When she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Exodus 2:3-4

For context, read Exodus 2:1-10

When my first daughter was born, this story came to mind. In the middle of a genocide, a mother hid her newborn baby for three months. I cannot fathom how. When she could no longer hide him, was it because he grew too loud, too restless?  

In her last effort to protect the baby Moses, she set him afloat in the Nile. The terror, grief, and uncertainty would have been overwhelming – too overwhelming to stay and watch. But Miriam, the baby’s sister, stood nearby. How fast was her young heart beating as her abandoned brother lay crying in his tiny boat? How long was Miriam standing guard before Pharoah’s daughter discovered the Hebrew baby?   

When my youngest child was born, my eldest was seven, the same age as Miriam in this story. I imagined her standing in the reeds watching a strange, regal woman pull her baby sibling from the river. I imagined her being as brave and quick witted as Miriam to speak up and suggest a Hebrew nurse for the baby.  

The Courage Of Children

Miriam represents a courage that resides innately in children to speak out for the sake of others. They are after all made in God’s image, and we know he speaks out for the vulnerable.In this case, Miriam’s bold suggestion, led to Moses escaping the massacre and spending his first year (or possibly two to three years) in the arms of his mother. I imagine the deep exhalation of breath from Moses’ mother, when her extraordinary daughter came home to fetch her to nurse the baby. Her baby.   

When we listen to children, solutions to complex problems can become clear, even problems that are literally life and death.

When we listen to children, solutions to complex problems can become clear, even problems that are literally life and death.

This moment, as a girl watching from the reeds, formed Miriam. She stepped out in courage and hope and saw God deliver her baby brother to safety. Eventually, she saw Moses become a great leader who led her people out of slavery.

Pointing To Jesus

Jesus, in his death and resurrection, saved us from the fear of death and placed us in a family, in safety. The exodus of God’s people from Egypt was a foreshadowing God’s ultimate redemption for humanity in Jesus. Imperfect Moses points to our perfect Saviour. And Miriam reminds us that God always makes a way, from the water, through the water, to life everlasting.   

 Dig Deeper:

  1. Why was Moses’ mother forced to abandon her newborn son? 
  2. What do you think gave Miriam the courage to step forward when the Pharoah’s daughter found Moses in the river? 
  3. When was the last time you heard children offer a great idea? What happened? 


God of hope, open our eyes to see you at work in our world. To see the signs that point to the living hope that is in Jesus. Help us to listen to children, and learn from their courageous, hopeful faith. Amen

This is one day from our ten-day devotional, A Child Shall Lead Them. To receive the full devotional series, download your copy now.