The Mother of Moses

‘Take this child away, and nurse it for me’, Exod. 2. 9.

All the sons of the Israelites were condemned to die by Pharoah’s order. For three months, Moses’ parents had hidden him. ‘They were not afraid of the king’s commandment’, Heb. 11. 23, for themselves, but now they could no longer keep him safely. The presence of any child in any home soon becomes obvious.

We are left to imagine for ourselves his mother’s tender and loving tears, her fears and her earnest prayers, as she prepared her little ‘ark of bulrushes’, a rush-work basket of a type which would have been in common use, made waterproof with slime and pitch, all that her simple faith had to hand. Three times we are told in the Bible that Moses was a pleasing, handsome child, Exod. 2. 2; Acts 7. 20; Heb. 11. 23, and as his mother laid him in the ark among the flags, she would have kissed him and prayed for him, as she asked his sister to watch over him.

God was watching over him too. No one knew it, but this little baby was to be God’s chosen servant, the one who was to be the great leader and deliverer of His people from their cruel bondage, and to take them to the land God had promised them.

What mighty purposes were bound up in that little baby! It seems likely that the plan of Moses’ mother was to take him back home if nothing happened, and continue putting him back among the flags until her faith was rewarded. She had a mother’s heart, and we may be sure that she had no intention of abandoning him to an uncertain fate.

But that very first day, Pharoah’s daughter came to the place, and discovered the child. Her natural instincts were roused by the apparently abandoned, weeping child, and she became his protector. Such was surely the ‘purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will’, Eph. 1. 11. Well might every child of God in every circumstance be mindful of ‘how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out’, Rom. 11. 33. He knows the future history of every child in its mother’s womb, Ps. 71. 6; Isa. 44. 2; Jer. 1. 5; Matt. 1. 20, 21; Luke 1. 15, 31; 2. 11; Gal. 1. 15. God’s purposes will always stand and cannot be set aside, even by the commandment of a king. The Israelites were in bondage and groaning under their hard taskmasters, but God was mindful of them, Exod. 2. 24, 25. Even when He chooses not to manifest Himself, He is still there, watching.

God used a mother’s faith, another woman’s natural compassion for children, and the quick-wittedness of a little girl, who suggested ‘a nurse of the Hebrew women to nurse the child’ for Pharoah’s daughter. ‘And the maid went and called the child’s mother’. As the son of Pharoah’s daughter, Moses would become ‘learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and mighty in words and in deeds’. We learn of that wisdom from the monuments and relics of Egyptian civilisation which has been unearthed for us, bearing testimony to their achievements in building and architecture, pottery, painting, sculpture, music, anatomy, medicine, law, astronomy and other branches of human knowledge. It was the Egyptians who first engaged in boat building. The opportunities for Moses were without limit, and the wealth of Egypt was to lie within his grasp if he so desired it. The Bible says, ‘all the wisdom of the Egyptians’, Acts 7. 22.

But there were things he could not learn from Egypt. It was his mother, who, as he became old enough to understand, would have taught him about God, and ‘his brethren’, God’s people. It was she who nurtured him in the Lord, who set before him the way of life so that ‘when he came to years’, he chose ‘rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward’, Heb. 11. 24-26. Moses’ father’s God became his God too, Exod. 18. 4. We may be sure that both Amram and Jochabed were as one in their saving of Moses, and his subsequent spiritual development, Acts 7. 20; Heb. 11. 23.

Every child who grows up without the knowledge of God, and what are loosely defined as ‘moral standards’, testifies to the importance in every generation of Christian mothers properly nurturing their precious charges. The words of the Egyptian princess to Jochabed remind us of the charge that is given to every Christian mother, ‘Take this child away, and nurse it for me’. God still speaks to every mother today in the words of that Egyptian princess. And God, as He often does, adds His bonus, ‘and I will give thee thy wages’. ‘Them that honour me I will honour’, 1 Sam. 2. 30. Moses’ mother would have been content, overjoyed, to look after her son without payment, but God is no man’s debtor and will give freely what will be received in faith. It pleased Him that she should be paid as well.

Moses is one of the most influential men in all human history, and has a specially honourable place in the roll of God’s servants. Remember, God sets great store upon the calling of mothers and takes special notice of them, 1 Tim. 2. 15; 5. 10.

‘O happy home where little ones are given
Early to Thee, in humble faith and prayer,
To Thee their Friend, who from the heights of heaven
Guides them, and guard’st them with more than mother’s care'

Karl Spitta

‘Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward’, Ps. 127. 3.


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