"This is one of the Hebrew babies"

Dr. John Hartog III has a theory about (perhaps it isn’t his own? I don’t know) the command to dump the boys into the Nile in Exodus 1 that the command was not to drown them in the Nile, but to expose them. In other words, the children were presented to Hapi in baskets, left exposed to the god to see what he would do with them. He said that the Hebrews willingness to do this perhaps was indicative about the extent to which they were inculcated with the gods and customs of the Egyptians. Thus, when Jochebed placed him in a basket and in some reeds near Pharaoh’s daughter’s bathing place, this was a very intentional act. In other words, Moses was like all other Hebrew boys placed in a basket and in the Nile (Pharaoh’s daughter says, “This is one of the Hebrew babies”), but in this case the basket was placed in just the right spot to make it appear that Hapi himself was delivering this child to Pharaoh’s daughter. In light of this, I found this section of Herodotus interesting. It certainly helps to explain the Israelite willingness to go along with this command. Herodotus, II.90

“If anyone, Egyptian or foreigner, is snatched away by a crocodile or has clearly drowned due to the force of the river itself, it is absolutely necessary that the inhabitants of whatever city to which the body floats have it embalmed, laid out, and buried in a sacred tomb in the best manner possible. No one, not even friends or relatives, are permitted to touch the corpse except for the priests of the Nile themselves; their hands alone come in contact with the body during its burial, on the grounds that its status is above and beyond that of a human.”

cf. Acts 7:18-21 for support:

Until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son.Acts 7:18–21 ESV

Why You Should Look for the Leitwort (key word) When You Are Reading the OT (and especially in your devotional reading)

From my OT notes:

Repetition is one of the key rhetorical features in biblical Hebrew narrative. So important is repetition that James Muilenburg, the father of modern rhetorical analysis in biblical studies, has well said, “repetition is the hallmark of Hebrew rhetoric.” Repetition provides a sense of coherence and unity to a narrative. So repetition is one of the most reliable guides to determining what a story is about. What keeps getting repeated in a story invariably becomes the central focus – the thing toward which everything points.

Aaaaaand… why you should take Hebrew:

Of course, the repetition of a key word is not as evident in English translations as it is in the Hebrew text. Most translations actually go to the opposite extreme, translating the same Hebrew word with different English equivalents for the sake of fluency and precision in English. One polysemantic wordplays of the same Hebrew word are obscured in English.

An example:

Sometimes the same Hebrew root is repeated in various morphological forms. For example, the root shal (“to ask, demand”) occurs repeatedly as a verb in 1 Samuel 8 and as a noun in 1 Samuel 9. The people sinned by “demanding” (shal) a human king, rejecting YHWH as their king and deliverer. Against the protests of Samuel, YHWH tells the prophet to give the people what they want. The immediately following narrative then introduces the reader “Saul” (shaul), whose name is the passive form of the root shal and literally means “the one who is demanded” or “the one asked for.” The insightful reader immediately suspects that he will be the new king. So the wordplay suggests that God will give the people what they asked for. This is an example of poetic justice: since they sinned by demanding a human king rather than YHWH, He would give them what they asked for – and it would not be pretty!