A young mother, desperate to save her son from death, hides him until he is old enough to survive a limited time without her. She takes him to a river and places him in a basket, and sets it free in the water.
What would cause a mother to do this, to seemingly abandon her infant to the whims of nature? What desperation drove this woman? How did she some to this point?
Welcome to the story of…….
So let’s back up a couple hundred years and see how we’ve arrived at this dire strait. According to Jewish tradition, the Hebrews had come to Egypt during a famine. One of their own, a former slave turned governor, Joseph, had enabled them to come to Egypt to escape destruction and live in security. Some historians believe the Hebrews may be linked to the Hyksos, or at the very least they came to settle in Egypt during the reign of the Hyksos Pharaohs. This explains why the Biblical account states that there arose a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph. This could have been the overthrow of the Hyksos and the installation of the ethnically native 17th Dynasty.
The new rulers would have been suspicious of this Semitic people, the Hebrews, since they had just deposed a Semitic ruling class in the Hyksos. The Hebrews inhabited the province of Goshen, which lay in the eastern Nile Delta. Some speculate that the Hebrews were also used as a sort of “buffer” for ranging nomadic bandits from Canaan or Arabia. This leads me to believe that the Israelites were also familiar with military tactics and could have been a form of mercenary force, but this is purely speculation.
What we do know is that the Hebrews went from a people who were pretty much left to their own devices to a people in bondage. They were forced to produce mud bricks, up to 2,000 a day per Egyptian overseer according to some records. They also faced the draconian measure of having to give up their male children to the Egyptians. Exodus states that these boys were thrown into the Nile. This seems like some sort of sacrificial ritual, since the Egyptians worshiped a god of the Nile, and led to great fear among the captive Hebrews.
A son was born to Amram and Jochebed in this time period. They already had two children, a son Aaron and a daughter Miriam. Their fear for the life of this new son makes me believe that the Egyptian policy could have been that a family was allowed one son, but any subsequent boys must be given up. Or maybe the decree was only during this period, which could mean that there might have been some sort of famine or other trouble that made the Egyptians feel the need to appease their gods.
In any event, this couple did not want to see their son destroyed, so they hid him for several months. The infant got to the age, though, where he could not be hidden any longer, so a decision had to be made. Continue to try to hide him and possibly cause all of their deaths, or place him in God’s hands. They made a basket of woven reeds and pitched it within and without with tar, then Jochebed and Miriam took the boy down to the Nile.
A New Home
Pharaoh’s daughter was bathing in the river when she heard a noise. It sounded like a baby. She began to look around and spotted a basket caught in some reeds close by. The princess sent a maid to fetch the basket, and when she opened it she beheld the screaming infant. She realized that this must be a Hebrew child, set adrift by his family. Josephus states that her heart melted at the sight and she determined at that moment to adopt this child. It’s also possible that this lady was unable to have children naturally, and this was seen as a gift from the gods.
She took the boy in, and after a period of 3-4 years in which he was reared by his biological mother, Moses came to live in the palace. He was taught all the knowledge of the Egyptians. Math, astronomy, engineering, civil administration, and military art. All of these would come in handy later in life, as we will see.
Moses took to military service handily. Josephus recounts how Moses led the Egyptians into was against the Ethiopians. There was a valley that was said to be so infested with vipers that people would not go through it. Moses knew that if he could emerge from this valley he would take the enemy by surprise, so he brought along a flock of Ibis birds, which reportedly consumed any snakes they came across.
The Egyptians emerged and surprised the Ethiopians, who fled to Saba, their capital. It was during this siege that Moses met the Ethiopian princess, Tharbis. They fell in love and their marriage ended the war between the two African powers.
Here we see the intelligence and courage of Moses. He was willing to go somewhere it was thought impossible to go. But he went with confidence because he was prepared.
Prince or Fugitive
While the majority of his life had been spent in royal splendor, Moses recalled his mother’s instructions to him when he was young. He knew that he was one of the Hebrews, but what could he do? Biblical/Jewish scholars believe that Moses was being groomed as the next Pharaoh. Once the current ruler died, he would step in. He was already the top general in the Egyptian army. Soon he would have the power to exact change for his people, but something happened.
Moses rode his chariot to a place overlooking Goshen. As he watched his people toil, he spotted an overseer beating a Hebrew. It was time for a decision. Would he continue his comfortable life, with all the splendor and majesty, or would he do what he knew was right? Would he continue to deny his destiny or would he accept it, come what may? Would he continue to enjoy the pleasures of Egypt, or be willing to suffer with God’s people?
It’s easy to coast along and not take a stand, but are we willing to do what we know is right, even when it might cost us everything?
Moses makes his decision. He hurries down and orders the overseer to stop. The man doesn’t. Overcome with rage, Moses grabs him and smashes his head repeatedly into the ground, until the slave master is a bloody ruin. Moses then realizes what he has done. He had overstepped his bounds. Punishment was coming, and the time was not right yet. He furtively hides the body and continues on as if nothing had happened, but it was too late to go back now.
Word gets back to Pharaoh of what Moses had done. He is furious. This was a direct rebellion against his authority and it could not stand. He orders the arrest of Moses.
Moses is now faced with another choice, stay and fight or run and hide. As I said before, it’s believed that Moses directly commanded at least a third of the Egyptian army. If he rose in military revolt he most likely would be able to overthrow the government. But is that what his life was meant to be? Ruling over a militarily suppressed populace. Is that why he had been spared from the Nile? No, it wasn’t.
So Moses does what some would consider cowardly, but shows great moral courage. He turned his back on everything he had ever known, so that he would not destroy what was the plan of God for his life. His people deserved freedom, but not freedom won in a bloody revolt. They would be free by an act of God. Something that would point their direction for centuries and inspire the world.
Moses leaves Egypt and goes into the wilderness.
Years later, this man would appear back on the scene. He had wrestled with his demons and was now at peace with his purpose. Moses faces off with Pharaoh and through divine inspiration leads the Hebrew nation back to their Promised Land. He writes the Law and the Pentateuch. He establishes the Tabernacle.
I challenge you to find a man better suited for what he did. This was a man who stood between God and his people when God wanted to destroy them. Moses placed his calling before his own desires. Pride was absent in him. He chose his successor wisely.
Are you willing to sacrifice your desires to fulfill the plan for your life? Are you willing to place selfishness on the back burner to provide for your family? Ready to take the lead of your home, even when it means the wife and kids might not understand?
If you lead like Moses, with the best interests of your family in mind, they WILL follow you. My wife trusts me implicitly in my decisions because she has seen that my desire is to do what is right and what is best for her and our children. Am I perfect? No. Not by a long shot. But she knows I love her and she will do anything I ask because of that.
You’re not a pussy if you show your wife and children love. Don’t be afraid to stand between them and those that would bring harm. This could include family and friends. Sometimes the best way to show love is by saying “No”. The law must be given and enforced, with love, not anger. Order must be a part of your home.
As always, thanks for reading.