Scripture Reading for March 27, 2011

Exodus 2:1-10
Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. ‘This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,’ she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’ Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Yes.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses,* ‘because’, she said, ‘I drew him out* of the water.’ ________________________________________________


The story of Moses in the bulrushes is a marvelous drama . . .much loved by Sunday School children and adults alike.   It has everything: danger, suspense, even a happy ending.   Here’s the context:   The Hebrews were living in Egypt, and although they had been favored by the royal court for years (ever since Joseph had impressed the Pharaoh with his interpretation of dreams), the Bible reports that “a new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph.”   Fearful that the Hebrews have become too populous, he orders that all of their male children are to be thrown into the Nile.   This is the point at which Jochabed (though she isn’t named in this passage) takes her baby and puts him in a basket and sets him adrift in the Nile.   He is subsequently found and taken in by Pharaoh’s daughter who orders that a wet nurse be found from among the Hebrews to care for the child.  And, almost as if this were a Dickens novel, the woman chosen turns out to be Jochabed!    

I’m particularly mesmerized by that moment when Jochabed places the basket holding her son into the river.  Some questions come to mind:

  1. What must it have been like to put one’s own child at such risk?
  2. In your life, what has been the greatest test of your trust/faith in God?
  3. What do you know about Moses’ later life that is prefigured in this story of his infancy?
  4. What do you find in this story that is instructive for your life?


Rev. Dr. James  Gertmenian 
Senior Minister

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3 Responses to Scripture Reading for March 27, 2011

  1. Charles Matson Lume says:

    This story seems the perfect metaphor for a “message in a bottle”. Aren’t we always sending out, however tentatively, our love?

  2. Lew Zeidner says:

    For me, the story highlights the paradoxical nature of relationships, particularly in parenting. Often what is best for the child is not what is best for the parent. It is hard to focus on the child’s needs rather than on our own. In that context, there has been much popular reference to, “it takes a village” to effectively raise a child. Perhaps this story is an original chapter to that perspective. To effectively raise Moses his mom needed to put her own short term needs aside and call upon the broader community and God to ensure his safety and longevity. In minor ways I take this test everyday with my own daughter as I manage my anxiety while she tries new things, takes risks and learns about life through the eyes and trust of others. It is likely that Moses learned how to lead a nation through watching the Pharaoh’s family from within their home more effectively than he would have learned those skills by experiencing the oppression of leadership from within his birth parents’ home. It is sometimes difficult to realize that I may not be the best teacher for all my daughter’s lessons; but imagining that she might be preparing to lead her people to a better land gives me motivation to bind my anxiety and trust in a bigger plan!

  3. Paul Price says:

    I don’t have children, but I was once a child. When I have imagined having children I feel a sense of protector, advocate and tour guide to what can be a very amazing world.

    I have watched and heard as brothers and friends of mine have raised their children and confronted the need to further and further let go of their ability to protect their children; often a very anxious process. Developmentally, the child must emerge from utter dependency and hoped for complete protection to necessarily pushing in fits and starts towards autonomy and exposure to risks and choices beyond its parents’ ability to control the outcome. It is frightening, I hear the anxiety, yet it has to happen.

    At the same time, I often think of a maternal great-granmother whose last child was born in 1900. She and her husband homesteaded in the Red River Valley, sod hut, later, a large and prosperous farm lost as collateral due to my great grandfather’s speculation in the 20’s. She had thirteen children and 6 of them died before reaching 5 years old. This was probably not wholly unusual during that time and those initial sod hut-type circumstances; it is amazing that she survived to an old age. How did she cope? Did she have any choice considering her probably very rigid Catholic upbringing and environment? I imagine prayers to many saints and it makes sense. The children certainly had no choice emerging into that environment. No pharoah’s daughter and against the odds return to their mother’s care and long life.

    I am not a pacifist, but I have also wondered does a parent, in necessarily and delightedly cooing over their children, ever think that they are bringing up a child who might later be cannon fodder? I am complicit, also, and this realization is one of the ways my faith in myself and “god” is strained.

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