Moses is a monumental Biblical character. Born in Egypt and raised in royalty, he’s the man who’s later tasked with the duty of leading the Israelites from bondage. From his encounters with Yahweh in a burning bush to receiving the Ten Commandments and parting the Red Sea, Moses’ story is indeed fascinating.
The Father of Moses
There are several references in the Bible about Moses’ father and mother. Moses’ father was Amram from the tribe of Levi. The mother, Jochebed, was a Levite too. After Moses got married, he ended up having a closer relationship with his father-in-law (Jethro) than he had with his real father.
Amram and the Levite Tribe
The story of Moses’ conception and birth is found in Exodus 2. Here is the reference:
Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Exodus 2:1.
Verses 3 – 10 of this chapter identify the newborn as Moses and explain the trouble the mother went through to keep him alive. During the time of Moses’ birth, there was an order to kill all Israelite new-born males. Knowing that she couldn’t keep him safe for long, Moses’ mother hid him in a papyrus basket along the bank of the Nile (verse 3). Eventually, the child is rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter and is thereafter raised in Pharaoh’s court.
The man from the tribe of Levi mentioned in Exodus 2 is properly identified as Amram later in Exodus 6. This chapter is a genealogy of the various tribes of Israel. Verse 16 says:
These were the sons of Levi according to their records: Gershom, Kohath, and Merari.
Verse 18: The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. Kohath lived 133 years.
Finally, verse 20 clearly identifies Moses’ father by saying: Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years.
To summarize then, Moses’ father was Amram the son of Kohath from the tribe of Levi.
About the Tribe of Levi
There are 12 tribes of Israel. The tribes got their names from the descendants of Jacob. The story of Jacob and how his name was changed to Israel is recorded in Genesis 32. According to this record, Jacob wrestled with an angel and won. Says verse 28:
From now on, you will no longer be Jacob. You will be called Israel because you have wrestled with God and with men and you have won.
Jacob had 12 sons and the Levites trace their origin to Jacob’s first wife Leah. According to Genesis 35, Jacob had 6 sons by his wife Leah. Reuben was the eldest and then Leah had Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
The Levites have always held a special position in Israel. When Joshua led the Israelites to the promised land, the land was subdivided among 11 tribes excluding the Levites. This tribe did not get any land and since they could not farm, they depended on the tithes and gifts from members of the other tribes. The Levites were tasked with priestly duties and, unlike the other tribes who lived together, members of this tribe lived in towns scattered all over Israel.
Even during the days of slavery in Egypt, the Levites enjoyed some privileges that members of other tribes didn’t. According to Rabbi Joshua Ben Levi as quoted by Chabad.org, while members of other tribes bore the brunt of Egyptian slave labor, the Levites were exempted from the back-breaking work. There are many possible reasons for this exemption but the most outstanding one is that the Levite’s primary duty was to carry out priestly duties.
Moses’ Mother and Other Members of The Family
While there’s very little information in the Bible about the father of Moses, there’s even less about the mother. As we have already noted, the Bible identifies her as a Levite. The book of Numbers chapter 26 identifies the rest of Moses’ siblings. verse 59 says: To Amram, she bore Aaron, Moses, and their sister Miriam.
Earlier, in Numbers chapter 3, the family of Aaron and Moses is listed. While this is the account of the descendants of the two brothers, verse 2 mentions four sons of Aaron who were tasked with priestly duties. The four were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. According to 1st Chronicles chapter 23:13, Aaron and his sons were set apart for the service of God.
The sons of Moses are identified as Gershom and Eliezer. Moses got his children from his marriage to Zipporah. The account of this marriage is available in Exodus chapter 2. The story here is about how Moses fled from Egypt fearing for his life after killing an Egyptian.
Moses flees to the Midian and, sitting by a well, sees the daughters of the Midian priest Reuel fight for water with some shepherds. When Moses helps the priest’s daughter against the shepherds, he is given one of them, Zipporah, for a wife.
When Moses went to liberate the Israelites from Egypt, he sent his family to his father-in-law, Jethro. They were reunited much later during the exodus.
The father of Moses, Amram, is a minor character in the Bible. The information about him is scanty but it leaves us with no doubt that he, a descendant of a Levite, belongs to the priestly family. It’s not easy to explain why there’s very little information about Amram but we can see that he never played any extraordinary role. When compared to the work that Moses does, Amram’s contribution to Bible events is certainly minimal. Even Moses’ brother, Aaron, performs major duties during the liberation of the Israelites by acting as a spokesman for the stammering Moses. After the liberation, Aaron and his descendants continue to perform their appointed duties and that’s why they feature quite substantially in the rest of the Bible.