My empty house is very quiet this morning.
My linen-scented candle provides a pleasant aroma as I sit down with my coffee to spend time with God. I turn on my worship music playlist and click shuffle.
These are the quiet moments that I longed for in my 30s and 40s when my mornings were far from peaceful.
When sips of coffee were taken between spreading peanut butter on toast and looking for shoes, the only resemblance of music in the house was the repetitive requests to get in the car.
We discussed short worship thoughts in the car and said prayers in the school parking lot.
My children are starting their day in their own homes this morning. My thoughts turn to them as I begin my quiet time.
- Did I plant enough seeds in their hearts?
- Did I lead by example?
- Did I immerse them in God’s love?
Turning back to the reading plan I am doing, I begin Exodus. My mind jumps ahead since I have heard Moses’ story for decades.
I reach Exodus 2:7, where Moses’ sister, Miriam, offers to get a nursing Hebrew woman to help the princess. I pause and rewind. Now I want to read this from the perspective of a mother.
The Pharaoh of Egypt decrees that every baby boy would be thrown into the Nile River and killed. Jochebed saves her baby boy by placing him in a basket she made and laying him in the river where the Pharaoh’s daughter will bathe.
As a mother, I sit in that moment for a little while.
I can feel Jochebed’s desperation to save her son, sending her daughter Miriam to watch over and wait on the basket. Prayer was the only thing she could rely on!
Having caught up with where I left off reading, I can hear what God wanted to say to me that morning. While I sat thinking about where my kids were and what they might be doing, he wanted to calm my desperate heart.
My heart went out to Jochebed as she wished for more time with her son and prayed for his safety, knowing it was out of her control now.
Her prayers were soon answered, and she was able to nurse her son for a little while longer.
“Then, Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse him for me, and I will pay your wages.” So the woman took the boy and nursed him.” Exodus 2:9
I often read through this and pictured Jochebed holding baby Moses to her chest and nursing him as I did with my children.
But there is more to nursing than just feeding, and there was also a difference in how long mothers nursed their children back then.
I wanted to examine these statements in context to understand what this passage says about nursing and just how much time Jochebed had with Moses.
In verse 3, Moses’ mother placed him in a basket among the reeds in the River Nile at the age of three months, so we know that he is still dependent on his mother for nourishment.
Pharaoh’s daughter inadvertently hired the boy’s mother, Jochebed, as his wet nurse. In this case, Moses would be breastfed beyond three months.
Verse 10 says the child “grew,” or, more literally, “grew up.”
There is no doubt that Jochebed “nursed” her son for longer than just a few months. References in the Bible demonstrate that in Biblical times, children were breastfed for an extended period, not just a few months but years.
Various sources say Moses was around three years old when he was returned to Pharaoh’s daughter.
Besides nursing Moses with breast milk, I see Jochebed nursing Moses in other ways. In addition to caring for Moses’ physical needs, Jochebed also nursed his spiritual and educational growth.
I imagine she sang traditional Hebrew songs, recited scriptures, played games, and taught him everything she could in her short amount of time.
As I thought about that, I remembered the times I had done the same with my kids. I would sing church songs, do Bible charades, and read to them. I taught them everything I could in what seemed like such a short time. But not compared to Jochebed.
Then, when he grew older, Jochebed took him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
As Jochebed walked back into her house, did she look at the chair where Moses used to sit and wonder:
- Did I plant enough seeds in his heart?
- Did I lead by example?
- Did I immerse him in God’s love?
“It probably appealed to the robust Israelite sense of humor that Jochebed was ‘spoiling the Egyptians’ by receiving pay for nursing her own son: but there was also a deeper purpose in it.
No doubt, it was in these early years that Moses learned of the ‘God of the fathers’ (Exod. 3:15) and realized that the Hebrews were his fellow countrymen (Exod. 2:11).
Psychologists rightly stress the importance of impressions received during the earliest years. Without this ancestral background, God’s later revelation to Moses would have been rootless.” Alan Cole, Exodus: An Introduction and Commentary
The story in the bible skips to years later, and we see that Moses is out observing – his own people!
How did Moses know those were his people years later after he had grown up? It’s likely he was no longer taught Hebrew history after becoming an adopted palace member.
It was from the nursing of his mother!
Jochebed only had three years to plant seeds, yet years later, God was able to use them.
Because of Jochebed’s faithfulness in training/ nursing a child how he should go, he did not depart from it when he was old.
Reading these verses reassured me that the God who was faithful to grow fruit from Jochebed’s seeds is the same God who can work with what I have planted.
He will be faithful to the seeds you plant too!
Cheri Fletcher is a writer, speaker, and host of the Your Spiritual Game Plan podcast.
She loves to help others develop a strategy for living out God’s plan for their life because the enemy has a strategic plot against it.
Cheri and her husband, Todd, live in Tennessee as empty nesters. They have three grown children, one daughter-in-law, and will get another soon.
She loves walking with her dog Libby and running with friends! She will also invite you in for a cup of coffee anytime, no matter what state her kitchen is in!
I totally resonated with this. As I am at the beach with my grandchildren right now, I have parlayed your information into what I can introduce to them in the formative years of their life, also. It brings such joy!
Thank you friend! I love the we also get a concept that we can also nurture our grandchildren! What a blessing for them to have you in their lives.
Cheri, thank you so much for the reminder of the seeds we’ve planted in our children! Sometimes it’s so hard to watch my grown adult children make the choices they do. I know I planted the Word of God in their heart. I prayed with them, instructed them and brought them to church, youth group and many summer camps. But I have to admit, sometimes I wonder, where did that seed go? It’s hard when their lifestyles do not in any way reflect how they were brought up.
So, thank you so much for the reminder that I did indeed plant seeds in their hearts, and that their faith journey is in God’s hand!
Many blessings to you!
Thank You Rhonda! Amen, I believe it’s something that every mother worries about. In that moment, God wanted to comfort me, so I am so thankful the story of Jochebed can comfort you as well, my friend!!
Have a wonderful Mother’s Day, friend.