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David Guzik's Commentaries
on the Bible

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Exodus 2 - Moses' Birth and Early Career

A. Moses' birth and childhood.

1. (1-2) Moses is born, a beautiful child, of the tribe of Levi.

a. The baby Moses first opened his eyes to an unfriendly world; he was born in a superpower of a nation, but was of an alien race, an oppressed race, during a time when all babies such as himself were ordered to be killed. But he was the child of believing parents!

b. Exodus 6:20 tells us the names of Moses' parents: Amram and Jochebed. Jewish legends say that Moses' birth was painless to his mother, that at his birth his face was so beautiful that the room was filled with light equal to the sun and moon combined, that he walked and spoke when he was a day old, and refused to nurse, eating solid food already.

c. The parents of Moses did not do this only because of the natural maternal instinct; they did it also out of faith in God. Hebrews 11:23 describes the faith of Moses' parents: By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command.

2. (3-10) Moses is found by Pharaoh's daughter.

a. In a literal sense, Moses' mother is doing exactly what Pharaoh said to do: she is putting her son into the river. However, she took care to put him in a waterproofed basket and then strategically floated him in the river.

b. But more so, this is a great example of entrusting the child's welfare and future to God alone; when Moses' mother let go of that ark made of bulrushes, she was giving up something precious, trusting that God would take care of it, and perhaps find a way to give it back to her.

c. In God's providence, Pharaoh's daughter finds baby Moses, and then hires Moses' own mother to take care of him! Not only does Moses' mother get to still be with her child, now she gets paid for it!

i. God greatly rewarded the faith of Moses' mother, both as she trusted Him as she hid Moses for three months, and as she trusted Him by setting Moses out on the river.

d. Being the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter, Moses was in the royal family - Josephus says he was heir to the throne of Egypt; and that while a young man, Moses lead the armies of Egypt in victorious battle against the Ethiopians.

i. Certainly, he was raised with both the science and learning of Egypt; Acts 7:22 says, Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds. Egypt was one of the most academic and scientific societies on the earth at that time; Moses would have been instructed in geography, history, grammar and writing, literature, philosophy, music.

ii. When Moses went somewhere, he went in a princely chariot, and his guards cried out "bow the knee!" If he floated on the Nile, it was in ancient yacht, with musical accompaniment - he lived the royal life. But a well, Moses was certainly raised in the Hebrew heritage of his mother.

e. Origen's fanciful allegorical way of interpreting the Scriptures (as many do today) is illustrated by his take on this passage: Pharaoh is the devil; the male and female Hebrew children represent the animal and rational aspects of the soul. The devil wants to kill the rational character of man, but keep alive his animal character. The two midwives are the Old and New Testaments. Pharaoh wants to corrupt the midwives so that the rational character of man will be destroyed. Because the midwives are faithful, God builds houses of prayer all over the earth. Pharaoh's daughter represents the church, and gives refuge to Moses - who represents the law. The waters of the Nile are baptismal waters. When we come to the waters of baptism and take the law into our heart - the royal palaces - then the law grows up into spiritual maturity.

i. Clarke says well of this kind of interpretation: "Every passage and fact might then be obliged to say something, any thing, every thing, or nothing, according to the fancy, peculiar creed, or caprice of the interpreter."

B. Moses' flight from Egypt.

1. (11-14) Moses kills an Egyptian; his crime is found out.

a. Acts 7:23 says this happened when Moses was forty years old; for all the time, he had been trained and groomed to become the next Pharaoh of Egypt, while all the while being made aware of his true origins by his mother.

b. Moses was certainly just in preventing the beating of one of his brethren; yet at the same time this was perhaps a premature attempt to fulfill his destiny - to make himself the deliverer of Israel from Egypt's bondage in a way logical to human planning.

i. Acts 7:23-25 shows us exactly where Moses' heart was: Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.

ii. If Moses ever sat down and decided to deliver his people from their Egyptian bondage, he would never have thought: "My brother Aaron and I will go to Pharaoh with a special stick that turns into a snake. We'll ask him to let us go back to Canaan, and if he says no, we'll bring plagues of blood in the Nile River, frogs, mosquitoes, flies, cattle disease, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness. If all that doesn't work, we'll kill all the firstborn of Egypt and escape across the Red Sea, which will part for us and flow back to drown the Egyptians. Then we'll cross the wilderness and come to Canaan."

iii. Moses was planning the deliverance of Israel the way any man would, and logically saw himself as the key man - because of his accepted leadership among the Egyptians. The only problem was that God was going to accomplish this deliverance and use Moses in a way that no man would ever dream of!

c. Moses had no idea of it at the time, but he was too big for God to use. Moses had tried to do the Lord's work in man's wisdom and power. It wouldn't work. After forty years of seemingly perfect preparation, Moses had another forty years of seemingly meaningless waiting to perfect God's preparation.

d. But Moses' leadership was not accepted by the Jewish masses, even though God had made him a prince and a judge over them. Moses, like Jesus, was rejected by Israel at his "first coming."

i. Both Moses and Jesus were favored by God from birth, were miraculously preserved in childhood, were mighty in words and deed, both offered deliverance to Israel, both were rejected, and rejected with spite, with Israel denying that they had any right to be ruler and a judge over them.

ii. Just like Jesus, Moses could not be a deliverer when he lived in the palaces of glory. He had to come down off the throne, away from the palace, into a humble place before he could deliver his people.

2. (15-19) Moses escapes to Midian.

a. Moses, fleeing for his life, must feel that God's plan for his life has been completely defeated; he must believe that every chance he ever had to be a deliver to his people was now over. There was nothing he could do. He was right where God wanted him!

b. If Moses would have gone north into the area of Canaan and Syria, he would have found no refuge - there was a treaty between Rameses II and the Hittite king to the effect that fugitives along the northern route to Syria should be arrested and extradited. So Moses went south east instead, to Midian.

i. In that day, Midian was the area on both the west and east sides of the Reed Sea, land that today is both Saudi Arabia (on the east of the Reed Sea) and Egypt (on the Sinai Peninsula, on the west of the Reed Sea).

c Finally coming to Midian, Moses meets the daughters of a priest of Midian - likely a descendant of one of Abraham's other children through Keturah (Genesis 25:1-2) named Midian.

i. Because of this connection with Abraham, we have good reason to believe that he was a true priest, and worshipped the true God - and God led Moses to this specific family at this specific time.

c. In Egypt, Moses, being of the royal family, would have been waited on hand and foot. But here, in the distant desert of Midian, Moses finally has an opportunity to be a servant - and he does a good job, working hard to help water the flocks of Jethro's daughters.

3. (20-22) Moses is accepted into the family of the priest of Midian.

a. By taking a wife and having a son, Moses seems to have given up on Egypt and his hope of being a deliverer for Israel - he will content himself to be where God has placed him.

b. We make a mistake when we think that the years in Midian were a "waiting" time for Moses. They were instead, working years; he had never worked this hard in his life! God was training him, shaping him for his future calling, but Moses was certainly not "on the shelf."

4. (23-25) God remembers Israel, to turn His attention to them.

a. If Moses has "forgotten" about Israel in Egypt (in the sense of turning his active attention away from them), God has not - God remembered (again, in the sense of turning His active attention towards them) Israel and their affliction.

b. God did not turn His attention to Israel because they were such good people, but because of the covenant He had made with them; He gives His love and attention to us on the same basis.


Copyright Statement
David Guzik's Commentaries on the Bible are reproduced by permission of David Guzik, Siegen, Germany. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Guzik, David. "Commentary on Exodus 2". "David Guzik's Commentaries
on the Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/guz/view.cgi?book=ex&chapter=002>. 1997-2003.  

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