And she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. — Exodus 2:2–3
Every Friday at the Sabbath meal, it is the Jewish tradition for the husband to sing the words from Proverbs 31:10–31 to his wife, praising her as an eishet chayil, a “woman of valor.” It is the highest compliment one can bestow upon a mother, a wife, a daughter. But what constitutes a woman of valor? During this month as we celebrate the women in our lives, enjoy these devotions from the timeless teachings of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein on what it means to be an eishet chayil.
For parents who have watched their children leave home to begin an independent life in the “real world,” it’s a moment filled with emotions — sadness at their leaving, pride in what they have accomplished, and yes, a bit of fear of the unknown. How will they handle the disappointments of life? Will they make good decisions? Will they hold firm to the lessons of faith instilled in them for the past 18 or so years?
Now imagine that you only had half that time to instill these important lessons of faith and life into your children? In all likelihood, Jochebed, Moses’ mother, had roughly seven years or less to impart a knowledge and love for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob into her young son. Would those lessons be enough to guide Moses to make good decisions and follow a life of faith?
Everyone knows the story of Moses’ mother hiding her young Hebrew son from certain death decreed by the Egyptian pharaoh because he feared the growing number of Israelites in his country. We know how, with great courage and faith, Moses’ mother placed her son in a waterproof basket and lodged it among the reeds on the bank of the Nile. We remember how she instructed her little girl, Miriam, to wait nearby and watch the baby.
We know that when the pharaoh’s daughter discovered the baby boy and decided to keep it for her own, Miriam bravely stepped forward and offered to “find” a Hebrew woman to nurse and care for the child until he was older — Moses’ very own mother! Moses was probably around age 7 when he was sent back to pharaoh’s daughter to assume his life as a prince of Egypt. And for that brief time that Jochebed had with her son, Moses, we know that she raised her son and her other two children well.
Indeed, Jochebed was a great influence on her three children. Moses became one of the greatest national leaders of all time; Aaron became Israel’s first high priest; and Miriam was a gifted poetess and musician who turned the hearts of a nation toward the God who delivered them.
Although Jochebed probably did not live to see how God would use her children to deliver the nation 80 years later, her legacy as a mother of faith has long been remembered. The Christian Bible (the New Testament) honors Jochebed as a heroine of faith, saying: “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Hebrews 11:23).
Jochebed serves as an inspiration to all mothers to instill faith in their children during their formative years. Then trust God and wait to see what He will do with their lives.