The Pharaoh's wife, or the Pharaoh's daughter, was the queen consort or princess who recovered the infant Moses from the Nile and adopted him. Islamic tradition names her Asiyah (Arabic: آسية), the Book of Jubilees names her Tharmuth, and Jewish tradition names her Bithiah (Hebrew: בִּתְיָה). Her story is recounted in the Book of Exodus and Suwar 20, 28, and 66 of the Qur'an.
During the time of the prophets Jacob and Joseph, the Israelites migrated to Egypt in order to escape famine. In accordance with God's plan, the prophet Joseph had become one of the Pharaoh's chief ministers and established policies that allowed Egypt to possess grain and provide for the Israelites during the famine.
The Israelites prospered and multiplied in number. Eventually, a new Pharaoh unfamiliar with Joseph and his deeds came to power. This Pharaoh saw the Israelites and their high birth rate as a threat and oppressed the Israelites.
Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are too many and too mighty for us [they greatly outnumber us]. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, so that they will not multiply and in the event of war, join our enemies, and fight against us and escape from the land.— Exodus 1:8–1:10 (AMP)
The Pharaoh had the Israelites used as slave labor in construction projects.
Yet the Israelites continued to multiply in number, and the Pharaoh sought to cull their numbers. The Pharaoh ordered newborn Israelite sons to be thrown into the Nile and for newborn Israelite daughters to be kept alive.
Amram married Jochebed, and Jochebed gave birth to Miriam, then Aaron, and finally Moses. The Pharaoh's orders endangered the newborn Moses, so she hid Moses for three months.
God then commanded Jochebed to hide Moses in the Nile. Jochebed waterproofed a papyrus basket with pitch and tar, placed Moses in it, and hide it among the reeds of the Nile.
The Pharaoh's wife found the basket and the baby Moses in it and decided to adopt Moses.
Said Pharaoh's wife,He will be a comfort to me and thee. Slay him not; perchance he will profit us, or we will take him for a son.— Surah 28:9 (Arberry)
Seeing this, Jochebed sought to cry out to his son, but God strengthen her heart and kept her from crying out. Jochebed then had her daughter Miriam watch and follow Moses from a safe distance.
In order to reunite Moses with Jochebed, God prevented Moses from accepting the Pharaoh's wet nurses, which allowed Miriam to suggest Jochebed as Moses' nurse.
The Pharaoh's wife was a believer in God, and at some point, she prayed for God's deliverance.
God has struck a similitude for the believers – the wife of Pharaoh, when she said,My Lord, build for me a house in Paradise, in Thy presence, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and do Thou deliver me from the people of the evildoers.— Surah 66:11 (Arberry)
The Biblical account is similar to the Qur'annic account. The main differences are that the Bible leaves God's intervention to save the infant Moses and reunite him with his mother unstated and that the Bible has the Pharaoh's daughter, rather than wife, adopt Moses.
The Pharaoh's daughter is left unnamed in the Book of Exodus, but the Book of 1 Chronicles mentions a daughter of the Pharaoh named Bithiah who married the Israelite Mered. If Bithiah is the same daughter of the Pharaoh who adopted Moses, then that would mean that the Bithiah departed with Moses and the Israelites during the Exodus.
- Genesis 45:7–8
- Genesis 50:20
- Exodus 1
- Surah 2:49
- Surah 7:141
- Surah 14:6
- Surah 28:4