We stopped yesterday at the end of Exodus 1 which ends with this ominous verse, “The Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile and every daughter you are to keep alive.”
In chapter 2, we meet Jochabed, Moses’ mother, for the first time. She is only mentioned in a few verses, and every time I read this story, I am struck by not what WAS said, but what isn’t.
The first thing we find out about her is that she and her husband are both from the tribe of Levi which means Moses was a direct descendant of Leah.
I love verse 2. It says, “The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months.”
Before I had children myself, I thought this meant that Moses was just a really beautiful baby. After having kids, though, I realized that it’s pretty normal for mothers to think their babies are gorgeous. I mean, my son Brock had a major cone head, was all wrinkled and smushed, but I thought he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
Jochabed took one look at little Moses and couldn’t bear the thought of him being thrown in the Nile, so she did the only thing she could do – hide him.
Of course, the inevitable happened. After about 3 to 5 months, he got too big and made too much noise to be hidden anymore. Jochabed decided not to wait until someone heard the baby cry and rip him from her arms. In verse 3 it says, “But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile.”
There is so much not said in these verses. What went into the basket with Moses? How hard was it for her to set that basket in the Nile and walk away? Did she look back or did she walk quickly away, blinded by the falling tears? Did she know that the Pharaoh’s daughter bathed near there? Did she walk away with any hope or did despair smother her?
The Nile River was a dangerous place full of large crocodiles, rushing water and a myriad of things that could be fatal to Moses, but Jochabed had no choice. She could either put her baby in the Nile with the little bit of protection she could provide or she risked someone else taking him from her and throwing him in with absolutely no chance of survival. It was a heartbreaking choice.
Yet, God used Pharaoh’s daughter to save Moses, and Jochabed did get to have Moses back serving as his “nurse” AND get wages as well. Of course, Jochabed had to say good-bye to Moses a second time when he was weaned and she had to return him to the palace. I’m sure that was terribly difficult, too. I’m sure she worried about what he would encounter in the palace and if he would even remember her.
I heard the story of Moses in the basket in the river a million times when I was a kid, but it wasn’t until I was older and studying the life of Moses that his mom’s story stood out to me.
There aren’t very many verses in the story of Jochabed and yet there is a world of emotions tied up in those few words. As she set that little basket in the river, Jochabed had to trust God completely with her son. She had to let him go and walk away.
From Jochabed, I think we learn that when we entrust things completely to God, He does take care of us. I’m sure when Jochabed put that basket in the river, she could not have foreseen the Princess asking her to be her own child’s nursemaid and getting paid to do it. God not only took care of Moses but He blessed Jochabed with more time with her son.
While I doubt I will ever need to put either of my sons in a basket and float them down a river (they’d be a bit large anyway), I AM asked to entrust them to God.
In fact, there is probably something God is asking you to trust Him with completely. What is He asking you to turn completely over to Him, to leave in His hands and walk away from?