A famine generations earlier in their own land had led the ancient Israelites to Egypt, where they prospered. Though the Israelites had lived in Egypt under favorable conditions, Pharaoh, a new ruler in Egypt , abandoned any hospitality toward the Israelites. Pharaoh feared the power of the Israelite people so he enslaved them. Despite – or perhaps because of – Pharaoh’s oppression, the Israelite population continued to grow. Out of fear, Pharaoh ordered that all newborn males among the Hebrew people be killed at birth. Hiding her son was the Levite woman’s act of resistance against Pharaoh’s edict. The child she saved became the leader of the Israelite liberation.
Though Pharaoh ordered male children killed because he recognized males a threat to him, in this story it is the women who resist the oppressive system. Moses’ mother and sister risk their lives and his to hide him in the river. Pharaoh’s daughter recognized the child as Israelite or Hebrew, and took pity on him and raised him as her own. It may be because of women’s relatively higher status among the ancient Egyptians, that Pharaoh’s daughter could act so decisively and independently.
God’s will is accomplished in the events of day-to-day life. The ordinary is a vehicle for the extraordinary. Women, who were not seen to have power, made choices and acted effectively in opposition to the most powerful person around. A Hebrew child who was saved became the liberator of his people. Something important came about through a sequence of simple human events. God’s will that people be free is fulfilled in the simple acts of people like you and me.