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Bithiah

BITHIAH

BITHIAH , name given by the rabbis to the daughter of Pharaoh who found the infant Moses. Many legends are told of her in the aggadah. The name Bithiah ("daughter of God") was given her as a reward for her devotion in treating Moses as her own child (Lev. R. 1:3). Her purpose in bathing in the Nile was to cleanse herself of the impurity of the idolatry rampant in Egypt (Sot. 12b). When her handmaidens refused to disobey the royal decree and save the Israelite child, her arm was lengthened miraculously so that she could reach the casket in which Moses lay; as soon as she reached it she was cured of her leprosy. She called the child Moses, not only because she had "drawn" him out of the water, but because she knew he would "draw" the children of Israel out of Egypt (Mid. Hag. to Ex. 2:10). Although Moses had many names, God called him only by the name Bithiah gave him (Lev. R. 1:3). At Moses' intercession, Bithiah was not afflicted by any of the ten plagues and therefore was the only female firstborn to be spared in Egypt (Ex. R. 18:3). She became a proselyte and married Caleb because, as she had opposed her father, he would oppose the spies (Lev. R. 1:3). Bithiah was one of those who entered Paradise in her lifetime (Mid. Prov. 31:15). She is numbered among the 22 women of valor (Mid. Hag. to Gen. 23:1, s.v.Takom).

bibliography:

Ginzberg, Legends, 2 (1946), 266ff., 369; 5 (1947), 398ff., 435.

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