Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.” (Exodus 2:1-10, ESV)
Can you imagine a mother’s anguish at knowing that her son will be discovered soon and she will be forced to kill him? She has already had a daughter but this son she sees is “good” (Hebrew), an echo of Yahweh’s statement at creation (“And He saw that it was good”). Was there something special about Moses (this was not the name his parents gave him as we shall see) or is it simply acknowledging that Moses was God’s good creation as any child would be? Either way, in her desperation she finally entrusts Moses to God by putting him in a makeshift ark and sending him down river, his sister (Miriam) following to see what happens.
Something happens, something they could not have predicted but that further indicated God’s favor on this child. We don’t know how many daughters Pharaoh had, or if this one told her father she had adopted a Hebrew child (would he have objected or given in to this decision?). Miriam boldly speaks up to Pharaoh’s daughter and suggests a Hebrew woman, her mother, who can nurse Moses. Pharaoh’s daughter even pays Moses’ mom to nurse and wean him. But then she has to give him up again to Pharaoh’s daughter to live in her household, her consolation being that her son at least lives.
God is sovereign over all things, even the decisions of human beings. Did He allow other Hebrew boys to die at their parents’ hands or sovereignly rescue them? We don’t know, but for this one family who had faith, He delivered in a miraculous way and prepared Moses for a unique role in His story. Every child is valuable and “good” and so Scripture teaches us that infanticide (and by extension, suicide), in whatever form, is wrong. God has a purpose for every single person born into this world, including you and me.
We deprive ourselves of joy by turning to self in time of need – by George Muller