THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD PROTECTED MOSES AFTER HIS BIRTH, PLUCKED HIM FROM THE NILE AND PREPARED HIM FOR HIS FUTURE LEADERSHIP ROLE
The Providence of God dominates the events surrounding the birth and protection of the baby Moses. Significant parallels trace important themes of salvation and redemption in this account:
– Noah and the ark vs. Moses and his wicker basket
– Moses as a type of Christ, the ultimate Prophet and Redeemer
The faith of Moses’ parents is certainly commended in Hebrews 11. God also elevates the role of women in this story as he gives them prominent roles in the preservation and development of this important Jewish leader.
Constable: Several women were involved in the events surrounding Moses’ birth: the midwives, Pharaoh’s daughter, her maid, Moses’ sister, and Jochebed. How ironic it was that women, whom Egyptian and Israelite men looked down on as less significant than themselves, should have been responsible for saving Israel’s savior! Truly the hand of God is evident. The Gospel writers also recorded that several women ministered to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, during His first advent.
I. (:1-4) MOSES HIDDEN TO PROTECT HIM FROM PHARAOH’S INFANTICIDE –
PROTECTED BY THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD
A. (:1-2a) Birth of Moses
1. (:1) Parents
“Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi.”
Such a simple statement of normal creation of a new family unit – and yet this is the couple that will give birth to one of the most significant figures in God’s redemptive program.
2. (:2a) Conception and Birth
“And the woman conceived and bore a son;”
John Hannah: The names of Moses’ parents are not given here but in 6:20 it is learned that his father was Amram and his mother Jochbed, Amram’s aunt. This Levite couple had two other children: Miriam (15:20) and Aaron (6:20). Aaron was three years older than Moses (7:7).
[Some commentators argue that there are some generations skipped in this narrative so that Amram and Jochbed were not directly the parents.]
B. (:2b) Faith of Moses’ Mother
1. Appreciation of God’s Gift
“and when she saw that he was beautiful,”
He was a very special child from day one; certainly destined to play a critical role in God’s covenant purposes; that seems more likely to me than Deffinbaugh’s view below;
Deffinbaugh: The two principle explanations of the statement in verse 2 are:
– (1) that the child was exceedingly well-formed and beautiful; and
– (2) that the parents somehow perceived that God had a special purpose for this child. . .
In Exodus 2:2 the text could simply be rendered, “she saw that he was good.” The Hebrew word rendered “good” is frequently used by Moses in the five books of the Law, and in most it has the sense of goodness which is the result of being made (or given) by God, and/or of being declared good by Him. Thus, the frequent expressions in Genesis 1 and 2, “it was good,” employ the same term. The same sense is suggested by Arndt and Gingrich in their Greek lexicon for the Greek word which refers to the child. Stephen’s words, “he was good, to God” (Acts 7:20), points us in this same direction.
I would therefore suggest that Moses is not telling us that God moved his parents to hide him because they were convinced that there was something very special (either in appearance or in purpose) about him as a particular child, but rather that they saw something special about him as a child, period. You see, the biblical perspective is that children come from God (cf. Ps. 127). Every child is the product of divine creation (cf. Ps. 139:13-14), and thus is “good” in the eyes of God. Moses’ parents refused to put their child to death because God had created him, and because this meant that this child (like every other child ever born) was good in God’s eyes. . .
2. Aggressive Risk Taking to Hide Moses
“she hid him for three months.”
Faith of both parents involved – Heb. 11:23
C. (:3-4) Resignation to Providence of God
1. (:3) Secret Operation
a. Preparation of Ark of Salvation (Wicker Basket)
“But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch.”
Cf. Gen. 6:14 – tar and pitch covering the ark
Noteworthy that these actions were not cited in Hebrews 11 as acts of faith; so the aggressive risk taking of the first 3 months have now been replaced with a more resigned, passive role in seeing how things will play out
b. Placing of the Ark
“Then she put the child into it,
and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile.”
Ironic that the parents were coming close to a parallel scenario of the king’s edict of casting the infant into the Nile River
Walter Kaiser Jr.: The intricate detail is a “beautiful illustration of the connection which should always exist between the diligent use of means and a pious trust in providence. Instead of sitting down in sullen despair, or passive dependence on divine interposition to do all the work, everything is done which can be done by human agency” (Bush, Exodus, 1:25).
Philip Ryken: Both Noah and Moses passed through the deadly waters by riding in an ark, the vessel of salvation. They were baptized, as it were, in the same water in which others perished.
2. (:4) Strategic Observation
“And his sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him.”
MacArthur: The careful actions of Moses’ mother to construct the ark of bulrushes, to set Moses afloat close to the royal bathing place, and to have his sister watch to see what would happen, indicate a hope that something would work out right for the child.
II. (:5-6) MOSES RESCUED BY PHARAOH’S DAUGHTER –
PLUCKED FROM THE NILE BY THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD
A. (:5) Appealing to Motherly Instincts
1. Divine Appointment
“Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile,
with her maidens walking alongside the Nile;”
2. Discovery of the Wicker Basket
“and she saw the basket among the reeds
and sent her maid, and she brought it to her.”
B. (:6) Awakening Compassion
1. Power of a Baby’s Tears
“When she opened it, she saw the child,
and behold, the boy was crying.”
2. Pity of a Royal Princess
“And she had pity on him and said,
’This is one of the Hebrews children.’”
John Hannah: Once again Pharaoh’s efforts to exterminate the male Hebrew population were thwarted. The child was protected in a reed basket as it floated helplessly in the Nile and hen by the instantaneous affection, ironically, of Pharaoh’s own daughter. In God’s sovereignty He kept the infant safe from Pharaoh’s edict and even made the child a member of the royal family!
David Thompson: Now how did she know he was a Hebrew boy? Probably four ways:
1) There were physical differences in the look between Jews and Egyptians.
2) There were differences in clothing between the Hebrew children and Egyptian children.
3) She discovered this baby in an area in close proximity to where Hebrew families lived.
4) No Egyptian baby needed to be hidden, only Hebrew babies.
II. (:7-10) MOSES NURTURED BOTH BY HIS HEBREW MOTHER AND AS A MEMBER OF THE ROYAL EGPTYIAN FAMILY –
PREPARED BY THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD FOR FUTURE RULE AS DELIVERER
A. (:7-9) Nursed by His Own Mother for Profit
1. (:7-8) Connection Facilitated by Moses’ Sister
“Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?’
And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Go ahead.’
So the girl went and called the child’s mother.”
2. (:9) Contract Benefits Both Moses and His Mother
“Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child away
and nurse him for me and I shall give you your wages.’
So the woman took the child and nursed him.”
B. (:10a) Nurtured with Royal Privileges
1. Healthy Development
“And the child grew,”
Allowed time for the parents to provide some elementary religious instruction as well.
2. Handed Back Over to Pharaoh’s Daughter
“and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter,”
C. (:10b) Named as a Miracle Son
“and he became her son.
And she named him Moses, and said, ‘Because I drew him out of the water.’”
Warren Wiersbe: In the Egyptian language, Moses means “born” or “son” and sounds like a Hebrew word that means “to draw out” (of the water). Years later, his name would remind Moses of the God who rescued him and did great things for him in Egypt. On more than one occasion, Moses would rescue his people because he trusted the Lord.
MacArthur: The position of “son” undoubtedly granted Moses special privileges belonging to nobility, but none of these persuaded Moses to relinquish his native origin. . . The formal education in the court of that time meant that Moses would have learned reading, writing, arithmetic, and perhaps one or more of the languages of Canaan. He would also have participated in various outdoor sports, e.g. archery and horseback riding, two favorites of the 18th Dynasty court.