What was Moses true name?


“And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children. Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the women took the child, and nursed it. And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.” Exodus 2:5-10


There is no Biblical support for Moses having been given a different name at any time. Moses’ mother, Jochebed, was a Hebrew woman living in slavery in Egypt before the exodus. She was the daughter of a Levite, and she married Amram, another Levite (Exodus 2:1–2). According to Exodus 6:20, Jochebed married her nephew, the sister of Amram’s Fathers; thus, she was Amram’s aunt as well as his wife.

Moses’ father was a son of Kohath, one of the three Levitical clans. Exodus 6:20 gives us just all the other information we know about Moses’ father, including his name: Having married his own aunt, Amram was both Moses’ father and great-uncle, by marriage. Amram is mentioned in Numbers 3:19 and 27 as the head of one of the clans of Kohathites. A man named Amram is mentioned in Ezra 10:34, but this is a different person, not Moses’ father.


At that time, lawful marriages between close relatives were not uncommon, and the marriage of Amram and Jochebed suggested no impropriety. Because of the longer lifespans at the time, Amram’s aunt Jochebed, who became his wife, need not have been much older than he and could have been younger. Marriages between close relatives were later forbidden in the Mosaic Law, but at the time of Moses’ birth they were entirely proper. Amram lived 137 years.


We know that Moses was born several years after their marriage because she already had a daughter who was old enough at the time of Moses’ infancy to act as a lookout (Exodus 2:4). This was Moses’ sister, Miriam the prophetess, who is mentioned by name in Exodus 15:20. Along with Moses and Miriam, Jochebed had at least one other child, Moses’ brother Aaron (Exodus 6:20).

Moses was born during a troubled time for the Israelites in Egypt. The king had decreed that midwives were to kill all Hebrew boys when they were born, leaving only the girls alive. This progrom was Pharaoh’s attempt to control the population of the Israelites, who were strong and growing in numbers in the land of Egypt (Exodus 1:8–16). There was rebellion against this murderous decree in many quarters. The Hebrew midwives refused to participate in the infanticide and deceived Pharaoh so they could avoid killing the baby boys (Exodus 1:17–19).


Moses’ mother Jochebed hid Moses in a basket of bulrushes and set him afloat on the Nile River to preserve his life (Exodus 2:3). Pharaoh’s daughter disobeyed the decree when she found Moses in the basket and took pity on him, adopting him as her own child (Exodus 2:5–10). Moses was raised as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and it was also Pharaoh’s daughter who named him. Jochebed, in an astonishing example of God’s providence and mercy, became Moses’ nurse and was paid by the king for her service (Exodus 2:7–9).

Moses’ mother is mentioned again in Numbers 26:59, but no other information is given about her in the Bible.

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