Part Three of the sermon entitled The Moses Five – Defiant Love which was originally given on Mother’s Day, May 14, 2017 at Midway Mennonite Church in Columbiana, OH.
Sermon Scripture Text: Exodus 1:15-2:10
Eventually Jochebed realizes that she can no longer keep her son hidden and safe. She is a woman of tremendous faith, and comes up with a plan. In verse 3 of chapter 2 we read, “When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river.” She is going to use the very water meant to kill her son to somehow bring about his salvation! Jochebed is letting her baby boy go and trusting in God that he will provide safety for the boy.
Verses 4-6 introduce us to the final two women of the Moses 5, “His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him. The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said.”
Although we meet both Miriam, the sister of Moses, and the Pharaoh’s daughter towards the end of our passage today, their part in God’s plan is no less important than the parts carried out by Shiphrah, Puah, and Jochebed.
Miriam has been tasked by her mother to follow the basket the baby is in to see what becomes of it. We don’t know how far she had to follow the basket, but I would be willing to guess it wasn’t very far. Jochebed would know that the Nile was considered a sacred and religious source for the royalty of Egypt to bathe in. She knew the spot where the daughter of Pharaoh would be bathing.
Having protected her son for three months, I have no doubt the spot she launched his little basket ark from was very specifically chosen. Perhaps the spot was even given to her or Miriam in a dream. We know that in later life Miriam would be a prophetess for her people.
The basket does reach the area where the Pharaoh’s daughter has come to bathe. It is she who opens the basket that is floating in the water. She immediately comes to the right conclusion that this is a Hebrew baby and immediately is moved to compassion, but she has a choice to make.
Does she obey her father’s command and throw the baby in the basket into the Nile? She may have been debating what to do with this baby when a strange girl of 10 or 12 appears out of the reeds.
Our final verses from today’s scripture reading, verses 7-10 give us the rest of the story of the Moses 5, “Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
This brave daughter of Jochebed shows no hesitation and has the intelligence to not betray her relationship to the baby in the basket. Perhaps it was God’s nudging presence that propelled Miriam boldly forward up to the Pharaoh’s daughter where she brazenly offers her assistance to find a wet nurse.
The time for the Pharaoh’s daughter’s choice is at hand. And she also chooses defiant love. She immediately agrees, taking on the responsibility of the child. She doesn’t stop to consider what could happen to her for disobeying her father.
Could it be that at some point in time she also, like the midwives, had been introduced to the God of Israel? We have no way to know. But her acceptance of the child set in motion the protection he needed to survive, as well as put into place his getting the education that would help him lead the Israelites out of Egypt and then across the desert for 40 years.
Jochebed is rewarded for her faith in God. Not only does she get to take Moses back home with her, but she is paid to continue to care for her own son for a few more years. She doesn’t just nurse him that day by the shores of the Nile.
During the time she is given with him, I would guess that Jochebed made sure to teach her son as much as she could about the God of Israel and his promise to Abraham. She would be preparing him to not fall under the false teachings about Egyptian Gods. Then she lets him go once more, giving him up to his adoptive mother and trusting his care to God.