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Studies on the Women of the Bible
by Davis W. Huckabee

Chapter 4
JOCHEBED—Jah is honor

Here is another of the minor women of the Bible but one who is to be respected. This woman was the wife of Amram, and they were the parents of Miriam, Aaron and Moses, (Ex. 2:1-4). This was the proper birth order of these children, as we learn from Exodus 6:20, for Miriam was the older sister that watched over the infant Moses in the ark of bulrushes. Here we also learn that these two married against what was later a law forbidding it, for Jocebed was the sister to Amram’s father, and so, was his aunt. The law forbidding marriage between people of this close relationship is recorded in Leviticus 18:6, 12-13; and 20:19. According to Numbers 26:59 this woman was the daughter of Levi and was born while the Israelites dwelt in Egypt, probably during their better days before the change of dynasties came about, (Ex. 1:8). This new king was a true Egyptian that had no liking for the Israelites, (Gen. 46:33-34), whereas the former dynasty had been of a Semitic group (called the Hyxsos or shepherd kings). Being shepherds, they felt an affinity for the Israelites, who were also shepherds.

Jochebed’s faith in preserving Moses alive when Pharaoh had determined upon the death of all the male children born to the Jews, (Ex. 1:7-19), is commended in the New Testament, (Acts 7:19-21; Heb. 11:23). The marginal reading in the Acts text gives us an insight into her motivation, for the Greek says that Moses was, “fair to God.” This mother saw in her younger son a child of destiny, and she dared not allow his destruction if she could prevent it. Inspiration is silent as to how she knew this, but it is clear that she realized that God had a work for her son. She put herself and her husband at risk of death for three months by defying the command of Pharaoh, (Ex. 2:2-3). The New Testament comment in Hebrews 11:23 shows that the parent’s faith was able to override their fear. They were like the psalmist who said in Psalm 56:3: ‘What time I am afraid, I will trust in the Lord.”

She created an ark of bulrushes which was the material that Egyptian boats were common made of, and this was waterproofed within and without with the usual waterproofing materials of the day. Their older child, Miriam, was set to watch what might result from this, and so, in a sense, this mother committed her infant son to the providence of God. It was common in that extremely hot climate for people to cool off by bathing in the Nile river in late evenings, and it is likely that Jocebed had often seen Pharaoh’s daughter and her handmaidens come down to the river to bathe. This may have been her motivation for setting her child in the ark of bulrushes—in hopes that he might be rescued by the royal daughter who was probably one of the few in the land that could countermand Pharaoh’s order to kill the Hebrew children.

Upon her discovery of this child, Pharaoh’s daughter is moved to pity—being moved by God, no doubt. However, Pliny the ancient historian records that though Pharaoh’s daughter was married, she had never been able to bear a child, so that this may also have entered into her adoption of Moses. In any case, God was in control of all these things, as He is of all things without exception.

When Miriam sees her brother discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter she offers to find a Hebrew mother to nurse and tend to the baby, and this was expedited. One wonders if the royal daughter realized that this woman was indeed the infant’s mother and only connived at it. In any case Jocebed was the one that raised Moses for Pharaoh’s daughter, and so, influenced him mightily in the Truth, (Ex. 2:7-10). When he was older he was taught all the wisdom of Egypt and was renowned as a great and wise soldier, and was an heir to the throne of Egypt. And all this because of the faith that his parents had and because they were willing to risk their own deaths in order to preserve their son whom they believed was going to be God’s instrument to deliver the people of God. We never know when God may use some seemingly minor and insignificant person to accomplish great things, which is why everyone, whatever his or her state may be, should be in believing submission to God. Trust in the Lord and leave all the details to His wise outworkings.

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