Moses Was Adopted: 8 Reasons it Matters

Moses was adopted. For Jew and Christian alike, Moses is a central figure in Biblical literature. He was the writer of the first five books of the Testament (aka. The Pentateuch or the Torah). Moses is known for igniting the 10 plagues against Egypt; for leading the Israelites out of Egypt, known as the Exodus; for parting the Red Sea and for giving the Hebrew people the 10 Commandments. But perhaps the most overlooked fact about Moses was that he was adopted. Yes, Moses was adopted.

The Old Testament Book of Exodus recalls the circumstances of Moses’ birth and the crisis his parents found themselves in. For 400 years the Egyptians enslaved them in order to keep their labor and to prevent them from rising up against them. Step #2 was the order given by Pharaoh, King of Egypt, to kill all the Hebrew boys. Exodus 1:16 says, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”

Most adoptions of a child in the present day start with some type of crisis: a crisis pregnancy, CPS involvement, the death of their parents, war, or poverty. It is the adoptive parents who come alongside the birth parents to help the child. 

Despite the barbarism of the Pharaoh, Moses was saved due to the ingenuity of 4 women: Shiprah, Puah, Jochebed, and Miriam. Two of them were midwives, the third was his biological mother and the last was his biological sister. Shiprah and Puah were ordered to kill all Hebrew boys by drowning them in the Nile River. But they feared God, so every time a boy was born, they would save the boy. When Moses was born, they did the same and his parents hid him for 3 months. Hebrews 1: 23 says, By faith, Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” When they could no longer hide him, his birth mother devised a plan: she would make a small device made of reeds and pitch that was able to float in the water. They put Moses in the contraption and float him down the Nile with the hopes that he would be saved. Dangers such as crocodiles, drowning, and murder were very real dangers. But in Exodus 1:2-22 Miriam, his sister, ensured that Moses survived and placed him in the arms of his adopted mom, the daughter of Pharaoh. 

The Bible records the struggles Moses endured throughout his life. Many adopted children can identify with Moses. They can identify with Moses’ adoption and not only with his struggles. Here are some of the things that adopted children need to keep in mind when reading the story of Moses.

1. Moses was wanted.

The order that Pharaoh gave was to kill all baby boys in the land of Goshen. The method was to drown them in the Nile River. This type of specific genocide reveals the Egyptians lack of appreciation for life. As if the Hebrew boys were less valuable. This probably left Moses struggling with feelings of unwantedness if that is a word. Ah, but he was wanted: by his parents, by his sister, and ultimately by his adoptive mom. 

Adopted children may have feelings of unwantedness also, especially during their teen years. Questions will creep into minds as to why their parents didn’t want them. They may feel invaluable, and worthless. They need to be assured that they are not disposable. They are not unwanted. Your love for them is not temporary. Let them know they are loved and that they are wanted.

2. Moses was chosen.

We will never know why God allowed the other boys to die but allowed Moses to live. It was the responsibility of the Egyptians for their deaths. Here are the facts: The Deliverer who would be the instrument God would use to rescue His people. He was the Chosen One. 

Your child may feel ignored by God. Overlooked. Forgotten. But rest assured, she was chosen. Chosen by God. Chosen by you as the adopted parent. And feeling chosen makes all the difference in the world.

3. Moses’ name was unique.

In Exodus 2, we see that Moses was the name chosen for him due to his early circumstance. “Moses” means, “to draw out of the water.” And that’s exactly what happened to Moses. He was saved out of the water. Not only did it describe how he was saved by the Princess out of the Nile River, but it is also a foreshadowing of how he and nearly a million Hebrew slaves would be saved out of the Red Sea in Exodus chapter 14. Moses’ name had significance. 

Lots of adopted children struggle with identity. Questions of “Who am I?” and “What is my real name?” often come up. They struggle with their name because they do not know who they are. During adoption finalization, the adoptive parents have the opportunity to change the adopted child’s name. Sometimes that may benefit the child, sometimes not. If the child is older, the choice should be given to the child to change his name. A person’s first name declares who that person truly is. Their last name declares what family they belong to. In the Bible, God often changes the name of the person to signify a new direction: from Abram to Abraham; from Sarai to Sarah; from Simon to Peter; from Saul to Paul. A change in your child’s name could be a new beginning or it could cause more trauma. Take it on a case by case basis and do what is in the best interest of your child.

4. Moses had a purpose.

Everything that happened prior to Moses leading his people was for a purpose. He may have thought: Why was I the only baby boy to survive? Why didn’t I get to live with my birth mother? Why did God choose me? Not realizing that all of those moments were to prepare him for greatness. Growing up in Pharaoh’s household gave him a window into leadership. Under Pharaoh’s tutelage, he probably learned military tactics, politics, finance, and public leadership. Even if he was not directly taught it, he learned through careful observation. Being raised as an Egyptian afforded him an advantage that no other Hebrew had. 

On the Hebrew side, he not only learned the history of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but also, he also learned the distinctiveness of Jewish religion such as worshipping an invisible God, worshipping one God only, and not worshipping idols. Furthermore, he learned from his Israelite heritage the importance of family, the value of all individuals, the value of freedom, and the love that God has for orphans. In God’s sovereignty and providence, Moses was the perfect person to lead God’s people to freedom. That was God’s purpose all along. 

So, when your adopted youth questions why bad things have happened to him or her in life and asks, “Why me?” Encourage a rephrasing of the question: “What can I learn from this” and “What purpose does God have for me? If God had a purpose for Moses, He has a purpose for her, too.

5. Moses had a hope and a future.

In Exodus chapter 4, Moses argued with God because he could only see his present circumstance. He probably thought he did not have the resources, skills to complete such a task. He also had a checkered past. But Moses did not know what God knew, that God was using Moses to do great things and giving him an open and a future. When God was speaking to Moses through the burning bush, God already knew that Moses would confront Pharaoh, that Moses would lead his people through the Red Sea, and that Moses would lead his people to the Promised Land. All Moses had to do was trust God.

Your adopted child has hope and a future also. He might develop the cure for cancer; he might be the first person to settle on Mars; he might be the future president of the United States. Children and adopted youth sometimes cannot see past their current circumstances. You need to help them to see the great things they can do. Tell them of Biblical figures who were adopted like Moses, Esther, and yes, even Jesus. Tell them of historical figures who were adopted like Babe Ruth, Gerald Ford, Steve Jobs, and Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s Restaurants. These were all people who had or whose parents had a crisis in or around the time of their birth. But each one of those adopted people rose to prominence despite their past. They got a second chance at life. Being adopted isn’t a curse. It’s a blessing. It’s the adopted parents’ job to help them see that.

6. Moses had an open adoption.

It appears that for a while, both mothers had access to Moses. Moses was nursed by his biological mother. Then, when he was weaned, he lived with the Princess of Egypt. Apparently, he knew both of his mothers. That is what we call an “open adoption”. In modern terms, it is when biological parents still have contact with their child after an adoption is finalized. Some adoptive parents fear this because of the influence the bio parents have over their child and also because of fear that the bio parents may “kidnap” their child. But overall, it helps the adopted child see that they can be loved by multiple people at the same time.

7. Moses had to balance living in two worlds.

Moses lived in 2 worlds. In one world, his adopted mom gave him the best Egyptian life had to offer. In the other world, his biological mom, Jochebed, gave him his heritage. He balanced life with two moms: his biological mom and then his adopted mom. Questions of which mother should I be loyal must have plagued his mind. Ultimately, Moses chose his Hebrew heritage and left the idolatry of Egypt behind. Hebrews 11:24 says,By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.”

Kids who are adopted have the same struggles: that of identity. There are questions that plague their mind: Who should I be loyal to? Which mom is my real mom? What is my real last name? And if they are living in a transracial family, Am I black or am I white? Help them with their identity issues. Don’t ignore it. Help them to see they live in a blended family who can all learn from one another.

8. Moses made many mistakes, but God didn’t.

Moses was in no way perfect, he argued with God, had a fiery temper, and was not very confident. He made many mistakes along the way, even one so disastrous that it kept him from the Promised Land. But God didn’t make a mistake in choosing Moses. He used Moses despite his imperfections. 

  • Moses lacked confidence. Moses argued with God about his mission. At each turn, God provided, giving answers ahead of time, miracles, and a staff to assist in his confrontations with Pharaoh. What Moses learned after time, was that God was his confidence. 
  • Moses lacked speaking skills. In Exodus 4:10, Moses stated he was “slow of speech.” Some Bible scholars suggested that Moses had a speech impediment. Some disagree. But either way, Moses didn’t have confidence in his speaking ability. God sent Aaron to help him.
  • Moses had anger issues. On more than one occasion in the Book of Exodus, Moses let his anger get the best of him. First, he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. Then he was “hot with anger” before Pharaoh. Then he threw down the 1st set of Commandments. 

These momentary lapses in judgment interfered with his relationship with God. Your adopted child may have some behavioral issues as well. They need to be shown that they may not be able to control what happens to them, but they can control how they react.

A character study of Moses shows a very complex man, full of passion but had moments of uncertainty, who paid attention to detail but ignored some details and led his people to deliverance even though he needed help along the way. God was in control of everything that happened to Moses, good or bad. Ultimately, it was for the good of the people of Israel, who entered into the Promised Land at the end of Moses’ life. His adoption and life were a blessing and example to all peoples. Thank God for Moses. Thank God for his adoption.