5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.
Moses’s mother had surrendered her child to God’s mercy, committing her son to the unknown. One might think that being found an Egyptian, let alone the daughter of the very man who ordered the death of the Hebrew males, would be the worst possible outcome for that child! As we see in verse 6, the woman absolutely knew where this child came from, and it is inconceivable that she had forgotten her father’s directive. I would assume that she was able to put two-and-two together, and understood exactly why this baby had been abandoned to the river.
But then this situation took a surprising turn. She found compassion for the little boy, and I find it very endearing that the biblical record tells us why: the babe wept. I can only imagine the extreme prejudice that had been fostered in the Egyptians towards the Israelite people, the immense disdain with which they must have viewed these people who had been placed at the absolute bottom of the social ladder. Yet it would seem that all of that bigotry melted away when the daughter of Pharaoh was actually faced with a pure and innocent newborn in need.
One of the purposes for our sorrowful emotions is how they draw the kindness and compassion out of those around us. We see a person in distress and cannot help feeling moved to help them. Baby Moses’ helplessness and weakness ended up being his saving grace.