by Barri Cae Mallin

Marvelous things He did in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.

~ Psalm 78:12 ~

How many times have we read a verse, especially a Psalm, and not fully comprehended the worth of the words? Where is Zoan? Why should this matter? The Jewish encyclopedia notes that it was an important city in Egypt, noting that it could have been the residence of Pharaoh. John Bright, noted historian and scholar, affiliates Zoan with Avaris, an ancient area in Egypt. It had to have some importance for the author of Psalms to comment about it.

If it was indeed the residence of Pharaoh, it brings forth a beautiful picture. Exodus 1:8-14 notes:

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, "Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land." So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel. The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously; and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.

This passage lays forth the groundwork of the beginning of Moses’ life. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Before his birth, the midwives were ordered by the Pharaoh to kill any Hebrew baby boy by throwing them into the river. However, the midwives defied the Pharaoh and hid the Hebrew male infants. God smiled upon these midwives and the Hebrew population grew, despite these heinous orders.

In Exodus 2 we read: Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him.

We can assume that little baby Moses was circumcised. He was born into a devout Jewish home, as his father, Amram, and his mother, Yocheved, were both from the tribe of Levi. This was such a sad event as this little Hebrew baby boy was placed into the Nile River, near the plain of Zoan. His mother had no idea where he was. His sister, Miryam, watched from a distance, wondering what would happen to her little brother.

The Jewish encyclopedia notes that Zoan was situated on the Delta Nile and since this was the possible location of the Pharaoh’s residence, it lines up with Pharaoh’s daughter desiring to bathe in the Nile. She, a non-Jew, a Gentile, saw the basket and had her maid fetch it. Looking in, she would have known that it was indeed a Hebrew baby, as only Hebrew babies were circumcised. She had her maid take the child away, and nurse the baby. Pharaoh’s daughter took great risk in this action as she could have been sentenced to death by her own father. What wonderful providence as she protected Moses and even put him into the arms of her nursemaid, who was actually the mother of Moses.

But what is as beautiful is the picture of the Pharaoh’s daughter, the Gentile, desiring to protect the Hebrew baby. When we think of this redemption, we often think of Ruth and Naomi, for Ruth wanted Naomi’s God to be her God. Yet here, many centuries prior to Ruth, we see a beautiful picture of the love of a Gentile, caring for the Hebrew.

In my own salvation experience, it was the love of a Jewish believer in Jesus and a Gentile believer in Jesus who had the courage to share the good news of Yeshua with me over lunch, almost thirty-one years ago. I will forever be grateful to both of them for sharing with me that there IS truly a way out of the pit of darkness. His name is Yeshua.

Years ago, Walt Disney brought this wonderful story line, in their movie called The Prince of Egypt. Ofra Haza, Israeli singer of blessed memory, sang a lovely song in the movie:

With the sting of the whip on my shoulder, With the salt of my sweat on my brow,
Elohim, God on high, Can You hear your people cry?
Help us now, This dark hour...
Deliver us, Hear our call, Deliver us, Lord of all
Remember us, here in this burning sand, Deliver us.
There's a land You promised us --
Deliver us to the Promised Land.

Have you ever felt as though you were in the hot sand, you had to remain there, hard-pressed on every side, with a taskmaster pushing you to do more, work harder, more, more! Heartbreak, suffering, pain both emotional or physical tears you apart. Perhaps the cry of your heart parallels with the lyrics above. If you are a child of God, if you know Elohim, three in One God, take comfort, dear child of God. You are not forsaken. Redemption will come. One may not know the hour, but one knows the hand that holds you. His name is Yeshua; He is your advocate, your deliverer He will bring you through into victory. He never wastes suffering. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our LORD Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah (I Cor. 15:58). Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). If Moses can be plucked out of the Nile, in the field of Zoan by his own mother, keep faith; trust Him to do the impossible with your own situation.


Barri Cae Mallin holds a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from
Trinity Theological Seminary. Other devotionals by
Barri Cae may be found at
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