Exodus 1:1 – 2:9. Moses comes into the world in the worst circumstances imaginable.
Exodus 1:1 – 2:9. Moses comes into the world in the worst circumstances imaginable.
“Papa’s Bible Stories” brings the Bible to life for your kids. For each episode, I pick a Bible story to talk to my very own kids about. The stories are entirely Bible-based, scripture is quoted at every opportunity, and the kids are always pointed to the Bible as the authority. And we’re not afraid of having a little fun too! It is my hope and prayer that your kids will be excited to explore God’s Word for themselves after hearing each and every episode. #bible #stories #kids #children #adventist #sda
After Joseph’s family moved to Egypt, many years of safety and security passed by. Joseph had given his family a lot of land on which they could grow. And Joseph had ensured that they would be well protected. And what do people do when they are safe, secure, and have lots of room to grow? Well, what they tend to do is…have babies. Lots and lots of babies. And that’s exactly what the Israelites did! The Bible says that the children of Israel were, “fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.” (Ex. 1:7) They made babies like hot cakes!
Joseph, for his part, had grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even great-great-grandchildren. And Joseph lived to the ripe old age of 110 years old, and then the Bible says that, “Joseph died, [and] all his brothers, and all that generation.” (1:6) Joseph and his brothers all went to the grave seeing their families prosper and seeing God’s promises being fulfilled. But even after Joseph’s generation died, the baby boom continued. And for many years everything looked to be going extremely well for the children of Israel.
But as so often happens, the good times don’t last forever. And the Bible says, “Now there arose a king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, ‘Look, the people of Israel are more and mightier than we; come let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us…’” (1:9-10) So, at some point after Joseph died, a new king came along who decided that he didn’t like the Israelites. Not one bit. You see, the Israelites were completely separate from the Egyptians. They didn’t get married to Egyptians, they didn’t worship the Egyptian gods, and they didn’t participate in the Egyptian culture. So, they really were an entirely separate people living right in Egypt, that the king did not control. And many of us, especially political leaders, have a tendency to be afraid of what we cannot control. And so, Pharaoh decided to use fear to cause his people to do some pretty terrible things to the Israelites.
So, what did Pharaoh do with the Israelites? Well, the Bible says that they, “set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses.” (1:11) So it seems that Pharaoh decided that he was going to try to kill two birds with one stone. On one hand he needed to find a way to slow down the crazy Israelite baby production. And on the other hand, they really needed some things built in Egypt, such as supply cities. So, what if they forced the Israelites to work really hard for them? What if they turned them into slaves? Not only would they get some much needed work done, but maybe the Israelites would be so tired that they cool it a little bit on making all those babies. Brilliant! And so, Pharaoh sent the taskmasters to the Israelites, and forced them to get to work.
And that seemed to be that. And everything went to plan, right? Well, not exactly. In fact, not only did everything not go to plan, but exactly the opposite happened. The Bible says that, “the more [the Egyptians] afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.” (1:12) So after a few years of forcing the Israelites to work for them, yes they had their supply cities, but somehow they had even more Israelite children than before! Pharaoh was probably scratching his head, how is it that the Israelites have all this time for making babies? Their problem was getting worse. So, what were they going to do?
Well, it seems that Pharaoh thought that the Israelites just weren’t working hard enough, and so he made them work even harder. The Bible says, “the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage— in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.” (1:13-14) So the Israelites were working insanely hard. Every day they must have come home completely exhausted. But…this didn’t seem to change anything baby-wise. Even with the Israelites being forced to work as hard as they could, they were still having lots of babies.
And around this time, Pharaoh was no doubt getting pretty frustrated. He had caused the Egyptians to fear the Israelites, and after a few years of trying to control the baby production, there were like a gagillion more babies. And the Bible says that the Egyptians were, “in dread of the children of Israel.” (1:12). The problem (which Pharaoh had admittedly created for himself) had gotten worse not better. So, what was Pharaoh going to do? Well, unfortunately kidzos, Pharaoh decided to do something absolutely terrible. Pharaoh decided that it was time to start killing babies. There are only a few places in the Bible where babies or children are killed, and this is one of them. The Bible says that Pharaoh turned to the midwives (which btw midwives are women who help mothers with childbirth…you kidzos both had midwives) and Pharaoh said to the midwives, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” (1:16) So Pharaoh wanted the midwives to kill all the newborn sons of the Israelites just after they were born. The thinking (which was absolutely terrible thinking) was probably that if this was done long enough this would cause there to be many more Israelite women than men, and that this would force the Israelite women to marry Egyptian men. Effectively forcing the Israelites to become Egyptians.
And this time everything went to plan, right? Well, not exactly. The Israelite women undoubtedly got wind of what the midwives were being asked to do. And I can just imagine a newly pregnant mother being asked, “Hey would you like a midwife for this pregnancy?” And the mother being like, “Uh…no thank you!” Right? And the midwives, for their part, well they just simply refused to follow through with what they were being asked to do. And the Bible says that, “the people multiplied and grew very mighty.” (1:20) Pharaoh must have been beside himself. This was the third time that he’d tried to do something about all these babies, and each time he’d failed. And not only had he failed, but all his efforts to use fear and control only seemed to make more babies.
So of course, this is the point where Pharaoh must have realized that he’d made a mistake, that he was only making things worse, and that he might as well give up, right? Well, unfortunately kidzos, no. In fact, Pharaoh decided that he was going to step it up a notch. And the Bible says that Pharaoh, “commanded all his people, saying, ‘Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.” (1:22) So this time instead of going to the midwives, Pharaoh went to all the people of Egypt, and basically told them that if anyone saw a newborn baby boy with an Israelite mother, that they should rip that baby out of its mother’s arms and throw it into the Nile river where it would drown. What an absolutely terrible thing to do. And this time everything went to plan, right? Well, unfortunately yes. Yes indeed, the people listened Pharaoh, and babies started dying. What a terrible time in which to live.
And it’s right when all this is going on, in basically the worst situation imaginable, that our next big Bible character is born – Moses. Moses was born during this time to a mother named Jochebed, a father named Amram, and a sister and brother named Miriam and Aaron (both of whom we are going to hear much more about in later episodes). Of course, Moses’ parents had no intentions of killing their own dear son. And they had no intention of letting any Egyptian do it either. And they decided that they were going to try to hide baby Moses. That’s right kidzos, they decided they were going to hide a baby. Now Papa has no idea what made them think that they could hide a baby, because Papa remembers when you kidzos were just born that you guys were just eating, pooping, crying, vomit machines. How you could hide all that for any length of time is beyond me. But Moses’ family, and particularly his mother, must have been super-human because somehow they managed it. And for three months, the family successfully hid their little baby boy, and kept him a secret.
But everyone knew that they wouldn’t be able to hide Moses forever. And one day, things came to a head. The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened - maybe the baby started crying more than normal, maybe a neighbour noticed the baby and was going to tell on them, or maybe the Egyptians started going door-to-door looking for baby boys…we don’t know. But what we do know is that the Bible says that his mother Jochebed “could no longer hide him”. They were going to have to do something. But what? Well, for whatever reason Jochebed decided that they were going to have to (at least partially) obey Pharaoh’s command to throw her baby boy into the river. But she was going to do it in a way that would give her son at least a chance of surviving. And the Bible says that she, “took an ark made of bulrushes for him, [and] daubed it with asphalt and pitch…” (2:3) So you kidzos know what bulrushes are right? You know those tall green plants that grown in ditches or in marshes that have those hot dog looking seeds? Well Moses’ mother took some of those long green leaves and made a basket. And she took that basket and covered it in an oily slime that made it waterproof. Then the Bible says that she took her little boy, put him into that basket, set the basket in the river, and walked away. She left him alone to float down the river. And it must have been one of the hardest things that Jochebed had ever done. Papa couldn’t even imagine being forced to do something like that with one of you kidzos.
But as baby Moses floated down the river, he wasn’t quite alone. The Bible says that, “his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him” (2:4) Miriam followed the precious basket as it floated down the river, anxiously watching to see what would happen to her little brother. And this is when something amazing happened. It just so happened that on this particular day, at this particular time, and at this particular place, that the daughter of Pharaoh, one of the most powerful people in all of Egypt, decided that she was going to take a bath in the river (the Egyptians believed that bathing in the Nile river brought you long life). And she decided to take a bath in the river just as Moses’ basket was floating by in some reeds.
So of course, Pharaoh’s daughter saw the basket, and naturally wondered what it was. And so, she sent her maid to go get it for her. And so, the little basket with its precious cargo was brought to Pharaoh’s daughter, and the Bible says that she, “opened it, [and] she saw the child...” (2:6) At a glance, she knew exactly what was going on. Some poor mother just upstream had been forced to send her baby boy down the river because of her father’s terrible command. And just after she opened up the basket, little baby Moses started to cry. And Pharaoh’s daughter looked at the poor little boy, took in the whole heart-wrenching situation, and the Bible says that she, “had compassion on him.” (2:6) Pharaoh’s daughter settled in her heart that she was going to save this little boy in a way that his life wouldn’t be put at risk again – she decided to adopt the baby as her very own son.
Now Miriam, who let’s not forget had been following the basket this whole time, had been carefully observing the whole situation. She’d seen the maid get the basket, and she’d seen Pharaoh’s daughter’s compassionate face as she discovered her little baby brother. And she must have guessed what Pharaoh’s daughter was thinking. So…should she say something? As far as Pharaoh’s daughter was concerned, this was just a random lost boy. She had no idea who the boy’s family was…who his parents were. And Miriam would have known that if she didn’t say anything right then, that her brother would be lost to her forever. Neither Moses, nor anyone else, would ever know whose family he really belonged to. She must have been terrified to say anything to Pharaoh’s daughter, but brave Miriam made her decision. And she decided that she would make a…helpful suggestion. She piped up and said, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?” (2:7) Now Pharaoh’s daughter knew exactly where this “helpful suggestion” was coming from. She knew very well that the “nurse” that this little girl was talking about was in fact the baby’s mother. And so, wanting to be as understanding as possible, she decided to meet the boy’s mother. And she said to Miriam, “Go.” (2:8)
A very happy and excited Miriam would have run home to give her mother the incredible news. Their little baby boy had been saved. Pharaoh’s daughter had had compassion on him. And maybe the best news of all, she just so happened to be looking for a nurse! Jochebed must have been beside herself with joy and happiness, as she ran out the door to go talk to Pharaoh’s daughter. When she arrived, Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” (2:9) So, not only would they she be getting back her son, but Pharaoh’s daughter was going pay them to take care of him. This was extremely generous to say the least. But it did come with a catch. Pharaoh’s daughter was, right at that moment, adopting the boy. He was technically her son now, not Jochebed’s. And Jochebed was only taking care of him for a while until he was old enough to live with Pharaoh’s daughter and join the Egyptian court. Now, no doubt Jochebed would have very much preferred that she keep her son just like any mother, but considering that just moments ago she’d sent him down the river to die, she would have been extremely grateful for whatever additional time had been given to her to be with her son. And besides, she would have known that being the son of an Egyptian princess, meant that her son would grow up to be an Egyptian prince. That meant a life full of opportunity and privilege. And the only life that awaited him in their family was a life of slavery. At least this way, her little boy had a chance for a better life.
And the agreement was made. Jochebed would raise the boy until he was old enough to go to the Egyptian court. And then Pharaoh’s daughter would take the boy as her son for the rest of his life. And as they parted ways, Moses’ mother must have thanked God for saving her little boy. She must have known somewhere in her heart that her son was somehow very special. It couldn’t have been just a coincidence what had happened that day. God must have saved their son. Was God setting aside their son for some special purpose? For some special mission? Her son would have the chance to influence the Egyptians in ways that the rest of them could not. What would he do when he got older? Would he help his people? Would he try to get them out of this terrible life of slavery that they’d been forced into? Would he stay true to God? All these questions and more were probably in Jochebed’s thoughts. But for now, she rested happy and contented that God had restored their son to them, and that they were all safely together once again.