Exodus 2:2-3-So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank.
It’s that time of year when we stop to celebrate our mothers. At least, in America. And for the past several years, I have blogged about different mothers in the scriptures. They have been amongst my most-read blogs. This year, I want to blog about another special mother in the scriptures, Moses’ mother!
Moses’ mother was Jochebed of the tribe of Levi. Although she isn’t identified in the Book of Exodus, we are told her name in the Book of Numbers:
The name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt; and to Amram she bore Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam.Numbers 26:59 NKJV
When Jochebed discovered she was with child, it had to be an emotional time for her. After all, Pharoah had already decreed that the midwives were supposed to kill all male children as they came out of the womb, by throwing them into the river.
Throwing babies in the Nile River wasn’t just so they could drown, but also to be eaten by the crocodiles. What a horrible death for any person, let alone a baby. Therefore, Jochebed probably spent many nights in turmoil, thinking about what would befall her child if it was a son.
Many women have conflicting emotions when they are pregnant, just because of their hormones. But when a death sentence is hanging over your baby because of their gender, it can make a stressful time, even more stressful. So throughout her pregnancy, she was burdened with the knowledge that if she had a son, his life would be in danger.
Maybe a part of her even regretted being pregnant. She already had two children, and they were safe, but this third child’s fate would be determined on the day it was born. Nevertheless, she carried her baby full term. And then she went into labor, delivering a son.
The Bible tells us that she looked at her son, and he was beautiful. Isn’t that the heart of most mothers? I know that was true for me. Each little girl presented to me in the hospital was absolutely beautiful to me! And I could not imagine the agony and the ecstasy that she experienced at that moment! It’s a boy! No, God, no! It’s my beautiful baby boy! Isn’t he lovely? Her heart was amazed at the goodness of God while feeling troubled at the future of her son! What a situation!
But Jochebed obviously had a strength of character that was stronger than her fear of retribution. A faith in God that surpassed the law of the Pharaoh! As a slave in Egyptian bondage, the decision to keep her child, or not keep her child, was not hers alone. Neither did Amran have any choice in the matter because the Pharaoh had already decided on her son’s fate-death! Or so he thought!
But this couple disobeyed the Pharoah’s edict, and they kept their son. They hid him for three months. In the book of Hebrews, this act was described as an act of faith:
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.Hebrews 11:23 NKJV
During that time, Jochebed nursed him, clothed him, poured love on him, and hid him from the overseers. The author of Hebrews stated that it was because of their faith, that they hid Moses. And I believe she and Amran prayed during this time, believing that God would give them a plan to save their son! And then they prayed some more. And during those very short three months, a plan developed in her mind. It would be a bold plan, but she was willing to take the risk if she could save her son!
My pastor, Dr. Charlie Dates, preached earlier this year on the subject, “Let the Boys Live”. It was an awesome message, but within the message, he spoke of the ark that Jocebed built for her son. He said that the same word used for the ark that Noah built was the same word used to describe the basket that Jochebed used for Moses. I hadn’t thought of that before, but it resonated with my spirit so much, that I knew I would use it for a blog about Jochebed this Mother’s Day!
She built an ark, trusting that this was a plan from God. And then she placed her son into the ark, closed it up, and placed it amongst the reeds by the river bank, leaving Miriam to watch it to see what would happen! Up to this point, we see Jochebed as the one who is handling everything surrounding Moses. As a mother, I could see her wanting to do everything she could for him, while she could. But the one thing she couldn’t do was watch him be taken from her. Yes, she was trusting God, but she didn’t have the strength to see what would become of the son she loved so dearly and had to separate from so soon!
Moses’ big sister watched after him from afar. Then she noticed that the princess came out to bathe. Maybe it was planned that way by Jochebed. Maybe she thought that a woman from the Egyptian household would deliver her son, but maybe not the princess. Yet, there she came for her bath when she spotted the ark:
Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along the riverside; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. And when she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”Exodus 2:5-6 NKJV
As Miriam took note of the way the daughter of Pharaoh handled Moses, she became emboldened, asking if she needed a wet nurse for the baby. Pharaoh’s daughter replied yes, and Miriam ran to get his mother.
Not only was Jochebed’s son spared, but he was given to her so that she could take care of him, openly. She wouldn’t get to raise him in her house, and she didn’t even get to name him, but he would get to live and have a better life than she could ever afford to give him! Brilliant! This turn of events could only have been the hand of God! Because of her courage, she defied the authorities to spare Moses’ life. And because of her faith, that in hiding him, a solution would come, God stepped in and saved her son! And if that wasn’t enough, she was given the job of nursing him, (to her delight), and wage on top of that. Won’t He do it?
Mothers have many challenges in raising children. There are mothers who are actually fearful for the lives of their children because of where they are being raised. But they are doing the best that they can do with the circumstances they have before them. Be encouraged, and trust God to keep all of you safe! There are mothers who have to give up their children for adoption because they are not in the place to raise them, so they allow others to do so! What an amazing sacrifice of love! And there are mothers who traverse the challenges of society, educational systems, low wages, singleness, and just everyday life to take care of their children. They do it with grace, courage, faith, dedication, and unrelenting love. They take care of their children when they’re sick, when they’re tired, and when things are going well! They just keep on mothering!
These are the types of things that make mothers so special to our hearts. They just keep on giving even when others would turn their backs on us! I applaud all the Jochebeds in the world today. The brilliance with which you raise your kids with little to no help or support is uncanny. The way you keep stepping up to the plate, even when it is empty, trusting that God will fill it is no small thing! Be encouraged this Mother’s Day, knowing that God has not forgotten your labor of love and you are special to Him! You are also special to those you have poured your life into! Thank you for all you do because the world could not function without mothers! Wonderful Jesus!