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Daily Verse: Exodus 2:5

Updated: Jan 11, 2023

Wednesday 16 Tevet 5783 (09.01.23)

The Nile and Science

וַתֵּ֤רֶד בַּת־פַּרְעֹה֙ לִרְחֹ֣ץ עַל־הַיְאֹ֔ר וְנַעֲרֹתֶ֥יהָ הֹלְכֹ֖ת עַל־יַ֣ד הַיְאֹ֑ר וַתֵּ֤רֶא אֶת־הַתֵּבָה֙ בְּת֣וֹךְ הַסּ֔וּף וַתִּשְׁלַ֥ח אֶת־אֲמָתָ֖הּ וַתִּקָּחֶֽהָ׃

Just then, Pharaoh's daughter Bitya—who had decided to renounce idolatry—went down to bathe, i.e., ritually immerse herself in (lit., "on" or "concerning") the Nile, in order to spiritually cleanse herself of idolatry (including Nile-worship) By using the Nile to renounce idolatry, she abrogated its status as an idol. The basket then slipped into the river and floated into the princess' field of vision.As soon as the basket entered the river, the Egyptian astrologers sensed it—as Yocheved had predicted—and Pharaoh, thinking that he had accomplished his purposes, cancelled his decree to throw all baby boys into the river.Bitya saw the basket and told her attendant maidens that she was going to see what it was. But her maidens opposed her. They said, "This is probably a Jewish baby, placed here by his mother in order to save him. How can you show any interest in its welfare? Should not at least the princess obey the king's decrees?" God therefore killed them; they walked to their deaths because of their conduct along the Nile's edge.God spared only one maidservant, because it is not befitting for a princess to go about unescorted. Bitya saw the basket among the rushes, and sent her one remaining maidservant, and she took it. Alternatively, Bitya stretched out her arm, which then miraculously became long enough to reach the basket, and thus took the baby herself.

Bitya came to the recognition that there is One True Eternal G-d and she wanted to worship Him instead of the idols of Egypt. By bathing in the "holy" waters of the Nile, she nullified this idol. The idols of Egypt were tied to the laws of nature, to the natural course of the sun, moon, stars, the Nile and much more. There was no room in that belief system for the laws of HaShem.

You would almost compare it to today's secular science. Many people's faith in it is almost infinite, and oops if you want to contradict science. Not that science is necessarily wrong or bad, but it must be connected to the Laws of G-d. It can never contradict the Torah.

Moses' job was to strengthen the Jewish people's faith in HaShem, to strengthen knowledge of His Laws. That made the power of the Nile, the power of the idolatry of the Nile diminish. We therefore see the many miracles happening that seem to contradict the laws of nature. Yet the miracles were not "otherworldly" it was more a reversal of the laws of nature.

That is the way we can deal with today's Nile (science). We are fine to immerse ourselves in it, learn from it and gain knowledge in various sciences. But not to deify science, but to recognise through science the real Divine laws and come to the recognition that we want to worship Him alone.


Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the website. She contributes for the admin of the website in English and Dutch. She teaches Hebrew to beginners and intermediate students at the Academy.

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