A Leader is Born
A certain man of the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman.
Hashem looked upon the Israelites, and Hashem took notice of them.
Despite the order to kill all Hebrew male infants, a couple from the tribe of Levi gives birth to a baby boy. The mother hides her son for as long as she can — three months — before placing him in a waterproof basket on the riverbank among the reeds. The child’s sister watches after her young brother, and when the baby is discovered by the daughter of Pharaoh, she offers to find her a wet-nurse for him. As the Israel Bible mentions, these humble beginnings produce the greatest teacher the Children of Israel have ever known. Moses is even noted by the Torah as the most humble person (Numbers 12:3).
According to a tradition based on the verse in 1 Chronicles 4:18, Pharaoh’s daughter’s name was Batya, which means daughter of God. She is recognized for her righteousness in saving Moses’s life.
Young Moses is named and raised by the daughter of Pharaoh in the Egyptian palace. The Torah recounts his adventures as he reaches adulthood.
Three episodes are described in which Moses comes to the aid of those less fortunate than himself. While in the first incident, the Torah does not describe the reaction of the recipient’s of Moses’s help, in the second incident, the people were ungrateful for Moses’s intervention, and threaten to turn him into Pharaoh. Moses is forced to flee Egypt, after which he has another opportunity to help others. In this case, his aid is greatly appreciated. In this new land, he finds a wife and starts a family.
While Moses is settling into his life in exile, the Torah relates the degree of the Israelites’ suffering. God observes their oppression and decides the time has come to release them from their bondage.
Virtual Classroom Discussion
- Many movies about the life of Moses portray his shock at discovering he is a Hebrew. Is this supported by the text? Do you think others in Egypt knew his true identity? How might this affect his ability later to lead the people out of Egypt?