Out of the darkness, a new light shines. Out of strife, the Savior is born.
Culture wars, Women, and a Savior
Chapter One of Exodus gives us the backstory of the conflict between the Egyptian and Hebrew cultures. Chapter Two tells the origin story of the Hero and Savior: Moses.
Most origins are born out of conflict and the birth of Moses is a beautiful example. Egypt laid the foundation of its own destruction with the persecution and oppression of the Hebrew people. This birth narrative, which has some echoes in the birth of Christ, stands as a contrast to Chapter One. The conflict and its escalation are fueled by the king of Egypt and the strong men of the Hebrew people. This chapter introduces some of the women and their influence on this cultural war, through the birth and upbringing of Moses, the Savior of the Hebrew people.
Moses’s mother is the first woman mentioned. Out of love and admiration for her newborn son, she defied the Egyptians and hid her baby. Once he became too big to hide away from the Egyptians, she created a small watercraft for him and left him in the shallow waters of the Nile River. I am guessing that this was a safe part of the Nile River because the Egyptian royal family bathes in this place.
The second woman is Moses’s older sister. She follows the baby down the river, making sure he is safe from wild animals. She may have followed out of curiosity. A young girl would be noticed less than a grown woman. Either way, I expect that the Egyptians would not be looking for Hebrew women to be taking their own babies down to the Nile, since that is where the Egyptians took them to drown. This young girl is instrumental in creating a situation where the enemies of God’s people become the ones who save the Savior from the death they decreed.
Daughter of the Enemy
The final woman in this story is the daughter of the king of Egypt. She spied the baby’s craft and made her servants bring him to her. She knew he was a Hebrew child at once. Yet, instead of trying to kill him, she adopted him instead. Adoption was her way of fighting in the culture war. In a way, it was stealing away this boy instead of killing him, adding one more strong male to the Hebrew culture. It was the daughter of Egypt’s king who named the baby boy “Moses”.
Because of her pity, Moses was raised in the palace of his enemy. He got to know the Egyptian culture very well, and he ended up knowing far less about his own people. This was an unexpected upbringing for the Savior of God’s people.
There is an entire motif through the Old Testament involving Egypt. Egypt appears occasionally as a national entity that oppresses the Hebrew people, both in Genesis and Exodus. Later, in the Prophets, it also takes on a symbolic kind of role, such as in Hosea 11, where it eventually is interpreted as a prophecy of the Messiah. In each scenario you have God bringing light from the darkness and calling a Savior up out of the very people that seek to oppress His people.
Where do you look for the Savior?
We do not often look for our Savior to come from the camp of the enemy, especially in divisive times such as these. Here in Exodus we see a potent formula for creating the perfect (or nearly perfect) candidate to deliver God’s people out of bondage: three women from two different cultures, working to raise up the hero together. Moses: a man of two worlds. A Savior who can see both perspectives and stand outside the conflict as well.
Again, there are tremendous political and leadership implications of this. What about our personal response? It is more comfortable to take up the mantle of Savior-seeker than to find those opportunities where we can be peacemakers ourselves. God does not ask us to be the Savior, or a savior, but He calls us to join with Jesus, our Savior, as the Body of Christ in this world that is desperate for help.
What helps you bring light into darkness and peace into strife?
What do you see here?
I’d love to hear what you see in this passage. You can comment below or send a text to 859-636-6965 for a faster response. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on peacemaking.