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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Confident (07/05/07)

TITLE: The Purloined Baby
By Janice Cartwright


A good man from the tribe of Levi woke with a start, astonished and full of questions about the dream that still swallowed up his present reality. Could it be his people were to be delivered from servitude to Pharaoh after so many years of silence from their God?

Jochebed had carried his child with such batach (aplomb), unlike other pregnant Hebrew wives who skulked about in terror of Egyptian soldiers. By way of intuition, or other such womanly wisdom, she seemed to sense the child in her womb rested safely beneath the sheltering wings of The Self-Existent One.

“Does the *lion roar?” Amram’s ears had tuned in vain for that first squalling cry signaling a healthy child. “Have I a son?”

“Hush!” the midwife glared at him, “Of course it is a live birth.” Her features softened, “and unusually beautiful, for a male child.”

Early the next morning Amram blessed his home before leaving for a tomb-building project that would keep him away many months.

“Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb…” (Genesis 49:25 KJV).

- - -

Neither Jochebed’s beautiful and serene face, nor the curve of her neck as she bent to her work, nor her unwavering glance offered any indication of the inspired idea slowly taking shape in her thoughts until one day when the vision became clear and perfectly formed: a sure sign of its source.

She called, “Daughter, draw closer, I must speak with you.”

Miriam rose obediently, but reacted in horror upon hearing what her mother would do.

“Oh Mother, not there! The child is so good and quiet. Perhaps Yahweh’s will is for us to keep him here, hidden safe among the grain sacks. This river god the Egyptians worship already runs dark with the blood of our innocents. Must the crocodiles devour yet another?”

“Not so, daughter! The dragon may hunger, but its desire will not be consummated. Even now the cradle of the Lord our God stands ready to receive His precious treasure. Come, I will show you the little boat I have prepared. It is so like the ark which bore father Noah safely upon the waters of the great flood.”

Jochebed rose before sunup and wrapped the sleeping babe in her softest shawl. She carried the ark as if it were a basket of laundry and laid him among the Cyperus reeds that grow in the shallows at the banks of the River of Egypt, called Sihor.

Afterwards, the courageous and loving mother returned to her home and sat praying, but Miriam continued to walk along the river’s edge -- though in a manner and at such distance as not to be noticed. She had a great need to see what would happen to her precious infant brother.

- - -

Upon his return, as on his leave taking, Amram paused to worship briefly at the doorstep to his home. He recited Jacob’s prayer of blessing.

Jochebed cradled baby Moses in the crook of her arm as she rushed to embrace her husband.

“Welcome home, my lord,”

The child had been intent on satisfying his hunger but his mother’s action and excitement interrupted the flow of milk. When tiny Moses realized he was disconnected from his available food source he expressed his outrage with a loud yelp.

Amram glanced about the room in worried scrutiny. “Woman, do you not fear such cries will betray the child’s presence?”

She spoke with a calm assurance. “Oh my husband, I fear nothing; for the Lord our God this day has shown great mercy to our household. That which the enemy sought wickedly to take from us, Yahweh has delivered again, multiplied many times over. And while I’m eager to tell you all that His loving-kindness has wrought in your absence, first you must have a laver, clean tunic, and meat to restore your strength.”

“Miriam,” the mother called to her obliging and able daughter,” Come take the child from me while I fetch water. He is as bloated as a leach.”

“It is very good to have you home, Father." Miriam's face radiated triumph. “May I present his royal fatness, Prince Moses?”

Little Moses gurgled and squealed as his earthly father, positive that God’s perfect plan would be fulfilled, held him aloft to receive Yahweh’s blessing.

* Na’ar – The Hebrew custom to play on words is shown in a male child’s cry being likened to a *lion’s roar. Though pronunciation varies slightly, translations for babe, or male child, and the sound made by the shuffle of a lion’s mane accompanied by its roar are interchangeable.

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Linda Germain 07/12/07
I love that Hebrew word that likens a male baby's cry to a lion's roar. :0) Well done treatment of an old beloved Bible story. It's hard to imagine how confident in the Lord a woman would have to be to put her child in a basket and launch him into the water.That is LOVE and FAITH in every direction.
Joanne Sher 07/12/07
Excellent detail! I found Miriam's speech a bit "old", but that could just be me. A wonderfully told tale! I was engrossed.
Dee Yoder 07/14/07
I enjoyed reading this, too! And I've always been amazed at how God was able to reward her faith with her own child back in her arms! Good choice of story for the topic and written very well.
Lynda Schultz 07/15/07
This is incredible! The language usage makes it feel so authentic to the times. Great work.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/19/07
A beautiful retelling of the story. Congratulations on placing.
Trevas Walker07/19/07
Very well written, great job! Congratz on the highly commended.