“She (Pharaoh’s daughter) called his name Moshe, as she said: for I drew him from water” (Shemot 2:10)
The Midrash for this week’s sedra, Shemot, tells us that Moses had many names.
His father called him Chaver (friend); his mother named him Yekutiel (hope in God); his sister Miriam called him Yered (to go down) as she went down to the Nile to watch him; and his grandfather called him Avigdor (the father of boundaries) because Moses would be the one to facilitate the giving of the law to the Jewish people.
In the Torah, however, he is referred to only as Moses (meaning “drawn from the water”), the name given to him by Pharaoh’s daughter.
One might wonder why it is that the names given by his immediate family, who all had prophecy, were superseded by the name given by Pharaoh’s daughter?
Pharaoh’s daughter knew about her father’s decree and, by saving the child’s life, she was putting herself at great risk.
It is perhaps because of this that the name Moses stuck.
The power of putting oneself out for others was a character trait that Pharaoh’s daughter demonstrated and it was this specific attribute that would become the defining feature of Moses’ leadership of the Jewish people.
- Tanya Garber is rebbetzin of Shenley United Jewish Community