Bat Par'oh found a three-month-old Hebrew baby in/around the Nile (Shemot 1:5-10) and had him fed and raised by Yokheved until approximately age 2 (Shemot Rabbah 1:26). Bat Par'oh then raised this baby presumably with her father's knowledge.

So his daughter comes home with a random two-year-old boy who presumably looks highly un-Egyptian (after Par'oh's astrologers already told him they were uncertain if the Hebrews' redeemer was Egyptian or Hebrew according to RaSh"I on Shemot 1:22). Given the psychotic behavior the Torah attributes to Par'oh, did it not occur to him to ask where his daughter brought this boy from?

In short, did Par'oh know Moshe was a Hebrew while Bat Par'oh was raising Moshe? If so, why didn't Par'oh put two and two together and have him killed? If not, how do the commentators deal with why not?

  • 1
    "who presumably looks highly un-Egyptian" why do you assume this,they all lived in the middle east
    – sam
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 14:51
  • Lee, You may want to add that fact to the question. But, as I stated, it's possible that his decree may have applied only to newborns. It does say, "Kol haben hayilod", which means literally, "Any child that is born." That may mean only at the time that he is born. It's something to investigate, I think.
    – DanF
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 14:58
  • @DanF I'm having difficulty understanding what to add. I've already cited that Moshe was "fed and raised by Yokheved until approximately age 2" in the question. Your second point about the nature of the decree stands.
    – Lee
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 14:59
  • Check 2 answers here judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/16929/…
    – rosends
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 15:01
  • Possible answer though he doesn't cite sources. I believe this was written by Rabbi Ari Enkin.
    – Lee
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 15:05

2 Answers 2


According to the medrash, after Moshe was put into the water, the astrologers (who had warned him before) came and told him that the baby he was worried about had been cast into the Nile. Thus, he did not anticipate that Moshe would be that leader. Note that he only made the decree on the newborns so that he could get away with this for the short period of time that he needed. Once the astrologers told him that it was no longer needed, he immediately dropped it. He would not have been able to suddenly reinstate it for an older child (especially his grand-son).

Another point is that having raised Moshe as an Egyptian prince, and having put him in charge of the slaves, Par'o felt that he had co-opted him and actually made him part of the governing structure. As the head "taskmaster" it could also be thought that the Israelites would never accept him as a leader in any case. It was only after Moshe killed the taskmaster that Par'o realized that he was rebelling and ordered him put to death.

Of course, this myopia could have been a "hidden miracle" in order to ensure that he would grow up and be trained to become a leader. There are commentaries that point out that it was because Moshe was not raised among the Jews that they would accept him as a leader. Even so, look at how Dasan and Aviram reacted when Moshe rebuked them for fighting.


It could be that he felt for his daughter and did not want to take a child off her. To bring the point home, she may have had no kids of her own and we do not know how old she was. She probably had to beg her father to some extent before he gave in, but there is no point in the pesukim describing the family dynamics, so they don't.

We also don't know the reason for Par'oh wanting to get rid of all Jewish males. The Midrash says that he was afraid of a new renaissance leader, but on the peshat level it seems quite irrational. Why did he not destroy the entire nation, including the women? Also the decree did not seem to last long because there were manslaves of Moshe's age and younger that left Egypt. It may have been Par'oh's cruel humour, to make the Israelite parents anxious and show that they are not in control of their own children's destiny. You can almost hear the women crying at the sight of a baby boy, knowing that he would get drowned. If the purpose of killing the males was a sport to scare the Israelites, that was not applicable for a baby that had been abandoned by it's parents in a basket in the Nile.

P.S. Sorry for the lack of sources, but Rambam says that PESHAT can be worked out without reference to Mefarshim or Chazal!

  • 1
    Where does רמב״ם write that?
    – Lee
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 5:31
  • Your answer seems to be the simple answer: for his daughter he'll make an exception.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 16:01
  • While it's nice to have references, I think your point is very important, wherever you got it from: Any question that makes sense in the simple p'shat - must have an answer in pshat as well. If the Ibn Ezra could have asked the question, there ought to be an answer that the Ibn Ezra could accept.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 16:03

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