It is said that women played a significant role in shaping history, and their influences can be felt long before they were gone. Jochebed was one of those women. Who was she and what was her role in the life of Moses? Jochebed means glorious, honorable; it could also mean “whose glory is Jehovah.”[i]
In Numbers 26:59, “The name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt. And she bore to Amram Aaron and Moses and Miriam their sister”. (ESV)
Have you ever experienced giving up or letting go somebody or something very dear to you? How do you describe the feeling when you released that person or that thing? Does that kind of emptiness fills your whole being and burns at your soul? Truth be told, it is always painful to lose someone precious to you. The pangs of anxiety and loneliness gnaws at your heart. It breaks the spirit and it makes even the strongest person powerless. What do you do when you have done everything to prevent its loss? How would you fix that gaping hole of emptiness?
Jochebed personifies a woman with a strong faith and a woman of courage. Both Amran and Jochebed remained strong in their faith when all the other Israelites around them have fallen to idolatry.
Sometimes, after we have done everything to prevent losing that special person or thing, the only choice we have is to let go. Letting go involves trusting God for all the possible outcomes. When you have that kind of faith, God honors it. It unleashes God’s incredible power and divine provision. We know from the Scriptures that God is always impressed by men and women with faith. And faith does not disappoint us because God always rewards faith.
In Exodus 2:1-10, we find an extra ordinary story of an ordinary boy named Moses.
“Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
Earlier, in Exodus 1:22, “22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
In a strange twist of irony, Jochebed’s life reveals God’s wonderful provision working out its design in the dreadful swirl of whims and caprices borne by human motives. Notwithstanding Pharaoh’s edict, Jochebed put the matters into her own hands and acted on a mother’s instinct by hiding Moses for three months. The choice to defy the Pharaoh’s edict to hide baby Moses puts the whole family at risk. But her love for her son was stronger, more powerful than the threats. And her incredible faith in God sustained the infant Moses and kept him alive.
And Jochebed got a bonus reward: the Pharaoh had to pay her a salary for taking care of her own baby. That’s provision; that’s divine intervention.
As God’s hand in history started to manifest, she knows that a time will come when Moses will not stay by her side, and she will have to let him go again and to trust God again, as her son continues onward in his journey to fulfill his destiny.
Exodus 2:10 When the child grew older she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “Because I drew him from the water.”
Letting go and trusting God does not give you back the job that you lost; letting go and trusting God does not give you back the husband or the wife or the child or the parents that you love and lost; letting go and trusting God does not prevent the terrorist from killing innocent people; letting go and trusting God does not heal all the diseases nor it can mend all the broken relationships.
But if there is one thing we learn from Jochebed’s life it’s the fact that letting go and trusting God could save one life that could save millions of others, or, that it could heal one disease in order to help heal the others, or, that it could mend one broken relationship in order to help mend hundreds of other relationships, or, that it could make one dream come true so that hundreds of other dreams become a reality.
For additional resources about Jochebed and her family, please refer to this online link of the Torah