By renee bravo
March 12, 2009
You don't know my name. In the Bible, children are known by their father's name, so I am just Pharoah's daughter. Girls are supposed to do what their fathers want, and obey their commands. But I am different from most girls; I refused many of his commands. He was angry at first but later he understood. When he realised that I was clever, he ensured that I received the same education as my brothers. We used to talk a lot, and eventually developed a rapport which was very unusual between a girl and her father. When it came for my time to marry, all the men he found for me were only interested in the power that would come to them by marrying a princess. So unlike most rich girls of my age, I wasn't married. It didn't bother me; I didn't need a husband to keep me, and my father adored me. Unlike most fathers in our society, who only think of daughters as assets to be sold to the highest bidder, mine really loved me. I had only one regret. I did not have a child. I often thought that perhaps I should marry anyway, just to fulfill this terrible longing. It nagged at me wherever I went. Whenever I saw a baby I got a lump in my throat; I used to dream of holding a baby, playing with a baby, feeding a baby. And the knowledge that I had brought this torment on myself, and it could be so easily cured, only made it worse. My father knew of my sorrow and sometimes tried to talk me into marrying just somebody; they were all suitable, but he knew I was stubborn and eventually stopped mentioning it.
Then one day, when I went for my bathe in the Nile, I saw a basket floating in the water, and in it was a crying baby. I sent my girls to fetch it, and it was a beautiful baby boy. I looked and it was circumcised, so I knew it was a Hebrew baby. My father had ordered them all to be killed, so the mother had obviously hidden the baby. Would she be coming back to look for it, I wondered? I suddenly had a burning feeling in my breasts, and in my innermost being I imagined myself feeding the child. I couldn't just leave him to die. But if I took him home, my father would have him killed. In a split second I decided what I was going to do. I would tell my father that it was my child. I had had plenty of opportunities. There were always princes trying to woo me. And the loose garments that Egyptian women wear would hide the evidence. While I was pondering all these things, a young girl appeared and offered to find a woman to nurse the child. I guessed it would be his mother, but I agreed.
I then went home and waited for an opportune moment to tell my father that I had had a child and that to avoid gossip in the palace he was being looked after by a peasant woman. He was very angry, and threatened to throw me out. But the shame would have fallen on him also, so he relented. I used to go and visit the child and play with him, and when he was about two I brought him to the palace to show him to his supposed grandfather. The meeting was unbelievable. The child laughed, and my father - the cruel, stern Pharoah - played with him like any grandfather with a grandson. He asked me to bring him often, and as the child grew and started to talk, their times together were a joy to see. But I was consumed with guilt, that I was deceiving my father into thinking that this Hebrew child was his grandson. Then, when the child was about five, I told my father the truth. He was torn apart by anger, resentment, bitterness, indignation, heart-wrenching fury. I shared every moment of his torment and his rage. I was angry with myself. But at least the child was alive, and my father loved him. Surely he would not have him killed now. It was a chance I had to take. They say that love conquers everything. And the love of a grandfather for a child must be high on that list. So the child came into the palace, and became an Egyptian prince. He was not only cute and lovable, like most small children, he was also very clever and perceptive. I took such pride in him, especially in the way he behaved to my father and the love that grew between them. To the world, Pharoah was the cruel monster, but to me he was a loving father and grandfather, who understood exactly how I felt and what I was going through.
As the child grew into manhood, I again became consumed with guilt, knowing that I was denying him the knowledge of his true heritage. So when he was eighteen, I told him the truth; that he was a Hebrew. The anger and resentment and fury which my father had shown all those years ago were nothing to the anger of my son at that moment. Through my tears, I tried to explain why I had done it, to keep him alive. After a while he calmed down, and we agreed that his true parentage should be made known. From then on, he allied himself with his people, and shared their burdens. And from that moment, I lost him as a son. A mother's love is unconditional, and I never thought of him as anything but my son. But a man's love is tied to pride and honour, so my father came to hate him. The consequences of that hate are fully recorded in the writings of the Hebrews, but my sorrow was unreported and known only to me. The joy of those eighteen years was totally destroyed by the horror of what happened between my father, the Pharoah, and Moses. The saga of the plagues, and the power struggle between them.
Was it really all my fault?