There are only six short verses that talk about Pharaoh’s daughter. It’s not clear how much time has gone by since Jochabed had put her tiny son afloat on the Nile, but Pharaoh’s daughter’s decision to come down on that day, at that time, to bathe, changed a lot of lives.
Since nobody is completely sure which Pharaoh was in power at the this time, it makes it hard to know what this woman’s name is. We don’t know if she was married or if she had any biological children of her own.
We do know that the little basket in the reeds caught her eye, and Exodus 2:5 says that she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to go get the basket.
We also know that Pharaoh’s daughter had not inherited her father’s hard heart because when she opened the basket and saw little Moses wailing, she had pity on him. She immediately recognized him as a Hebrew child. Although she lived in the palace, it is unclear if she knew that her father had passed a death sentence on all the baby boys.
While she is gazing at this tiny infant squalling in a homemade basket boat, Moses’ big sister Miriam ran up and made the Pharaoh’s daughter an offer she couldn’t refuse – I have just the nurse maid for you. Maybe Miriam saw the indecision on the Pharaoh’s daughter’s face and hurried to make an offer that forced the princess to make a decision.
It’s unclear if the princess knew to whom she was entrusting this infant, but my guess is that she guessed Jochabed was really Moses’ mother. I”m not sure if Jochabed could have concealed her joy at not only her son being alive but having him back in her arms, even for a little while. The Pharaoh’s daughter gave no inclination if she did know. She just acted like Jochabed would be doing her a favor by nursing her adopted son, and she was going to pay Jochabed for performing that job.
When the child was weaned, which would have been between the ages of 3 and 4 years old, it says that after Jochabed brought Moses back, and he became Pharaoh’s daughter. He was brought up as a prince in the Pharaoh’s palace. It also says that the princess names Moses. In the very next verse, Moses is all grown up. This is one of those times I wish Scripture had given a few more details. What was it like to grow up in the palace? Did Moses get along with his siblings? Did he have siblings? Did he call Pharaoh Grandpa?
Despite the few verses where Pharaoh’s daughter appears, we can learn a lot from her. First, she was aware enough to see the basket, and when she saw it, she didn’t just shrug and go on her way wondering about it. She investigated further.
She was brave enough to open the basket to see what or who was in it. She didn’t just look inside the basket, but she felt pity for the baby inside. She let the fate of an unknown baby engage her emotions, and finally, she didn’t just feel pity but she did something about it. It would have been easier to just put the little basket back into the river. It would have been easier not to be bothered, not to arrange for a woman who was probably the baby’s mother to care for him, not to have to explain the baby to her father.
There are so many people in need in our world that it can become a buzz of voices that just sort of bounces off our consciousness. We squint our eyes to blur the faces so we don’t have to see them all. Even if one of those needs catch our eye, we often turn away because it seems overwhelming. I mean what can one person do, after all? It’s much easier to not let our hearts get involved because they might break.
And even if we do allow ourselves to feel for these needs – we may allow ourselves to cry but that is the end of any action we take. The Pharaoh’s daughter stepped out of the comfort and ease of palace living and got her hands dirty opening that basket. She may have been one of the only people who could truly make a difference in Moses’ life and his mother’s.
While we can’t save the world or support every orphan or visit every widow or even pray for every need, we can do something. We can support one orphan or we can spend time with one widow or we can listen and pray for one person. We can risk our hearts by caring and then acting.
God doesn’t ask us to save everyone. He only asks us to care about those He brings in our path or to our attention. We all have a sphere of influence, one tht is unique to us. But we have to be willing to be aware and be looking. We have to be brave enough to get closer and really look at who He brings to our attention. And we need to be willing to not just feel badly for somebody but to actually inconvenience ourselves and do something about it.
Who or what has God been bringing to your attention lately? Are you willing to step out and act? Are you willing to be like Pharaoh’s daughter?