When Pharaoh’s daughter names Moses, it seems that she makes a mistake. The linguistic experts inform us that there is no way the name can have an Egyptian provenance. It is clearly a Hebrew name. She names him Moses because, she says, ‘I drew him out of the water.’
But here is the problem with what she says: the name cannot come from the passive construction of the Hebrew verb ‘to draw’. It would seem that is what she actually intended to name him: one drawn. I drew him = he was drawn. But she actually manages to name him ‘Drawer,’ that is: an active construction of the Hebrew verb.
Perhaps she didn’t know too much Hebrew. Why should she, after all, know the language of slaves?
I also think Moses is having a joke at his own expense. Hi, my name is Drawer. His foster-mother’s inadvertence was God’s design all along.
What is it Moses draws, since he is not just the one drawn?
The story of the circumstances under which this Drawer was born begins with the command to the midwives. What is it that mainly characterizes midwifery? They are the ones who draw the baby out.
That is the joke Moses is having at his expense, and his serious point: God appointed me a midwife for the birth of a people. They are born of Egypt, despite the Pharaoh’s attempts to stop it and prevent that birth, being drawn forth by God’s appointed midwife: the weak and reluctant Moses.
God, Moses is telling us, has his ways.