[Exodus 2] Your Baby is in the Bullrushes! In our chapter, we see Moses as a hapless child left on the banks of the Nile by the command of Pharaoh. Had nature had its way, he would have died BUT GOD! Have your dreams been abandoned? Do you feel all is lost? There is great hope and consolation for you in this account of the salvation of the young child Moses.
[Exo 2:1-25 KJV] 1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took [to wife] a daughter of Levi. 2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he [was a] goodly [child], she hid him three months. 3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid [it] in the flags by the river’s brink. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him. 5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash [herself] at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 6 And when she had opened [it], she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This [is one] of the Hebrews’ children. 7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother. 9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give [thee] thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. 10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water. 11 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that [there was] no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. 13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? 14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. 15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well. 16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew [water], and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. 18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How [is it that] ye are come so soon to day? 19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew [water] enough for us, and watered the flock. 20 And he said unto his daughters, And where [is] he? why [is] it [that] ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread. 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. 22 And she bare [him] a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land. 23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto [them].
In v. 1, we are introduced without mentioning names to Moses’ father and mother. According to other references, Moses’ parents were Amram and Jochebed. They are of the tribe of Levi and according to apocryphal sources, Amram was a grandson of the patriarch Levi. This is only Jewish legend, but the story goes that when Amram hears that Pharaoh orders the death of all children born to Israelite women that he divorces Jochabed to avoid birthing children only to be killed by Pharoah’s order. In the story, Jochebed convinces Amram this is not the course of action to take, and they remarry, and Moses is conceived. Jewish myth also purports (without Biblical justification) that Amram was one of only four Israelites that died without sin (the other three being Benjamin, Jesse and Chileab). We can see by the legend that the Jews had no problem believing that a person could be without sin; they just didn’t want to believe that Jesus Himself was without sin because sin His lifetime He didn’t justify their religious culture and views.
At this point in Moses’ parents’ lives, they already had two older children, Miriam and Aaron. It is interesting to note Moses’ birth order (Moses being the youngest) given the fact that Miriam and Aaron lived their lives in the shadow of Moses and served him all the days of their lives. As to his mother Jochebed, little is known of her other than certain Rabbinical writings that suggest she was one of the midwives that Pharaoh gave the command to regarding infanticide. Exposure of infants was common in ancient times as it is today, whilst today it is euphemistically justified under the heading of reproductive rights.
Verse 2 states that Moses was a goodly child in such a way that was noticeable even before he reached three months of age. We have no other details given in the scripture, but what might have been so unusual about Moses that he was considered a “goodly child,” prompting the parents to violate Pharaoh’s command and try to save him? Again we resort to non-canonical Jewish myths that state, according to the Egyptian astrologers, the liberator of the children of Israel was to be born on the day Jochebed gives birth. For this reason, the story goes Pharaoh commands all male children born to be thrown into the Nile. The mythical account continues, stating that it became apparent that Moses was an extraordinary child, for the house was filled with a radiant light at the moment of his birth. Such legends are common in Jewish literature and even hinted at, for instance, in the birth of Noah by virtue of considering the meaning of his name (meaning rest) that suggested even from birth that something special would attend his life.
Moses’ parents tried everything possible to prevent his falling into the hands of Pharaoh’s men, who were continuously searching for newborn Jewish children. After three months, Jochebed saw that she would not be able to conceal her child any longer. She, therefore, made a small, water-proof basket in which she put the child and set him down among the papyrus reeds growing on the brink of the Nile. While Jochebed tearfully returned home, her daughter Miriam remained nearby to watch the baby.
In v. 3-4, Jochebed and her daughter Miriam deposit Moses in the reeds near the shore of the Nile, ostensibly obeying the Pharoah’s command but believing for something miraculous to happen to save him from the crocodiles and other predators near the bank.
What about you? Is your baby in the bullrushes? Have you done everything you can do to save your dream, to see things happen in your life, or the lives of loved ones only to be forced to give up? Remember that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. Through all may seem lost as far as human instrumentality is concerned God is still at work. Keep on believing. Keep on trusting in God. Refuse to get over into unbelief. Know that God can do anything He wants anytime He wants, and He doesn’t have to check with anyone!
How does God bring deliverance to Moses? By bringing Pharoah’s own daughter down at the right time and the right place to see this hapless child abandoned in the reeds and the rushes. Her heart is pricked, and she cannot leave him to die. Thus God arranges for Moses to grew up in the very household he was destined to bring down, just as Jesus grew up in the religious culture that ultimately was destroyed because they rejected him. Besides all this Pharoah’s daughter (sources say her name was Bithnya) spies Miriam and calls her to find a nursemaid for the child; thus Moses own mother and sister are brought into the palace as well to nurture Moses and raise him in the admonition of his Hebrew culture right under Pharoah’s nose.
In v. 11-15, we find that Moses grows to adulthood and is passionate for the suffering of his people. He sees an Egyptian abusing a fellow Hebrew, and in anger, he takes the man’s life. Here arises the idiom for getting ahead of God, “slaying your Egyptian…” Taking matters into our own hands as though to do God’s job for him never comes out well. What is the alternative?
[Mat 12:20 KJV] 20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
Just because you see an injustice doesn’t mean that you are the one called to right it. This is not a justification for not getting involved but remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 26 when his disciples were offended when a woman poured costly ointment on his feet. He said the “poor are always with you.” Judas couldn’t handle this. He was offended and like Moses in our passage, Judas takes matters into his own hands and becomes the betrayer of the Darling of Heaven. Apparently, he had something else in mind because, after Jesus’ death, Judas commits suicide. What was he possibly thinking? Perhaps like Moses, he was trying to bring about what he thought was right and as a result his life ended tragically. Don’t be this person who, in giving vent to your passion, you find yourself out of God’s will and in desperate trouble.
After killing the Egyptian, Moses flees for his life to the land of Midian, where he abides with a man named Jethro. There are interesting parallels here between Moses at Midian and the teachings of Jesus. Midian means “strife and contention…” The seven daughters of the Priest of Midian correspond to the seven churches. They are coming to water the flocks but the SHEPHERDS drove them away. How many of you feel like you have been DRIVEN from the place where you came to get ministered to? Churches don’t like to think of this – they think they are simply driving off the “riffraff,” but there is a real disenfranchisement of believers from the institutional church that can no longer be ignored.
[Mat 23:13 KJV] 13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
Moses sees the shepherds mistreating the seven sisters, the daughters of Jethro and intervenes just as he intervened in the matter of killing the Egyptian but this time God is with him and Moses winds up invited to Jethro’s house and in time takes Zipporah to be his wife as he serves for the next 40 years as shepherd over the herds of his father-in-law.
The chapter concludes with the passage of time (v. 23-25) when God hears the collective cry of the Israelites and is provoked to action. What is happening here? God is remembering His covenant partner Abraham. In Gen. 15 the Father forewarns Abraham that all these things will befall his descendants:
[Gen 15:14, 16 KJV] 14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. … 16 But in the fourth generation, they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites [is] not yet full.
Four generations, specifically 430 years, have passed since God came down in a smoking furnace and burning lamp to pass among the pieces of the sacrifice. The covenant still held for the children of Israel and for us today as inheritors of the blessings of Abraham through Christ. God saw Israel’s suffering, and He sees your suffering. He sees your baby in the bullrushes and is moving in your defense!