“And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink. And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children. Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water” (Exodus 2:1-10).
I suspect if you asked many Christians who Moses’ mother was they would be at a loss to give her name. We know that she is called Jochebed from Exodus 6:20 and Numbers 26:59. If you read those texts then you will also learn that Amram was Moses’ father. Hebrews 11:23 tells us that both parents were people of faith, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.”
Jochebed would have remained unknown but for her famous son. Her name means, “Jehovah is glorious”, and certainly God had a glorious plan for her life, for it is she that nurtured Moses into the man he became.
Jochebed, like all mothers, believed that her child was special, but the Scriptures suggest that her insight went beyond motherliness. Somehow she understood that her son was destined to play a large part in God’s plan for Israel and was not destined to die with the other Hebrew children. She believed that the Lord would protect the child even though she was uncertain how that would happen. Though she entrusted him to God, she did her part. She had the mighty task of hiding the child from the Egyptians, especially when we know that it is in the nature of infants to cry for attention.
Her faith meant that she had to disobey the law of the land, therefore she saw beyond the power of the Pharaoh to a greater authority. Obedience to God always give us the liberty to disobey civil authority if it is in opposition to the law of God.
James says that “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20, 26). Jochebed found a way to demonstrate the faith she had despite the fact she was able to hide the child for three months. The longer the situation continued, the more her faith would have been tested, but it seems that her faith grew instead of decreased. We are not told how she thought up the plan to save her son, but we have to assume that the Holy Spirit inspired her heart. Most people in dire circumstances are prone to collapse with paralysing fear, but Jochebed did not allow this to happen to her. Instead her faith was inventive. If she had told anyone outside of her family what she was planning, it is certain they would have thought that she was a mad even to believe that her plan would work and would have tried to dissuade her from carrying it out.
At least her immediate family caught her vision and played their part in bringing it to pass. Hebrews 11 tells us that both she and her husband had faith, therefore Amram obviously allowed Jochebed to do as she planned, even though it could easily have put the whole family at risk of death. This also means that both Aaron and Miriam were going to be placed in danger too. [It is often assumed that Moses was older than Aaron, but since Aaron is always mentioned first in genealogies, this cannot be true. 1 Chronicles 6:3 reads, “The children of Amram; Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam”]. Miriam was chosen for the task of placing her baby brother into the Nile. Why was Aaron, the eldest, not picked to be God’s man to lead Israel out of bondage? Once again we see Jochebed was guided by God’s hand.
She had no choice but to commit the well-being of her son to the Lord. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). She threw herself on God’s love and mercy, for she had done all she could; now she had to trust that He would protect the child. No doubt she did all this out of love for her baby, but we cannot ignore the fact that throughout the dilemma she put God first.
Was it God’s will to save this one infant while many others were being killed by the Egyptians? Jochebed obviously did not know the end result, but she believed in someone who did, and because of her faith, Moses’ future was secure. The deliverance of the nation began with the deliverance of one small child because of a mother’s faith.
Jochebed was indeed a woman of faith, for she put her love for God into practice every day. God blessed her with the privilege of instructing Moses in the ways of righteousness. She must have used her time with him very wisely, because Moses would see the ungodliness of the Egyptians. “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27). He could only have learned that from his parents.
She must have brought up each of her children in the same way. Miriam obeyed her godly mother’s wishes and was used of God to bring her brother back home until he was weaned. Aaron would become Israel’s first Levitical priest. Moses would become the deliverer, prophet and leader of Israel.
Jochebed instilled into each of them the need for faith, obedience and godliness, and her hard work paid off. Her personal faith in God impacted on the lives and character of her children. They became great because of her. “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Proverbs 6:20).