[Illustration: The baby Moses in the bulrushes.]
THE BABE IN
By AMY STEEDMAN
THOMAS NELSON & SONS
* * * * *
THE FINDING OF MOSES
Many long years had passed since the days when Joseph's brothers and
their families had settled in the land of Egypt. They were a great
nation in numbers now, but the Egyptians still ruled over them, and
used them as servants. The Pharaoh who had been so kind to the
shepherds from Canaan was dead long ago, and the new kings, or
Pharaohs as they were called, hated foreigners, and began to treat the
Israelites very harshly. There were too many of them, they said; it
was dangerous to have so many strong, powerful slaves. They must be
kept down, and made to work from morning till night, and be beaten
they did not work fast enough.
That was very hard for the poor people; but worse was to come. An
order was issued one day which spread sorrow through all the land of
Goshen, where the Israelites lived. Every baby boy that was born was
to be thrown into the river. Girl babies might be allowed to live, for
they would be useful as slaves, but boys might grow up to fight for
their country, and so they must be destroyed.
In one little house, not far from the great river Nile, a woman sat
holding her tiny baby in her arms, while the tears ran down her
cheeks. He was such a beautiful baby, so strong and fair and healthy;
but the king's order was that he was to be thrown into the river,
where the cruel, hungry crocodiles were waiting
to snap up everything
they could find for a meal. Jochebed, the poor mother, held her baby
closer in her arms. No, she could not obey the king's order. She would
try and hide the baby for a little while, at any rate.
It was easy to hide a baby while he was still tiny and slept most of
the day; but when he grew bigger it was much more difficult. His
sister Miriam did her best to help her mother; but any day, now that
the baby was three months old, he might be discovered, and something
must be done at once.
So Jochebed thought of a plan, and prayed to God that He would help
her to carry it out. At the edge of the river there grew tall
bulrushes, which, when cut down and dried, could be made into many
useful things. Taking some of these bulrushes, she wove them into a
with a cover to it, just like a little ark, and this she
covered with a kind of pitch, so that not a drop of water could come
through. Inside the cradle
she made a soft bed, and laid the baby
there while he was fast asleep, and set the ark afloat
in the water
where the bulrushes were growing. She knew that presently
princess, Pharaoh's daughter, would come down to bathe in the river,
and would notice the queer little ark floating there.
[Illustration: She laid the baby there while he was fast asleep.]
Very soon the royal procession
came winding down from the palace
towards the river, as the princess
in her gorgeous
robes made her way
to bathe in the pool of the lotus flowers. But at the edge of the
river she stopped. What was that among the bulrushes? It was no lotus
flower, but a strange-looking covered basket, and she ordered her
maidens to bring it to her.
The little ark was lifted out of the water and carried to the
princess. There was surely something alive inside, and the princess
was full of curiosity
as she leaned down and lifted the cover to look
in. Then she started back in amazement. The dearest little baby she
had ever seen lay there, all rosy and fresh after his sleep, gazing up
at her with wide-open eyes. The maidens crowded
round, and the sight
of all those strange faces was more than the baby could bear. He
puckered up his face and began to cry.
loved babies, and she had none of her own. That little
wailing cry went to her heart. She guessed at once that this was one
of the Hebrew babies which had been ordered to be destroyed, and she
made up her mind that this beautiful boy should at least be saved.
All this time Miriam had been watching from her hiding-place close by,
and with anxious, beating
heart she came forward now. Could she help
the princess? she asked. Should she run and find some Hebrew woman who
might look after the baby?
Perhaps the princess
guessed that the baby's mother would not be far
off, and she must have smiled a little when a nurse was so quickly
found. But she took no notice of that.
"Take this child away," she said, when Jochebed stood humbly
her, "and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages."
It was merely as a nurse that the mother was hired. The great princess
meant to adopt the baby as her own. But he was safe, and Jochebed's
heart was full of gratitude
to God as she took her little son into her
As long as he needed a nurse the baby was left to be looked after by
his mother in the little house by the river-side. The princess
him Moses, which means "drawn out," because he had been drawn out of
the water, and she had made up her mind that as soon as he was old
enough he should come to live with her at the palace, and be brought
up as a prince. He would be treated just as if he was really her son.
[Illustration: She taught him about God.]
But his poor mother had him for those first precious years while he
was still a little boy, and she did not waste one minute of that time
in her training of him. She taught him about God, and told him all the
wonderful stories about his own country, so that he should never
forget that he belonged to God's people, even when he should become a
prince in the Egyptian palace. Just as a gardener
sows seeds in a
garden which afterwards grow up into beautiful flowers, so she sowed
the seeds of truth in the heart of her little son, which long
afterwards were to blossom
out and bear such wonderful fruit.
[Illustration: Beating him unmercifully with a long whip.]
Then when Moses was old enough to do without a nurse, she took him to
the palace, and "brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became
But deep down in his heart he never forgot his own people.
It happened one day that he saw one of the Egyptian taskmasters
treating one of the poor Israelite slaves with great cruelty, beating
him most unmercifully with a long whip. This made Moses so angry that
he rushed in to defend the slave, and dealt the taskmaster such a blow
that it killed him.
But instead of being grateful
the Israelites would not trust him, and
began to whisper
the tale of how he had killed the Egyptian, so that
Moses was obliged to flee for his life, leaving behind all the riches
and honours he had enjoyed so long.
A very different kind of life began now for Moses. He journeyed far
into the desert and joined company there with an Arab tribe, and
wandered from place to place feeding their flocks and living the life
of a shepherd.
But God had more difficult work for him to do than feeding sheep, and
one day when he was in the desert he saw a strange sight. A bush was
growing there, and in the middle of the bush a fire was burning, and
the strange thing was that although the fire kept on burning fiercely
the bush was not burnt at all. It was the Angel of the Lord that was
in the midst of the fire, and as Moses drew near God called him by his
name, and told him that he was to go back and set his people free
from the tyranny
of Pharaoh and lead them into the Promised Land.
[Illustration: In the middle of the bush a fire was burning.]
At first Moses said it was impossible for him to do this. His own
people would not trust him, and he was no great speaker; he would
certainly fail. But God bade him do his best, and Aaron his brother
would speak for him; and above all God would be his helper.
[Illustration: "Arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this
people." Joshua i. 2.]
So Moses returned to the land of Egypt and boldly
asked Pharaoh to
allow the people to go and worship
God. Time after time Pharaoh
refused, although God sent dreadful
plagues to warn him. At last,
however, when the angel of death killed all the eldest
sons of the
Egyptians, Pharaoh was terrified and said the people might go at once
and take all their belongings
[Illustration: The Land of Canaan lay stretched out before him.]
It was a great company of people that set out, and Moses the great
leader guided them on their way. They had many adventures, and braved
many dangers and difficulties, but God was always their shield
defence. He delivered them by parting
the waters of the Red Sea and
allowing them to walk over dry-shod when Pharaoh and his army were
pursuing them. And when the pursuers tried to follow them, the waters
rolled back, and the whole great army were swept away by the returning
Yet in spite of God's care and goodness
towards them, these Israelites
were often ungrateful, and complained bitterly
when they suffered any
want. And it was always Moses whom they blamed.
Moses was very patient with them; but once he was so angry that he was
tempted to disobey
God's direction, and as a punishment
God told him
that though he should see the Promised Land from afar he would never
enter it himself.
There on the mountain top he stood, gazing into the far distance,
where the Land of Canaan, that fair land flowing with milk and honey,
lay stretched out before him. Then he bowed his head to God's will.
The murmuring people never saw their great leader again. He "was not,
for God took him."
RUTH, THE GLEANER
Along the hot, dusty road that led from the country of Moab to the
fair land of Judah three women were walking with bowed heads and
weary, halting steps. Their sorrowful, heavy eyes took no pleasure in
the summer beauty of the harvest
fields, the shimmering silver of the
olive trees, and the rich promise of the vineyards which bordered
their way. The whole world looked sad to them, seen through a mist of
There behind them, in the land of Moab, each of these women had left
green graves, which held all they loved best. Naomi, the eldest, was
perhaps the most desolate. Her thoughts went back to the time when she
was as young and fair as the two daughters-in-law who walked at her
side--when with her husband and her two boys she had trod that very
road, seeking a home in a strange country to escape the famine
threatened them in her own land. Now she was returning to her native
town of Bethlehem, a childless, lonely
The younger women, who were the wives of those two dead sons, were
too, but for them there might yet be happiness in the
world. They still had near and dear relatives and many friends in
Moab, which was their native land. They had come far enough now, and
it was time for them to return.
"Turn again, my daughters," said Naomi, "and go your way."
Their homes lay behind, and she must journey on alone to the little
hill town which she had not seen for so many long years. They had
kindly come so far to see her on her way, but they must come no
So the little party halted, and one of the young women, weeping
bitterly, kissed her mother-in-law and turned to go back. But the
other one, whose name was Ruth, clung to Naomi, and would not leave
In vain the elder woman urged her to return, and pointed
Orpah had gone, that home and friends and happiness awaited her there,
while in front was only poverty
and loneliness. Ruth only clung the
closer as she sobbed out her tender, loving
"Entreat me not to leave thee," she said, "or to return from following
after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest,
I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. The
Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me."
The tender words brought comfort to the heart of Naomi, as soft rain
to the hard, dry earth. After all, she was not
quite alone; she still had some one to love and care for. So together
they journeyed on again, and at last came to the winding road which
led up to the town of Bethlehem, nestling like a white bird upon the
long ridge of hills.
Naomi knew every step of the way. It seemed almost like a dream to
tread on more that winding road, to pass through the city gates and
find her way to the little house she knew so well. Although she had
been gone so many years there were still people who remembered her,
and these came running
out to greet her.
"Is this Naomi?" they asked wonderingly.
They could scarcely believe that this sad, broken-down woman could be
the pleasant-faced, happy girl who had gone away with her husband and
boys in the year of the great famine. But as they listened to her
story they did not wonder that she seemed so old and talked so
bitterly. It made them look very kindly upon the beautiful girl who
kept so close to her mother-in-law, who had given up everything rather
than leave her alone.
[Illustration: He spoke very kindly.]
Naomi had been quite right when she had told Ruth that poverty
before them. She had come back quite empty-handed, and it was
necessary to find some work at once which would at least provide them
with daily bread. Ruth, looking out over the fields where already the
barley was being cut, made up her mind to go and work there. The poor
were always allowed to follow the reapers and glean the stray ears of
corn that fell unnoticed. She might at least gather enough to feed her
mother-in-law and herself.
Very happily, then, Ruth set out, and found her way into the harvest
field, which belonged to a rich man called Boaz. The reapers treated
her kindly when she timidly
asked for permission
to glean there, and
when the master arrived to see how the harvest
went, he too noticed
her at once, for she was very beautiful.
is this?" he asked.
There were many people ready to tell him her name, and also to tell
him how she had left her land and her people to come with Naomi, her
mother-in-law. The story had been repeated
all through the town.
Boaz listened with interest. Naomi was his kins-woman, and it was only
right that he should help her. He would begin by helping the
sweet-faced daughter-in-law who had chanced to come gleaning upon his
land. So he went and spoke very kindly to the beautiful Ruth, and told
her to come every day to his harvest
field and share the reapers'
food, and he would see that no one troubled her. He even told the
reapers to let some handfuls of corn fall in her way, on purpose, so
that there might be plenty for her to glean.
[Illustration: The two loving
hearts rejoiced in their happiness.]
So each day Ruth went back and worked in the harvest
fields, and each
day as Boaz watched her he grew to love the gentle, loving-hearted
woman more and more. And when at last the harvest
days were over, he
went to Naomi and asked that Ruth might become his wife.
There was no more poverty
or hard work now for Ruth or Naomi, no
anxious days of wondering how long their flour and oil would last.
Boaz was very rich, and nothing was too good for his fair young wife,
whom he had first seen humbly
gleaning in his harvest