The second chapter of Exodus is a story dominated by female figures.
Women can do things men can’t; that is the point. They can be mothers and daughters, they can be sisters and wives, they can be wet-nurses and give birth to children. None of these are things men can do or are meant to do. Women were designed for doing these things.
Notice also how important it is for this story that they behave in ways women instinctively do, especially the maternal instinct. Moses’ mother obviously cares for her child. She does it by faith, knowing God has purposes for him. She nurtures him as long as she can; when she can no longer hide him, she builds and ark (it is a kind of prayer, asking God to deliver him from the water as he did Noah of old) and strategically places it where the princess comes to bathe. Moses’ sister too looks out for him—no doubt coached by her mother. She waits patiently, runs up with her suggestion, and takes care of her baby brother the way any little girl naturally would. And, of course, Pharaoh’s daughter and her maidens pity the child. They recognize that it is a Hebrew child, but they feel compassion for the small creature, as one would expect. Nobody says: What are all these women doing, protecting a baby? It is the most obvious thing that they should. What is wrong is that there is someone killing babies in this story.
We learn that God’s purposes run through God’s design. God was not stopped by the culture of death of Egypt at the outset--in the episode with the midwives who feared the Lord, disobeyed the king, and whom God remembers eternally. A midwife is a traditional woman’s role for a reason. God’s purposes run through God’s design; God’s purposes are God’s Design or his Decree. And God had plans for Moses.
Because God has plans, Moses was nourished and weaned at Pharaoh’s expense, and was given the benefit of an upbringing in the house of Pharaoh himself. This was also God’s design. Had Pharaoh not decreed the genocide, Moses would never have ended up being adopted by an Egyptian princess (which is another role no man can occupy). Pharaoh’s culpable, mutable, and evil decree did not at all set aside God’s eternal, saving, and blessed Decree to save a people by his appointed means.
One of the interesting points God is making goes all the way from Genesis 3:15, though the barren women of Genesis, through Exodus 2, on through Hannah in 1st Samuel, and through Elizabeth in the late 1st century BC to that ultimate barren woman: the virgin Mary who had not even known a man. What is that point? That if women could not have children, we could not be saved.
Because God’s purposes run through God’s design.
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