When Other Becomes Our

Henry Ossawa Tanner – Moses in the Bullrushes

Then, a new king, who knew nothing about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. He said to his people, “These Israelites are so numerous and strong that they are a threat to us. 10 In case of war they might join our enemies in order to fight against us, and might escape from the country. We must find some way to keep them from becoming even more numerous.” 11 So the Egyptians put slave drivers over them to crush their spirits with hard labor. The Israelites built the cities of Pithom and Rameses to serve as supply centers for the king. 12 But the more the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites, the more they increased in number and the farther they spread through the land. The Egyptians came to fear the Israelites 13-14 and made their lives miserable by forcing them into cruel slavery. They made them work on their building projects and in their fields, and they had no pity on them.

15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to Shiphrah and Puah, the two midwives who helped the Hebrew women. 16 “When you help the Hebrew women give birth,” he said to them, “kill the baby if it is a boy; but if it is a girl, let it live.” 17 But the midwives were God-fearing and so did not obey the king; instead, they let the boys live. 18 So the king sent for the midwives and asked them, “Why are you doing this? Why are you letting the boys live?”

19 They answered, “The Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they give birth easily, and their babies are born before either of us gets there.” 20-21 Because the midwives were God-fearing, God was good to them and gave them families of their own. And the Israelites continued to increase and become strong. 22 Finally the king issued a command to all his people: “Take every newborn Hebrew boy and throw him into the Nile, but let all the girls live.”

The Birth of Moses

During this time a man from the tribe of Levi married a woman of his own tribe, and she bore him a son. When she saw what a fine baby he was, she hid him for three months. But when she could not hide him any longer, she took a basket made of reeds and covered it with tar to make it watertight. She put the baby in it and then placed it in the tall grass at the edge of the river. The baby’s sister stood some distance away to see what would happen to him.

The king’s daughter came down to the river to bathe, while her servants walked along the bank. Suddenly she noticed the basket in the tall grass and sent a slave woman to get it. The princess opened it and saw a baby boy. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

Then his sister asked her, “Shall I go and call a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for you?”

“Please do,” she answered. So the girl went and brought the baby’s own mother. The princess told the woman, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So she took the baby and nursed him. 10 Later, when the child was old enough, she took him to the king’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. She said to herself, “I pulled him out of the water, and so I name him Moses.”

Exodus 1:8-2:10

He didn’t know
why there were so many Israelites in Egypt.
He didn’t know
how Joseph had saved us,
that it is because him any of us
are still here,
that he was the one
who organised us
in our fight against the famine,
he was the reason we didn’t starve.
His family prospered
only because we all did.

But
this king
knew nothing of that.
he saw only
those he perceived as ‘foreigners’
overrunning ‘his’ land;
People he thought of as ‘other’
prospering
where he thought his people
should be.

In fear
he acted to keep them down,
crush their spirit,
make life difficult,
reduce their numbers.

Yet the more he oppressed them,
the greater they grew.
Hard work,
menial tasks
and slave labour could not keep them down.

So he thought he would
go straight to the route of the problem.
Get rid
of every new born male.
That should soon
bring them into line,
stop them growing.

But he hadn’t reckoned
with the love of one woman,
unwilling to let her child go,
and another
who felt the same.
A baby
kept safe by his mother,
discovered by the Princess
and kept safe.
However much her father
considered him other,
she now called him her own.
One of the very children
the King was trying to rid himself of,
ultimately brought up under his own roof.

Man plots,
but God will always find a way.

Forgive me Lord,
when I fear the other,
their success
and well being.

Save me,
when I jump to conclusions
without finding out
the truth.

Forgive me
when I act from what I think I know
and make others suffer.

Thank you for those who love
and those who have courage
to stand up for that love.

Bless those
who are care givers,
whatever the situation.

Thank you
that you
are always working.

1. Almighty Father, who dost give
The gift of life to all who live,
Look down on all earth’s sin and strife,
And lift us to a nobler life.

2. Lift up our hearts, O King of kings,
To brighter hopes and kindlier things;
To visions of a larger good,
And holier dreams of brotherhood.

3. Thy world is weary of its pain;
Of selfish greed and fruitless gain;
Of tarnished honor, falsely strong,
And all its ancient deeds of wrong.

4. Hear Thou the prayer Thy servants pray,
Uprising from all lands today,
And o’er the vanquished powers of sin,
O bring Thy great salvation in.

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