She got a papyrus basket . . . and placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.
— Exodus 2:3
In our reading today, God’s people Israel (the Hebrews) were living in Egypt, and they had been slaves there for generations. Their people had flourished after coming to live there in the time of Joseph (Exodus 1), but later a new king, driven by fear that Israel would grow too big and powerful, forced them into slavery. The king, Pharaoh, even tried to kill Israel’s baby boys by having them thrown into the Nile River. Because of Egypt’s beastly brutality, some Old Testament writers called the Egyptian empire “Rahab,” the name of a mythical monster that symbolized the sea and its chaos (see Psalm 89:10; Isaiah 30:7; 51:9-10).
There is great irony here that God’s rescue of his people begins with water. A Hebrew mother hides her baby boy in a basket and sets it among the reeds along the Nile River. The Hebrew word for “basket” can also mean “ark.” Does that remind us of Noah and his family being saved from the flood (Genesis 8)?
Then the daughter of Pharaoh finds this baby and decides to raise him as her son. She names him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.” And later Moses becomes the leader God uses to confront Pharaoh and to lead Israel out of slavery (Exodus 3-12).
So God rescues his people from the monster Rahab (Egypt). And the water, which could have been deadly, turns out to be a passageway to deliverance by God’s hand.
Lord, give us faith to trust in you to preserve and care for us and our loved ones in surprising ways. Amen.