Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And the heart of the mother of Moses) Jochabed (became void) from the preoccupation or mention of anything other than Moses, (and she would have betrayed him) by admitting that Moses was her son after being adopted by Pharaoh (if We had not fortified her heart) with patience, (that she might be of the believers) in the promise of Allah that he will be one of the messengers.
And the heart of Moses’s mother, when she found out that they had picked him up, became empty, of everything other than him. Indeed (in, softened from the hardened form, its subject omitted, in other words [understand it as] innaha) she was about to expose him, that is, as being her son, had We not fortified her heart, with patience, that is, We made it at peace, that she might be of the believers, [of] those who have faith in God’s promise (the response to [the conditional] lawlā, ‘had … not’, is given by the preceding [statement]).
The intense Grief of Musa's Mother, and how He was returned to Her
Allah tells us how, when her child was lost in the river, the heart of Musa's mother became empty, i.e., she could not think of any matter in this world except Musa. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu `Ubaydah, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Qatadah and others.
إِن كَادَتْ لَتُبْدِى بِهِ
(She was very near to disclose his (case),) means, because of the intensity of her grief, she almost told people that she had lost a son. She would have disclosed her situation, if Allah had not given her strength and patience. Allah says:
(had We not strengthened her heart, so that she might remain as one of the believers. And she said to his sister: "Follow him.'') means, she told her daughter, who was older and was of an age to understand things,
(Follow him.) means, follow his traces and look for information about him, try to find out about him around the city. So she went out to do that.
فَبَصُرَتْ بِهِ عَن جُنُبٍ
(So she watched him from a far place (secretly),) Ibn `Abbas said, "Off to the side.'' Mujahid said, "It means she looked from afar. Qatadah said: "She started to look at him as if she was not really interested.'' When Musa had settled into the house of Fir`awn, after the king's wife had begun to love him and asked Fir`awn not to kill him, they brought to him the wet nurses who were to be found in their household, and he did not accept any of them, refusing to take milk from them. So they took him out to the marketplace, hoping to find a woman who would be suitable to nurse him. When (his sister) saw him in their arms, she recognized him, but she did not give any indication nor did they suspect her. Allah says:
وَحَرَّمْنَا عَلَيْهِ الْمَرَاضِعَ مِن قَبْلُ
(And We had already forbidden foster suckling mothers for him,) Because of his honored status with Allah, it was forbidden by divine decree. It was decreed that no one should nurse him except his own mother, and Allah caused this to be the means reuniting him with his mother so that she could nurse him and feel safe after having felt such fear. When his sister saw that they were confused over who should nurse the child,
(she said: "Shall I direct you to a household who will rear him for you, and look after him in a good manner'') Ibn `Abbas said: When she said that, they had some doubts about her, so they seized her and asked her, How do you know these people will be sincere and will care for him'' She said to them, "They will be sincere and will care for him because they want the king to be happy and because they hope for some reward.'' So they let her go. After what she said, being safe from their harm, they took her to their house and brought the baby to his mother. She gave him her breast and he accepted it, so they rejoiced and sent the glad tidings to the wife of Fir`awn. She called for Musa's mother, treating her kindly and rewarding her generously. She did not realize that she was his real mother, but she saw that the baby accepted her breast. Then Asiyah asked her to stay with her and nurse the baby, but she refused, saying, "I have a husband and children, and I cannot stay with you, but if you would like me to nurse him in my own home, I will do that.'' The wife of Fir`awn agreed to that, and paid her a regular salary and gave her extra gifts and clothing and treated her kindly. The mother of Musa came back with her child, happy that after a time of fear Allah granted her security, prestige, and ongoing provision. There was only a short time between the distress and the way out, a day and night, or thereabouts -- and Allah knows best. Glory be to the One in Whose hands are all things; what He wills happens and what He does not will does not happen. He is the One Who grants those who fear Him, a way out from every worry and distress, Allah said:
(So We restored him to his mother, that her eye might be comforted,) means, by him,
(and that she might not grieve, ) means, for him.
وَلِتَعْلَمَ أَنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ
(and that she might know that the promise of Allah is true.) meaning, `We had promised her to return him to her and to make him one of the Messengers.' When he was returned to her, she realized that he was one of the Messengers, so as she brought him up, she treated him both as a child (with kindness) and as a Messenger (with respect).
وَلَـكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ
(But most of them know not.) means, they do not know the wisdom of Allah in His actions and their good consequences, for which He is to be praised in this world and the Hereafter. For a thing may happen that people do not like, but its consequences are good, as Allah says:
(it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good) (4:19).
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
That is, the girl walked along and watched the floating basket in such a manner that the enemies could not know that she had anything to do with the child in it. According to the Israelite traditions, this sister of the Prophet Moses was 10 to 12 years old. She followed up her brother intelligently and cleverly and ascertained that he had been picked up by the Pharaoh's household.
That is, "The child would not take to any nurse whom the queen would call for suckling him."
This shows that the sister did not go and sit back at home when she found that her brother had reached Pharaoh's palace, but cleverly hung about the palace to watch every new development. Then, when she found that the child was not taking to any nurse, and the queen was anxious to get a nurse who would suit it, the intelligent girl went straight into the palace, and said, "I can tell you the whereabouts of a nurse, who will bring him up with great affection." Here it should be borne in mind that in old days the well-to-do and noble families of these countries generally used to entrust their children to nurses for bringing up. We know that in the time of the Holy Prophet also nurses from the suburbs used to visit Makkah from time to time in order to get infants from the well-to-do families for suckling and nursing on rich wages. The Holy Prophet himself was brought up by Halimah Sa diyah in the desert. The same custom was prevalent in Egypt. that is why the Prophet Moses' sister did not say that she would bring a suitable nurse, but said that she would tell them of a house whose people would take up the responsibility of bringing him up with care and affection.
According to the Bible and the Talmud, the child was named "Moses" in Pharaoh's house. It is not a Hebrew but a Coptic word, which means, "I drew him out of the water", for in Coptic mo meant water and oshe rescued.
Another good thing that resulted from this wise device by Allah was that the Prophet Moses could not become a real prince in Pharaoh's house, but grew up among his own people and became fully aware of his family and community traditions and his ancestral religion. Thus, instead of growing up as a member of Pharaoh's class and people he arose sentimentally and intellectually as a full-fledged Israelite.
In a Hadith the Holy Prophet has said: "He who works to earn his livelihood and keeps in view Allah's goodwill also, has a likeness with the Prophet Moses' mother, who suckled her own son as well as received her wages for the service, too." That is, although such a person works to earn a living for his children, since he works honestly with a view to pleasing God he is just and upright in his dealings with others, seeks lawful provisions for himself and his children in the spirit of God's worship he does deserve a reward from Allah even for earning his own livelihood.