THE BIRTH OF MOSES
PSALM 135:6, ESV
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.
EXODUS 1:5-7, NIrV
5 The total number of Jacob’s children and grandchildren was 70. Joseph was already in Egypt.
6 Joseph and all his brothers died. So did all their children. 7 The people of Israel had many children. The number of them greatly increased. There were so many of them that they filled the land.
About 4,000 years before our time, God promised to turn Abraham’s tiny family of two into a great nation as uncountable as the stars. But on the day of old Abe’s death, his family was easy to count; there were only three of them! If only Abraham had the chance to hop in a time machine and travel forward about 300 years into his future! If he had, he would have been able to see what we can read about in the book of Exodus. In those 300 years, God had grown Abraham’s family of three into a nation of thousands. The land of Egypt where they lived was overflowing with Abe’s grand-kids!
+ The great nation that grew from Abraham’s family was called “Israel.” Do you remember where that name came from? (See Genesis 32:24-28 for the answer.)
EXODUS 1:8-14, NIrV
8 Then a new king came to power in Egypt. Joseph didn’t mean anything to him. 9 “Look,” he said to his people. “The Israelites are far too many for us. 10 Come. We must deal with them carefully. If we don’t, there will be even more of them. Then if war breaks out, they’ll join our enemies. They’ll fight against us and leave the country.”
11 So the Egyptians put slave drivers over the people of Israel. The slave drivers treated them badly and made them work hard. The Israelites built the cities of Pithom and Rameses so Pharaoh could store things there. 12 But the worse the slave drivers treated the Israelites, the more Israelites there were. So the Egyptians became afraid of them. 13 They made them work hard. They didn’t show them any pity. 14 The people suffered because of their hard labor. The slave drivers forced them to work with bricks and mud. And they made them do all kinds of work in the fields. The Egyptians didn’t show them any pity at all. They made them work very hard.
Years before, Joseph rescued Egypt from starving during their seven food-less years. Because of that, his family lived peacefully in Egypt during the years that followed. But eventually, Joseph died. And as time passed, the memory of Joseph’s good deeds died, too. Egypt’s new king knew nothing about Joseph. And all the thousands of Israelites living in his land made him nervous! To stop these people from growing, he forced them to be his slaves and tried to work them to death. But his plan backfired. The worse the Egyptians treated God’s people, the faster God made the Israelites grow!
+ What did the king of Egypt think the Israelites would do? (vs. 10)
+ What happened as the slave drivers treated the Israelites worse? (vs. 12)
EXODUS 1:15-21, NIrV
15 There were two Hebrew women named Shiphrah and Puah. They helped other women having babies. The king of Egypt spoke to them. He said, 16 “You are the ones who help the other Hebrew women. Watch them when they get into a sitting position to have their babies. Kill the boys. Let the girls live.” 17 But Shiphrah and Puah had respect for God. They didn’t do what the king of Egypt had told them to do. They let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt sent for the women. He asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”
19 The women answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like the women of Egypt. They are strong. They have their babies before we get there.”
20 So God was kind to Shiphrah and Puah. And the number of Israelites became even greater. 21 Shiphrah and Puah had respect for God. So he gave them families of their own.
The king of Egypt’s first plan to stop the Israelites was an epic failure. No matter how hard he made the Israelites work, no matter how terribly his slave masters whipped them, more of those pesky people kept appearing! So he came up with a second plan, twice as evil as the first! He gave an order to the Israelite midwives (women who help pregnant mothers): “Whenever an Israelite boy is born, kill it!” But these two women, Shiphrah and Puah, were brave heroes. They saved the day (and a bunch of Israelite baby boys) by completely ignoring the cruel command of the king of Egypt!
+ Why didn’t Shiphrah and Puah obey the king’s command? (vs. 17)
+ Instead of the babies being killed, what happened? (vs. 20)
EXODUS 1:22-2:4, NIRV
22Then Pharaoh gave an order to all his people. He said, “You must throw every Hebrew baby boy into the Nile River. But let every Hebrew baby girl live.”
1 A man and a woman from the tribe of Levi got married. 2 She became pregnant and had a son by her husband. She saw that her baby was a fine child. And she hid him for three months. 3 After that, she couldn’t hide him any longer. So she got a basket made out of the stems of tall grass. She coated the basket with tar. She placed the child in the basket. Then she put it in the tall grass that grew along the bank of the Nile River. 4 The child’s sister wasn’t very far away. She wanted to see what would happen to him.
There’s an old saying that goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” Well, after his first two evil plans to stop the Israelites didn’t succeed, the king of Egypt decided to try, try again! He demanded, “If a Hebrew (Israelite) baby boy is born, toss him in the Nile River!” Despite the king's command, one Israelite mom kept her baby boy a secret until her little guy became too big and noisy to hide. She had no choice but to finally follow the king's evil order and put him in the river! But her little guy stayed safe and sound. Like a tiny Noah, she floated her boy in a baby-basket ark down the Nile River.
+ Why did the king of Egypt want the babies tossed into the river?
+ Who watched the floating baby basket boat from a distance? (vs. 4)
EXODUS 2:5-6, NIRV
5 Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile River to take a bath. Her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket in the tall grass. So she sent her female slave to get it. 6 When she opened it, Pharaoh’s daughter saw the baby. He was crying. She felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
Things were looking pretty grim for our tiny Israelite sailor. His baby-basket boat crash-landed in the weeds. And his little shipwreck was discovered by the daughter of the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Her dad was the guy who wanted baby boys like him drowned in the river! Pharaoh’s daughter had a choice to make: do I obey my dad or do I rescue this cute little kiddo? Now, God’s word tells us to obey our parents. And 99.9% of the time, we should do exactly what they say. But when your dad tells you to toss a helpless baby in the river, the right thing to do is obey God instead!
+ Why was Pharaoh’s daughter in the Nile River? (vs. 5)
+ When they opened the basket, what was the baby doing (vs. 6)
EXODUS 2:7-10, NIRV
7 Then his sister spoke to Pharaoh’s daughter. She asked, “Do you want me to go and get one of the Hebrew women? She could breast-feed the baby for you.”
8 “Yes. Go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and feed him for me. I’ll pay you.” So the woman took the baby and fed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter. And he became her son. She named him Moses. She said, “I pulled him out of the water.”
As the little Israelite boy (who we now know was named Moses) floated down the river, someone had been secretly following him the entire trip: his big sister! When Pharaoh’s daughter discovered her baby brother’s shipwrecked basket, the girl saw a chance to save his life. She bravely popped up from her hiding spot and asked the Egyptian princess, “Do you want me to find an Israelite mom to feed this baby for you?
It took guts for Moses’ sister to speak up like that. After all, she was a lowly slave girl and Pharaoh’s daughter was a member of the royal family! But her brave and risky decision paid off! Pharaoh’s daughter agreed to let Moses’ mom feed him until he no longer needed his mother’s milk. She even paid her to do it!
This was an important moment in the history of the people of Israel. Why? Because God had big plans for the tiny baby floating in that basket boat! 80 years later, God used Moses to do mighty miracles and rescue his people from slavery in Egypt.
Exodus isn’t the only Bible book to tell the sad tale of a king’s command to kill Israelite baby boys. About 1,500 years later, history repeated itself. We can read this sad tale in the New Testament book of Matthew.
During those days, there was a king named Herod. He was a monster of a man who would do anything to keep his power. When he heard that a special baby boy had been born in the Israelite town of Bethlehem, he started to worry. Why? Because people were saying that this baby would become king of the Israelites and take his throne!
To stop this special baby from stealing his job, evil King Herod gave the same cruel command the king of Egypt gave 1,500 years before: “Kill all of Bethlehem’s baby boys!” Thankfully, the wicked ruler’s plan failed. In a dream, God warned this special baby’s parents to flee their country and hide out until King Herod was dead.
I bet you can guess the name of that special baby... it was Jesus, of course! As we journey through the book of Exodus, we’ll see that Jesus’ story had a whole lot in common with Moses. As babies, both of them faced death after a cruel king’s commands. Both baby boys were saved from the evil schemes of these wicked kings. And when they grew up, both men rescued their people.
But there was one big difference between these two. Unlike Moses, Jesus wasn’t simply a man; he was also the all-powerful Son of God! As great as the life story of Moses is, it can’t even compare to what Jesus did. After many mighty miracles, Moses saved thousands of Israelites from slavery. But Jesus, after dying on the cross and rising from the dead, saved billions of people all over the world from their sins!
+ After Moses didn’t need his mother’s milk, whose son did he become? (vs. 10)
+ The name “Moses” means to “lift out.” Why was he given this name? (vs. 10)