Friday, December 15, 2017

A child is born 15: Jochebed gives birth to Moses

The woman conceived and bore a son: and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. 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.

At the beginning of the second chapter of Exodus, we meet a nameless woman who has a nameless son. He could be any one of the Hebrew babies whom Pharaoh is trying to get rid of. This is “anywoman”, and “anybaby”. There is nothing at all unusual about this woman. She feels just as most mothers would about their children in this situation, a fierce love and protectiveness. There is nothing unusual about the child either. He is vulnerable and helpless. We aren’t told until verse 10 that this is Moses, the child who will grow up to lead his people out of slavery and back to the Promised Land from which their ancestors came. The mother’s name, we discover in Exodus 6.20, is Jochebed.

But she isn’t the only mother in the story. Pharaoh’s daughter, who takes pity on the child she finds and takes him under her protection, acts as a mother to Moses, as do her attendants, who must realise the truth, but keep it to themselves. Miriam, his big sister, also keeps a motherly eye on him. There is a whole network of mothering around Moses, which enables him to survive into adulthood.

·         Imagine you are Moses’ mother, making the papyrus basket in which you will entrust him to the crocodile infested river Nile. What might you be thinking and feeling as you weave it?

·         Who nurtured and protected you as a child? Did you have more than one “mother”, as Moses did?

·         Pray for those who “mother” other people’s children – other family members, foster parents, friends, neighbours, teachers, children’s group leaders etc

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