Jochebed

From Academic Kids

According to the Hebrew Bible, Jochebed or Yochved (יוֹכֶבֶד / יוֹכָבֶד "The LORD is glory", Standard Hebrew Yoḫved / Yoḫved, Tiberian Hebrew Yḵḇeḏ / Yḵāḇeḏ) was the wife and aunt of Amram, sister of Kohath and mother of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam (Exodus 6:20).

In Numbers 26:59 she is described as either a "daughter of Levi" or as a "descendant of Levi" depending on translation who was born in Egypt to the Levites. In the account of Moses' birth, Jochebed is indicated merely as being the daughter of Levi, her name not being given. She is also mentioned in Exodus 6:20.

She is buried in the Tomb of the Matriarchs in Tiberias.

In Jewish rabbinic literature

Jochebed is identified by some rabbis in the Talmud with Shiphrah, one of the midwives ordered by Pharaoh to kill the new-born male children (Exodus 1:15-16). Her name is given various interpretations (Talmud, Sotah 11b; Midrash Exodus Rabba i. 17).

The "houses" with which God recompensed the midwives (Exodus 1:21) were those of priesthood and royalty, realized, in the case of Jochebed, in the persons of her two sons Aaron and Moses (Ex. R. xlviii. 5).

One rabbis identifies her as being the same person as Jehudijah (I Chronicles 4:18), this name, interpreted as "the Jewess," being given to her because, by disobeying Pharaoh's order, she founded the Jewish nation (Midrash Leviticus Rabbah i. 3).

According to traditional rabbinic biblical chronology, Moses was eighty years old when the Israelites went out from Egypt, and the Israelites were in Egypt 210 years; Jochebed therefore was 130 years old when she bore Moses. An allusion to this is found in the weight (130 shekels) of the silver chargers offered by the princes for the dedication of the altar (Midrash Exodus Rabbah i. 23; Midrash Numbers Rabbah xiii. 19).

A midrash attempts to explain why Jochebed could hide Moses no longer than three months. When Pharaoh had given the order to throw the male children into the river, Amram repudiated Jochebed, who had been pregnant three months. But, urged by Miriam, he immediately remarried her, and the Egyptians calculated the time for Moses' birth from that day (Midrash Exodus Rabbah i. 17).

The second wedding was as splendid as the first; Jochebed sat in her nuptial chamber, and Miriam and Aaron danced before her (ib. i. 23). The story of Jochebed was used by Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi to divert his audience when they became sleepy. There was once a woman in Egypt, he told them, who gave birth to 600,000 children at once; on being asked who that woman was, he said she was Jochebed, whose son Moses was worth 600,000 Israelites (Midrash Canticles Rabbah iv. 2).

See also: Exodus, Moses

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