The story of Moses is one of the most well-known in the Bible. As an infant, Moses was sent floating down the Nile River by his Hebrew mother to save him from being killed under Pharaoh’s orders. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Moses was adopted and raised by Pharaoh’s daughter after she found him in a basket along the Nile River banks.
She raised him as her own son in Pharaoh’s household.
In this comprehensive article, we will explore the full story behind who raised Moses and the impact his upbringing had on his future role in leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.
Moses’ Birth and Early Life
Moses’ Hebrew Parents
Moses was born to Amram and Jochebed, two Levites from the tribe of Levi, during a tumultuous time when the Egyptian Pharaoh had ordered the death of all newborn Hebrew boys. Amram and Jochebed already had two children, Aaron and Miriam, and feared for the life of their new baby.
They hid Moses after his birth, hoping to evade the Pharaoh’s edict. Jochebed was resourceful and courageous, dedicating herself to protecting her son despite the grave dangers. As loving parents, Amram and Jochebed imparted a strong faith in God to Moses from an early age.
Moses Placed in a Basket on the Nile
When Moses was three months old, Jochebed knew she could no longer hide him safely. In faith, she waterproofed a papyrus basket and placed Moses inside. She then set the basket afloat on the Nile River, trusting God’s providence. Miriam watched over Moses from a distance.
Remarkably, Pharaoh’s daughter discovered the basket while bathing in the Nile. When she opened the basket and saw the Hebrew baby boy, she took pity on him.
Discovery by Pharaoh’s Daughter
In an incredible turn of events, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moses as her own son. She named him Moses, meaning “drawn from the water.” By God’s grace, Moses’ sister Miriam approached Pharaoh’s daughter and arranged for Jochebed to nurse and care for Moses.
So Moses’ biological mother was able to raise him during his formative early years, instilling in him a strong faith and identity as a Hebrew. When Moses was older, he went to live with Pharaoh’s daughter as a prince of Egypt.
This positioned him for an extraordinary life as future leader of the Hebrew people.
Adoption into Pharaoh’s Household
Pharaoh’s Daughter Raises Moses as her Own
According to the biblical account in Exodus 2:1-10, Moses was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter after she went to the Nile river to bathe. She found the baby Moses in a basket among the reeds and felt compassion for him, realizing he was one of the Hebrew babies that her father had decreed should be killed.
In an amazing turn of events, she took pity on the child and decided to raise Moses as her own son.
Pharaoh’s daughter gave him the name Moses, saying “I drew him out of the water.” She brought him into the royal household, where he would have access to the best of Egypt’s riches and education. Though originally born a Hebrew slave, Moses grew up enjoying the privileges of an adopted Egyptian prince.
However, the favor of God was on him despite his unusual circumstances early in life.
Moses’ Upbringing and Education in the Royal Household
Raised in Pharaoh’s court, Moses received training in Egyptian military strategy, academics, governance, magic and other courtly duties. This put him in an excellent position later in life after God appointed him to lead the Israelites out of slavery.
Moses could plead the Hebrews’ case before Pharaoh, having grown up in the royal household. He also had knowledge of the terrain they would travel through after leaving Egypt on their way to the Promised Land.
The book of Acts 7:22 tells us “Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. “ So while his bloodline and heritage were Hebrew, the privileged royal upbringing Moses received shaped him into a great leader.
Flight from Egypt and Years in Midian
Moses Flees Egypt After Killing an Egyptian
After Moses had grown up in the Egyptian palace as an adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he went out to see how his fellow Hebrews were faring. When he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, Moses was so indignant that he killed the Egyptian and buried his body in the sand (Exodus 2:11-12).
However, the very next day when he went out, Moses saw two Hebrews fighting and tried to make peace between them. One of them scornfully said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me like you killed the Egyptian?” (Exodus 2:14).
This made Moses afraid that his deed had become known, so he fled from Egypt.
Moses escaped to the land of Midian, where he sat down beside a well. The seven daughters of the priest of Midian came to draw water for their father’s flock, but some shepherds drove them away. Moses came to their defense and watered their animals.
When the daughters returned to their father Reuel, he asked them, “How is it that you have returned so early today?” They told him about the Egyptian who had helped them, so Reuel invited Moses to stay and gave him his daughter Zipporah to be his wife (Exodus 2:15-21).
Moses Marries and Has Children in Land of Midian
Moses settled in the land of Midian with his wife Zipporah, and they had two sons together, Gershom and Eliezer. When the younger son Eliezer was born, Moses said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh” (Exodus 18:3-4).
This indicates that even during his time away from Egypt, Moses still identified the God of his ancestors as his own God. He found refuge in Midian, but spiritually he still aligned himself with the Hebrews.
Moses lived as a shepherd in Midian for about 40 years (Acts 7:30). This rustic lifestyle was a big change from growing up in the royal courts of Egypt. However, the relative isolation and simplicity of shepherding prepared Moses for the grand encounter he would soon have with God at the burning bush, where he would receive his calling to go back and deliver his people from slavery in Egypt.
God Calls Moses to Lead the Israelites Out of Egypt
The Burning Bush – God Appears to Moses
As Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, he came upon a burning bush that was not consumed by the flames. From the bush, God called out to Moses and told him he had seen the misery of the Israelites in Egypt and would send Moses to Pharaoh to bring them out of Egypt to the promised land.
God revealed his name as “I AM WHO I AM” and instructed Moses to tell the Israelites that “I AM” had sent him. Though initially hesitant, Moses was empowered by God to take on this monumental task.
Moses Returns to Egypt with Aaron
After his encounter with God at the burning bush, Moses returned to Egypt, along with his brother Aaron as God had instructed. Aaron served as Moses’ spokesman to the Israelites and to Pharaoh. Equipped with miraculous signs from God like the staff that turned into a snake, Moses and Aaron went to the Israelite elders and told them everything God had promised.
The elders believed Moses and Aaron, who then went to Pharaoh demanding he let God’s people go into the wilderness to worship. This daring confrontation sparked the fierce conflict between Moses and Aaron on one side, and Pharaoh on the other, that would lead to the dramatic Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
In conclusion, although Moses was born to Hebrew parents, he was adopted and raised by Pharaoh’s daughter as a prince of Egypt after she rescued him from the Nile as an infant. His unique upbringing in the Egyptian royal court set the stage for Moses to eventually lead the Israelite people out of slavery, even though he fled Egypt for many years in between.
Through a divine encounter at the burning bush, God called Moses to fulfil his purpose – a purpose shaped from the very beginning by both his Hebrew heritage and Egyptian upbringing.