Mojżesz – brat Miriam i Aarona, syn Jochebed i Amrama, wnuk Leviego – brata Jakuba, ojca Józefa; The Prince Of Egypt
„THE POWER IS REAL
THE STORY IS FOREVER
THE TIME IS NOW”
Yal-di ha-tov veh ha-rach
(My good and tender son)
Al ti-ra veh al tif-chad
(Don’t be frightened and don’t be scared)
Jochebed, the mother of Moses and Aaron and Miriam, surely was one of the greatest Jewish women that ever lived. Think of it: Moses, who brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and who received the Torah on Mount Sinai. Aaron, who was the High Priest and the father of all the Kohanim. Miriam, who was a prophetess, in whose merits the children of Israel had water during the forty years wandering in the desert. Was there ever a mother who had three more famous children?
Let us speak of her for a few moments and see how and why she became the greatest mother in Israel.
Jochebed was the daughter of Levi, Jacob’s son. She was born at the very moment when Jacob and his entire household, Levi and his wife among them, had just entered the gates of Egypt. That was in the year 2238 after Creation. Jochebed was the youngest member of the seventy souls that made up Jacob’s household.
Jochebed was brought up by her father and grandfather. For seventeen years she was together, with her grandfather, for Jacob died seventeen years after his coming to Egypt. Jochebed married her nephew Amram, a grandson of her father.
Her father died when Jochebed was 93 or 94 years old, for Levi was the last of Jacob’s twelve sons to die (in the year 2331 or 2332). It was then that the troubled times began for her people. But the real oppression began some thirty years later. It was then that the cruel Pharaoh ordered all newly born baby boys of the children of Israel to be put to death.
Jochebed was the chief Jewish nurse in Egypt. She was a great lover of Jewish children, and devoted all her time to helping young Jewish mothers and their newly born babies. Her daughter Miriam, then still a little girl, only five years old, was helping her.
Pharaoh sent for Jochebed and Miriam and told them that it was up to them to see to it that his order was carefully carried out. Miriam perked up her nose and waved her finger at the cruel king, who was worse than a beast. Pharaoh would have ordered the little girl killed, but her mother pleaded for her life, saying that she was only a child, and didn’t know what she was talking about. After leaving the king’s palace, Miriam said: „Mother what are we going to do? You are not going to kill little babies are you?”
„Heaven forbid!” Jochebed replied. „Our father Abraham taught us to help people live, even strangers. He set up inns at the crossroads to provide shelter and food for everybody. We are going to work harder than ever to see that every Jewish child should be saved.”
„But Pharaoh will kill us!” Miriam exclaimed.
„We will have to take that chance, even if it costs us our lives,” Jochebed said with determination.
From that day on, Jochebed and Miriam worked day and night. They helped young Jewish mothers. They gathered baby clothes and baby food from the richer Jews to give it to the poorer ones. They brought real help and courage to the enslaved and suffering Jewish people. They were real angels of mercy. And God was good to them and protected them. They found one excuse after another for Pharaoh, and he did not kill them.
When Pharaoh gave out that cruel decree, Jochebed and her husband Amram, decided to separate. „What is the use of raising a family if the children are to be thrown into the water?” they said. But Miriam said to her father, „What you are doing will hurt our people even more than Pharaoh can hurt us. For Pharaoh wants to destroy ourbaby boys only. But if all Jewish parents would follow your example and you are after all the greatest and wisest leader of them all, there would soon be no Jewish people left at all, for no one would want to raise a family!”
Jochebed and Amram saw that their little girl was right. „We must do our duty, and let God do His, they decided, and they remarried again. Once again Miriam prophesied: „I’m going to have a little brother who will save our people!” And again she was right… For soon little Moses was born, and the whole house was filled with light. Three years earlier Aaron was born, when Miriam was two years old.
For three months after Moses was born, Jochebed hid him from Pharaoh’s officers, who went from house to house to search for Jewish baby boys. Then she knew that she could no longer hide him. Rather than give up the boy to the cruel Egyptians, Jochebed decided to entrust him to God. She made a little box out of wood, made it water-tight, and placed it among the reeds in the Nile, with a prayer to God to save him.