Moses in the Basket

moses in the basket
Rev. Henry Martin /

The Old Testament story of Moses in the Basket

The bible tells us time and time again how God can turn ashes into garlands, which is the case in the story of Moses in the Basket.

A little bit of background to this story: God had spoken to Abraham and told him to travel to the country of Canaan (modern-day Israel). He told Abraham he would be blessed with many descendants there, so many that they would outnumber the stars, and all nations would be blessed because of his faithfulness to God. When Abraham arrived in Canaan, God spoke to him again, promising all the land of Canaan to his descendants. 

Jesus was a descendent of Abraham and an heir to the blessings spoken of. Through faith in Jesus, Christians are automatically adopted as heirs in the Abrahamic lineage and so are also heirs to Abrahams’s blessings. These blessings guide and protect us and offer great hope in this life and the one to come. You can learn more about this here.

So onto the story of Moses in the Basket. Abraham settled well in Canaan and produced many children and grandchildren; however, there was a famine after some time. So Jacob, a grandson of Abraham and the then family’s patriarch, took his extended family of seventy to Egypt for better conditions and to be with his son Joseph, who held a high position in the government under the Pharaoh.

As God predicted to Abraham, the Israelites multiplied in numbers dramatically over the years in Egypt. Eventually, the Pharaoh became nervous that they were too many and thought they might try to take control of the land. So he enforced brutal laws and rules to subvert them and even decreed that every male baby born to Hebrews be thrown into the River Nile. 

However, a Hebrew mother, called Jochebed, managed to keep her newborn baby boy hidden for three months, but she knew she could not do this forever, so she dramatically decided to try and give him a chance in life. 

She waterproofed a basket, put the child in it, and carefully placed it in the river’s reeds, perhaps hoping and praying for a miracle. Her daughter Miriam hid in the reeds watching until the daughter of the Pharaoh came along to bathe in the river and found the child.

The Pharaoh’s daughter was well aware that the child was a Hebrew, and the family was probably trying to save him, so she decided to adopt him. Miriam then stepped out of the reeds and asked if she should find a Hebrew wet nurse to wean him. The Pharaoh’s daughter said yes.

Miriam brought Jochebed back to the place, and the Pharaoh’s daughter said she would pay her to bring him up until he was old enough to live in the Pharaoh’s palace with her. Exodus 2:1-10 NRSV

What does Moses in the Basket mean to us today?

God used the Pharaoh’s dark decree to kill all male newborn Hebrews to place the baby Moses where He wanted him to be. 

His mother might have known that there was a good chance that the Pharaoh’s daughter would find Moses in the reeds, and she might well have placed Miriam to watch over the situation and if all went to plan to ask if she should find a Hebrew nurse so that her mother could still bring Moses up.

Perhaps the Pharaoh’s daughter could see that Moses’ mother had obeyed the law by putting the baby in the river, but was touched by the beauty and innocence of the child and the desperate hope of Jochebed and Miriam.

Whatever the reasoning was, Moses was then brought up by his natural mother in his early years. Then by his adopted mother, when he learned from the best teachers in the land about Egyptian culture and civilisation at the Pharaoh’s palace. This prepared him to lead the Israelites out of slavery and persecution in Egypt and back to Canaan; his ultimate destiny and purpose as planned by God. 

God still makes garlands from ashes today. When things go wrong, and everything seems against us, God is taking us up to the next level. He is positioning us for what he has intended from the beginning of time. He knows what He is doing. We may be in a difficult situation, it might be unfair, and we might call out to God – why me?

But, at times like this, we need to just let go and surrender ourselves to Jesus, saying, Jesus, you take over.

Then don’t be surprised when things start turning around and one day you suddenly realise that you are on another path which, as with Moses in the Basket, will be taking you towards the destiny God always had in mind for you.

However bad a situation might be, always remember that God will never test us with more than we can bear. Never forget that all those who believe in Jesus are recipients of God’s blessings upon Abraham in Canaan.

‘For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11 (NRSVA)

You can find out more about Moses and how his life unfolded at A Church Near You in the link below – or contact me to learn more:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *