Jochebed’s story is a short one, but her legacy lasts through the generations. She inspires us all to be moms who protect our children. Just watching the nightly news reminds us that our world is a dangerous place. Protecting our children from every threat of danger may seem impossible. While we can’t protect them from everything, we can give them a firm foundation. We can be mothers of protection. Elizabeth George writes, “Jochebed shows you how to hold up your frightening, seemingly impossible situations to your Father in heaven.”
Jochebed’s story is set in Egypt where the descendants of Abraham, the Hebrews, suffered as slaves. Although Joseph had wielded power and influence in Egypt, time had passed and the new pharaoh “did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8). In other words, he had no reason to protect or even respect the Hebrews. He did take notice of them because their numbers were growing–growing so fast that he decided to make their lives miserable. Hard manual labor, harsh conditions, and demanding taskmasters were part of everyday life for the Hebrews. But they continued to have children so Pharaoh took drastic measures.
The pharaoh ordered all male Hebrew babies be put to death. They were to be thrown in the river. One Hebrew couple, identified as descendants of Levi, disobeyed the pharaoh’s orders. When this wife, Jochebed, had a son they hid him from the pharaoh for three months. It took great courage and faith in God for Jochebed to protect the life of her baby. But as he grew I’m sure he became louder and more active and was harder to hide. So Jochebed built a small boat and sent her sweet baby floating down the river, with big sister Miriam following the currents.
Jochebed would agree with pastor and author David Platt who writes, “God creates, blesses, and saves each us of for a radically global purpose.” If she didn’t believe that God had a plan for her children, she would not have risked her life to protect Moses.
Even if you didn’t know Jochebed by name, the next part of the story is probably familiar to you. This baby was taken from the river by Pharaoh’s daughter. He was named “Moses” because he was drawn out of the water. Little Miriam offered to call a Hebrew nurse for the baby. She went, of course, to the baby’s own mother. Women at this time often nursed their children for three years. Though Jochebed didn’t have much time with her young son, she must have taken each precious minute and used it to its full advantage.
Jochebed not only protected baby Moses from death, she also protected her other children Miriam and Aaron. They were growing up as slaves in Egypt, and in order for them to stand firm as adults, they needed a solid foundation of faith that included protecting them from the pagan culture around them.
Scripture tells us that Jochebed protected her children because she was not afraid, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict,” (Hebrews 11:23). Their protection empowered Moses to be unafraid. “By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger for the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible,” (Hebrews 11:27).
Protecting our children does not mean we make them fearful toward the world. Protecting our children ensures that no matter what our children encounter, they will have the foundation they need to overcome obstacles and follow God’s plan for their lives.
(If you’re interested, you can click over to my personal blog for more I wrote on Jochebed, one of my favorite biblical mothers!)