I love holding our baby and gazing at his perfect nub of a nose. Suddenly a silly thought ran through my mind, I pick up the edge of my skirt and lift it over his face and whisper “Ha!” as I drop my skirt. His squeals of delight draw the whole family in to watch. Lift, “Ha,” squeal! Our laughter fills every corner of our home. As someone standing outside our door calls out, “Do I hear a baby in there?” our laughter freezes! The day we have feared for our baby’s entire life has come true.
My parents exchange glances as mother scoops the baby out of my arms gently singing and cooing in his ear. She hands the baby to my father as she pulls out a basket I saw her weave a few weeks back. My mother starts to paint the bottom of the basket with tar and pitch.
“Mom, why are you painting that basket with tar?”
“Miriam, this is not going to make a whole lot of sense to you right now, but we are going to place the baby in the basket on the Nile River. This will keep the baby from getting wet.” Tears start rolling down my face in cascades of want. I can barely lift my head to look her in the face. Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I lift You up! I trust You! Help our baby!
I walk beside my mother and father and watch them kiss our baby good-bye one last time, as they lay him down in the Nile River. They could not bear to watch, so they turn and walk away. I hide in the twenty-foot reeds and watch our baby in the basket. I fear for his life. The anxiousness makes me feel as if I might throw up. I wade into the water amidst the reeds as the leaves sharply scrape my arms and legs as tears stream down my face. I love our baby so much! I do not know why my parents put our baby in a papyrus basket, but they did!
I hear them coming before they arrive at the riverbank. I inhale as I realize that Pharaoh’s daughter and attendants are approaching our baby in a basket.
“Look, there is a basket lapping in the reeds at the edge of the river.” Pharaoh’s daughter reaches over and touches the shoulder of one of her slave girls. She says something to her in Egyptian. The slave girl nods her head and walks to the riverbank and picks up our baby in his basket cocoon. I draw in my breath and cannot breathe. She has our baby. She is carrying our baby. My mind screams the reminder that Pharaoh has ordered that boys be thrown in the river to die. If she throws him in I will rescue him. I do not care if she sees me or not. I must protect our baby. “Oh, LORD help!”
The slave girl takes the basket over to Pharaoh’s daughter and she sits it in front of her on the ground. Curiosity wrinkles the smooth features on her face. She wonders at such an interruption during her day. She bends over the basket and tentatively lifts the lid to peer at the contents. As the light of day breaks through the crack of the opening, our baby lets out a hungry wail. I can see it stirring on her face—that same look everyone gets when they look upon a baby. It does not matter to her that he is Hebrew. She just feels sorry for the hungry babe.
Compulsion, fear, and adrenaline over take me and I can’t hide anymore. As they gaze upon our baby, I rush to their side crying, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter looks at me for a moment. Her eyes travel up and down my body. She can see the scratches from the reeds in the river on my face. My clothes soaked up to my waist betraying me further. I am sure she knows I know the baby. “Yes, go.” I felt as if all of heaven opens up for me as she grants me favor. “Thank You, Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!”
I need not hear more. I ran as fast as I can to my mother and father to tell them about Pharaoh’s daughter. My mother falls to her knees and cries tears of joy. Pharaoh said all boys had to be thrown into the river. We threw our baby into the river—we just put him in a basket first. YHWH had Pharaoh’s own daughter raise him up out of the river. He lifts us up!
She names our baby Moses, because she drew him out of water. My mother nurses him until the day he is weaned. So each day as she nurses him, she sings to him songs of our heritage so he will remember whence he came from. She speaks to him only in Hebrew so he will know our language. Our baby lives in two worlds—born a slave, yet raised, as a prince.
My parents warn me that I must never again say, “That is my baby brother” out loud. But the passion and fervency with which I love him cannot be contained in just words. I knew in my heart he is our baby and so as I watch him grow, I make a point to know all that goes on with him in his life. My intensity for protecting him grows each day. I struggle to keep my thoughts contained. Moses consumes all my thoughts as I bend over in the sun collecting the mud for bricks. I keep my eyes open for the features of our baby. Through the course of time, he grows into a comely man and my passion to serve him by protecting increases all the more. My prayers center on his return to our people.
“Miriam, did you hear what Moses did?”
“No, what happened?”
“He killed an Egyptian and buried him in the sand. He was confronted by two Hebrew men fighting. He was last seen running off into the desert.”
My heart begins to break in two. It cannot be true! Moses, our baby gone? He fled the land of Egypt. According to the story whispered among the Hebrew slaves as they work to build Pharaoh’s kingdom, as Moses watched over the Hebrews, one of the Egyptian labor masters severely beat a Hebrew slave. Moses rushed to rescue his people, and in a fit of rage, he killed the Egyptian labor master. His rage cost me not seeing his chiseled features. But I knew his face so well, and I turned my passion into praying fervently for Moses to return to his people. The passage of time seems so eternal, but through the course of time he does return.
One night in a dream, GOD tells my brother Aaron to go and meet Moses in the dessert. Oh, the excitement we all feel that our baby will return. Oh, I know he is a grown man by now, but in my heart he will always be our baby. I watch for him day after day waiting anxiously to gaze upon the face of the baby GOD lifted up from the perils of death in the River Nile. The moment I see a shadow on the horizon, I knew it was them. My heart flutters and races with abandon for our baby, who has returned home.
Excerpt Taken From REDEEMED TO PRAISE, p. 14-16, Confident Singing: No Excuses, Lift Him up!