What does the name Moses conjure up in your imagination?
Actor Charlton Heston, arms outspread, and the Red Sea parting? Cecil B. DeMille did an awesome job on that mega-picture. (Grin)
The basket, floating gently on the ripples of the water, surrounded by reeds?
Now, what do you think of when you hear the name Jochebed? She is the next woman in our series of studies . . . Moses' mom. Or one of them, anyway. Since Pharoah's daughter adopted him, I guess we should make that distinction.
We read of Jochebed in both the Old Testament, and in the New. Here are the passages:
Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she
became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was
a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide
him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar
and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds
along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what
would happen to him. Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile
to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw
the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened
it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is
one of the Hebrew babies,” she said. Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s
daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby
for you?” “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s
mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him
for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him.
When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he
became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the
water.” (Exodus 2:1-10)
And also here:
By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born,
because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of
the king’s edict. (Hebrews 11:23)
And here, where Moses' father is mentioned, we learn Moses' mother's name:
Amram married his father's sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and
Moses. Amram lived 137 years. (Exodus 6:20)
At the end of the book of Genesis, Joseph has died. All of his family has emigrated to Egypt for food during the horrific famines that the Pharaoh dreamed of, and Joseph interpreted for him.
With all of those brothers, the family had grown significantly, and it continued to do so! The Pharaoh of Joseph's time was so happy with him, that he didn't mind the Hebrew people being in his country. After some time (the scholars tell us it was about three hundred years) we read how the situation had changed:
These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with
Jacob, each with his family: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; Issachar,
Zebulun and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. The descendants
of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt. Now Joseph
and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were
exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and
became so numerous that the land was filled with them. Then a new king,
to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said
to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we
must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous
and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave
the country.” So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with
forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.
But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so
the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.
They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with
all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked
them ruthlessly. The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose
names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women
during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill
him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and
did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.
Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have
you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” The midwives answered
Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous
and give birth before the midwives arrive.” So God was kind to the midwives
and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the
midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. Then Pharaoh gave
this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw
into the Nile, but let every girl live.” (Exodus 1)
Wow! Now we've refreshed our memory of the background and the story; we'll study this after our day of prayer requests, tomorrow.
After all, if Jochebed was honored with a mention in the "Pantheon of Faith" in Hebrews, there's a lot we can learn from her!