The Mothers of Moses

What is a mother? Obviously, a human mother is a woman who gives birth to a child. But sometimes a mother is a person who does what a mother ought to do—protect, defend, nurture, and love—whether that person is the biological mother or not. I’ll refer to this second sort of mother in italics (mother).

Consider the mothers in Moses’ life in Exodus 2:1-10:
Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 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. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket 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. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
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. 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.
Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
“Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 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, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
 Here we see three people acting as mothers of Moses: his birth mother, Jochebed (Ex. 6:20), his older sister, Miriam, and his adoptive mother, a daughter of Pharaoh. Consider how God used each of these women as mothers and how we, too, can be mothers.

First, consider Jochebed. When Pharaoh decrees that every new-born Hebrew boy must be thrown into the Nile (Ex. 1:22) Jochebed does her best to protect Moses. She hides him for a while, and as a last resort puts him in a basket in the Nile. In doing so, she places him in God’s care. She can do nothing more than hope and trust in God.  (Hebrews 11:23 says that what she did was done with faith.)

As much as she can, a mother protects her child. But as the child grows, the mother’s ability to protect lessens. She can’t always be with her child. But God can. God walks with the child and keeps him in the shelter of his wings. The mother prayerfully trusts God.

Second, consider Miriam. She watches from a distance. When Pharaoh’s daughter sees the baby boy, Miriam reads compassion on the princess’s face. Miriam seizes the opportunity. The princess wants to keep the boy but has no one to nurse him. But Miriam knows a Hebrew woman who could do so. “Would the Princess like me to bring the woman to nurse the baby?” “Yes, bring her, and tell her that I will pay her for her services.”

In his providence, God uses Miriam as a mother. She’s able to do things her mother couldn’t. She watches out for Moses, intercedes for him, and defends him.

God can use you as he used Miriam. When the actual mother isn’t present, you could be a mother to someone who needs one. You could be a mother in Kid’s Club, the nursery, Sunday school, youth ministry, or your local community. Take the child under your wings. Nurture and protect him as if he were your own.

Students, there are kids at your school who need mothers. Maybe she’s a new student or a classmate who is hurting. When the need arises, be a mother: sit with her; comfort her; take up her cause. Be like Miriam.

Finally, consider Pharaoh’s daughter. When she finds Moses crying in the basket, she is tender-hearted. She notices he is a Hebrew boy who should have been drowned.  Perhaps risking her own life, she decides to adopt the boy and raise him as her own.

In his providence, God used Pharaoh’s daughter as an adoptive mother of Moses.

Maybe God could use you, too, as an adoptive mother. An adoptive mother takes on a committed, long-term relationship with someone who needs mothering. Being an adoptive mother could mean literal adoption, but you could be an adoptive mother in other ways.

For example, you could be an adoptive mother to the elderly.  As people get older, they’re less able to take care of themselves. They need someone to take them to appointments or to shop for groceries. They need someone to sit and listen to them talk about the old days. They need meals on a regular basis, help remembering things, someone to think clearly for them.  Are there elderly people in our communities who need adoptive mothers?

Whether you are married or single, young or old, female or male, when you see someone who needs a mother, be a mother.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and mothers of GRC!

Stan Tyvoll serves in the Children’s Ministry at GRC.