After the time of Joseph, a new king came to power in Egypt. He did not know Joseph, nor did he care about the characteristics of this great leader who had long since died. He only saw the Israelites growing in number daily, and he became alarmed. He called together his chief leaders. "We must do something about these Israelites; these foreigners who live among us. They are getting too numerous," he said. "I fear they will become too much for us to contain. If we go to war, what will prevent them from joining our enemies and fighting against us?"
"What then do you suggest sire?" asked Akil.
"We could drive them out," suggested Gahiji.
"No, that would be no good. Then they would for sure join our enemies," said Bakari.
"We must keep them inside the borders, but suppress them somehow to keep their numbers from growing," replied the Pharoah.
After much discussion a plan was devised. The men of Israel would be divided into groups. Each group would be supervised by foremen and the men would be forced to work. "Hard labor should kill their spirit," said Pharoah. "That should keep them suppressed well enough for they'll be too tired to go home and share the beds of their wives." Raucous laughter echoed through the hall as the men left to carry out the Pharoah's orders.
The Israelites were forcibly gathered together. Some torn from their homes; others from the fields. Everywhere an Israelite could be found he was forced to leave and join the others. The men found themselves making bricks, building for Pharoah, or working under the hot baking sun clearing the next field for Pharoah's latest architectural endeavor. The cruel whips of the foremen cracked through the air followed by curses. "Get to work dogs!" shouted the foremen. "Faster, faster!" The guards were rutheless and the work grueling. Day after day the Israelites were worked to the bone, but God's hand of blessing was upon them. He did not forget his covenant with Abraham to make his people into a great nation. They continued to grown in number. It seemed the harder the men were made to work, the more children they had.
Pharoah's fear drilled holes through his heart. He had to do something more. He summoned before him two Hebrew midwives: Shiphrah and Puah. The faithful midwives timidly approached the great Pharoah. They knew not why they were being summoned. Their hearts pounded in their ears as they shakily made their way to Pharoah's throne. They bowed before him and waited for him to speak, for they knew that to speak without being spoken to could mean swift death.
"Arise," said Pharoah. "I've summoned you here for an important command. When the Hebrew women give birth observe the sex of the infant. If it is a girl, let it live. If it is a boy, you must kill him."
Shiphrah and Puah quickly left the presence of the evil Pharoah knowing in their hearts that they could never do as he commanded. They determined that they would not kill any of the Hebrew babies for they respected and feared God more than Pharoah. They could not do this wicked and evil thing he commanded.
The Israelites continued to grow in number and Pharoah's anger burned. He summoned Shiphrah and Puah before him once again. "Why have you disobeyed my orders?" he demanded.
"Please your majesty," replied Shiphrah. "The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women. They are much more vigorous and give birth before we can get there."
Pharoah's heart grew harder. "Out of my presence!" he yelled. Quickly Shiphrah and Puah left the palace. However, God was pleased with the midwives, and he blessed them with families of their own while the people continued to increase and become very strong.
Pharoah's heart grew more wicked and he was determined to stop these Hebrews from growing in number. "He issued an edict that went out to all of Egypt. "All boys born must be thrown into the Nile, but the girls must be allowed to live." Now all of Egypt was enlisted to carry out the evils of Pharoah's heart. There was great weeping and wailing as small babies were thrown into the Nile to drown or be devoured by crocodiles.
Amram and Jocabed, both of the tribe of Levi conceived a son. Before the baby was born, Jocabed prayed, "Oh Elohim. Please protect this child within me from the evils of Pharoah. If this baby is born a boy, please show me a way to save him. Don't let him be fed to the crocodiles of the Nile. I ask of you Elohim to remember your covenant to Abraham. Make us a great nation and spare the life of this child who will be here soon."
Eventually the day came for Jocabed's child to be born. She felt the pains slowly at first. "Miriam," she said. "Go to the house of Shiphrah and tell her my time has come. Please send a midwife."
"Yes mother," said Miriam. She dashed out the door and found her way to Shiphrah's home.
As the day wore on Jocabed's pains grew in intensity. The midwife arrived and when the time was right, she led Jocabed to the birthing stones. Miriam assisted as needed - fetching water and dabbing her mother's forehead with a cool cloth. With one last push the baby was born. Jocabed's heart was filled with awe and fear as she clung to her newborn son. She could see in his features that he was no ordinary child. She knew that she could not surrender him to the Nile. "We must hide him Aram," she said as she lay the babe in the arms of his proud father.
"How will we hide him Jocabed? A baby is not always a quiet creature."
"God will be faithful Aram. I have prayed for the protection of this child."
Jocabed nursed the babe, working hard to keep him comfortable and quiet. "He must not be allowed to cry out," she thought. "Elohim, keep this babe silent," she prayed. "Help me to hide him from the eyes of the evil men who wouldn't hesitate to throw him into the Nile." With every whimper, she was quick to cuddle the babe tightly and nursed him often.
The babe grew strong and healthy, but Jocabed knew she couldn't hide him forever. He was now three months old. Something had to be done, but what. She prayed for God's wisdom and finally knew what she had to do. She sent Miriam off to cut reeds from the banks of the Nile. She carefully wove the reeds tightly together - over, under, twist, over, under, twist. Patiently she worked pulling the reeds tighter and tighter. They had to be as tight as those used to make the river boats of the Egyptians. Finally the little ark began to take shape. When it was done, she covered it in tar and pitch, knowing that it had to be waterproof if her dear son were to survive. Once the tar was dry, she fed her son one last time. As he nursed she prayed for his safety. Her heart cried out, "Dear Elohim! Save this child! Oh God, my heart breaks knowing what I must do yet I will trust you. Help me to trust you. You oh God created all things. The heavens and the earth are yours. There is no one greater. Protect this child. He has been called by you Elohim and I entrust him to your care."
With great courage she dressed him in clean clothes, wrapped him tightly, and placed him inside the woven ark. She bravely carried the ark and placed it in the water of the Nile among the reeds.
She knew Miriam was watching from a distance so that she could report back to Jocabed what became of her precious son. Jocabed returned home with tears streaming down her face, but prayers of faith in her heart. Her emotions were churning in conflict within her. When she entered her small home, she fell upon the bed with great weeping.
Meanwhile, Miriam watched as the tiny woven ark floated among the reeds. She ducked out of sight when she saw Pharoah's daughter and her maidens coming to bathe. As Pharoah's daughter bathed, she spotted the basket-boat floating in the water. "Kiya" she said. "Fetch that basket for me. See the one floating in the reeds near the bank?"
Kiya quickly obeyed and handed the basket to Pharoah's daughter. She opened it and saw the baby crying inside. Her heart was moved. "This must be one of the Hebrew babies," she said.
Miriam quickly approached and asked, "Would you like me to find a nursing mother from among the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?" Pharoah's daughter agreed and Miriam ran home as fast as her legs would carry her.
She burst through the door crying out, "Mother! Mother! Come quickly!"
Jocabed sat up. "What is it dear Miriam? Tell me what's happened to your dear baby brother?"
"Pharoah's daughter found him," she replied. Jocabed felt a pang of fear shoot through her heart for surely this must mean certain death for her son.
"Go on Miriam," she said.
"Pharoah's daughter took pity on him Mother. She sent me to find a nursing mother from among our people to care for him. Come Mother. We can have him back!"
Tears of joy sprang to Jocabed's eyes and laughter errupted from her lips. "Oh Miriam!" she cried. "Elohim has heard my prayer. Praise be to him!"
Jocabed and Miriam returned to the banks of the Nile to receive son and brother back into their arms. "Take this baby and nurse him for me," said Pharoah's daughter. "I will pay you." Jocabed gladly accepted. She cradled her precious son in her arms.
She nursed him until he was old enough to be weaned, and she was faithful to teach him about Elohim, the creator of heaven and earth. She taught him the traditions of her people, the Levites, and told him of God's covenant with Abraham to make his descendents into a great nation. When he was weaned she once again had to give him up.
She had prepared him for this moment, but it was still difficult. She longed to keep him by her side, but she knew that was not God's plan for him. She dressed him in his best attire and placed her hands upon his head. "Elohim," she prayed. "I give you this boy to use for your purpose. Bless him and protect him as he goes to a new home. Give him courage when he needs it, and humility when the situation calls for it. May he remember the things he has learned of you and remember where he comes from. Use him to do great and mighty things for you."
"Come son," she said. "It is time." They walked to the palace hand-in-hand. They said very little for they knew that this was the end of their time together and their hearts were filled with sadness. As they got closer, Jocabed stopped. She placed her hands on her sons' cheeks. "Look at me son," she said. She looked deep into his eyes. "I love you. Always remember that son. God's ways are not our ways, but he has a plan for you. Just as he rescued you from the Nile, he will continue to work his purpose in your life. Never forget that son. Never forget to hold Elohim in your heart."
A tear fell down her son's cheek, but he looked at her bravely. "I will mama." They embraced one last time before approaching the steps of the palace. A servant escorted them to Pharoah's daughter who said, "His name shall be Moses for I drew him out of the water."
She paid Jocabed one last time for the care of Moses and dismissed her. Jocabed quickly kissed Moses on the cheek and whispered in his ear, "Take courage, and trust the Lord your God. I love you." Pharoah's daughter took his hand and off they went down the long hall. Jocabed left the palace and although tears fell once again, she sang praises to God for her son still lived while so many others had long since perished in the muddy waters of the Nile.
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