Israel dwelt in Egypt. God blessed His people, making them fruitful in number. Their God was El Shaddai, the God whose Kingdom is the little child.
They were a prized nation, for Joseph, one of the greatest commanders in Egypt, was at their head. But a Pharaoh rose up who knew not Joseph, who knew not the covenant, who knew not that El Shaddai who blesses, and he grew afraid of the strong, numerous nation. He ordered genocide. All male Hebrew children up to two years of age, must be drowned in the Nile. This genocide would be repeated hundreds of years later, when Herod ordered merciless child-slaughter in order to kill the Christ.
But Israel's savior would survive genocide, just as the Savior of all humanity would. In the depths of Goshen, the Israelites' primary region of habitation, lived a man named Amram. His wife, Jochebed, had three children, Miriam, Aaron, and Jekuthiel, a new-born baby. She was a courageous woman. She was a mother. She hid her precious baby boy for three months, and, when she knew she could no longer succeed in hiding him, put him in a basket and trusted to that El Shaddai who gave her this precious child to save him from destruction.
Her little girl Miriam watched the chosen child as it wound its way through the busy, infested Nile, closer and closer to the royal palace. She heard Pharaoh's daughter and her handmaidens washing in the Nile, heard their gasps of surprise as the basket floats into view, saw the princess of Egypt take pity on the child. The Princess Thermuthis knew it was a Hebrew child, a child of not only slaves, but shepherds, an occupation scorned by her people––a nation so degraded in Egypt that the mass slaughter of the Hebrews' children could be executed without a qualm. Yet she loves the child as her own. According to the Midrash, when Moses returns to Egypt as the wielder of the miracles of YHWH, she will be exiled and scorned for being his surrogate mother, and will leave Egypt with him in the great Exodus. Her name will be changed to Bithiah, meaning 'Daughter of Yah', and she will take the Judahite Mered as her husband. Click here to read the Biblical mention of Bithiah.
Miriam seized the opportunity, when this princess was observing the baby with tender interest, to suggest a Hebrew nurse for the child. The princess probably guessed what has taken place, and acquiesced willingly. She took pity on the Hebrew mother. Thus Moses is nursed by his own mother, and, through the strong bonding that takes place, becomes sealed in the Hebrew culture.
Once he was weaned, however, the princess adopted him as her own son, calling him Moshe, which is similar to the Hebrew word 'mashah', meaning 'to draw out' and the Egyptian word for 'child'. Moses, attached through his most formative years of childhood to his Hebraism, will now be raised as a royal Egyptian, with all the privileges and education of a prince of Egypt.
According to Josephus, Moses grew to become the foremost commander of the armies of Egypt. He had great military acumen, though he was slow of speech. One of the most famous stories about his life as a general is in the histories of Josephus, when he led the Egyptians against the Ethiopians who were invading the country. According to the histories, while he was besieging Tharbis, one of the cities of Ethiopia, an Ethiopian princess fell in love with him and wanted to marry him. He agreed to do so if she would deliver the city into his power. She did so, and Moses married her. Click here to read the Bible's account of Moses' Ethiopian wife.
His warrior career came to an end when, one day on visiting his mother-people, he saw a Hebrew slave being maltreated and was so incensed that he murdered the Egyptian overseer and buried the corpse in the sand. The affair was talked about among the Hebrew slaves, and Moses, on hearing from a higher source that it was known in the royal household, and that Pharaoh would most likely execute him for it, escaped across the Sinai Peninsula, a gigantic stretch of barren, desert country that only the strongest could survive in.
Coming to Midian, he stopped to drink at the Midianite well, and, while he was there, saw a group of seven shepherdess sisters being driven away from the water by some rowdy shepherds. Moses, seeing the violence taking place, had enough fighting strategy inherent in his bones to save the shepherdesses from the whole group of shepherds and their flocks, and then enough strength remaining to draw the water needed for the sheep of the seven sisters. The girls' father, a priest of Midian, was so grateful for the service and so awed at what Moses had done that he adopted him as his son, made him superintendent of his flocks, and gave him his daughter Zipporah in marriage.
It was forty years later, while shepherding his father's flocks, that Moses saw the first glimpse of the fire of the God whom he would see face to face in the coming years.