying:

After hearing about the incident, people stopped suspecting the midwife. But a few days later, the sky suddenly became filled with dark clouds, and there was thunder and lightning. All at once, an earth-shattering sound exploded, and the villagers were all terrified by the extraordinary thunderstorm.

People speculated that probably the thunder was to split the ghosts and devils apart. Some ran out to see what had happened. Surprisingly, they saw two dead bodies that had been struck by lightning as they knelt in the village’s open space, each one holding a silver ingot.

After the people approached and carefully identified them, it turned out that they were the midwife and her daughter. People suddenly realized that the silver ingots were stolen by the mother and daughter from the woman’s home.

Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara Guanshiyin Guanyin Shanxi China divine retribution

The statue of the Goddess of Mercy, also known as Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara in Sanskrit, or Guanshiyin Pusa in Chinese, made during the 11th-12th century CE, and now located in Shanxi, China. (Image: Rebecca Arnett via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Then, a miracle followed. Some of the villagers found the baby’s coffin had been split in two by the lightning and the thunder’s vibration. The baby was found crying loudly on the ground. People rushed to see. Through a careful inspection, a tiny needle head was unexpectedly found sticking out of the baby’s navel. After carefully pulling the needle out, the baby bled a little, but was then back to normal and in good health.

Finally, the people realized the truth. After stealing the money, the midwife did not want to admit it and made a serious vow. Then, in an attempt to confirm her oath, she and her daughter plotted another scheme to murder the baby boy with a needle when her daughter washed him, so as to show the death of the baby meant they were innocent. What vicious intentions they had!

As the old saying goes:

Doing discreditable things secretly cannot be hidden from the gods’ extremely keen eyes.

One can cheat people, but not Heaven, Earth, and the gods. The wicked woman finally received retribution — a severe punishment from Heaven that was exactly true to her oath. Who could be blamed?

Only they could be blamed for their own greed, viciousness, and making an oath at the cost of trying to kill the baby. The result was that they received what they deserved for their actions. The cunning midwife’s oath came true and she was hit by lightning, while the baby was destined to survive and come back to life.

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