They Did Jehovah’s Will
Faith of Parents Rewarded
TO THE Israelites, the birth of a male child was cause for great rejoicing. It meant that the line of descent would continue and that the inheritance of land would remain in the family. But about the year 1593 B.C.E., bearing a son may have seemed more a curse than a blessing to the Hebrews. Why? Because the Pharaoh of Egypt, apprehensive about the mushrooming Jewish population in the territory under his control, had commanded that all their newborn males were to be put to death.—Exodus 1:12, 15-22.
It was during this heinous attempt at genocide that Amram and Jochebed, a Hebrew married couple, became parents to a beautiful baby boy. It is easy to imagine how their joy may have been eclipsed by dread when they remembered Pharaoh’s decree. Yet, as Amram and Jochebed looked at their baby boy, they firmly resolved not to forsake him, regardless of the consequences.—Exodus 2:1, 2; 6:20.
Acting in Faith
For three months Amram and Jochebed kept their baby concealed. (Exodus 2:2) This was risky, however, since the Hebrews and the Egyptians lived in close proximity. Anyone found attempting to circumvent Pharaoh’s decree would likely be punished with death—and the baby would die too. What, then, could these devoted parents do to keep their son and themselves alive?
Jochebed gathered up some papyrus shoots. The papyrus is a strong rush, similar to bamboo, and has a three-sided stalk about the thickness of a finger. It may reach up to 20 feet [6 m] in height. The Egyptians used this plant to make paper, mats, sails, sandals, and lightweight boats.
Jochebed formed out of the stalks a chest of sufficient size to contain her baby. She next applied bitumen and pitch to hold the chest together and to make it watertight. Jochebed then placed her baby inside the vessel and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile River.—Exodus 2:3.
The Baby Is Discovered
Jochebed’s daughter, Miriam, stationed herself nearby to see what would happen next. Then Pharaoh’s daughter came to the Nile to bathe.* Perhaps Jochebed knew that the princess frequented this part of the Nile and purposely left the chest where it would easily be discovered. In any event, Pharaoh’s daughter soon caught sight of the chest nestled among the reeds, and she called one of her attendants to fetch it. When she saw the weeping child inside, her compassion was stirred. She perceived that this was a Hebrew baby. Yet, how could she have such a beautiful child murdered? Apart from human kindness, Pharaoh’s daughter may have been influenced by the popular Egyptian belief that admittance to heaven depended on a record of kind acts during one’s lifetime.*—Exodus 2:5, 6.
Miriam, who was watching from a distance, approached Pharaoh’s daughter. “Shall I go and specially call for you a nursing woman from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?” she asked. The princess answered: “Go!” Miriam ran to her mother. Before long, Jochebed was standing before Pharaoh’s daughter. “Take this child with you and nurse him for me,” the princess said to her, “and I myself shall give you your wages.” It may well be that by this time Pharaoh’s daughter realized that Jochebed was the baby’s mother.—Exodus 2:7-9.
Jochebed kept her child until he was weaned.* This gave her many precious opportunities to teach him about the true God, Jehovah. Then Jochebed brought the child back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who named the boy Moses, meaning “saved out of water.”—Exodus 2:10.
Lesson for Us
Amram and Jochebed took full advantage of the brief opportunity they had to teach their son the principles of pure worship. Parents today should do the same. Indeed, it is imperative that they do so. Satan the Devil “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” (1 Peter 5:8) He would love to have as his victims precious youths—boys and girls—who have the prospect of becoming fine servants of Jehovah. Their tender years elicit no sympathy from him! In view of this, wise parents train their infant children to fear the true God, Jehovah.—Proverbs 22:6; 2 Timothy 3:14, 15.
At Hebrews 11:23, the effort of Amram and Jochebed to conceal their infant during the first three months of his life is recorded as an act of faith. Both of these God-fearing parents showed trust in Jehovah’s saving power by refusing to abandon their child, and for this they were blessed. We too should show strict adherence to Jehovah’s laws and principles, confident that whatever Jehovah permits to come upon us will eventually work out for our eternal welfare and happiness.—Romans 8:28.
The Egyptians worshiped the Nile as a god of fertility. They believed that its waters had the power to impart fruitfulness and even to prolong life.
The Egyptians believed that at death a person’s spirit would recite in the presence of Osiris such affirmations as “I have not afflicted any man,” “I have not withheld milk from the mouths of sucklings,” and “I have given bread to the hungry and drink to him that was athirst.”
In ancient times, many children were breast-fed much longer than is common today. Samuel was likely at least three years old when weaned, and Isaac was about five.