Exodus 2:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Exodus 2:3, NIV: "But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile."

Exodus 2:3, ESV: "When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank."

Exodus 2:3, KJV: "And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink."

Exodus 2:3, NASB: "But when she could no longer hide him, she got him a papyrus basket and covered it with tar and pitch. Then she put the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile."

Exodus 2:3, NLT: "But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River."

Exodus 2:3, CSB: "But when she could no longer hide him, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with asphalt and pitch. She placed the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile."

What does Exodus 2:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

When Moses was three months old (Exodus 2:2), he had grown to the point where hiding him completely from the Egyptians was impossible (Exodus 1:22). Rather than risk her entire family being caught and punished for hiding her newborn son, Moses' mother hatches a plot. She will, in a poetic sense, obey Pharaoh's command to "cast into the Nile" her Hebrew boy. At the same time, this ruse will give hope for her son's survival. She makes a basket from bulrushes or papyrus reeds and coats it with pitch so it will float. This construction includes some similarities to Noah's ark, which included pitch that would allow it to float on the water.

The last part of the verse reveals the mother placing Moses in the basket and placing the basket "among the reeds by the river bank." Unlike many movie portrayals of this event, the basket was strategically placed in the reeds where Egyptian women would pass. The baby was not allowed to drift downstream, at least not according to Scripture. There is no indication Moses floated any length down the Nile River, nor that he was abandoned to an uncertain fate. His mother clearly hoped a woman would come by and care for him—the fact that Moses' sister is waiting and prepared with the right words is no coincidence (Exodus 2:7–8).