Coram Foundation, Foundling Museum, London, UK/Bridgeman Art Library

“And the child grew, and [the wet nurse, Moses’ mother] brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son; and she named him Moses, for she said, ‘Because I drew him out of the water’” (Exodus 2:10). Moses’ meeting with Pharaoh’s daughter is depicted in this 1746 painting by the English artist William Hogarth.

The biblical passage gets the etymology wrong. The name in Hebrew, Moshe, means “the one who draws out,” not “the one who was drawn out.” The Egyptian princess may have had something else in mind: Mose is also an Egyptian name meaning simply “the Child.”