Lessons from Five Wise Women Who Loved Moses
Receiving the death sentence before he was born, Moses lived to become one of the greatest spiritual and social liberators of all times. His survival and success are partly credited to the wisdom and courage of five women who crossed his path.
Pharaoh's daughter finding baby Moses
The story of Moses offers hope to other women working with children who are underprivileged minorities, victims of poverty and prejudice, and those who, by any means, have been fed the notion that their lives are worthless.
See how five women intentionally rescued a child doomed to die, then watched that child become a prominent leader who rescued an entire nation from slavery. Their contribution to the life of Moses is recorded in Chapters 1 and 2 of Exodus. (For the rest of the story, read the entire book of Exodus).
(1 & 2) Shiphrah and Puah
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.” . . . The midwives, however, feared God and . . . they let the boys live (1: 16, 17).
The outstanding characteristic of these professional women is that they feared God. They were wise to participate with the Life Giver, rather than the one who owes his life to that said Giver.
How different would be the attitude of doctors, educators, legislators, neighbors if they saw divine potential in every child? What if they thought that every child deserves an equal opportunity to live? Such an attitude would have to be rooted in respect for the Omniscient God who does not make mistakes concerning whom He allows to be born.
The Associated Press (December 15, 2011) reports that the smallest surviving baby born weighing 9.2 ounces is now a healthy 7-year-old and another who weighed 9.9 ounces at birth is an honors college student studying psychology.
Shiprah, Puah and other women who imitate their respect for life teach us that we should never underestimate the survival chances of any child who is born. We may not save them all, but each is worth a try.
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. . . Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile (2: 1-3).
Jochebed (See Exodus 6:20) realized that she gave birth to a beautiful, promising child, who could become a capable, productive, male adult. Her purpose in hiding him had national significance, although she was not fully aware.
At three months, the baby became difficult to hide, and Jochebed’s motherly instinct coupled with her national loyalty triggered her creativity. She made a watertight, papyrus cradle, put the child in it and placed it on the Nile to float. The midwives Shiprah and Puah had disobeyed the king because of their respect for the child’s life. How could she the mother, not cooperate with the divine scheme to let her baby live?
His Mother and Sister Put the Baby Moses to Float in the River
If every mother would see her child as a gift from God, and depend on Him for wisdom to guide and sustain the child, she would would nurture the expectation that her child would prosper and succeed.
Jochebed was wise to begin her responsibility as a mother with an act of faith. Mothers with a Jochebed mentality will pray, “Lord, I have no idea how this will turn out, but I surrender myself and the child to Your plan."
His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him (2: 4). See also Number 26:59
Big sisters usually become an extension of the mother in the life of the newborn. Miriam somewhere between the ages of five to seven, watched Moses floating on the river, not only because of her mother’s request but also because she loved him.
Miriam watched alert and levelheaded when the Egyptian princess discovered her brother. Her childish wisdom motivated not by fear that the princess would harm him, but by faith that she was sent to help him, offered to find a caregiver for the baby. So Miriam arranged with the princess for a Hebrew woman, Moses' own mother to nurse and care for him. Miriam’s earliest contribution to the life of Moses was a major turning point in his story.
On a daily basis, siblings and other family members should relate to the child with the awareness that every interaction counts. We never know which conversation or which activity will have eternal consequences.
(5) The Egyptian Princess
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 (2: 5, 6).
Female Wisdom In A Nutshell
- Never underestimate the survival chances of a child who is already born.
- Recognize that every child is a gift from God.
- Consider that every word or action you share with a child could have eternal consequences.
- Treat every woman’s child with the same love and compassion with which you would treat your own.
- Be part of the team dedicated to helping the child live.
By definition of the godmother’s role—participation in the upbringing and development of the child—Pharaoh’s daughter wrote herself into the script as Moses’ godmother. She was the daughter of the king who decreed the child’s death. Yet, she determined that the child should live.
When the child grew older, she (the mother Miriam) took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water (2:10).
The princess made sure that Moses was educated in Egyptian culture and experienced in royal customs; although for the last 40 of his 120 years, he performed as a Hebrew in the prophetic role for which he was born.
The princess had given him what she could give—part of the life she had and the opportunity to resume the life for which he was born. His future was always in God’s hands.