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Discovery Magazine 5/1/1999

The Brave Parents of Moses

After the death of Joseph, "there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph" (Exodus 1:8), and who was not interested in helping the Hebrews (Israelites). There were so many Hebrews that the Egyptian king (called "Pharaoh") was afraid they might decide to take over his country. (Exodus 12:37 tells us that there were 600,000 Hebrew men, not counting women and children!) Pharaoh decided that all the Hebrews should be his slaves. So he appointed taskmasters to make them build entire cities from bricks that they had to make themselves.

The Egyptians thought that the Hebrews would have fewer children and die if they were treated cruelly and made to work hard. But still, many Hebrew babies were born. Next, the Pharaoh ordered the midwives (women who helped deliver babies) to kill every Hebrew baby boy that was born. The midwives did not follow Pharaoh’s orders because they knew killing innocent babies was wrong. When Pharaoh found out that the midwives weren’t obeying his orders, he told the Egyptian people to throw every Hebrew baby boy into the Nile River.

During this time, there was a Hebrew couple named Jochebed and Amram, who wanted very much to save their baby boy from being killed. They already had a daughter, Miriam (about 14 years old), and a son, Aaron (3 years old). But their baby was very special to them, too, and they wanted to protect him. For three months they managed to hide the baby boy but, after a time, Jochebed and Amram knew they had to do something else.

They wove a basket with a lid from papyrus reeds, and covered it with tar and a sticky substance called pitch to make it waterproof. They put their tiny son into the basket and hid it in the river among the tall reeds. Big sister Miriam had the job of standing at a distance to watch over the basket and try to make sure that nothing bad happened to her baby brother.

The Bible doesn’t tell us how long the family continued hiding the baby, but we do know that one day some Egyptian women found him. One of those women was Pharaoh’s daughter. The princess had come to the river, with several servants, to take a bath. On seeing the basket, she sent one of her servants to get it. When she took the lid off and saw the baby, she realized that he was a Hebrew, and decided to protect the baby boy by adopting him. Of course, Miriam was not far away and saw what happened. She went to the princess and said she knew of a woman who could care for the baby. That women was Moses’ own mother, Jochebed. The princess agreed, and Jochebed, a Hebrew slave, was able to look after her own son, under the protection of Pharaoh’s daughter! The princess named the boy Moses, which means "drawn out of water." After some time (probably before he was 7 years old), Jochebed took Moses to Pharaoh’s daughter in the palace. From that time on, the princess raised Moses as the grandson of the King of the most powerful empire in the world!

Jochebed and Amram could not give their children gifts or help them get an education. But they gave their children what they could: faith in the one true God and in His promises to Israel. Even though Moses was educated in the greatest Egyptian schools of the time (Acts 7:22), he remembered his parents’ early teachings about God and became "a man of power in words and deeds." When he was 40 years old, Moses left behind everything in Egypt, and led millions of freed slaves. What made the difference? The difference was the unselfish love and teaching of his parents when he was very young. When Moses chose to return to that teaching, he honored his parents, and God, by becoming the best leader he could. Although we don’t know anything else about Moses’ parents, their love and faith in God lived on through the great life of their son.

Copyright © 1999 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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