One of the aspects of Exodus I have enjoyed the most has been the way that Moses dignifies the women of Israel throughout the text. There are times, as in the beginning of the book, where Moses names specific women as he cites their courage and faith. Then there are times, towards the end of the book, where he acknowledges the women of Israel collectively for their generosity and willingness. In each case, he holds these women as equal to men in a patriarchal culture which I find so refreshing.
We tend to highlight women such as Esther, Ruth, the Proverbs 31 woman, and the virgin Mary, to name a few, but there are so many strong women we tend to overlook in the Bible as well. I think that this is why I love the glimpses Moses gives us into the women of Exodus. Though their calling was less dramatic than that of Moses’ burning bush, God met each of these women where they were as they were and used them to change a nation.
In Exodus 1 we meet two midwives who choose faith instead of fear as they act to rescue the newest generation of Hebrew sons. In Exodus 2 we are introduced to Moses’ mother, sister, and Pharaoh’s daughter; all of whom act contrary to Pharaoh’s fear-driven commands as they seek to preserve the life of Moses. His mother notes how special her son is, and risks a great amount to keep his life hidden for as long as possible. His sister bravely watches over her little brother as he rests on the river bank and boldly approaches a princess of Egypt with an offer to find a nurse for Moses when he is discovered. Pharaoh’s daughter displays a tender heart of compassion towards Moses and directly disobeys the royal edict to kill Israelite sons when she adopts Moses and raises him as her own.
In Exodus 4 we are given a deeper insight into Moses’ wife Zipporah. A Midianite woman raised by a God-fearing priest, Zipporah was not privy to the covenant of circumcision as her husband would have been. For some reason or another, Moses fails to follow through in participating in the covenant of circumcision when his two sons are born. After heeding the call of God on his life, we see God come to take Moses’ life as he journeys back to Egypt. Zipporah’s quick wit and action in circumcising her firstborn son and interceding for Moses’ life effectively spares her husband’s life. Where her husband failed to act as the spiritual leader in their home, Zipporah steps in momentarily to spare the life of her husband and to participate in the covenant between God and Israel. What follows is not a picture of Zipporah berating Moses or taking over as the leader of their home. Though Zipporah was not slow to act for the sake of her husband’s life, we see her continue to follow and encourage Moses’ leadership.
In each of these women we see courage, faith, boldness, compassion, and a nurturing spirit that goes beyond any fear or timidity. Not only do we see it in their lives, but we see it translate into Moses’ life through his leadership of Israel. For all of his excuses, Moses leads Israel with great courage, faith, compassion and bold intercession on their behalf. I believe, though I cannot prove it, that Moses recognized the value of the strong women God had placed in his life and therefore sought to recognize women as a whole. In Exodus 35 all of Israel is called to bring contributions for the Tabernacle, the house of God, out of a “willing” or generous heart. Three times Moses acknowledges the women of Israel using their skills to help create the Tabernacle exactly as God instructed. On an equal platform, Moses acknowledges both the men and women of Israel who were so moved by the Spirit that they freely gave of what they had, be it resources of time, skill, or wealth. God used the everyday skillset and tasks of these generous women to create a resting place for His presence. Their willingness to honor God with their gifts and precious time helped to usher in God’s presence among His people.
Women, God has given you a fierce boldness. He has set within you His feminine nature and it is far from weak and subservient. It is designed to complement the masculine and display a more holistic image of God to the world. You do not have to make yourself smaller nor do you have to overshadow the men in your life, but as you walk in the fullness of who you are in Christ I promise God will use you to establish and deliver nations in unique ways. Were it not for the women in Moses’ life, he would not have lived to deliver Israel out of Egypt, and I say this not to slight men in any way. I say this because I know how often I am tempted to believe the lie that my role as a woman, wife and mother is menial, when in fact God has empowered me to impact generations.
In whatever season of life you are in, know that God has gifted, called, and empowered you to impact generations for His glory.