(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Although they are in the Hall of Faith, we don’t learn the names of Moses’ parents in Hebrews 11:23:
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.
Their names are also left out of the Exodus story that Hebrews 11:23 references. We finally are introduced to them by name in Exodus 6:20: “Now Amram took…Jochebed, his fatther’s sister, as wife; and she bore him Aaron and Moses.” But there is also an older unnamed sister mentioned in Exodus chapter 2 (seven years older than Moses, and four years older than Aaron), and we don’t’ learn her name is Miriam until Exodus 15:20.
But first, we need a bit of background: Joseph had died long before, and…
...there arose a new king over Egypt who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Look... the children of Israel are more and mightier than we....” So Pharaoh commanded all his people... “Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.” (Exodus 1:8, 9, 22).
Now to the (shortened) Exodus story of Moses’ birth, in chapter 2, verses 1 through 3, 5 through 8, and 10:
And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him...put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's bank....Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river...and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. And...she...opened it... and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, “This is one of the Hebrews' children.” Then his sister said...“Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh's daughter said...“Go.” So the maiden went and called the child's mother. Then Pharaoh's daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” ...And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses... “Because I drew him out of the water.”
Amram and Jochebed where rewarded for obeying God’s leading rather than Pharaoh’s murderous directive!
- Jochebed was actually paid to raise her own son!
- They saw Moses receive the best education available! Stephen tells us in Acts 7:22 that “…Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians….”
- They saw their son become a leader, “…mighty in words and deeds.” (Acts 7:22).
- In Exodus 6:20 we learn that, “…the years of the life of Amram were one hundred and thirty seven.” Moses was 80 years old when he was called of God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (see Exodus 7:7). If Amram had fathered Moses before he was 57 years old, he could still have been living when his son performed the miracles of the ten plagues that led to Israel’s departure! We don’t know about Jochebed because the Scripture record does not give the length of her life.
These parents of Moses have a rightful place in the Hall of Faith because it took a lot of faith and courage do what they did at the birth of their third child!
But this series is called Heroes With Feet of Clay! And I have been hard put to find clay feet in Amram and Jochebed! But I think we can see their clay feet by implication and generalization.
In God’s creation account in Genesis 1, seventeen times it says that plants, animals, aquatic creatures, all were to reproduce “…according to their kind…,” or “…according to its kind…”! The same applies to human beings, for in Genesis 5:3 it says, “And Adam…begot a son in his own likeness, after his own image, and named him Seth.” It is also written in the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20:5, “…God [will] visit…the iniquities of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation….” I know this is true by experience! For I have had to battle in my own life the tendencies toward specific kinds of sins that both my father and mother dealt with, which they also inherited from their parents!
All this to say, the shortcomings in Moses’ and his sibling’s lives, I reasonably think we can assume some of the same shortcomings to be in the lives of their parents!
- Moses, at forty years old, acted out of his own wisdom and will, in that he murdered and Egyptian slave driver when he saw him beating a fellow Hebrew! In Stephen’s testimony in Acts 7:25, he said, “…he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand….”
- He feared for his life when the murder was found out!
- When God called him at the burning bush, He did not have great confidence in himself to lead the children of Israel our of Egypt!
✡ Exodus 3:11 – “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” ✡ Exodus 4:1 – “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’ ” ✡ Exodus 4:10 – “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” ✡ Exodus 4:13 (Easy-to-Read Version) – “My Lord, I beg you to send someone else, not me.”
It is only when God got angry with Moses, and included Aaron in the deal, that he finally obeyed (see Exodus 4:14).
- There are several times that Moses got angry with the Israelites as they wandered in the desert for forty years. But the most significant time he lost his temper is recorded in Numbers 20. The people complained (again) that there was no water for them or their livestock when they were camped in Kadesh. The LORD specifically said in verse 7, “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water….” In anger…
...Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation before the rock; and...said...‘Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses lifted his hand and stuck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly....
This selfish action of disobedience cost Moses and Aaron dearly!
Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”
If nothing else can convince us that Amram and Jochebed had clay feet, listen to the words of the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon (recorded three times in the Old Testament – I Kings 8:46; II Chronicles 6:36; Ecclesiastes 7:20): “Surely there is no one righteous on the earth who continually does good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 – Lexham English Bible).
So, even if we can’t definitely say Moses’ sinful tendencies were inherited from his parents, Amram and Jochebed are simply human beings, and, as Saint Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But if we try our best as we follow our Lord…
…we, and our children can be greatly used of God!