It was a typical July morning in Egypt’s Nile delta. The mid-summer sun was rising into the cloudless sky. The air was muggy. Crows and vultures sat in trees everywhere – the crows screeching nerve-jangling squawks, and the vultures looking down all around for dead animals to feast upon.
The Pharaoh’s only daughter, the beautiful and much-desired Hatshepsut, who lived in the royal palace in Heliopolis, liked to go each morning to the Nile to bathe. On this morning, Hatshepsut, and five ladies-in-waiting, all riding donkeys, wended their way to an area of the Nile bank that offered privacy from onlookers because of clumps of big trees on the bank, and thick masses of reeds in the water just off the bank.
It was in these reeds that Jochebed, earlier that morning, had hidden the *water-sealed bulrush-made basket* with her baby-boy in it. But not so hidden it wouldn’t draw Hatshepsut’s attention.
Jochebed had brought her daughter, Miriam, with her, and had told her to remain close enough, so that when Hatshepsut found the basket and opened it and saw the baby-boy, Miriam would come up and offer to find a woman to suckle the baby if Hatshepsut wished to adopt him. Miriam would then go off and fetch Jochebed, who would be nearby, and would present her to Hatshepsut as the woman who would suckle the child.
“What’s that floating out there?” asked Hatshepsut of her ladies-in-waiting.
“Looks like a basket, Ma’am” said Ahset, one of the ladies-in-waiting.
“Odd. I shudder to think what’s in there” said Hatshepsut. “A dead animal? Putrescent food? I tend to look on the dark side, you know. Living in the palace does that to one. All those intrigues. All those false smiles. I’m the poor little rich girl. I have everything but love. Anyway, I feel I have to know what’s in that basket. Could you wade out and get it? Don’t worry about your wet clothes. They’ll dry. It’s hot enough.”
“There’s a funny noise inside it” said Ahset when she had brought the basket to Hatshepsut.
“That would rule out a dead animal or putrescent food. If it’s alive, it could be something dangerous, though, like a snake.”
“Doesn’t sound like a snake, Ma’am.”
Ahset prised open the lid.
“It’s a baby, Ma’am, and a boy. He’s got a circumcision scar. He must be Hebrew.”
“Well, how about that? Oh my goodness, he’s so unbelievably sweet. Gootchy gootchy goo. He’s so, so incredibly beautiful. I’ve never seen a baby-boy so beautiful. I don’t care if he’s Hebrew, I have to have him.”
Miriam, who was close enough she could hear everything, approached Hatshepsut.
“Excuse me, Ma’am. I was nearby and couldn’t help hearing what you said. If you need a wet-nurse to suckle him, I know a woman who would be ideal.”
It came to pass, then, that Jochebed got the job of wet-nurse to the baby boy. It tore her heart, but she told herself this was better than that he be thrown into the Nile to drown. Hatshepsut said she would pay her too, until the boy was old enough to come and live with her (Hatshepsut) in the palace.
“I’m going to call him Moses” said Hatshepsut to Jochebed, “because I drew him out of the water.”
Source: Exodus 2, 4 – 10