Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: HOPE (joyful, confident expectation in salvation) (03/05/15)
- TITLE: Jochebed
By Trace Pezzali
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Hadriel woke with a lusty cry. Panicked, Jochebed rushed to the next room. “Ssh, ssh darling,” she cooed. Sliding the caftan strap from her shoulder, she positioned the baby for feeding, and sank onto the straw mattress. Hearing voices outside, she held her breath.
“Aaron fell over while we were playing catch,” Miriam’s voice floated through the window. “Are you ok now, honey?”
“That was an infant’s cry,” an unfamiliar voice challenged.
“Well, Aaron is a bit of a baby, aren’t you?” Jochebed pictured Miriam ruffling her brother’s hair. “Come, Aaron, inside.”
When they appeared at the bedroom doorway, Miriam’s tortured eyes reflected Jochebed’s thoughts. Her young daughter gasped, “Pharaoh’s guard heard Hadriel cry. What if he suspects?”
Grief gripped Jochebed’s heart in a vice. “It’s time. Tonight I’ll prepare.” Tears baptised the baby’s forehead as she wept over him. Miriam wrapped thin arms around mother and babe, until a burning smell sent the girl racing to the kitchen.
“Mummy, what’s wrong?” Aaron’s small hand rested on her arm.
“Pharaoh has decreed all newborn Hebrew boys are to be killed. Hadriel is too difficult to hide now.” Jochebed drew Aaron close. “The hand of God is on our precious son. He will survive, but not if he stays with us.”
Feeding finished, she laid Hadriel on the carpet. He kicked his arms and legs, and chewed on a fist. Dark luminous eyes glittered, and his contented gurgles were music in her ears. From the first, God’s divine touch on this newborn had been obvious.
When Amran returned from the brickfields, filthy with clay and straw, Jochebed rushed to him, pressing close to her husband for comfort. With that, Amran knew.
Before dinner, Jochebed washed the wounds of fresh lashes that scored Amran’s torso. He reached up and stilled the hand attending the cuts on his shoulder, consoling her with words they’d spoken often: “We remember God’s promises to Abraham. God is making us into a great nation, as countless as the stars. It is fulfilled: we are strangers in this land, enslaved and mistreated. Four hundred years have nearly passed. Through Hadriel, in his lifetime, God may accomplish the deliverance He promised Abraham.”
Late that evening, Jochebed’s dextrous but trembling hands waterproofed a papyrus basket with tar and pitch. Her spirit praised God and His plans, but her aching heart rebelled. For a mother to give up her child - Dear Lord, how shall I cope?
Whilst she worked, Amran prayed beside her: “Though our people have gone astray, we are faithful to Your covenant. Consider us righteous, Lord. As you were Abraham’s shield and reward, so You are our own. He was prepared to give up his son at Your request. We do likewise, certain of Your protection. Give us strength, Lord.”
In the early hours, Amran left for the brickfields. At dawn, Jochebed shook Miriam awake.
“The Princess bathes early before the heat of morning. Hadriel will be in this basket. Place it amongst the reeds of the Nile. Wait there for what God does next.”
“What if crocodiles get him? Or someone else finds him first?” Miriam fretted.
“God will protect Hadriel.” Jochebed clasped Miriam’s hands. “If the Princess claims him as her own, he will be instructed in the wisdom of the Egyptians, not subject to the humiliation of slavery.”
Jochebed couldn’t see through her tears as she laid Hadriel in the basket. My baby! Oh God, I can’t. Don’t make me! When Miriam left, she collapsed, unable to smother her wails of grief. She was roused by a voice: “How much do you trust me? Allow my peace to fill your heart.” And then, Jochebed was able to let go, and she knew peace.
An hour later, Miriam returned, breathless and excited: “Mother, the Princess wants to adopt Hadriel! She needs a wet-nurse.”
Jochebed’s heart swelled with hope and longing. Leaving Aaron with a neighbour, they soon reached the river bank. Princess Hatshepsut held the babe tenderly, marvelling over his perfect body.
She looked up when Jochebed arrived. “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will give you wages.”
Jochebed reached for Hadriel with joy.
Authors note: Moses was not named as such until he was 3 years old. “Hadriel” is Hebrew for ‘Splendor of the Lord’.
See Exodus 2:1-10; Acts 7:20-22; Hebrews 11:23 ESV
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