Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Jochebed - Mothering Moses

When I found out that I was pregnant with my third child, I was excited; what mother wouldn't be? I rejoiced to think of the precious life growing inside my womb. Yet, in the midst of my joy, I worried. The world this little one would enter was not a safe one. You see, I am a Hebrew, a slave of the cruel Pharoah of Egypt. Enslaving our people wasn't enough for this evil man, however; he became worried that we would soon outnumber his own people, so he devised an awful scheme. Shiprah and Puah, two of our midwives, did their best to stop his plans, but he would not relent. When they wouldn't kill our baby boys, he enlisted the help of his own people, and gave a new order: "Every baby boy the Hebrews bore were to be thrown into the Nile River."

This is why I worried. If my baby was a girl, she would be safe, although her lot as a slave would never be easy. But if my baby was a boy, he'd risk death every moment of his little life. I knew one thing for sure: I would do my best to protect my child. I would fight with all that is in me so that my baby would live...

No, the world at the time of Moses was not a safe one for the Hebrews, who were oppressed by the Egyptians. Now, even their baby boys - the very strength of the next generation - were being brutally murdered. Who knows how many innocent lives were taken in this awful atrocity.

Jochebed was a strong women - she had to be! As wife of Amram and mother of two children, she must have been as busy as any other preparing for the birth of a third child. And who could know whether she would have this child, simply to have him killed in his first week? In time, Jochebed gave birth to her baby, a fine child and... a boy. However, she was determined not to let her precious son die; instead, she hid him for 3 months. How wearying those months must have been, trying to stifle her baby's cry and prevent anyone from finding her precious son. As he grew older, she realized that she wouldn't be able to hide him any longer. Everyone knows how busy and noisy little ones can be! So, she did something a bit unusual. She took a papyrus basket and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she took her helpless son, held him close one last time, and placed him in the basket, putting it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. Then, she left, leaving her daughter Miriam to keep watch.

Now pause just a minute, and reflect on what she did. Most of us grew up listening to stories about the "baby in the basket", and simply accept what she did without a second thought. However, really consider this: Was this a normal thing to do? Where would she come up with the idea of putting a baby in a basket along the bank of a river? I don't think it was very common among the Hebrew mothers of that time! I mean, what in the world would it accomplish? However, I believe that Jochebed did what she did simply because that's what God wanted her to do. I don't think she could or would have come up with the idea on her own; to our way of thinking, it's absurd! However, God, in His Divine wisdom knew what He was doing. Jochebed simply did what He wanted to her do, leaving the rest up to Him.

We all know the rest of the story, right? It "just so happened" that Pharoah's daughter came with her attendants to the water to bathe. "Somehow" she spotted the little basket, and, after her maid brought it to her, found inside a tiny, crying (or more likely screaming!), helpless baby boy - a Hebrew baby boy. Did she do as the law ordered and immediately drown him in the river? No. Instead, she felt sorry for the infant. Yes, God indeed knew what He was doing!

Miriam took that most opportune time to ask if the princess wanted a nurse for the baby, then went and got her mother Jochebed. Then, not only did Jochebed get her son back safe and sound, she also got paid by Pharoah's daughter to take the baby - her son - and nurse him until he got older. Jochebed must have done so joyfully; her son, whom she'd almost given up hope on, was saved from looming death. Not only that, she got to care for him in his tender years, rejoicing in his every smile and coo. How she must have praised God!

Then, when he was weaned, Jochebed had to give him up once again. She had to bring her precious child, her little miracle, and give him to the Phaoah's daughter. How that must have torn her mother's heart, to have her son returned to her, only to give him up forever a few years later. Yes, he was spared from death, but only to a become a pagan Egyptian, living the life of a prince far from her home and arms. She must have wondered why; she must have ached years afterward for her son, yet she was unable to hold him. He became an Egyptian, and she remained a lowly Hebrew slave.

The Bible doesn't tell us what happened to Jochebed after that. We don't know whether she ever got to see her son again. We all know who her son was - Moses, the deliverer, who led his people out of slavery and toward the promised land. Perhaps she lived to see the glorious day of freedom for her people. Perhaps she eventually understood why she had to go through the pain of letting Moses go. However, more than likely, she died in Egypt. After all, it would be eighty years before God would use her son to accomplish His plan in freeing His people. She may have died in slavery, wondering what had happened to the son she had lost.

She didn't know what would be the end, but she did her part. She didn't know why God would have her go through all of the pain, but she let her son go. How many of us willingly do that? We all too often - myself included! - want to know now the reasons we have to suffer as we do. We want to know why these things happen; we want to know what the future will be. However, like Jochebed, we must let go. We must let go of our hopes, our dreams... our "rights". We must leave them in God's hands and trust Him to work the details out. He does indeed have a plan. Our place is to simply follow as He leads us step-by-step. WE must follow Him even when it sounds crazy - even when it feels like what we're doing won't be worthwhile - even when it sounds crazy.

Whatever it is, remember the example of Jochebed, and like her, purpose to follow God wherever He leads, and do whatever He says. God will indeed work all His little details out, if we simply trust. We many not know why we had to do what we did for years to come. We may never know why. All He asks is for us to do our part, and leave the rest . . . up to Him.

Read all about Jochebed in Exodus 2:1-10


Ella said...

Beautiful post, Anna! They always are!!

It is so hard to leave the details up to the Lord sometimes! You are right, we want to know why something is going on, and we "need" to see the results. How glad I am that God knows things better than I do!

Anna S said...

What a lovely post! I loved all the posts you made about women of the Old Testament - Rachel, Leah, Rebekah. Are you planning to make a post about Ruth? She's the most inspiring figure to me. :)

Anna Naomi said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Ella and Anna S. Yes, I'm planning to do Ruth when her turn comes! I'm going in the order they appear in the Bible, so it may take a little while. However, she's one of my favorite Biblical women as well.

Miriam Rebekah said...

Anna, thank you for these encouraging posts about women! We can learn so much from the godly ladies of the Bible.

I'm always wanting to know when and how something is going to happen, too. I need to relax somewhat, and just leave it to God.

Rebekah S. said...

What an inspiring post!! I'm so glad that I'm finally reading these! I, all too often succumb to worry, and sin by not fully trusting in the Lord and following Him. This post has truly been a comfort, though, and I thank you for it!

Precious Is Pearl said...

Greetings in the name of Christ!
I do appreciate your website page wherein your thoughts and further explanations about these wonder women of the Bible who are heroes of yesterday and inspire us today became an important and helpful insights for me in using and sharing it in facilitating with our ladies devotional at our church, God really works in His own ways and in His own time, blessed days to you sisters.

Mis'chievous me said...

Amen! Thank you so much for the post. I am planning on doing a sermonette for Mothers Day and this was exactly what I was looking for.
Continue your work for our Lord!