Yocheved leaned against the doorway of their home in the whitewashed village of the Hebrews and awaited the outcome of her daring feat.
It was the images of the dangers, lurking in the waters of the Nile, more than the oppressive heat of the day that took its toll on her heart. She longed for a breath of fresh air to revive her trembling spirit. Her hands, raw and sore from plaiting reeds into a basket, clutched her sides. Her breasts, heavy with milk, already ached for the babe she could no longer keep quiet and hidden from Pharaoh’s guards.
A sudden shiver shook her free from the sense of dread. She forced her fear to the nether regions of her mind and focused on the promise given to her forefathers. It was a prophecy she and her husband, Amram, taught to their children, Miryam and Aharon.
As descendants of Levi, both Amram and Yocheved filled their home with the knowledge of Yhwh. “You are the fourth generation from the sons of Ya’akov,” Amram daily reminded them. “The years of Yosef’s prophecy are nearly fulfilled. Yhwh will send a deliverer who will end of the enslavement of our people and bring us into the land, which He swore by an oath to give to Avraham.
“Yhwh.” Yocheved breathed out His name with a reverence she had been taught as a child. She contemplated their mud-daubed home, comparing it to the Egyptian temple and Pharaoh’s palace, which loomed in the distance. There were no alabaster pillars in their humble dwelling, no golden altars for worship, no incense to offer up prayers.
“All we have is love,” she whispered as she closed her eyes in prayer. Our home is Your temple, Yhwh, and we are the pillars. Our hearts are the altars; our breath is the incense.
The sound of trumpets in the distance announced that Pharaoh’s daughter and her maidens had arrived at the river. Yocheved placed her hands over her heart and kept her eyes closed. Be glorified in what I have done. I saw greatness in my son’s eyes when he was born. Whatever plans you have for our people, be with my son to preserve and protect him.
Somehow, she knew there was a purpose in the flawless beauty of her baby. One look at him in his floating basket, and the princess’ heart would certainly melt with compassion. It would be hard for her to cast him into the river as Pharaoh had commanded. Perhaps she would even want him for her own.
Yocheved choked on the thought. Miryam and Aharon had already taken their brother into their hearts. For the last three months they had tenderly cared for him to help keep him happy and quiet. She imagined him, playing with other Hebrew children and growing in the knowledge of his heritage.
Nothing was more important than tracing their lineage back to Addam, Shet and Noach. Like fine threads woven together, they were connected to the patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak, Ya’akov and his twelve sons, and now, Levi’s family for four generations. Their history was the centerpiece of their home. Just as straw and mud held the bricks together that formed their house, each cohesive thread cemented a story in their minds and reminded them from whence they had come.
Her thoughts lingered on the story of Yosef, who had first arrived in Egypt as a slave. He had never forgotten who he was while he waited for Yhwh to reveal his destiny. His father, Ya’akov, had taught him well. Yocheved wondered if one day their baby’s life might intertwine with Pharaoh’s family. She imagined him as a prince with the same divine purpose--to deliver the Hebrew people.
In a moment of uncertainty, she opened her eyes and looked around. They could never compete with the splendor of Pharaoh’s palace, but if the princess were to take their son now, his family ties would be lost to gold and riches. Her heart cried out, Yhwh, please let him live here a little longer, where he will be cherished and nurtured in Your ways. He must never forget who he is.
Miryam appeared at the doorway, her face flushed with excitement. She grabbed Yocheved’s hand and pulled her away from the longing that was tied up in hopes and dreams and brought her into the reality of answered prayers.
“The princess…she told me to come get you!”
Based on Exodus, chapters 1, 2 and 6
Yocheved is Hebrew for Yhwh (God) glorified
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