The Birth and Early Life of Moses

Reading: Exodus 2 v 1-10

The Israelites were in despair! Many years had passed and the Egyptians had forgotten all about Joseph and how he had saved their ancestors from starvation. Now all they could see was how the Israelites had increased in number. There were so many of them that Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, was worried. What if Egypt had to go to war? Would the Israelites join with their enemies and fight against them? Pharaoh decided to make sure that would not happen.

Pharaoh thought up an idea. Perhaps if the Israelites were weakened, worn out with work, they would have fewer children and their numbers would decrease. They would certainly have little strength left to fight against the Egyptians if the situation arose.

So Pharaoh set about making slaves of the Israelites. He set them to work building the grand new cities he had planned. Heavy stone slabs had to be dragged manually, and thousands of bricks had to be made, day by day …

But the children of Israel still flourished. The more they were ill-treated, the more they grew in numbers. Pharaoh became desperate, he ordered the Israelite midwives to kill the babies as they were born, but these brave women refused to do as he ordered because they knew to do so would displease God. So Pharaoh then ordered that all the baby boys born to the Israelites had to be thrown into the River Nile and drowned. Only the baby girls were to be allowed to live.

It was a sad time for the Israelites, but one couple refused to obey Pharaoh and instead put their faith in God. They were Levites, of the family or tribe of Levi, and when their lovely baby boy was born they kept him hidden from the Egyptians. They believed and trusted God and, for three months, the mother kept the baby safely hidden.

As the little boy grew bigger and noisier, the mother felt she could no longer keep him safe from the searching eyes of the Egyptian officials and, after a lot of thought and prayer, the parents decided to put their child's life into God's care. Only He could save the little one.

The mother gathered armfuls of the papyrus reeds that grew along the River Nile and wove them into a small basket. Then she painted the basket inside and out with a tarry mixture to make it waterproof. When it was ready she put the baby inside and, after closing it up, she put it to float among the reeds at the water's edge. Not very far away, the baby's older sister, Miriam, kept watch over her little brother.

A short while later one of Pharaoh's own daughters came down to bathe in the river. She noticed the basket among the reeds and sent one of her maids to fetch it. Opening it up, she saw the baby who, perhaps frightened by the strange faces looking in at him, began to cry. Pharaoh's daughter recognised him as one of the Israelite babies …

Without wasting a moment Miriam ran from her hiding place to the princess and asked her, "Shall I get an Israelite woman to nurse him for you?" The princess, surprisingly, agreed and Miriam quickly ran to fetch her mother!

The princess gave the baby back to his mother and told her that she would pay her to look after the baby until he was a young boy. Then, however, he was to come and live with her at the palace and be her son. The baby's mother was overjoyed. God had indeed kept him safe and for a few more years he was hers to keep and care for.

During the few years that she had him at home with her, the mother taught her son all about God. She told him of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - of Joseph, too - and the wonderful promises God had made to them. When the time came for the little boy to go and live in the palace with the princess, his mother once again put her faith in God and left her son in His care.

The princess called the little boy Moses and she looked after him as if he were her own son. He was given the best education and learnt all about the Egyptians' magic, their writing, mathematics, sciences and other skills. He became clever and wise, but his mother had taught him well. He never forgot that he was an Israelite and not an Egyptian prince. And he knew that one day God would rescue His people from heir hardship and slavery.

 


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