Exodus 2:1-10 NIV
The Birth of Moses
1Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basketa 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. 4His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5Then 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. 6She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
7Then 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. 9Pharaoh’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.
10When 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.”
A man ... a daughter of Levi - Amram and Jochebed. See Exodus 6:20.
A son - Not her firstborn; Aaron and Miriam were older than Moses. A fine child - See the marginal references. Probably Jochebed did not call in a midwife Exodus 1:15, and she was of course cautious not to show herself to Egyptians. The hiding of the child is spoken of as an act of faith in Hebrews 11:23. It was done in the belief that God would watch over the child.
The ark was made of the papyrus which was commonly used by the Egyptians for light and swift boats. The species is no longer found in the Nile below Nubia. It is a strong rush, like the bamboo, about the thickness of a finger, three cornered, and grows to the height of 10 to 15 feet. It is represented with great accuracy on the most ancient monuments of Egypt.
Slime and pitch - The "slime" is probably the mud, of which bricks were usually made in Egypt, and which in this case was used to bind the stalks of the papyrus into a compact mass, and perhaps also to make the surface smooth for the infant. The pitch or bitumen, commonly used in Egypt, made the small vessel water-tight.
In the reeds - This is another species of the papyrus, called tuff, or sufi (an exact equivalent of the Hebrew סוּף sûph), which was less in size and height than the rush of which the ark was made.
The traditions which give a name to the daughter of Pharaoh are merely conjectural. Egyptian princesses held a very high and almost independent position under the ancient and middle empire, with a separate household and numerous officials. This was especially the case with the daughters of the first sovereigns of the 18th Dynasty.
Many facts concur in indicating that the residence of the daughter of Pharaoh and of the family of Moses, was at Zoan, Tanis, now San, the ancient Avaris (Exodus 1:8 note), on the Tanitic branch of the river, near the sea, where crocodiles are never found, and which was probably the western boundary of the district occupied by the Israelites. The field of Zoan was always associated by the Hebrews with the marvels which preceded the Exodus. See Psalm 78:43.
To wash - It is not customary at present for women of rank to bathe in the river, but it was a common practice in ancient Egypt. The habits of the princess, as well as her character, must have been well known to the mother of Moses, and probably decided her choice of the place.
She had compassion on him - The Egyptians regarded such tenderness as a condition of acceptance on the day of reckoning. In the presence of the Lord of truth each spirit had to answer, "I have not afflicted any man, I have not made any man weep, I have not withheld milk from the mouths of sucklings" ('Funeral Ritual'). There was special ground for mentioning the feeling, since it led the princess to save and adopt the child in spite of her father's commands.
He became her son - His training and education was, humanly speaking, all but indispensable to the efficient accomplishment of his work as the predestined leader and instructor of his countrymen. Moses probably passed the early years of his life in Lower Egypt, where the princess resided. However, there may be substantial grounds for the tradition in Josephus that he was engaged in a campaign against the Ethiopians, thus showing himself, as Stephen says, "mighty in word and deed."
Moses מֹשֶׁה (mo-sheh') - The Egyptian origin of this word is generally admitted. The name itself is not uncommon in ancient documents. The exact meaning is "son," but the verbal root of the word signifies "produce," "draw forth." The whole sentence in Egyptian would exactly correspond to our King James Version. She called his name Moses, i. e. "son," or "brought forth," because she brought him forth out of the water.