Levi's grandson, Amram, the son of Kehot, married Jochebed, and she bore him three children. Their first child was a girl by the name of Miriam, who was later to become a great prophetess of the Jewish people. The second child was Aaron, the highest priest of G‑d, famous for his extraordinary love of peace. Next to his brother Moses, he was the greatest leader of our nation in his time. It was Amram's youngest son Moses who was destined to lead the children of Israel from Egypt and to receive for them the Holy Torah on Mount Sinai.
The Birth of Moses
The day approached when, according to the Egyptian astrologers, the liberator of the children of Israel was to be born. Since they did not know whether he would be of Jewish or Egyptian descent, all male children born that day, were to be thrown into the water by order of King Pharaoh. This same day, the seventh of Adar, Jochebed, Amram's wife, gave birth to her third child, a boy. Right from the first moment of his birth, it became apparent that he was an extraordinary child, for the house was filled with a radiant light. His parents tried everything possible to prevent his falling into the hands of Pharaoh's men, who were continuously searching for newborn Jewish children. After three months, Jochebed saw that she would not be able to conceal her child any longer. She therefore made a small, water-proof basket in which she put the child and set. him down among the papyrus reeds growing on the brink of the Nile. While Jochebed tearfully returned home, her daughter Miriam remained nearby to watch the baby.
The day was hot, and King Pharaoh's daughter, Bithya, came out to the river, accompanied by her maids, to take a bath in the cool waters of the Nile. Suddenly, she heard the wailing of a small child. Presently she found the basket, and in it an infant boy. Intrigued by the child's beauty, Bithya tried to figure out a way to enable her to keep him for herself and save him from death, for she understood that this boy was one of the children born to a Jewish family, and therefore condemned to death.
The child refused to be nursed by any of the Egyptian maids-in-waiting, and continued to weep. At this moment, Miriam came over to the princess and offered to procure for the child a Jewish nurse, who would keep it as long as the princess thought necessary. Bithya was glad of this solution. Miriam rushed home and brought her mother, whom she introduced as an experienced nurse.
For two years the baby was left in his mother's care. Meanwhile Bithya told Pharaoh about the boy she had found and adopted. Her father did not object, although the foundling was of Jewish descent; for his astrologers had told him that the one who, according to the constellation of the stars, had been predestined to become the liberator of the Jews and to threaten the life of King Pharaoh, had already been placed at the mercy of the water. Moreover, they further said, it was the fate of this boy to die because of water. Thus, they felt sure that the danger had already been averted. Moses was taken to the royal court, where he grew up as the princely adopted son of King Pharaoh's daughter.
Moses Becomes Tongue-Tied
Once it happened that Moses was playing on King Pharaoh's lap. He saw the shining crown, studded with jewels, and reached for it and took it off. Pharaoh, who was superstitious like all his fellow-Egyptians, and who in addition was always afraid of losing his throne, asked his astrologers and counselors for the meaning of this action of the infant. Most of them interpreted it to mean that Moses was a threat to Pharaoh's crown and suggested that the child be put to death before it could do any harm. One of the king's counselors, however, suggested that they should first test the boy and see whether his action was prompted by intelligence, or he was merely grasping for sparkling things as any other child would.
Pharaoh agreed to this, and two bowls were set down before young Moses. One contained gold and jewels, and the other held glowing fire-coals. Moses reached out for the gold, but an angel directed his hand to the coals. Moses snatched a glowing coal and put it to his lips. He burned his hand and tongue, but his life was saved. After that fateful test, Moses suffered from a slight speech defect. He could not become an orator, but his words were nevertheless to carry weight, for it was G‑d's words that were spoken through his lips.