After many years of enslavement, the Israelites had greatly multiplied. Pharaoh worried that if a war were to break out with Egypt’s neighbors, the thousands of slaves might side with the enemy. So steps had to be taken to reduce their population. Also, Pharaoh had been warned by his astrologers that a child who would free the Hebrews and devastate Egypt was about to be born. So he ordered the two Hebrew Midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, to kill all the male babies at birth.
Shiphrah, according to some stories, was another name for Jochebed. Puah was her daughter, also called Miriam. The midwives disobeyed Pharaoh’s order. So Pharaoh gave a new order that every male baby was to be thrown into the Nile River. Jochebed’s husband, an important Israelite leader, ordered the men to leave their wives, rather than having babies that would be slaughtered. But his daughter Miriam reminded him that at least Pharaoh’s command only applied to males, and who could know whether the edict would even be enforceable. Her father’s decision, however, would shut the door to life on all Hebrew children and would definitely be enforced. But it was God’s Will that the Hebrews ‘be fruitful and multiply’, and who could say what His divine plan might be or how these events might play out. Her father agreed and rescinded his order.
Jochebed soon conceived a son, and Miriam had a dream that this child would be the promised redeemer. Jochebed was able to bring her son to birth without being noticed because he was premature and no one was expecting him yet. When the time of his birth was expected and prying eyes were watching, she placed him in a tiny ark in the Nile to await the will of Providence. Miriam hid by the river to watch.
Soon Bithiah, the daughter of Pharaoh, came to bathe in the Nile. She heard the cries of the child, saw the basket, and retrieved it. She took pity on him and said, “This must be a Hebrew child”. Miriam then appeared and convinced Pharaoh’s daughter to let her find a Hebrew nurse for the child. She fetched Jochebed. So Jochebed took her son and raised him. Later, when he had grown up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter who made him her son.
And thus Jochebed, whose name means ‘Divine Splendor’, cared for and raised her son for several years, teaching him to love God, bequeathing to him everything good and useful from Israel, in order to protect him from the negative influences of the Egyptian palace where he would have to go when he was twelve years old. But it is also said in the legends that Pharaoh’s daughter, Bithiah, whose name means ‘Daughter of God’, was an initiate of the Egyptian Mysteries and a devotee of God. She would bequeath to Moses everything that was good and useful from Egypt, and would later join the Israelites in the Exodus.
Thus was Moses brought into life, protected, raised, and prepared for his task, by a triad of Feminine power. Without the wisdom and foresight of his sister Miriam, the child would never have been born at all. Without the cleverness and love of his mother Jochebed, he would never have survived. And without the kindness and piety of his step-mother Bithiah, he would never have fulfilled his destiny.
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