Moses as a Baby
The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.
This week we begin with a love story.
A man from the tribe of Levi meets a woman from the tribe of Levi. We are not given their names, yet. But, we do know that they met at the height of Pharaoh’s persecution of their nation. Pharaoh set taskmasters over the Israelites to afflict them with heavy burdens. The Egyptians feared the Israelites and tried to kill them with forced labor. When this did not work, Pharaoh resorted to trying to kill the Israelites by killing their babies. Pharaoh ordered the murder of the baby boys. First, he ordered his healthcare workers to kill the boys as they were born. This did not work. So, Pharaoh ordered that all the Hebrew baby boys be thrown into the Nile.
In this environment of persecution and oppression, our young couple started their lives together. Chapter one told us that in spite of all that Pharaoh did to cripple the Israelites, they continued to flourish, grow in number and gain in strength. The story has moved from a national trend to a couple and their children. We are told elsewhere (Exodus 6:20) that the young couple’s names were Amran and Jochebed. We also find out that they had two children before the birth of the beautiful baby in our story today.
We do not know what sparked the romance between Amran and Jochebed, but we have all been touched by their lives and the lives of their children.
Exodus 2:2 tells us that when her son was born, Jochebed saw that he was a fine child. Acts 7:20 says of this boy:
... he was beautiful in God's sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father's house, ()
Ellicot’s Commentary says of this phrase “beautiful in God’s sight:”
Literally, fair to God. The adjective is found in the LXX. of , as applied to Moses. The special idiom for expressing pre-eminent excellence is itself essentially Hebrew, the highest goodness being thought of as that which approves itself as good to God;
What mother does not feel this way about her baby? I think this way about most babies.
Jochebed could not bring herself to throw her baby in the Nile. So, she hid him. Whatever the circumstances, after three months, she could hide him no longer. At this point, we find out that Amran and Jochebed were just ordinary people, probably on the poor side of average. God seems to delight in using ordinary people; for example, Mary and Joseph, or David, or Saul, or Peter, etc. We find out that Amran and Jochebed were just ordinary people by the materials they used and how the basket was made.
First, the basket was made from papyrus reeds or bulrushes. These reeds were readily available along the Nile and still grow there today. Second, she coated the basket with bitumen and pitch. Bitumen, or tar, is nasty sticky stuff. We use it for building roads and roofing houses. A common source for pitch is trees. A person does not need to be rich to gain access to these materials, and we know they were used in ancient Egypt. I am assuming that Jochebed made the basket, although I have no proof of that, but the text does say that she is the one who daubed the basket with bitumen and pitch.
Now comes the heart-wrenching part. She places her three-month-old baby in the basket and then places the basket among the papyrus along the banks of the Nile. She cannot stay and watch. She is supposed to have killed the baby. Perhaps she knows that this is the place the princess will come to bathe.
The Egyptians believed the waters of the Nile were good for health and would make them robust and fruitful. Moses was able to meet Pharaoh when he went to the river to bathe in the morning. Apparently, this was their regular practice.
So, the mother placed the basket with the baby in the reeds and left the baby’s older sister to watch what would happen. Sure enough, the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. She saw the basket and had her lady-in-waiting go and fetch the basket for her. When she opened the basket, she saw a beautiful baby boy, and he was crying. In spite of her father’s order, her heart was moved.
The baby’s sister saw her chance and asked, “Would you like me to go get a nurse from among the Hebrews to nurse that baby for you?” And Pharaoh’s daughter said, “Why yes, that would be nice.” So, the baby’s sister went and got the baby’s mother. Then Pharaoh’s daughter told her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.”
Imagine that! The mother who has just been forced to abandon her baby in the Nile is now getting paid to take care of her own baby, and that, by funds provided by the household of the man who ordered the baby’s death.
Protected by the princess and by her orders, the baby’s mother nursed him until Pharaoh’s daughter was ready to take him. The boy then became her son. The Egyptian form of his name means born, or drawn out, and is found in ancient Egyptian monuments to denote the “son of” or “descendent of.” She drew her boy, Moses, from the water, and implies that he was “born” by or from the water, a descendant of the river. It happens that the Hebrew word for “draw out” sounds the same, so the Hebrew name, Moses, fits in with the Princess’s explanation of where she got her baby.
She raised Moses as her son. Acts 7 tells us:
Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. ()
The irony is amazing!
Pharaoh has been trying to kill the Israelites, and now the deliverer of the Israelites is being raised in and educated by his own household!
Pharaoh has set himself up in opposition to God and against God’s people. God’s people are threatened with extermination. Their suffering is great, and their bondage is quickly becoming unbearable. The irony of God using Pharaoh to raise the deliverer is more than God’s sense of humor. God is a God of justice. Psalms 37:14-15 says:
The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright; their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. ()
In the book of Esther, a powerful man named Haman decided to use his position to kill the Jews. He hated a Jew named Mordecai because Mordecai would not bow before him. Haman also knew that Mordecai would not bow because of his allegiance to God. Mordecai set himself up against God and God’s people.
Pride and arrogance will do that. Believers, this is a side note, but the Bible warns us in many places and many ways against pride. Romans 12:3 says:
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. ()
This is not a message about pride, but we should all take warning and ask God to deliver us from such a deadly peril.
Back to Haman and Mordecai - Haman decided to ask the king to let him hang Mordecai and had a very tall gallows built in his back yard in preparation. On the very morning that Haman went in to ask the king to let him hang Mordecai, the king ordered Haman to honor Mordecai before the whole nation. And then, that very night, Haman was hung on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. The irony is stunning, and God’s justice is vindicated.
God promised Eve that her seed would crush the serpent’s head.
The serpent deceived Cain and Cain killed his brother, Abel, and the serpent thought he had won. But then, Seth was born.
The serpent deceived the sons of Adam until only one righteous man was left. God destroyed the earth with a flood, and the serpent thought he had won. But, Noah was saved. So, the serpent deceived the sons of Noah, and they started building the Tower of Babel. The serpent thought He had won, but God raised up Abraham.
When a virgin, a descendant of Abraham, bore a child and named Him Jesus, the serpent excited a king named Herod to kill all the baby boys two years old and under. Surely, the serpent had won, but no. The baby escaped.
Thirty-three years later the serpent finally was able to kill the seed of the woman. He used the descendants of Abraham along with the descendants of the Tower of Babel, and they crucified the seed of the woman.
But, He rose again!
The irony is glorious. Every effort of the serpent to destroy the people and plan of God has been turned against him and has become the instrument of God’s justice and deliverance. The Cross upon which the serpent meant to have his final victory has become the symbol of his final defeat.
Oh, the serpent is still trying. Our televisions are pumping out the vilest smut ever and polluting the hearts and minds of our children. Many, many are being destroyed. Our government and media outlets are growing more and more corrupt. Our world is in chaos and is even now ripe for the one world government of the antichrist. Oh, it is coming, and the devil thinks he is winning. The battle is going to be terrible. The cost in human lives will be greater than anything seen up to this point in history. And, the irony will be astounding. More people will come to Jesus for salvation than ever before. The serpent and all his servants will be judged and locked up, and Jesus will return and set up His Kingdom. Every effort and every tool that the serpent has used against God and His people will be turned to His defeat.
Don’t you want to be on the side of a God who does this for His people?
I want to encourage you with a passage of Scripture. It is a long one, but I think you should memorize it. Psalms 31:1-13 says:
Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming. ()