We know that Amram and Yocheved (Moshe and Miriam's parents) divorced so as not to give birth to baby boys and Miriam explained to them that they should get remarried because not only are they killing the boys they are also killing girls.

The question is, was Moshe conceived before or after the divorce and remarrying? The time line seems unclear.

2 Answers 2


According to Shemos Rabba 1:13, Yocheved was three months pregnant with Moshe when Amram divorced her.

רבי חנינא בר רב יצחק אמר: שפרה, שהעמידה ישראל לאלהים, שבשבילם נבראו השמים, שכתוב בהם (איוב כו, יג) ברוחו שמים. שפרה, פועה, שהופיעה פנים כנגד אביה, שהיה עמרם ראש סנהדרין באותה שעה, כיון שגזר פרעה, ואמר (שמות שם, כב) כל הבן הילוד. אמר עמרם: ולריק ישראל מולידים?! מיד הוציא את יוכבד ופרש עצמו מתשמיש המטה, וגרש את אשתו כשהיא מעוברת משלשה חודשים. עמדו כל ישראל וגרשו את נשותיהן.‏

That is why they were able to keep Moshe for three months. The Egyptians began counting from the time of the remarriage. See Sotah 12a, and as understood by The Midrash Says (page 17).

Sotah 12a states:

She hid him three months.29 [She was able to do this] because the Egyptians only counted [the period of her pregnancy] from the time that she was restored [to youth], but she was then already pregnant three months.

'Restored' could mean to youth or to her husband. But regardless, this might also assume that she was pregnant before the separation.

Why, then, divorce? A good separate question. Among many answers, one could say that this was just as a role model for the other Israelites to follow.

I'll also note that we don't need to absolutely assume that even within the midrashic realm, everyone agrees to this. Indeed, I think there is possibly a slight difference even between this Midrash Rabba and the gemara in Sotah.

According to Targum (Pseudo-)Yonasan, Yocheved had Eldad and Medad with another man when she was divorced from Amram, in which case she was decidedly not pregnant with Moshe from before.

  • If she had been with another man, Amram would not have been allowed to remarry her Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 20:41
  • 2
    True, according to Torah law. But this was pre-Matan Torah, and outside of Eretz Yisrael. And it is what Targum Yonasan says in Bemidbar 11:26. Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 13:26
  • I should add that Amram married his aunt, in doing this! Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 0:54

See Sifsei Chachomim which clearly says that Moshe was conceived after they got back together.

See Rashi that Moshe was born 6 months and a day after they got back together which is considered a 7 month baby. However the Baal HaTurim on the same page says that she was 3 months pregnant when they remarried.

  • Doesn't it seem a bit fast to have Moshe after that happened as not much extra time appears in other sections of this story? As well, isn't this a comment, not an answer? Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 15:55
  • @morahhochman, how is it lacking as an answer?
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 16:07
  • Answer was changed after Morah Hochman's comment Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 16:08

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