In 1956, Hollywood produced a movie that airs every year during Passover. It was directed by Cecil B. DeMille called The Ten Commandments. The cast is full of famous and well-known actors. Names such as Yul Brenner, Charlton Heston, Yvonne DeCarlo, Anne Baxter, and Vincent Price to name a few.
The cast of characters found in Exodus 2 of the Bible's version aren't so recognizable. In fact, they aren't named at all. We find out a couple of the names later on, but as we begin unpacking the three women in this story, we see one common characteristic, courage.
The first woman mentioned is the birth mother. She's a Levite and we know she has a daughter who is between the ages of 7 and 15 and another son who is 3 years old. Their names are revealed later. Jochebed, the birth mother, whose name means God's glory and her daughter Miriam, which means beloved and is the oldest form of the name Mary. The third woman's name is never mentioned in the Bible, but Jewish Rabbis have given her the name Bityah, which means "daughter of Yah" after the Israelite God.
Moses was born around 1526 B.C. and at that time Pharaoh had declared an edict that all male babies were to be thrown into the Nile river (Exodus 1:22). As we look at Moses' birth mother, she is a bold woman who was selfless and was willing to make the sacrifice of letting her infant son go that his life might be spared. She hid her pregnancy along with hiding him after his birth until she could not hide him any longer. The Bible says when he was 3 months old, she placed him in a basket made of papyrus reeds, sealed with tar and pitch to waterproof it. She and her daughter, sent the infant baby down the river by faith that he would be found. They put the baby in the water expecting God to do something.
Moses’ sister was also a young woman with a courage not typically found in young girls. Scholars have said she may have been between the ages of 7 and 15. Either way, her child-like faith gave her a boldness as she waited along the river bank to see if her baby brother would be found. Then, Pharaoh’s daughter just happened to show up. This girl had the courage to ask if she could find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for her. What wisdom for someone so young. Offering to help the princess by finding someone to care for him and giving him back to her mother. That’s a pretty brave and wise young lady. Jewish scholars believe that Miriam was one of the midwives. As we understand now, midwives never married so it’s likely she never had children of her own. She was also named as one of the 7 female prophets.
What a terrible time to have a child as Pharaoh ordered Hebrew baby boys to be thrown into the Nile as soon as they were born. This probably meant that there were often dead babies found floating down the river. Why then would the Princess bathe there? Could it have been that she had compassion for these innocent babies that her father feared, and by using the excuse to bathe, hoped to rescue some? She had another kind of courage as she had defied her father’s orders by saving a Hebrew boy. Some scholars believe that she was in search of a child as she had no husband or child. Egyptian rule stated that a woman who was an heir to throne must have a son or husband in order to reign. It was a Kairos moment (the appointed time in the purpose of God) that she showed up at the right place at the right time. When she drew him out of the water, she named him Moses, which means to draw out of water. That gives us some insight of her heart to be a mother, by naming him, she's claiming him as her own. God chose her to be his adopted mother.
These three women were instrumental in this story. The act of sacrificial love that is seen through these two mothers is bold and selfless. The fact that Jochebed had to give her son up twice, the first time in letting him go to hopefully preserve his life and the second time sending him to live in the palace with his adopted mother, is an example of her trust in God to care for what was precious to her. If any one of them had been the least bit fearful, Moses would have become another casualty of Hebrew babies in Egypt.
Moses story begins after 400 years of the Hebrew people living in bondage and no interaction with God. Generations later there is a similar
story. After a 400 year period when God was silent, and the Romans were ruling over God's people we hear of another ruler murdering baby boys. Herod, who was appointed by the Romans to be king
of Judaea, ordered all of the baby boys to be killed (Matthew 2:16-18). He had gotten word
the king of the Jews had been born. Once again, we see God’s hand guiding and
leading people in a world of darkness. All those babies that died at the hand
of Herod, just as the babies that died at the hand of Pharaoh, we casualties of
evil. God sent His son to deliver His people once again. As history repeats itself, this would be a reminder to
the Jewish people that this baby would deliver them once and for all.
As we come to the close of this story, we find God uses unknown women to preserve a nation. One a slave, one a child, and one a princess. No matter where you find yourself in this season, God has called you for a purpose. Whether it’s being willing to let go of expectations and trusting God, being available to be used by God for the purpose of others, or rescuing someone by leading them to Jesus and helping them grow, is really what our purpose is are all about. Building others up and encouraging them to become everything God created them to be. We may never become famous as the cast of actors in The Ten Commandments movie, but our role in God’s big story is more important than we think.
Verses that give comfort and courage:
Psalm 37:18-19, NKJV: The LORD knows the days of the upright, And their inheritance shall be forever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
Psalm 30:1, NKJV: You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
Psalm 116:7-9, NLT: Let my soul be at rest again, for the LORD has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the LORD’s presence as I live here on earth!
Romans 8:1-2, NIV: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
John 10:10b, NKJV: I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Hebrews 13:8, NLT: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Proverbs 16:19, NKJV: Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Psalm 106:4, NLT: Remember me, LORD, when you show favor to your people; come near and rescue me.
Matthew 11:28, NLT: Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
John 14:1, NLT: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.
1 Peter 2:9, NLT: But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Isaiah 66:12-14, NIV: For this is what the LORD says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the LORD will be made known to his servants, but his fury will be shown to his foes.
Compiled by the R.E.A.L Women Bible Study out of Hills Church of Laguna Hills, CA.