An Abiding Hope
Lesson 1: God at Work
Scripture: Exodus 1–2
Key Scripture: Exodus 1:1–2:10; 2:23–25
Key Idea: God prepared for the exodus event, which saved the Hebrew people, through the intervention of five women. The people came to see that God was with them throughout all their suffering, acting on their behalf.
Migration Story: Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Migrants Today
The story of Moses’ mother, Jochebed, who placedMoses in a basket and, with sister Miriam watching, floated the basket in the river in hopes that pharaoh’s daughter would find him is a familiar one. Author Janice Catron gives this story a fresh look. She writes, “The risk was not in turning the child loose to the mercies of the river, because the text indicates that she lodged the basket among the shoreline reeds. Rather, the risk was looking for kindness in another women’s heart (p. 17).”
I am grateful to Janice for raising this perspective. How could Jochebed even hope for kindness in the heart of a woman who represented the oppressors of her people, her family, herself?
Jochebed was a risk taker. She defied Pharoah’s decree and hid her baby boy. We can only imagine the penalties for this defiance. She had few options. She could not hide him any longer. If he was found, he, and perhaps others with him, would be killed.
I suspect Jochebed had a plan before her son was born. She had no doubt heard the story of the courageous midwives, Shiprah and Puah, who defied Pharaoh and refused to kill Hebrew boys at birth. When called to account for their actions, they lied to Pharoah, saying the Hebrew women were hardy and gave birth before they arrived to help. Scripture shows us that Shiprah and Puah acted out of selfless love and deep kindness. Scripture tells us that they received God’s blessing for their faithful actions. Perhaps knowing that women of such courage existed reassured Jochebed—there was kindness in this cruel circumstance, and perhaps the possibility of kindness made it worth taking a risk.
Jochebed’s risk paid off in kindness again when Pharaoh’s nameless daughter received the baby out of the river, claimed him as her own, and called him Moses. Through daughter Miriam, who witnessed it all, Jochebed’s son was returned to her with a promise of life and a future in Pharaoh’s court.
Miriam took risks and found kindness. A child herself, she became an ambassador for Jochebed, and, as it turned out, for the Hebrew people. She followed her mother’s directions and shepherded her brother in his basket until Pharaoh’s daughter noticed him.Pharoah’s daughter received Miriam and her brother. She adopted Moses and trusted Miriam to return him to his natural mother to be nursed and, when the time came, returned to her.
Pharoah’s daughter took risks and found kindness. One of Ramses II’s 40 daughters, she made a decision to defy her father and adopt a Hebrew baby boy, a boy who, by her father’s decree, was to be drowned in the river, not rescued from it (p. 16).By the grace of God, Pharaoh accepted Moses into his court and allowed his daughter to raise him as her own. The fear of the Hebrew people that was driving Pharaoh to genocide was allayed. Pharaoh let the one boy he should have feared the most live.
There is a pattern—women driven to risk encounter kindness from unexpected people and in unexpected ways. The midwives, encouraged by faith, and motivated by lovingkindness, defied Pharaoh and let Hebrew baby boys live. In turn, Jochebed faithfully planned for the life of her son, hiding him and, risking two of her children, positioned him for Pharaoh’s daughter to receive. Miriam accompanied her brother, bravely facing a powerful princess in hopes of saving his life. Pharaoh’s daughter completed the circle, receiving Moses and raising him as her own.
“Five special women and one little baby—on them rested the future of God’s people. Yet, because the power and providence of God was with them, they were more than enough” (p. 19).
I listened to Janice present this Bible study several times this summer. It never got old. Before starting her presentation or series of presentations, Janice would ask, “what questions do you bring?” She stressed that our time together be shaped by what the participants were bringing to the sessions. In a similar way, I invite you to share with me. Talk to me through this blog, send me an email, post something on the PW Facebook page, or give me a call. I want to hear from you and there’s a good chance that your PW sisters want to hear from you, too.
Until next time,