Cool Story Bro: The Women that Saved Moses in Exodus

Egypt, Pharaoh's daughter, Moses, "I drew him out of the water," illustration, Nile River, Bible story, "Moses as a baby" by Illustrator of Bible -
"Moses as a baby" by Illustrator of Bible - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Have you read the book of Exodus? It’s one of my favorite books of the Bible. Exodus is one fascinating story for both believers and nonbelievers. It is full of important men and — quite wrongfully forgotten — important women that obeyed their God and furthered a master plan.

Take Moses for an example. He is one of the most identifiable figures among the faithful and nonreligious alike. But it was because of the actions of six women that he even had the chance to live and become one of God’s leaders.

Some of the most overlooked women in the Bible are Shiphrah and Puah. As Hebrew midwives, they were ordered to kill all of the baby boys born to the Hebrews, as the Egyptian king feared the growing population of the people he held in slavery.

Chapter 1, verse 15-21 read (NIV):

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

These were the first two women that spared Moses and were blessed by God because of it. They defied the ruler of the most powerful nation on earth at that time — one considered to be a god by the Egyptians — and got away with it and received rewards.

But Pharaoh was still fearful, so he ordered that the baby boys be killed anyway — sacrificed to the god of fertility and the Nile River, Hapi.

But a Levite woman was not about to rob her precious newborn of his life. She hid him and when she could no longer protect him, she put him in a basket and sent him floating along the river. She had her daughter, Miriam, watch over the boy to make sure he was safe upon the waters.

The basket floated to the place near where Pharaoh’s daughter intended to bathe and she ordered one of her slaves to retrieve the basket. Normally, one would think that the king’s daughter would have had the boy killed. Instead she wanted to adopt him. This decision saved the life of Moses yet again. Miriam also used her intelligence to save her brother, and eventually fetched her own mother to nurse the boy — and be paid for it.

Chapter 2, verses 1-10 says (NIV):

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket[a] for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses,[b] saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

The midwives, the mother, Miriam, the slave, and even Pharaoh’s daughter were all part of God’s plan (willing or not) and saved the very child that would grow into the liberator of the Hebrew slaves thanks to God’s empowerment. Without a single one of these women, the slaves might have known captivity for another 400+ years.

So what happened to the baby boy after he was rescued from the waters of the Nile River — a victory over the god Hapi — from the daughter of the most powerful man in the ancient world? Well, as they say, you have to read the book to find out.

As a side note, Hollywood made their completely different version of the story recently (the giant crocodile plague isn’t Biblical, reader friends). Film critic Lou Lumenick from the New York Post wrote, “Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings is an utterly clueless, relentlessly grim and rambling action epic guaranteed to displease devout Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, amuse atheists — and generally bore everyone.”

Not to beat a dead water buffalo, but read the book instead.

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