The Birth of Moses Bible Story Study Guide

Birth of Moses
Illustration of Thermuthis bathing in River Nile as Jochebed holds baby Moses in basket made of bulrushes on riverbank.

Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Similarities between the birth of Moses and Jesus are remarkable. Both were miraculously rescued from death as infants and grew to become saviors of their people. The son of Amram and Jochebed (Exodus 6:3), Moses was destined to lead the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and direct them to the Promised Land.

Key Verses

  • Exodus 2:2 - The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. (NLT)
  • Exodus 2:10 - Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses, for she explained, "I lifted him out of the water."  (NLT)

Bible Story Summary

The story of Moses' birth takes place in Exodus 2:1–10.

Many years had passed since the death of Joseph. New kings were crowned in Egypt, who had no appreciation for how Joseph had saved their country during a great famine. The birth of Moses would mark the beginning of God's plan to free his people from 400 years of Egyptian slavery.

The Hebrew people became so numerous in Egypt that Pharaoh began to fear them. He believed if an enemy attacked, the Hebrews might ally themselves with that enemy and conquer Egypt. To prevent that, Pharaoh ordered that all newborn Hebrew boys must be killed by the midwives to keep them from growing up and becoming soldiers.

Out of loyalty to God, the midwives refused to obey. They told Pharaoh that the Jewish mothers, unlike Egyptian women, gave birth quickly before the midwife arrived.

A handsome male child was born to Amram, of the tribe of Levi, and his wife, Jochebed. For three months, Jochebed hid the baby to keep him safe. When she could do that no longer, she got a basket made of bulrushes and reeds, waterproofed the bottom with bitumen and pitch, put the baby in it, and set the basket on the Nile River.

Pharaoh's daughter happened to be bathing in the river at the time. When she saw the basket, she had one of her handmaidens bring it to her. She opened it and found the baby crying. Knowing he was one of the Hebrew children, she took pity on him and planned to adopt him as her son.

The baby's sister, Miriam, was watching nearby and asked Pharaoh's daughter if she should get a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for her. Ironically, the woman Miriam brought back was Jochebed, the child's mother, who nursed her own baby until he could be weaned and raised in the house of Pharaoh's daughter.

Pharaoh's daughter named the child Moses, which in Hebrew means "drawn out of the water" and in Egyptian was close to the word for "son."

Lessons From the Story of Moses' Birth

God's presence as Savior was evident in Moses' early life. Moses' parents saved him from death by hiding him in a basket on the Nile.

The basket is symbolic of the ark, which carried Noah and his family to safety when God destroyed wickedness from the face of the earth. The ark of Noah and the basket of Moses point to the salvation of Jesus Christ. Noah and Moses were made secure in the ark, just as we are made safe through Jesus Christ, who went down into death for our salvation.

After being rescued by Pharaoh's daughter, Moses was raised by his own mother, who introduced him to the God of Israel. Although Moses would enjoy a life of privilege in the Egyptian royal court, he never forgot his Israelite heritage. 

Interesting Points About the Birth of Moses

  • Raised in the Egyptian court, Moses learned to read and write, equipping him to later write the first five books of the Bible.
  • Pharaoh's order to kill all male babies must have been withdrawn because Moses' brother Aaron was younger than him. Aaron played key roles as Moses' spokesman and later as high priest.
  • After the birth of Moses, we are told nothing about his upbringing. We don't know whether Pharaoh knew his adopted grandson was a Hebrew or whether Pharaoh's daughter eventually got married.
  • Just as Moses was drawn out of the water, God would later bring the Hebrew people out of the water—the Red Sea—to save them from the pursuing Egyptians.