THE FAITH OF JOCHEBED
Hebrews 11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.
The faith of Moses' parents is referred to in the lesson text - Amram and Jochebed. No doubt Amram consented to it, and may have played an important part in it, but the act of faith, referred to in this text, and recorded in Old Testament history, was performed by Moses' mother, Jochebed. The faith of Jochebed is often overlooked in this chapter of the Hebrew letter. The author of this letter does not specifically include her name in his list of faithful children of God. Many among his list of faithful, have much written about them in biblical history. Included among them were great patriarchs, leaders, warriors, judges, and kings. We know little about Jochebed other than she was a mother that had great faith in God.
But this we know: she was the wife of Amram, and, while in Egypt, there was born to this union, Miriam, Aaron, and Moses. Both she, and her husband, were descendants of Levi, the son of Israel (Jacob). It is interesting to note Jochebed was the daughter of Levi and was born during the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt. Her brothers were Levi's sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Amram, her husband, was the son of Kohath. Considering these biblical facts, Jochebed was not only the wife of Amram, but also his aunt (See Exod. 6:16-20, and Num.26:57-59). This may seem unusual to us today, but such family relationships were rare, but not uncommon, during these days of history. And most assuredly, they were not forbidden in the eyes of God.
Here are some of the events that led to the faithful acts of Jochebed. Previous history tells us that, because of Joseph's favorable relationship with their monarchs of Egypt, the Israelites enjoyed a peaceful coexistence with the Egyptian people during most of their sojourn. However there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we (Exod. 1:8-9). This fact brought fear to the Egyptian rulers. Therefore they devised a plan to stem the success and growth of the Israelites. They enslaved them, placed taskmasters over them, and forced them into hard labor building cities. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor (See Exod. 1:11-14). But the Jewish people continued to grow and multiply in number. Therefore, the king of Egypt commanded the Jewish midwives to kill all male children born to Israelite women. For the fear of God, the midwives refused to obey the Egyptian king's command. The king then commanded that every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive (See Exod. 1:15-22).
The faith in God, referred to in the lesson text, was not that of Moses, but the faith of Jochebed. The incident is recorded in Exodus 2:1-9. Here, the action taken to save the life of Moses was initiated by Jochebed. Her complete faith in God was demonstrated - Jochebed placed total confidence in God that He would guide her actions in order to preserve the life of her son, Moses. When she gave birth to Moses, Jochebed saw him that he was a goodly child, (and) she hid him three months. Unable to hide him longer, she made a small boat of bulrushes, sealed it, placed Moses in it, and placed it in the river's edge. The daughter of Pharaoh saw it and sent her maid to fetch it. When she opened it, she saw baby Moses crying, had compassion on him, and recognized him as one of the Hebrews' children. At a distance Miriam, Moses' sister, was watching what was taking place, ran to Pharaoh's daughter, and asked if she could find a Hebrew nurse for the child. Allowed to do so, Miriam brought Jochebed, Moses' mother to fill this role. Pharaoh's daughter consented to let Jochebed nurse the child and even paid her wages to do so.
The lesson text says Moses was a proper child; the account in Exodus says he was a goodly child (Exod. 2:2); that is, he was, not only an obedient, well mannered child, but was also exceedingly fair and handsome. Jochebed may have even sensed the godly destiny that awaited him. For these reasons, Jochebed defied the king's command, refused to obey it, and placed herself in jeopardy of the king's punishment, in order to save the life of Moses. The edicts of this cruel king violated the laws of God. No doubt, Jochebed recognized this, and opposed it with her strong faith in God. And, by her faithful obedience to God, she preserved the life of the one that would, one day, lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian captivity. What great faith - what a great example for us to follow!