Read Exodus 2:1-20
Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket[a] for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses,[b] saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”
14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”
15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.
18 When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, “Why have you returned so early today?”
19 They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.”
20 “And where is he?” Reuel asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.”
“Now, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married.”
Now – when?
When the Egyptians are legally slaughtering Israelite baby boys.
I think this couple has a lot of courage. I’d be afraid to get married “now”, and wouldn’t even think about having a baby, but “she became pregnant and gave birth to a son.”
And here’s the twist: the woman doesn’t accept what seems inevitable. She fights for the life of her son. She’s clever, inventive, and resourceful. She’s also sacrificial, willing to give up her son to save him. She’s a remarkable woman and is rewarded by remarkable circumstances.
It doesn’t say that God brought the basket to the attention of the Egyptian princess. This little bit of the Story doesn’t mention God at all, but He’s all over it. It was a clever plan, sure, but it could so easily have gone wrong without God. Instead, it worked out marvellously and Moses’ mother became possibly the first woman in history to be paid to raise her own child.
And notice how she raised him. Moses was sent to the palace when very young, but he knows who he is: he watched “his own people” at their hard labour (2:11).
Imagine his inner conflict. A Hebrew slave raised as an Egyptian prince. Where does his allegiance lie – his loyalty? He can’t be both Hebrew and Egyptian. He must choose.
He has a sense of destiny, seeing himself as a hero to the Hebrews. This is reasonable. No doubt his mother would have seen it that way. But when he steps out to help them, everything goes wrong. Instead of applause and support, the Hebrews turn on him with questions and accusations.
Then word gets to Pharaoh and now Moses’ life is in danger. Terrified, he runs.
And God? Where is He?
Far, far away it would feel to Moses. He’d thought he was a deliverer, God’s chosen instrument to bring judgement on the Egyptians and lead Abraham’s children out to freedom, like God promised long ago (Gen 15:14) – but clearly that was wrong.
Or so he thinks.
Of course, back in Genesis, Abraham thought Sarah would never have a baby but actually, God was just waiting until it was impossible.