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Exodus 2:3–6

“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” (vv. 5–6).

For three months, Jochebed was able to hide her infant son Moses from the genocide ordered by the king of Egypt (Ex. 1:22–2:2). Yet because babies become more active as they age, Jochebed realized that she could not keep hiding her baby boy at home if she wanted him to survive. So, she took further steps to protect him, as we read in today’s passage.

Taking a “basket made of bulrushes” and making it watertight through the application of bitumen and pitch, Jochebed crafted a makeshift cradle for Moses. She placed him in the basket and set it among the reeds of the Nile River where the pharaoh’s soldiers would be most unlikely to search for Hebrew boys (2:3). Jochebed did not abandon her son to the river in hopes that he would somehow survive a trip on its waters, as some have depicted these events in film. The reeds would keep the basket from floating away, and she posted her daughter Miriam (see 15:20) close to the basket to keep watch over it (2:4). As one commentator observes, this would have kept Moses hidden from those who would kill him, for the basket and reeds would muffle his cries, and Jochebed would be able to retrieve Moses and feed and care for him when no one was looking. Notably, Jochebed acts—she employs wisdom to protect her son—and does not just sit back and do nothing. She does not “let go and let God.” This is how God’s people are supposed to live—by employing wisdom and acting prudentially even while trusting the Lord.

In the course of time, the daughter of the pharaoh came to bathe in the Nile, discovered Moses, and had pity on him (2:3–6). As we will see in our next study, this pity would result in Moses’ joining the Egyptian royal household. But, we dare not miss the invisible hand of God’s providence here. Surely it was no accident that Jochebed’s actions, Miriam’s supervision, and the bathing of a kind Egyptian princess all came together to preserve Moses. John Calvin comments: “If we carefully weigh all the circumstances, reason will easily assure us that all things which led to the preservation of Moses, were disposed by [the] guidance [of God], and under his auspices, and by the secret inspiration of his Spirit. For to ascribe to fortune such an harmonious combination of various and manifold means, is no less absurd than to imagine with Epicurus [an important ancient Greek philosopher] that the world was created by the fortuitous conjunction of atoms.”

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

We are called to pray and to trust God, but this does not mean inaction beyond the prayer itself. Knowing that God uses means, including our decisions and actions, we are to employ wisdom and to do what we know is right and what needs to be done. The Lord’s comprehensive sovereignty does not take away from our responsibility.


For Further Study
  • Esther 4
  • Acts 9:23–25

A Fine Child Is Born

Trouble in Ephesus

Keep Reading Pride and Humility

From the January 2022 Issue
Jan 2022 Issue