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Why did Pharaoh's daughter adopt Moses?

PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:49 am
by David_L
In the current Parashah, Pharaoh's daughter finds the infant Moses in the river and rescues him (Exodus 2:5-6), and then raises him as a privileged member of Egyptian society (Exodus 2:10).

1. What was her motivation for doing this?

2. Why didn't Pharaoh or other members of the royal family stop her? Shouldn't they have noticed and asked her where the baby came from? (Especially considering that Moses was placed in the river to escape Pharaoh's decree that newborn male Hebrews be killed.)

Is the answer simply that it was part of the Divine plan?

Re: Why did Pharaoh's daughter adopt Moses?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 7:03 am
by rivka
David_L wrote:1. What was her motivation for doing this?
There are various possibilities. Among the ones I have heard:
chabad.org wrote:The Talmud relates that Batyah set out one morning to immerse herself in the Nile in order to convert to Judaism. She heard the distinctive cry of an infant and, finding a small ark floating in the water, she stretched out her arm to reach it. Seeing a baby boy inside, she immediately recognized that he was a Jewish baby, set adrift in an effort to escape her father’s murderous decree. Already her Jewish soul had begun to guide her, although her conversion was not yet complete, and she dared to not only save the baby but to take him into Pharaoh’s own palace to raise him, despite the fact that his Jewish identity would be obvious.

jwa.org wrote:In the Torah’s account of what happened after the ark was drawn forth (Ex. 2:6): “When she opened it, she saw that it [va-tire-hu] was a child […]. She took pity on it.” The Rabbis ask what caused the daughter of Pharaoh to take pity on Moses and keep him alive, contrary to her father’s command. The midrash replies that she saw the Shekhinah (the Divine Presence) with him, and the wording “va-tire-hu” alludes to the name of God (Ex. Rabbah 1:24). Another approach is based on the continuation of the verse, that relates that the child’s weeping motivated the daughter of Pharaoh: “She saw that it was a child, a boy crying. She took pity on it.”
...
Another tradition claims that the daughter of Pharaoh suffered from leprosy and she went down to bathe in the water to be cured of her disease. When she touched Moses’s ark, she was miraculously cured, leading her to take pity on the child and love him so strongly (Ex. Rabbah 1:23).


David_L wrote:2. Why didn't Pharaoh or other members of the royal family stop her?
The midrash does say that her maidens attempted to stop her, and an angel killed them to shut them up. As far as her father,
jwa.org wrote:Pharaoh’s astrologers saw in the stars that the one destined to save Israel would be punished through water, and they therefore had Pharaoh issue his decree (Ex. 1:22): “Every boy that is born you shall throw into the Nile,” in order to kill the deliverer. Once Moses had been placed in the water, the astrologers said: “We no longer see that sign,” and they canceled the decree.

Re: Why did Pharaoh's daughter adopt Moses?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 11:47 am
by David_L
Rivka, thanks for the answers and the references. :)

Re: Why did Pharaoh's daughter adopt Moses?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 5:10 pm
by rivka
Thanks for the opportunity to refresh my memory.