Tuesday 06 July 2021

Bible Book:

When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. (v. 3)

Exodus 2:1-10 Tuesday 6 July 2021

Psalm 13


We do not know the name of this mother and the baby who will become the central character of the book of Exodus. Unless you have suffered a similar awesome decision about the welfare of a child, it is hard to imagine how the baby’s mother must have felt as she had to let him go and entrust him to God’s care. Pharaoh had decided to control the Hebrew population by ordering the midwives to kill newborn boys, and when the midwives proved too shrewd for him, he had asked all his own people to throw any Hebrew baby boys into the River Nile. This particular mother has hidden her child until, at three months old, his cries must have made him too difficult to conceal.

Ironically, she obeys Pharaoh’s command and casts the baby into the Nile, but for his protection instead of to kill him. She fashions a particular vessel which remains hidden in most modern English translations – it is actually an ‘ark’ – the same Hebrew word as for Noah’s boat by which God rescued humanity from the flood in Genesis 6. Once again the ark is the means of salvation and in another remarkable ironic twist, first Pharaoh’s daughter finds him and takes him as her own, and then his older sister introduces his mother into the new home as a wet nurse to feed him. Finally, the baby is named Moses – a common Egyptian name meaning boy-child – but which the Hebrew writer also notes sounds similar to the Hebrew verb ‘to draw out’ (from the water).

This is a remarkable chain of events; though it is interesting that God is not specifically mentioned as the guiding hand behind it all. The implication may be there, but it is not until Moses is an adult that the text records God responding to the suffering of the Israelites. Perhaps, looking back on Moses’ surprising adoption, it was clear that God had been at work all along, preparing the way for Moses' role as leader of the people.

 To Ponder:

  • Have you ever looked back on life and seen God at work in ways that were not acknowledged at the time?
  • What situations can you think of in which cruel circumstances mean that a parent has had to entrust their child to someone else’s care? Can they be a focus for your prayer today?


Saving God, we thank you for the times you have cared for us even though we did not realise or acknowledge it. We pray for those who need your unseen hand to guide them today. Amen.

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