First I would like to say that I watch your show every morning and I absolutely love it. Thank you so much for what you are doing. I have learned so much!
Now for my question, how did Moses know he wasn’t Egyptian and that he was an Israelite? It’s driving me crazy. Am I missing it in scripture or is the answer found in ancient Jewish wisdom? Thanks for reading.
We are delighted that you watch our Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV show on TCT. We are also delighted with your question! It is a wonderful question that shows a willingness to seek beyond the surface of Scripture and explore it with mature eyes.
We suggest you can find the beginning of an answer in Scripture, by looking in Exodus and in Chronicles, with ancient Jewish wisdom filling in the blanks. In Exodus 2:6 we see that Pharaoh’s daughter knew that the baby she drew from the water was a Hebrew. She even looked for a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby! In 1 Chronicles 4:18, we find a woman named Bit-Ya, daughter of Pharaoh. The name Bit-Ya translates as “daughter of God,” and ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that God called her by that name saying, “You called Moses your son though he was not; I will call you my daughter though you are not.”
Bit-Ya is given great credit for breaking from the evil of Pharaoh’s house and eventually converting to join the Jewish nation. We see that the name she gave Moses is the one we know him by rather than the name he was given by his birth parents. This is despite their personal eminence and membership in the tribe of Levi. Considering Bit-Ya’s greatness and willingness to abandon a life of privilege rather than be part of her birth culture’s wickedness, it is not a surprise that she not only told Moses of his background but also encouraged him to live up to his heritage.
In 1865, William Ross Wallace wrote a poem with the refrain, “For the Hand the rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world.” While our society today might spurn that idea saying to women, “Don’t settle for rocking the cradle; go out and rule the world yourself,” we would like to gently suggest that the world would be better off if more women saw Bit-Ya as a role model.
Here is one stanza from the poem:
Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
Of course, Moses himself deserves great credit as well. Many of us choose to forget our heritage and ignore our identity. Sadly we are easily persuaded to construct a false front over our real selves by three forces acting upon us. (i) Friends; (ii) Entertainment and the culture; (iii) Inside doubts and fears. Moses reminds us to remain true to who we really are.
Wherever the call to truth comes from, whether amazing grandparents who inspire us to live our heritage or a quiet dream inside our souls, we can summon up the strength to turn our backs upon the false promises taunting us to join a decaying culture. Just as Moses remembered who he really was even while surrounded by the luxurious depravity of Pharaoh, so can we. It really is very inspiring.
Keep reading with a questioning eye,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin