2. Jochebed (Exodus 2:1-10)Related Media
Have you ever had to give up and let go of someone or something very precious to you?
When you let go, when you released that person or that thing, did you feel like part of you was breaking; now there was some new emptiness in your life? Transition to our next woman of influence, Jochebed…Moses’ mother. I wonder,
Can you imagine what it would be like to give away your 3-month-old baby, not knowing what would happen to him? After you had given birth, held that baby, nursed, rocked and stayed up all night trying to ease his crying and then to give him up?
I’m curious, how many here are either adopted, have adopted children or someone in your family has been adopted? Adoption is a wonderful way to unconditionally love someone but it comes with a painful price tag (as we’ll see in our story). To adopt a child means someone has to give up a child. Maybe you’ve not given a child up for adoption, but I’m sure that most everyone here has some experience with giving up something precious to you. Some of you have lost children to divorce, some have run-away, and some have even died. . Truthfully, there is a certain amount of pain, a loneliness pain, when they leave home to go to college, when they get married, when they start their own life. “Someone has said ‘mothers begin saying good-bye to their children from the moment they are born’.”1 And we don’t want to forget there is also a pain that comes from wanting a child and yet not having one, perhaps even having to give up that possibility.
Some, its likely all of us, know the pain of giving up, letting go of someone, or something precious to you: A relationship, a job, a dream.
Life comes with the pain of losses, of giving up and letting go and we are rarely ready to let go. Life comes with the opportunity to learn the art of Releasing when we have no control, of dealing with extenuating circumstances that we can do nothing about. Question we have to ask is:
What do you do when you can’t do anything more?
Exodus 2:1 A man from the household of Levi married a woman who was a descendant of Levi. (NET)
Exodus 6:20 Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, and she bore him Aaron and Moses. (The length of Amram’s life was 137 years.) (NET)
Amram was “the Levite man” who was Moses’ father. He lived 137 years. That’s a significant fact. Possible that he was alive during the Exodus, remember Moses was 80 years old then. Amram married Jochebed who was also from the tribe of Levi, one of Jacob’s 12 sons. Jochebed’s name means, “Honor of God” or “God is glory”. We don’t know but we hope that she too was alive to see the Exodus. Amram and Jochebed were strong in their faith during a time where many Israelites had become idolatrous.
How do we know? Moses, in the wilderness, instructed them to put away pagan gods. Joshua 24:14 “throw away gods your forefathers worshipped beyond the river and in Egypt. So we know some of the Jews had compromised. Just like today, true faith was mixed with pagan beliefs. But this couple worshipped Jehovah God. This couple had great faith. Hebrews 11:23 BY FAITH they hid Moses…They saw life through the eyes of faith.
What’s the Definition of faith? = Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (NIV)
What does it mean that they had faith? Certainly faith in God, that He exists, that He made a covenant with Abraham that set them apart as a chosen people, His people. They had faith that God had made promises to them through Abraham that they would be a nation, a people with land, their land. The prophecy of 400 years of bondage (Gen 15:13) was coming to a close. So when Jochebed gave birth to Moses….
2. Moses’ Mother
Exodus 2:1-2 A man from the household of Levi married a woman who was a descendant of Levi. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a healthy child, she hid him for three months. (NET)
Hebrews 11:23 By faith, when Moses was born, his parents hid him for three months, because they saw the child was beautiful and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. (NET)
“not an ordinary child” Hebrew for “fine” is “tov”(TOE v)= means “good”, “beautiful” It’s the same word that used in the Creation account in Genesis 1:4(light), 10(land and sea), 18(sun, moon, stars), 25(animals), 31(mankind, looked and said=very good). Moses was tov, beautiful, fine, good, and not ordinary. This word conveys the possibility that Jochebed sensed something was special about her new baby boy. Perhaps God might use him to fulfill the Promise. Exodus 2:2b She “hid” him for 3 months. Reason was Pharaoh’s edict.
When the plan to have the midwives kill all the male newborns failed, Pharaoh gave the order to throw all baby boys into the Nile, drown them.
Can you imagine trying to hide a newborn baby? Keep him quiet? Have you ever worked in the baby bed nursery at church? You can never get them all quiet at the same time. Someone is always crying.
What strong faith this woman had, but also what courage.
Hebrews11:23 they were “not afraid of the king’s edict”
What if she had been “found out”, they would take the baby and kill him, perhaps she would lose her life, potentially the whole family, husband, 2 other children= Miriam=young little girl and Aaron=3 years old. The choice to hid the baby put the whole family at risk.
But there came a day when she knew she couldn’t hide him any longer, had to let him go…
2. Basket Plan
Exodus 2:3-4 But when she was no longer able to hide him, she took a papyrus basket for him and sealed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and set it among the reeds along the edge of the Nile. His sister stationed herself at a distance to find out what would happen to him. (NET)
Think of her alterative choices. What if she kept the baby at home until eventually the authorities came? What would she do if he was snatched out of her arms and taken to certain death? Or would it be wise to just distance herself from this baby and let someone else throw him in the Nile? After all she did have a husband and two other children to consider and take care of. What to do? All her choices were difficult. Have you ever been there? Where it didn’t matter which decision you made, they all seemed risky?
Jochebed made a decision, and she made a plan.
Exodus 2:3 But when she was no longer able to hide him, she took a papyrus basket for him and sealed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and set it among the reeds along the edge of the Nile.
“When she could hide him no longer” …She either purchased or made a basket out of papyrus and covered it with an asphalt type material that made it watertight. (Isaiah 18:2 writes that the Egyptians made their boats, skiffs out of this material. So she made a little miniature Nile boat for her baby.2) She put the child in the basket among the reeds near the bank of the river. This would be shallow water, away from the currents that would have carried him down the Nile. Here there would be less danger from crocodiles than if she just put him down on the beach. Perhaps there would be some shade too from the sun in the reeds.
Imagine the emotions, the feelings Jochebed had as she placed him down and backed away. Imagine being her as she left him here alone in the water. Yes, Miriam is watching from a distant place on the shore, but she, his mother had to let him go. She had to walk away. She didn’t just “let him go”, she was a woman of faith, and she “let him go and trusted her God. The life of Jochebed as a woman of influence teaches us that there are times in our lives when we have done all we can do, we’ve said all we can say, there is no more and we have to …
Truth: Let it go and trust God
So what happens when you trust God, eyewitness account: Miriam is near by, watching and..
III. Pharaoh’s Daughter
Exodus 2:5 Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself by the Nile, while her attendants were walking alongside the river, and she saw the basket among the reeds. She sent one of her attendants, took it,
There is great historical debate on who was Pharaoh’s daughter? The Apocrypha calls her Tharmuth, other names suggested are Merris, or Bityah, perhaps even the well-known Hatshepsut( HAT shep shoot). If the Pharaoh here is Rameses (RAM uh sees) II, he had over 60 daughters.3 We don’t know, but whoever she was, she had enough influence to kill Moses or keep him alive.
Text says she went to bathe in the Nile. Nile was considered emanation (em uh ney shun) THE SOURCE of the pagan god Osiris( O sigh rus) and the waters had magical properties.
It was not uncommon for Pharaohs and other Egyptians to bathe ceremonially in the sacred Nile River, as many Indians do today in the Ganges River. The Egyptians believed that the waters of the Nile possessed the ability to impart fruitfulness and to prolong life.4 Dr. Thomas Constable
While her attendants were walking up and down the banks keeping undesirable people and animals away, she saw the basket. She was curious, what could be in it? Verbs tell us that she herself opened it and saw Moses and at that very moment he cried. I wonder if she picked him up, cuddled him to stop his cries; did he smile at her and melt her heart? “she took pity” on the baby. This is a huge part of the story… Jewish Study Bible
“The verb could be given a more colloquial translation such as “she felt sorry for him.” But the verb is stronger than that; it means “to have compassion, to pity, to spare.” What she felt for the baby was strong enough to prompt her to spare the child from the fate decreed for Hebrew boys. Here is part of the irony of the passage: What was perceived by many to be a womanly weakness – compassion for a baby – is a strong enough emotion to prompt the (this) woman to defy the orders of Pharaoh. The ruler had thought sparing women was safe, but the midwives, the Hebrew mother, the daughter of Pharaoh, and Miriam, all work together to spare one child”5
They are women of great influence.
At just this moment, Miriam steps forward and approaches the daughter and volunteers her service to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the child, and whom did she bring back? The baby’s own mother. So Jochebed got her own child back, at least for a while. Can you see the Providence of God in this story? Why to Trust?
- Jochebed just happened to put Moses in the right spot on the Nile?
- Pharaoh’s daughter just happened to see the basket?
- Moses just happened to cry at the right time?
- Miriam just happened to be near by?
- Jochebed just happened to be available and able to nurse?
- Pharaoh’s daughter just happened to have enough influence to save the baby Moses?
Faith and trust in God knows that even when God seems silent, He is always working for the good of His children. Faith and trust in God knows that God often works behind the scenes of our lives. What some call fate or luck or “it just happened” is really God’s providential care.
Has anything “just happened” to you recently that you know really was God working for you? Sometimes we need to slow down and learn to see Him and His presence in our circumstances and thank Him for His care.
IV. Letting Go Again: Jochebed Did Get Moses Back…
…for a little while. Probably about 3 years. Those must have been precious years. Years she had to love and influence her child for God. Those early years, pre-school years, made an indelible impression on Moses. I imagine he learned about the Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and the Great Covenantal promises made to the Hebrews. Perhaps he learned what it means to have faith in God and fearless courage. But there came a day when he grew older… When Jochebed had to let him go AGAIN…to let him go and trust God again.
Exodus 2:10 When the child grew older she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “Because I drew him from the water.”
Jochebed, she’s the one, who took him to the Royal Palace. He went from her arms to the arms of Pharaoh’s daughter. Hugs and kisses and then she turned away and went home. Again, the second time, was this time even harder for her?
I would have wondered if he would be safe? Would he be treated differently because he was Hebrew? Would he forget me? Would he forget our family? Would I ever see him again?
So we come back to the question
What do you do when you can’t do anything more?
Women of Influence choose to: Truth: Let it go and trust God
Application: Does this speak to you, where you are today?
What are some areas of your life you need to stop holding on to and start trusting God? Is it your past? My pastor often says “Give up the hope of a better past, it’s keeping you from a better tomorrow” Past hurt, past decision?
Maybe it’s a relationship that is toxic and you need to make a hard choice.
Or maybe the relationship has been too close, too controlling, or maybe the seasons of life have changed and it’s hard to let it go and move on.
What do you do when you can’t do anything more?
My story: Brent’s diabetes (Another stone of remembrance)
When my youngest son was 5 years old he started loosing weight, was always thirsty and he started wetting the bed at night though he’d been potty trained for a long time. I took him to the pediatrician and I knew it was a urinary tract infection, we’d get the pink bubble gum antibiotic and he’d be fine. But that was not the case. They took the urine sample and when the doctor came back he coldly said “I think your son has diabetes and I want you to go immediately to the Juvenile Diabetes clinic, I’ve already called them to tell them you’re on your way. I was in shock. I felt like cold water had been poured all over me. That day began a new life for my son and for our entire family and me. I learned to give injections, to plan meals, to test blood, to watch for highs and lows, and I learned to trust God in a new, powerful way. Growing up, we wanted him to have all the normal experiences of childhood, sleepovers, soccer, basketball, baseball, and football, field trips, then dates, eventually college and marriage: without me. I had to learn over and over and over again to…
Let go and trust God
Even today, I can’t tell you how hard it is at times not to want somehow control his diabetes: to make sure he’s eating good food, exercising, taking care of himself, but he has a wife and two daughters…I really have to “Let it go and trust God…and I do Trust and pray ….
I want to be sure to add, even if this sounds like heresy in our “health, wealth, prosperity” theology culture:
When you let go and trust God not all babies in baskets are rescued, not all illnesses are healed, not all jobs are restored, not all relationships are mended but this is True: when you let go and trust Him – God is glorified and He will work it out for ultimate good.
Application: So what about you? Where are you in this story?
Has He brought something to your mind that you’ve been holding on to and need to let go? Maybe you need to let go of a dream that is not going to come true; yet, the idea of letting it go seems too painful. Maybe it’s something material, a possession you have? Can you fill in the blank _____ “Lord I hear You saying ‘Let it go and trust Me with it’”
Women of Influence, women who are affecting their world, their family, their workplace, their friends for good for God have open hands. Hold on to things and people with open hands, like Jochebed they know when to release and…
“Let it go and trust God.”
1 Patterson, 24.
2 R. Alan Cole, “Exodus,” Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, ed. D. J. Wiseman (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1973) 57.
3 Cole, 58.
4 Dr. Thomas Constable, “Constable’s Notes,” Lumina, www.bible.org.
5 Notes, Lumina, .