5 Characteristics We Can Learn from Jochebed, Moses' Courageous Mother



With all the craziness going on in our world right, as a mom you may be thinking, “There has never been a harder time in history to raise a child.” We are not alone in our plight or trepidations. 

Throughout history moms have faced insurmountable struggles. And down through the ages mothers have gone to great measures that required courage to guide and protect their children. 

One such mother is Jochebed in the Bible. She found herself in a terrible time in Israel’s history. For 400 years the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt because of their race. And when the slaves grew great in number the Pharaoh sent out a proclamation for the midwives to kill every baby boy born to the Hebrew women. 

At the risk of losing their own lives, two courageous midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, refused to murder the babies. These women, who were willing to jeopardize their own wellbeing to save the babies, were certainly heroes in their day 

Eventually, the frustrated Pharaoh decreed that all Egyptians were to throw newborn Hebrew boys into the river. Can you imagine the horror these Israelite mothers faced knowing that at any moment an Egyptian might snatch their baby boy from their arms and cast him into the Nile River?  (see Exodus 1:15-17). 

It was at this time in history that Jochebed’s heroic story unfolds. And while the Bible doesn’t specifically outline her character qualities, we can certainly see them lived out in how she responded to her difficult situation. There is much to emulate from Jochebed’s character.

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1. Jochebed Was a Courageous Mother

1. Jochebed Was a Courageous Mother

When Jochebed and her husband, Amram, gave birth to Moses, at the risk of their own lives, they hid him until he was three months old. How they must have dreaded the day that he might be discovered. Disregarding Pharaohs’ order would certainly cost them their lives––leaving their other children as orphans.

What unimaginable stress they must have endured.

Try to put yourself in Jochebed’s sandals. I don’t know about you, but three months after my son was born I was still a hormonal, emotional mess! Attempting to hide my baby from people who wanted to kill him—coupled with the anxiety of trying to silence him when he cried––would have been too much to bear. 

When Jochebed could hide Moses no longer, she likely prayed for a way to protect him. The plan devised in her heart must have been from Jehovah. But, while contemplating sending Moses down the Nile in a basket, I wonder if she questioned God’s plan? I’m pretty sure I would have been like, “Um, Lord, are you sure? I mean there are crocodiles and snakes in that water. And what if the basket capsizes? What if…?”

We will never know if Jochebed had misgivings before she courageously followed God’s plan. But this ordinary woman, a mom just like you and me, simply did the next thing in front of her to protect her child.

You can learn from Jochebed’s example to seek the Lord and then courageously do the next thing He puts in your heart to do.

Rather than focusing on how things might not work out, what if you focused on God’s sovereignty and refused to worry about the “what if’s” and “if only’s”? 

Worry about tomorrow will steal your courage to follow God’s plan for today. Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things” (Matthew 6:34).  

Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” When you seek the Lord’s wisdom and walk in obedience He will work in your heart to do His good pleasure. And He will give you the courage to follow His will. 

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2. Jochebed Was an Ordinary Woman Who Prayed and Obeyed

2. Jochebed Was an Ordinary Woman Who Prayed and Obeyed

I find it fascinating in scripture how God used ordinary, everyday people to accomplish His extraordinary plans––Jochebed was such a person.

Jochebed, an ordinary mom, wrapped her precious baby in her favorite blanket to send him down the river. I wonder if, to somehow give baby Moses assurance, she forced a smile while gazing one more time into his little face? Oh, my heart can hardly handle the ache as I consider Jochebed’s feelings in that moment. What about you?

With tears streaming down her face, she must have prayed desperately for God’s protection on her little one as she watched him float away from the safety of her arms.

Letting go of that basket must have been the hardest thing she ever had to do. Can you relate to Jochebed’s feelings of loss? Possibly you have had to let go of your child too. Perhaps you are bound by a mandatory visitation order where your child must spend time with an ungodly ex-husband. My heart hurts for you. I have prayed with many women in your same situation.

From Jochebed’s example learn to ask God for His protection when your child is out of your care. One divorced woman said, “When my child had to go with his father I knew he would be exposed to ungodliness––not abuse mind you, but ungodly influences.

At first, I fretted, grew angry, and resentful while he was gone. But then I realized the best way I could help my child was to pray while he was away.”

Whether you're a concerned single mom or simply facing the ungodly influence of today’s culture remember to pray diligently for your child, because James 5:16 says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

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3. Jochebed Trusted God

3. Jochebed Trusted God

In my book, Moms Raising Sons to Be Men, I make this observation:

How could Jochebed ever have brought herself to let go of the little basket? As Jochebed watched her baby float away, she demonstrated courage that was not found in her ability to preserve the life of her young son. Her decision that day required she follow a plan that had no answers. Yet she sent the baby away from her protection and into the care of her God. That kind of courage comes only in the life of one who has developed a genuine trust in God. Jochebed’s confidence in the Lord was evident in her actions.* 

Think of it, if Jochebed had tightened her grip on Moses and continued hiding him, she wouldn’t have experienced what happened next. Her trusting obedience was rewarded with nothing short of a miracle when Pharaoh’s daughter drew Moses from the basket. Not only did she declare her intention to adopt Moses, but she sent his very own sister to fetch Jochebed to be his nursemaid.

Think of how much her faith was strengthened by God's immense provision--and what would have been sacrificed had she not given God her full trust! Next time you're having trouble letting something go, remember how richly God blessed Jochebed's obedience.

Jochebed’s name in Hebrew means “Jehovah glorified.” Glorified, as used here, means “to make glorious.” Jochebed’s actions certainly lived up to her name. In her decision to trust Jehovah, His name was made glorious to countless generations. 

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4. Jochebed Made the Most Her Time

4. Jochebed Made the Most Her Time

Knowing her time with Moses would end around the age of four when she weaned him, Jochebed likely sensed the urgency to teach him about Jehovah God. 

Jochebed would have been fully aware of the Egyptian false gods. And Moses would certainly be taught their ways once he left her care. Oh, how she must have prayed for God to help her plant deeply in Moses’ heart a remembrance of Jehovah. 

In motherhood, the days seem long but the years are few. So, you would do well to follow Jochebed’s example and use wisely the little time you have to influence your children to love and follow Christ. Jochebed makes it clear that planting seeds of faith can start at birth--not something that you have to wait to teach your kids when they're older.

Jochebed’s influence seemed to stay with Moses. Her teachings were likely the foundation God used to build Moses’ faith. And when Moses grew older, he chose to suffer with his people rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin in Egypt’s palace (Hebrews 11:24-25).

Although it seems like Moses wandered from his identity before God called him into ministry at the Burning Bush, it's obvious through his life that Moses' roots of faith are deep. If Jochebed could make that kind of impact on Moses in just his first 4 years, imagine what kind of mark you can make on your child's heart over a full lifetime!

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5. She Took Seriously Her Mission of Motherhood

5. She Took Seriously Her Mission of Motherhood

Jochebed could not possibly have known God was using her to train the promised deliverer of Israel, but she took seriously her role of motherhood.

Throughout history we see the first teachers of godly leaders were not theologians; they were mothers! How cool is that?

And you are your child’s first teacher about God as well. You share the same role God entrusted to Moses’ and other godly moms throughout history. 

Generation after generation, the mission of motherhood has been the same. God invites mothers to join Him in molding the character of their children. Will you partner with God in teaching them how to love Him? The Word of God is your textbook. Will you determine to prepare yourself for this ministry? 

The Lord is searching for hearts that are loyal to Him. The same One who called Jochebed is calling you. Only God knows the future that awaits your child. What an amazing honor He has given you. You are the vessel that the Lord will use to prepare your child for a lifetime of use by The Lord.

And when you courageously pray, trust God and obey He will do through you more than you can even imagine for His Kingdom and glory. And you will look back with no regrets. 

Bonus: Watch Rhonda and her adult son Brandon share practical insights for moms raising adolescent sons.

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