The Torah describes how when Moshe was pulled from the river, Pharaoh's daughter exclaims that this is a Hebrew child (per the simple reading of Shemos 2:6).

Moshe then grew up in Pharaoh's household as a son to Pharaoh's daughter. Does anyone speak about what Pharaoh thought Moshe's origin was? Was Pharaoh also aware that Moshe was a Jew?

  • 1
    Note that this answer seems to take for granted that it was seemingly widely known that Moshe was Jewish, although there doesn't seem to be any concrete sources regarding this. I'm interested to know if any classical sources specifically speak about whether Pharaoh knew. Jan 4, 2018 at 23:14
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    My question to you is how could he not know? His daughter suddenly has a three-month-old baby boy who doesn't look like an Egyptian.
    – ezra
    Jan 5, 2018 at 1:44
  • @ezra While Pharaoh undoubtedly knew the child wasn't his daughter's, who said he knew it was a Jewish child? Do Jewish babies have distinct features identifying them as such? For all I know, Jewish and Egyptian babies look the same, and that's not taking into account the fact that there may be other cultures that the baby could have been adopted from (i.e. a traveling Canaanite). Jan 5, 2018 at 3:23
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/88346/472 Jan 5, 2018 at 16:40
  • First, Moses was circumcised (this way or another). Second Basya converted and called his name in Hebrew. Third Miriam offered his (Jewish) mother to feed him. But wait, if Hashem took care of Pharaoh during the plagues, why couldn't He make him neglect this fact, that Moses was Hebrew.
    – Al Berko
    Jan 6, 2018 at 17:56

1 Answer 1


According to The simple Passukim, (not medrashim) I don't see why not. He was killing all males in order not to have them multiply, if his daughter wants to keep one male, It wouldn't hurt his directive.

Shemot 1;10

הָ֥בָה נִֽתְחַכְּמָ֖ה ל֑וֹ פֶּן־יִרְבֶּ֗ה וְהָיָ֞ה כִּֽי־תִקְרֶ֤אנָה מִלְחָמָה֙ וְנוֹסַ֤ף גַּם־הוּא֙ עַל־שֹׂ֣נְאֵ֔ינוּ וְנִלְחַם־בָּ֖נוּ וְעָלָ֥ה מִן־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

Come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it happen that when any war breaks out, they also join themselves to our enemies, and fight against us, and escape out of the land.

In fact Batya seeked out a Jewish Nurse to feed Moshe for all those months because the baby was Jewish. (many times a day for 18-24 months as this is the min. the torah recommends nursing - Ketubot 60b) How could she do all of this with the expense of the King without his knowledge.

Shemot 2;9

וַתֹּ֧אמֶר לָ֣הּ בַּת־פַּרְעֹ֗ה הֵילִ֜יכִי אֶת־הַיֶּ֤לֶד הַזֶּה֙ וְהֵינִקִ֣הוּ לִ֔י וַאֲנִ֖י אֶתֵּ֣ן אֶת־שְׂכָרֵ֑ךְ וַתִּקַּ֧ח הָאִשָּׁ֛ה הַיֶּ֖לֶד וַתְּנִיקֵֽהוּ׃

Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away, and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” The woman took the child, and nursed it.

You can say that she gave over Moshe for that time period and only took him after. But, most Mefarshim say ויהי לה לבן is that Moshe just became an official son. (Ibn Ezra, Bechor Shor, Rav Avraham ben Harambam). (maybe only then was Moshe recognized by the kingdom)

וַיִּגְדַּ֣ל הַיֶּ֗לֶד וַתְּבִאֵ֙הוּ֙ לְבַת־פַּרְעֹ֔ה וַֽיְהִי־לָ֖הּ לְבֵ֑ן וַתִּקְרָ֤א שְׁמוֹ֙ מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַתֹּ֕אמֶר כִּ֥י מִן־הַמַּ֖יִם מְשִׁיתִֽהוּ׃

The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, and said, “Because I drew him out of the water

Batya would still have to create a story to the King of who he was and how she got Moshe.

Another point, all her servants were aware of his identity. (practically she would have to kill them all)

וַתִּפְתַּח֙ וַתִּרְאֵ֣הוּ אֶת־הַיֶּ֔לֶד וְהִנֵּה־נַ֖עַר בֹּכֶ֑ה וַתַּחְמֹ֣ל עָלָ֔יו וַתֹּ֕אמֶר מִיַּלְדֵ֥י הָֽעִבְרִ֖ים זֶֽה׃

She opened it, and saw the child, and behold, the baby cried. She had compassion on him, and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children

The question is, did the Kingdom know. But this would be easy for a King to conceal.

This also explains why Pharaoh had Moshe ordered to be killed. If it was his Regular grandson, at least in his eyes. What would be so wrong if Pharaoh grandson killed someone in his kingdom out of compassion.

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