Jochebed – A Mom for the Times
Moses’ parents, Amram and Jochebed, lived in Egypt. The city of Memphis was nearby, and there you would find the center of government, as well as centers for trade, art, war, and religion. Egypt was known for its produce of leeks, melons, and garlic; it’s crops of barley, wheat and rye; as well as for its’ fabrics, spices, and balm for the dead. And with Egypt the center of demand for such a large and wealthy population, the roads were busy with camels, donkeys, and caravans; and the river was covered with boats, barges and ships. Of course, you could not miss the pyramids on the horizon—a very real reminder of the Egyptian’s perspective on life after death.
It is against this backdrop of activity, wealth, and commerce that we find the suffering of slavery.
If you remember, Israel ended up in Egypt because of famine. By God’s providence, Joseph had been elevated to second to Pharaoh alone so that he could store up food during the famine. When Israel came to Egypt, they numbered 70 people. Now, nearly 400 years later, Israel has grown to nearly 2 million, and all this time, God has kept Israel as a distinct nation for Himself.
There was a new dynasty that did not remember what Joseph had done for Egypt. Instead of viewing Israel as a friend, it now viewed them as a threat. They were forced to work collecting a certain number of bricks daily, and if they didn’t meet the quota they were whipped, or scourged.
Exodus 1:14 says their lives were made bitter as they were forced to work with hard bondage, and with rigor.
Amram and Jochabed were no exception. We are not told about their daily life, but it’s possible Amram would have been a slave himself. As a wife, it would be difficult to see your husband go daily into the rigors of bitter bondage. From morning until night he would work under the burning sun; returning home with his back and body bleeding from the scourging.
However, the more afflicted Israel became, the more they multiplied (vs. 12). Jochabed became pregnant under these circumstances; instead of joy, there was dread.
Pharaoh feared the growth of Egypt, and required every child under the age to two be killed.
But his is the way God chooses to work—in the darkest times for Israel, her deliverer is to be born.