Behind Every Good Man – Exodus 1-2
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase: “Behind every good man there’s a great woman.” Closely related, but less well-known: “Behind every successful man is a proud wife and a surprised mother-in-law.”
I wonder how many of us have been influenced by the godly faith of a mother, grandmother, aunt, Bible school teacher. Some 2009 statistics say that most of us probably have been:
- 86% of women are affiliated with a religion. Men? 79%
- 77% of women have “absolute certain belief” in God. Men? 65%
- 66% of women pray daily. Men? 49%
- 63% of women say religion is very important. Men? 49%
It could definitely be said of Moses that his life was a testimony to the courage and faith of a few good women. Every significant hero in the story of Moses’ early life is a woman.
We’ll look at five of these women at the beginning of Moses’ story tonight:
- Exodus 1:15-22 – Shiphrah and Puah
Egypt is the world’s superpower at the time. Pharaoh is the most powerful man in the world. And yet, his name doesn’t even register a mention. We don’t know which Pharaoh it was — “Oh, President what’s his name….yeah, he was in power at the time.”
But the names that ARE recorded? We have the names of two Hebrew midwives: Shiphrah and Puah. Pharaoh tells them to kill all the male Hebrew children when they’re born, but these two ladies say, “No.” They defy the direct command of the most powerful man in the world.
And the Bible says God rewards them for this. Gives them their own families. Scholars speculate that midwives were always barren women. In order to find their place in a culture that prizes family above everything else, they take up these responsibilities to help other women bring life into the world. God rewards them with families of their own.
These ladies understand that they answer to a law higher than Pharaoh’s. They base their actions on the law of God.
Without the courage and dedication of Puah, Shiphrah, and other midwives like them who chose to ignore the commands of the Pharaoh and do what they knew was right, Moses would not have survived to lead the children of Israel out of bondage. In fact, one could say that these women were the “first delivers” of Israel because they delivered the deliverer.
- Exodus 2:1-10 – Jochebed, Miriam, & Pharaoh’s daughter
Around the same time, Jochebed has a healthy baby, Moses. Instead of letting him be murdered, she takes a basket and coats the bottom with tar, making it waterproof. She puts the baby in the basket and sets it among the reeds of the Nile River.
Again, we find the name of this brave woman, but no mention of the father.
Put yourself in Jochebed’s sandals for just a moment. Baby that you’ve nursed and held and loved; and now you’re just going to put his fate in this basket, put it out on the Nile River. Can you imagine the prayers you’d pray just before putting that baby out to sea?
In 1869, in response to the number of babies being abandoned in New York City, the Foundling Asylum was created to give safe shelter to unwanted infants. In its first two years, some 2,500 children were taken in.
These babies were often found on the doorsteps of the orphanage with a letter, many of which have been preserved by the New York Historical Society.
You will find a little boy, he is a month old to morrow it father will not do anything and it is a poor little boy it mother has to work to keep 3 others and can not do anything with this one it name is Walter Cooper…I have not a dollar in the world to give him or I would give it to him I wish you would keep him for 3 or 4 months and if he is not claimed by that time you may be sure it mother can not support it I may some day send some money to him do not forget his name.
Perhaps some of the same thoughts were going through Jochebed’s mind as she placed her precious son into the basket and prayed that God would somehow watch over her son.
It must take an incredible amount of faith to turn your child over to God like this. Part of our role as parents, though, is to release them to the Lord’s care. Honestly, that can be a bit scary to those of us who are control freaks…especially with regard to our children. But Jochebed’s example is one that is convicting.
But as we know, that’s not where Moses’ story ends. He has a sister, Miriam, who watches what happens; she’s able to testify to what takes place next.
Pharaoh’s daughter, of all people, finds the baby in the river. She takes him out of the basket and says, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” Miriam might be wondering, Will she let the boy live or will she take his life?
Miriam speaks up and says, “I know someone who might be able to help nurse him.” And Pharaoh’s daughter agrees! So Jochebed receives her son back, gets to nurse him some more, raise him until he’s ready to move into the palace.
Miriam’s quick thinking helps to save the day. Once again, the deliverer has been delivered.
And think about this from the perspective of Pharaoh’s daughter. Dad has just made a federal law that all Hebrew baby boys are to be murdered…and she comes home with one! Imagine how strong she must have been, how persuasive she had to be, negotiating around the politics of it all. “Daddy, please, just look at him! He’s so cute! Can’t we take care of him!”
How many of you Dads heard the same line of reasoning when your kids wanted a puppy?
We can imagine the princess having to stand her ground, pleading with her father for the boy’s life.
In these early chapters of Exodus, Israel’s greatest enemy is a father; Israel’s greatest ally is this father’s daughter.
The Egyptian princess and a Hebrew slave-girl find sisterhood and seek justice together. They become family because of their connection to this baby, who grows into a man and liberates his people.
Another baby who will grow up to bring liberation as well, a Spiritual Exodus, a victory over the bondage of sin. And like Miriam and Pharaoh’s daughter, we find this to be great enough to overcome our differences.