Forty women: 14. Pharaoh’s daughter

I don’t really like babies. They mostly aren’t all that pretty, in my opinion. Especially not when they’re screaming. Or pooing. And if they’re not doing those, they’re generally sleeping. So, yeah. Don’t put me in charge of the creche. But even I find that babies bring out a protective instinct. They’re so helpless. So vulnerable. And when they open their eyes wide and just look at you, well, it’s hard to resist.

Pharaoh’s daughter couldn’t resist. She’s bathing in the river, with all her maidservants in attendance, when she sees the basket. They open it up and there’s the baby. Crying.

She knows where it’s come from. This is one of the Hebrew babies. One of the babies that was supposed to have been killed. One of the babies that her father ordered to be killed.

But it’s a baby. Helpless. Vulnerable. Needy. And when she looks at it, her protective instinct kicks in. She can’t save all the Hebrew boys, but she can save this one. She’ll take him into the safest place in the country – the Pharaoh’s own palace, and she’ll raise him as if he’s her own son.

Although he’s such a small baby that he’ll need a wet nurse. The young Hebrew girl standing nearby offers to find one for her. So that in the end it’s Moses’ mother who gets to look after him anyway.

Shiphrah and Puah refusing to kill the babies they help to be born.

The Levite woman refusing to destroy her own baby, and setting his sister to watch over him.

Pharaoh’s daughter, moved to keep him safe in her own home.

These first two chapters of Exodus are all about the women. All five of them, bravely doing the right thing. Desperately doing the right thing. Compassionately doing the right thing.

And after all, it’s such an ordinary thing. Women all over the world every day are helping others give birth. Women all over the world every day are keeping their baby safe. Women all over the world every day are watching over their younger brothers. And women all over the world every day are caring for children as if they were their own.

Women all over the world every day are doing something amazing.

Forty women: 15. Zipporah