The Birth of Moses

Tuesday: Moses’ Background: Exodus 2:1-10

Exodus 2:1-10 In this week’s lessons, we look at the details of Moses’ birth, and remember that God is providentially directing the events of Moses’ life for His glory, just as He does in ours.
Moses’ Background

In yesterday’s devotional, we concluded by saying that God always had a remnant, those who are faithful to Him even in dry times. Now that’s exactly what we have here in the second chapter of Exodus. In this case, the remnant that we’re told about is one family, a husband and wife, whose names were Amram and Jochebed. Amram means “exalted people.” We’re not given his name in Exodus 2, but the name is supplied elsewhere in the Old Testament genealogies in Exodus 6, Numbers 3, 1 Chronicles 6, and so on. He was of the tribe of Levi, and lived to be 137 years old. Jochebed means “the honor of Jehovah.” She is mentioned only twice in the Bible by name, in Exodus 6 and in Numbers 26. We’re told that she was also of the tribe of Levi, and she was a close relative of her husband. As a matter of fact, she was Amram’s father’s sister, which means his aunt. Later, such marriages among close relatives will be forbidden (Lev. 18).

They had two other children besides Moses: Aaron and Miriam. Aaron was three years older than Moses, which we find out in Exodus 7:7. We are not told Miriam’s age, but from the story we judge that she was probably 8 or 10 years older than Moses.

The most important thing to be said about this family is that it was a believing family. Moreover, it seems to have been a believing family for several generations. Significantly, Amram and Jochebed are religious names, so they must have had believing parents to give them names that would remind them of the God of Israel and the special destiny to which He called the people. Amram and Jochebed themselves had faith because they’re praised for it in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews contains that great list of the heroes of the faith, where one verse says, “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw that he was no ordinary child and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Heb. 11:23). Like their parents, Moses, Aaron and Miriam were servants of the Lord for a long, long time. At some point, each of them was guilty of significant sin, and it led to serious consequences. Nevertheless, Moses and his parents are commended in Scripture for their faith.

That leads one to observe that faith is normally preserved in families. Now, you do need such a thing as pioneer evangelism in the work of missions among those who have never heard the Gospel. But there is much evidence that most people become Christians within the family in which they grow up, that is, faith is passed on from generation to generation. And that’s exactly what we have here with Moses. Therefore, if you are a parent you have a great responsibility to your children. You need to teach them spiritual things. Even if they rebel against it, even if they don’t want to hear, you have to keep repeating and standing for these things. Children are a treasure, they are a gift from God. And we have a great privilege and responsibility to raise them in the fear of the Lord.

F. B. Meyer has a little study of Moses called Moses: The Servant of God. He makes four valuable points about the time and conditions of Moses’ birth. The first is that Moses belonged to an alien race. Now for a time, it was popular amongst scholars to identify the coming of the people of Israel into Egypt during the age of the Hyksos kings. The Hyksos were an alien and Semitic people, so it was natural to think that Joseph was favored by the Hyksos pharaoh because they were related ethnically. However, as we put those dates together it seems that is probably not true. The Hyksos period began with the fifteenth dynasty 1630 BC. Joseph and his father’s family must have entered Egypt in 1875 BC, if we’re right about the time of the exodus as being 1445 BC. That’s about 200 years before the time of the Hyksos.

About 1521 BC, the Egyptian dynasties drove out the Hyksos people, and it was probably under this overthrow that the time of greatest persecution came. The Egyptians had been ruled by a foreign people, and now succeeded in driving the foreign people out. They didn’t want to have any more foreigners in any position of power, and that included the Jews. And it would explain in large measure the very severe persecutions they experienced toward the end of the period. Leading up to the exodus.

The second point Meyer makes is that Moses belonged to an oppressed race. We know that when the Jews first came they were favored because of Joseph. He had been used of God to deliver the Egyptians from the great famine. He was favored by the pharaoh, but all of that had passed. And now not only were the Jews an alien race; they had become an oppressed race as these pharaohs brought them into a position of abject slavery. They were forced to cut wood and draw water and till the fields of the Egyptians, eventually to make bricks and work as slave laborers on the storage cities of Pithom and Rameses. Whenever the oppression began, it probably reached an apex under a pharaoh whose name was Thutmose III. He was the king probably ruling about the time of Moses’ birth.

The third point is that Moses was born at a time of unusual trouble. It’s not likely that this decree of the king to kill all the Hebrew male children lasted for a very long time. That would be a very hard thing to sustain generation after generation. Some scholars suggest that it may have existed for a matter of months. But it did take place when Moses was born.

The fourth point Meyer makes, which we have already seen, is that Moses was born to believing parents. They understood the cruel nature of the times, and they were very well aware of the edict of the pharaoh. Nevertheless, as it says in Hebrews, because they believed God they were willing to defy the pharaoh and do everything in their power to save Moses.

Study Questions
  1. What are the meanings of the names of Moses’ parents? What does this tell us about his family?
  2. What are the four points Meyer makes about the context into which Moses was born?
  3. How did Moses’ parents show their faith in the Lord?

Reflection: In an unrighteous age, how are Christians to demonstrate their commitment to the Lord?

Key Point: Children are a treasure, they are a gift from God. And we have a great privilege and responsibility to raise them in the fear of the Lord.

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Philip Ryken’s message, “The Birth of a Savior.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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