The Newborn Moses by Patrick Henry Reardon

The Newborn Moses

Arguably one of the most puzzling verses in Holy Scripture is that which tells why Moses’ mother did not drown him at birth. For the purpose of introducing this subject as a matter of inquiry, but without recommending the accuracy of the translation, I quote the relevant verse in the New King James Version: “And when she saw he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months” (Exodus 2:2).

This verse is puzzling in two ways. First, taken as a plain assertion—“he was beautiful, so she hid him”—the verse just won’t do. Are we to imagine that all the other little Hebrew boys were ugly? Since the beauty in Moses’ case is given as the reason for his parents’ refusal to obey Pharaoh’s command, we suspect that a deeper, subtler significance is intended.

Second, ancient interpreters, though differing among themselves somewhat about details, agree that its meaning is more mysterious than at first appears.

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

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