Mothers in the Bible – Jochebed

“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.”  Hebrews 11:23

Jochebed was a slave.  She was one of the Hebrews whose forefathers had settled in Egypt centuries before when the Hebrew Joseph was the Prime Minister who had saved Egypt from famine.  Now, however, Egypt was ruled by a Pharoah who neither knew nor cared about Joseph.  Rather, he was threatened by these people who had multiplied to the point where he feared that they would take over his kingdom.

Determined not to allow the foreigners to become any stronger, Pharoah made the Hebrews slaves.  When they continued to thrive, he ordered the midwives to kill any male baby that was born to one of the Hebrews.  They, however, were God-fearing women who refused to kill the babies.  Pharoah then ordered his own people to throw any male Hebrew baby they found into the Nile river.

It was in this time that Jochebed and her husband Amram brought their third child into the world, their second son.  Somehow, they managed to hide the wee lad for three months, but the day came when they could no longer hide him.

Jochebed formed a little basket from bulrushes and covered it with pitch to make it waterproof.  She laid the little baby into the basket and placed the basket among the reeds in the river.  Then Jochebed went home, trusting her son to the Lord.

Miriam was the baby’s older sister.  She hid a ways off to watch over basket and see what would become of her little brother.   While she watched, the Pharoah’s daughter came to the river with her maids to bathe.  The princess noticed the basket, and sent a maid to get it for her.  When she opened the basket and saw the crying baby, she knew immediately that it was one of the Hebrew baby boys that her father had condemned to death, and she had compassion on the child.

Miriam saw her compassion, and dared to come closer to the princess, offering to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the child for the princess.  (What faith!  There is no mention of the princess having said anything about keeping the baby before Miriam made that offer!)

The princess accepted the offer, and Miriam ran to call her mother.   Jochebed hurried to the river, where the princess tasked her with caring for the baby, whom she named Moses (meaning drawn out, since he was drawn out of the Nile) for pay.  Imagine Jochebed’s joy as she returned home carrying her baby, now under the protection of the princess, back home!

Amram and Jochebed only had a few short years before Moses was weaned and “returned” to the princess at the palace.  It wasn’t nearly long enough, but they made sure to make those years count.  Even though Moses was still very young when he went to live in the palace and he began to be educated as an Egyptian prince, the teaching of his parents stuck.  “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.”  (Hebrews 11:24-25)

We don’t know how Jochebed taught her son during the short period that she had him in her care.  We don’t read any more of Jochebed’s life, and we don’t know how long she lived.  I think, though, that it is safe to assume that her prayers followed him when he was no longer under her influence.

Most of us have about 18-20 years with our children, give or take a few years.  Do we take advantage of the time we have to influence our children to the Lord?  Am I faithful to teach my children His ways?  May I learn from Jochebed to do a better job of using the time I am given!

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