A Good Big Sister

Mesu Andrews Featured Articles 4 Comments

Babies with babiesBig sisters are a rare breed. I’m not one, but I have one. I birthed and raised one. I’m even grandparenting one.

Big sisters are amazing.

They protect. They love. They boss. They remember.

Big sisters are God’s way of putting two moms in a single family.

It’s a good thing Moses had a big sister…or he might have been lunch for a crocodile.

Moses’s Hebrew Family

With only one week left in our countdown to The Pharaoh’s Daughter, I thought it important to explore Moses’s birth family—the Hebrew side of his heritage.

We find the specific names of Moses’s family members in these genealogies:

“Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses.”     Exodus 6:20

“The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses and Miriam.”                           I Chron. 6:3

Miriam is thought to have been the oldest of the three siblings because of the following verses:

“Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.”           Exodus 7:7

Miriam undoubtedly would have been older than her little brother Aaron (three years older than Moses) to have conversed so shrewdly with Pharaoh’s daughter when Moses was found in the pitch-covered basket among the reeds.

Thinking Like a Big Sister

Let’s put ourselves in Miriam’s little Hebrew sandals and try to understand what prompted her very grown-up conversation with The Pharaoh’s Daughter

Imagine you’re six years old, and you’ve watched your mommy’s labor and delivery and welcomed a new baby brother into your small home. The midwives rub your new brother with salt, oil, and wine, and they begin to cry. Your mommy begs them not to take your little brother away, and the midwives promise they would never kill a baby—though they’ve been commanded to by Pharaoh himself.

  • At six years old, do you wonder why a king would order midwives to kill babies?

The midwives leave, and your mommy explains that you and your other little brother, Aaron, can’t tell anyone that you have a new baby brother. Your daddy refuses to name the baby for fear that a name would make him all the more difficult to lose. For days, weeks, and months, you help your mommy care for your new brother and keep him happy and quiet. Day and night, you’re either working in the fields or tending Aaron and the new baby. You’re exhausted, but it’s worth it to see this baby grow—and to see your mommy happy. Other mommies, whose babies were thrown into the Nile by soldiers, still work in the fields and tend their families, but their faces are empty. Their smiles are broken.

  • At six years old, do you realize the danger of hiding the baby and disobeying the king?

Three months have passed—the changing of seasons—and Baby Brother is no longer easy to quiet. Your mommy and daddy talk late into the night, while Baby Brother screams, unable to be comforted. The next morning, your mommy wakes you to accompany her to the river. Daddy and Aaron are already gone to work the fields. Mommy holds a pitch-covered basket with a lid, and you hear a whimper inside. You and Mommy walk in silence toward the master’s villa. She leads you into the shallows, among the reeds—where the crocodiles hide. She’s told you never to swim here, never go into the reeds. “Follow the basket wherever it leads,” she says. And you follow it all the way to The Pharaoh’s Daughter.

  • At six years old, do you try to think of a way to get your baby brother back?

“Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?’”         Exodus 2:7

Boldness or Bravery

I’d always thought Miriam’s approach to The Pharaoh’s Daughter was such magnificent bravery from a child so small, but after living in Miriam’s skin (as I hope you do when you read Bible narrative and/or biblical novels), I wonder if desperation fueled her bravery.

This big sister, who had poured her heart and soul into caring for and hiding Moses for three long months, wasn’t about to let him be swept out of her world forever—even if a princess was doing the sweeping!

Oh, to have the guileless courage of a child…in my relationships, in my work, in my faith. Lord, let it be so.

Desperation to Deliverance

Big sisters learn best when they have a strong mommy to teach them. I’ve never met a woman who believes she was/is a perfect mother. But we can all be thankful for godly models like Jochebed, and she’s taught us a crucial lesson in this story.

Historically, Hebrew families would have lived in close quarters, so I have no doubt little Miriam was involved in hiding and caring for baby Moses as well as setting him assail on the crocodile-infested waters of the Nile. Jochebed (and Amram) didn’t shield Miriam from the danger or hardships their family faced which means Miriam also experienced the miraculous force of God’s deliverance.

When our children endure family hardships, they more fully appreciate God’s magnificent work. They see it more clearly because they see the hardship that necessitated it. Of course, we must be wise to share age-appropriate lessons. Aaron was only three years old—too young to understand the lessons Miriam learned in the bulrushes. However, Scripture bears witness to the deep impression God made on Miriam that day:

“When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing.”  Exodus 15:19-20

When we allow God to make an impression on our children, they become His strong leaders as adults.


Today’s Question:

  • Wanna give a shout out to a “big sis” that’s made a difference in your life? Blood relation or heart connection, doesn’t matter.

Comments 4

  1. Oh doesn’t this bring memories rushing in. Family big sisters, Christian big sisters. What liberty we have with those relationships. As such they are wonderful teachers, comforters and counsellors. Besides just great friends. God’s wisdom is amazing in how He arranges ‘things’.

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      Family dynamics are amazing, and how fun that Jesus must have experienced many of those dynamics in His earthly family. I think I remember reading somewhere that He had earthly sisters. Though Jesus would have been the oldest of Mary’s children, it’s still fun to think of what his sister(s) might have been like. 😉

  2. Mesu, you shot a bull’s eye on this one! I was a big sister, my baby sister passed away many years ago, and I was her protector as long as I can remember. It was that way when we were young and didn’t end until she was gone and we were in our twenties. That’s just what big sisters do and I think that is all part of God’s plan. Miriam was a brave little girl and I know that in that big heart of hers she just had to protect her little brother and I don’t think a doubt ever crossed her mind. Oh to recapture that zeal and confidence! Your description is perfection:)

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      I’ve never been a big sister, Michele, but I have a WONDERFUL big sister, and she definitely has that protector mentality when it comes to my brother and I. She’s amazing, one of my heroes, actually. Gotta love a big sister! 😉

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