This chapter begins the story of Moses, that man of renown, famed for
his intimate acquaintance with Heaven and his eminent usefulness on
earth, and the most remarkable type of Christ, as a prophet, saviour,
lawgiver, and mediator, in all the Old Testament. The Jews have a
book among them of the life of Moses, which tells a great many stories
concerning him, which we have reason to think are mere fictions; what
he has recorded concerning himself is what we may rely upon, for we
know that his record is true; and it is what we may be satisfied with,
for it is what Infinite Wisdom thought fit to preserve and transmit to
us. In this chapter we have,
I. The perils of his birth and infancy,
II. His preservation through those perils, and the preferment of his
childhood and youth,
III. The pious choice of his riper years, which was to own the people
1. He offered them his service at present, if they would accept it,
2. He retired, that he might reserve himself for further service
IV. The dawning of the day of Israel's deliverance,
Exodus 2:23-25, &c.
|The Birth of Moses.
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1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife
a daughter of Levi.
2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him
that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an
ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and
put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the
4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to
Moses was a Levite, both by father and mother. Jacob left Levi under
marks of disgrace
and yet, soon after, Moses appears a
descendant from him, that he might typify Christ, who came in the
likeness of sinful flesh and was made a curse for us. This tribe began
to be distinguished from the rest by the birth of Moses, as afterwards
it became remarkable in many other instances. Observe, concerning this
I. How he was hidden. It seems to have been just at the time of his
birth that the cruel law was made for the murder of all the male
children of the Hebrews; and many, no doubt, perished by the execution
of it. The parents of Moses had Miriam and Aaron, both older than he,
born to them before this edict came out, and had nursed them without
that peril: but those that begin the world in peace know not what
troubles they may meet with before they have got through it. Probably
the mother of Moses was full of anxiety in the expectation of his
birth, now that this edict was in force, and was ready to say,
Blessed are the barren that never bore,
than bring forth children to the murderer,
Yet this child
proves the glory of his father's house. Thus that which is most our
fear often proves, in the issue, most our joy. Observe the beauty of
providence: just at the time when Pharaoh's cruelty rose to this height
the deliverer was born, though he did not appear for many years after.
Note, When men are projecting the church's ruin God is preparing for
its salvation. Moses, who was afterwards to bring Israel out of this
house of bondage, was himself in danger of falling a sacrifice to the
fury of the oppressor, God so ordering it that, being afterwards told
of this, he might be the more animated with a holy zeal for the
deliverance of his brethren out of the hands of such bloody men.
1. His parents observed him to be a goodly child, more than
ordinarily beautiful; he was fair to God,
They fancied he had a
lustre in his countenance that was something more than human, and was a
specimen of the shining of his face afterwards,
Note, God sometimes gives early earnests of his gifts, and manifests
himself betimes in those for whom and by whom he designs to do great
things. Thus he put an early strength into Samson
an early forwardness into Samuel
(1 Samuel 2:18),
wrought an early deliverance for David
(1 Samuel 17:37),
and began betimes with Timothy,
1 Timothy 3:15.
2. Therefore they were the more solicitous for his preservation,
because they looked upon this as an indication of some kind purpose of
God concerning him, and a happy omen of something great. Note, A lively
active faith can take encouragement from the least intimation of the
divine favour; a merciful hint of Providence will encourage those whose
spirits make diligent search, Three months they hid him in some
private apartment of their own house, though probably with the hazard
of their own lives, had he been discovered. Herein Moses was a type of
Christ, who, in his infancy, was forced to abscond, and in Egypt too
and was wonderfully preserved, when many innocents were butchered. It
that the parents of Moses hid him by faith; some think they had
a special revelation to them that the deliverer should spring from
their loins; however they had the general promise of Israel's
preservation, which they acted faith upon, and in that faith hid their
child, not being afraid of the penalty annexed to the king's
commandment. Note, Faith in God's promise is so far from superseding
that it rather excites and quickens to the use of lawful means for the
obtaining of mercy. Duty is ours, events are God's. Again, Faith in
God will set us above the ensnaring fear of man.
II. How he was exposed. At three months' end, probably when the
searchers came about to look for concealed children, so that they could
not hide him any longer (their faith perhaps beginning now to fail),
they put him in an ark of bulrushes by the river's brink
and set his little sister at some distance to watch what would become
of him, and into whose hands he would fall,
God put it into their hearts to do this, to bring about his own
purposes, that Moses might by this means be brought into the hands of
Pharaoh's daughter, and that by his deliverance from this imminent
danger a specimen might be given of the deliverance of God's church,
which now lay thus exposed. Note,
1. God takes special care of the outcasts of Israel
they are his outcasts,
Moses seemed quite abandoned by his
friends; his own mother durst not own him: but now the Lord took him up
and protected him,
2. In times of extreme difficulty it is good to venture upon the
providence of God. Thus to have exposed their child while they might
have preserved it, would have been to tempt Providence; but, when they
could not, it was to trust to Providence. "Nothing venture, nothing
win." If I perish, I perish.
|The Deliverance of Moses.
||B. C. 1571.|
5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at
the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and
when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch
6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold,
the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is
one of the Hebrews' children.
7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and
call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the
child for thee?
8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and
called the child's mother.
9 And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away,
and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the
woman took the child, and nursed it.
10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's
daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses:
and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
I. Moses saved from perishing. Come see the place where that great man
lay when he was a little child; he lay in a bulrush-basket by the
river's side. Had he been left to lie there, he must have perished in a
little time with hunger, if he had not been sooner washed into the
river or devoured by a crocodile. Had he fallen into any other hands
than those he did fall into, either they would not, or durst not, have
done otherwise than have thrown him straightway into the river; but
Providence brings no less a person thither than Pharaoh's daughter,
just at that juncture, guides her to the place where this poor forlorn
infant lay, and inclines her heart to pity it, which she dares do when
none else durst. Never did poor child cry so seasonably, so happily, as
this did: The babe wept, which moved the compassion of the
princess, as no doubt his beauty did,
1. Those are hard-hearted indeed that have not a tender compassion for
helpless infancy. How pathetically does God represent his compassion
for the Israelites in general considered in this pitiable state!
2. It is very commendable in persons of quality to take cognizance of
the distresses of the meanest, and to be helpful and charitable to
3. God's care of us in our infancy ought to be often made mention of
by us to his praise. Though we were not thus exposed (that we were not
was God's mercy) yet many were the perils we were surrounded with in
our infancy, out of which the Lord delivered us,
4. God often raises up friends for his people even among their enemies.
Pharaoh cruelly seeks Israel's destruction, but his own daughter
charitably compassionates a Hebrew child, and not only so, but, beyond
her intention, preserves Israel's deliverer. O Lord, how wonderful
are thy counsels!
II. Moses well provided with a good nurse, no worse than his own dear
Pharaoh's daughter thinks it convenient that he should
have a Hebrew nurse (pity that so fair a child should be suckled by a
sable Moor), and the sister of Moses, with art and good management,
introduces the mother into the place of a nurse, to the great advantage
of the child; for mothers are the best nurses, and those who receive
the blessings of the breasts with those of the womb are not just if
they give them not to those for whose sake they received them: it was
also an unspeakable satisfaction to the mother, who received her son as
life from the dead, and now could enjoy him without fear. The transport
of her joy, upon this happy turn, we may suppose sufficient to betray
her to be the true mother (had there been any suspicion of it) to a
less discerning eye than that of Solomon,
1 Kings 3:27.
III. Moses preferred to be the son of Pharaoh's daughter
his parents herein perhaps not only yielding to necessity, having
nursed him for her, but too much pleased with the honour thereby
done to their son; for the smiles of the world are stronger temptations
than its frowns, and more difficult to resist. The tradition of the
Jews is that Pharaoh's daughter had no child of her own, and that she
was the only child of her father, so that when he was adopted for her
son he stood fair for the crown: however it is certain he stood fair
for the best preferments of the court in due time, and in the mean time
had the advantage of the best education and improvements of the court,
with the help of which, having a great genius, he became master of all
the lawful learning of the Egyptians,
1. Providence pleases itself sometimes in raising the poor out of the
dust, to set them among princes,
Many who, by their birth, seem marked for obscurity and poverty, by
surprising events of Providence are brought to sit at the upper end of
the world, to make men know that the heavens do rule.
2. Those whom God designs for great services he find out ways to
qualify and prepare beforehand. Moses, by having his education in a
court, is the fitter to be a prince and king in Jeshurun; by
having his education in a learned court (for such the Egyptian then
was) is the fitter to be an historian; and by having his education in
the court of Egypt is the fitter to be employed, in the name of God, as
an ambassador to that court.
IV. Moses named. The Jews tell us that his father, at his circumcision,
called him Joachim, but Pharaoh's daughter called him
Moses, Drawn out of the water, so it signifies in the Egyptian
language. The calling of the Jewish lawgiver by an Egyptian name is a
happy omen to the Gentile world, and gives hopes of that day when it
shall be said, Blessed be Egypt my people,
And his tuition at
court was an earnest of the performance of that promise,
Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing
|Moses Slays an Egyptian; Rebukes a Contentious Hebrew.
||B. C. 1533.|
11 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown,
that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens:
and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren.
12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that
there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the
13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the
Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong,
Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?
14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?
intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And
Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.
15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses.
But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of
Midian: and he sat down by a well.
Moses had now passed the first forty years of his life in the court of
Pharaoh, preparing himself for business; and now it was time for him to
enter upon action, and,
I. He boldly owns and espouses the cause of God's people: When Moses
was grown he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their
The best exposition of these words we have from an
where we are told that by this he
1. His holy contempt of the honours and pleasures of the Egyptian
court; he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter,
for he went out. The temptation was indeed very strong. He had a
fair opportunity (as we say) to make his fortune, and to have been
serviceable to Israel too, with his interest at court. He was obliged,
in gratitude as well as interest, to Pharaoh's daughter, and yet he
obtained a glorious victory by faith over his temptation. He reckoned
it much more his honour and advantage to be a son of Abraham than to be
the son of Pharaoh's daughter.
2. His tender concern for his poor brethren in bondage, with whom
(though he might easily have avoided it) he chose to suffer
affliction; he looked on their burdens as one that not only pitied
them, but was resolved to venture with them, and, if occasion were, to
venture for them.
II. He gives a specimen of the great things he was afterwards to do for
God and his Israel in two little instances, related particularly by
&c.) with design to show how their fathers had
always resisted the Holy Ghost
even in Moses himself,
when he first appeared as their deliverer, wilfully shutting their eyes
against this day-break of their enlargement. He found himself, no
doubt, under a divine direction and impulse in what he did, and that he
was in an extraordinary manner called of God to do it. Now observe,
1. Moses was afterwards to be employed in plaguing the Egyptians for
the wrongs they had done to God's Israel; and, as a specimen of that,
he killed the Egyptian who smote the Hebrew
probably it was one of the Egyptian taskmasters, whom he found abusing
his Hebrew slave, a relation (as some think) of Moses, a man of the
same tribe. It was by special warrant from Heaven (which makes not a
precedent in ordinary cases) that Moses slew the Egyptian, and rescued
his oppressed brother. The Jew's tradition is that he did not slay him
with any weapon, but, as Peter slew Ananias and Sapphira, with the word
of his mouth. His hiding him in the sand signified that
hereafter Pharaoh and all his Egyptians should, under the control of
the rod of Moses, be buried in the sand of the Red Sea. His taking care
to execute this justice privately, when no man saw, was a piece of
needful prudence and caution, it being but an assay; and perhaps his
faith was as yet weak, and what he did was with some hesitation. Those
who come to be of great faith, yet began with a little, and at first
2. Moses was afterwards to be employed in governing Israel, and as a
specimen of this, we have him here trying to end a controversy between
two Hebrews, in which he is forced (as he did afterwards for forty
years) to suffer their manners. Observe here,
(1.) The unhappy quarrel which Moses observed between two Hebrews,
It does not appear what was the occasion; but, whatever it was, it
was certainly very unseasonable for Hebrews to strive with one another
when they were all oppressed and ruled with rigour by the Egyptians.
Had they not beating enough from the Egyptians, but they must beat one
[1.] Even sufferings in common do not always unite God's professing
people to one another, so much as one might reasonably expect.
[2.] When God raises up instruments of salvation for the church they
will find enough to do, not only with oppressing Egyptians, to restrain
them, but with quarrelsome Israelites, to reconcile them.
(2.) The way he took of dealing with them; he marked him that caused
the division, that did the wrong, and mildly reasoned with him:
Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? The injurious Egyptian was
killed, the injurious Hebrew was only reprimanded; for what the former
did was from a rooted malice, what the latter did we may suppose was
only upon a sudden provocation. The wise God makes, and, according to
his example, all wise governors make, a difference between one offender
and another, according to the several qualities of the same offence.
Moses endeavoured to make them friends, a good office; thus we find
Christ often reproving his disciples' strifes
for he was a prophet like unto Moses, a healing prophet, a peacemaker,
who visited his brethren with a design to slay all enmities. The
reproof Moses gave on this occasion may still be of use, Wherefore
smitest thou thy fellow? Note, Smiting our fellows is bad in any,
especially in Hebrews, smiting with tongue or hand, either in a way of
persecution or in a way of strife and contention. Consider the person
thou smitest; it is thy fellow, thy fellow-creature, thy
fellow-christian, it is thy fellow-servant, thy fellow-sufferer.
Consider the cause, Wherefore smitest? Perhaps it is for no
cause at all, or no just cause, or none worth speaking of.
(3.) The ill success of his attempt
He said, Who made thee a prince? He that did the wrong thus
quarrelled with Moses; the injured party, it should seem, was
inclinable enough to peace, but the wrong-doer was thus touchy. Note,
It is a sign of guilt to be impatient of reproof; and it is often
easier to persuade the injured to bear the trouble of taking wrong than
the injurious to bear the conviction of having done wrong.
1 Corinthians 6:7,8.
It was a very wise and mild
reproof which Moses gave to this quarrelsome Hebrew, but he could not
bear it, he kicked against the pricks
and crossed questions with his reprover.
[1.] He challenges his authority: Who made thee a prince? A man
needs no great authority for the giving of a friendly reproof, it is an
act of kindness; yet this man needs will interpret it an act of
dominion, and represents his reprover as imperious and assuming. Thus
when people dislike good discourse, or a seasonable admonition, they
will call it preaching, as if a man could not speak a work for
God and against sin but he took too much upon him. Yet Moses was indeed
a prince and a judge, and knew it, and thought the Hebrews would have
understood it, and struck in with him; but they stood in their own
light, and thrust him away,
[2.] He upbraids him with what he had done in killing the Egyptian:
Intendest thou to kill me? See what base constructions malice
puts upon the best words and actions. Moses, for reproving him is
immediately charged with a design to kill him. An attempt upon his sin
was interpreted an attempt upon his life; and his having killed the
Egyptian was thought sufficient to justify the suspicion; as if Moses
made no difference between an Egyptian and a Hebrew. If Moses, to right
an injured Hebrew, had put his life in his hand, and slain an Egyptian,
he ought therefore to have submitted to him, not only as a friend to
the Hebrews, but as a friend that had more than ordinary power and
zeal. But he throws that in his teeth as a crime which was bravely
done, and was intended as a specimen of the promised deliverance; if
the Hebrews had taken the hint, and come in to Moses as their head and
captain, it is probable that they would have been delivered now; but,
despising their deliverer, their deliverance was justly deferred, and
their bondage prolonged forty years, as afterwards their despising
Canaan kept them out of it forty years more. I would, and you would
not. Note, Men know not what they do, nor what enemies they are to
their own interest, when they resist and despise faithful reproofs and
reprovers. When the Hebrews strove with Moses, God sent him away into
Midian, and they never heard of him for forty years; thus the things
that belonged to their peace were hidden from their eyes, because they
knew not the day of their visitation. As to Moses, we may look on it as
a great damp and discouragement to him. He was now choosing to
suffer affliction with the people of God, and embracing the
reproach of Christ; and now, at his first setting out, to meet with
this affliction and reproach from them was a very sore trial of his
resolution. He might have said, "If this be the spirit of the Hebrews,
I will go to court again, and be the son of Pharaoh's daughter." Note,
First, We must take heed of being prejudiced against the ways
and people of God by the follies and peevishness of some particular
persons that profess religion. Secondly, It is no new thing for
the church's best friends to meet with a great deal of opposition and
discouragement in their healing, saving attempts, even from their own
mother's children; Christ himself was set at nought by the builders,
and is still rejected by those he would save.
(4.) The flight of Moses to Midian, in consequence. The affront given
him thus far proved a kindness to him; it gave him to understand that
his killing the Egyptian was discovered, and so he had time to make his
escape, otherwise the wrath of Pharaoh might have surprised him and
taken him off. Note, God can overrule even the strife of tongues, so
as, one way or other, to bring good to his people out of it.
Information was brought to Pharaoh (and it is well if it was not
brought by the Hebrew himself whom Moses reproved) of his killing the
Egyptian; warrants are presently out for the apprehending of Moses,
which obliged him to shift for his own safety, by flying into the land
[1.] Moses did this out of a prudent care of his own life. If this be
his forsaking of Egypt which the apostle refers to as done by faith
it teaches us that when we are at any time in trouble and danger for
doing our duty the grace of faith will be of good use to us in taking
proper methods for our own preservation. Yet there it is said, He
feared not the wrath of the king; here it is said he feared,
He did not fear with a fear of
diffidence and amazement, which weakens and has torment, but with a
fear of diligence, which quickened him to take that way which
Providence opened to him for his own preservation.
[2.] God ordered it for wise and holy ends. Things were not yet ripe
for Israel's deliverance: the measure of Egypt's iniquity was not yet
full; the Hebrews were not sufficiently humbled, nor were they yet
increased to such a multitude as God designed; Moses is to be further
fitted for the service, and therefore is directed to withdraw for the
present, till the time to favour Israel, even the set time, should
come. God guided Moses to Midian because the Midianites were of the
seed of Abraham, and retained the worship of the true God among them,
so that he might have not only a safe but a comfortable settlement
among them. And through this country he was afterwards to lead Israel,
with which (that he might do it the better) he now had opportunity of
making himself acquainted. Hither he came, and sat down by a well,
tired and thoughtful, at a loss, and waiting to see which way
Providence would direct him. It was a great change with him, since he
was but the other day at ease in Pharaoh's court: thus God tried his
faith, and it was found to praise and honour.
|The Marriage of Moses.
||B. C. 1533.|
16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came
and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's
17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood
up and helped them, and watered their flock.
18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is
it that ye are come so soon to day?
19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of
the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered
20 And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is
it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread.
21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave
Moses Zipporah his daughter.
22 And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom:
for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.
Moses here gains a settlement in Midian, just as his father Jacob had
gained one in Syria,
&c. And both these instances should
encourage us to trust Providence, and to follow it. Events that seem
inconsiderable, and purely accidental, after wards appear to have been
designed by the wisdom of God for very good purposes, and of great
consequence to his people. A casual transient occurrence has sometimes
occasioned the greatest and happiest turns of a man's life.
I. Concerning the seven daughters of Reuel the priest or prince of
1. They were humble, and very industrious, according as the employment
of the country was: they drew water for their father's flock,
If their father was a prince, it teaches us that even
those who are honourably born, and are of quality and distinction in
their country, should yet apply themselves to some useful business, and
what their hand finds to do do it with all their might. Idleness can be
no one's honour. If their father was a priest, it teaches us that
ministers' children should, in a special manner, be examples of
humility and industry.
2. They were modest, and would not ask this strange Egyptian to come
home with them (though handsome and a great courtier), till their
father sent for him. Modesty is the ornament of woman.
II. Concerning Moses. He was taken for an Egyptian
and strangers must be content to be the subjects of mistake; but it is
1. How ready he was to help Reuel's daughters to water their flocks.
Though bred in learning and at court, yet he knew how to turn his hand
to such an office as this when there was occasion; nor had he learned
of the Egyptians to despise shepherds. Note, Those that have had a
liberal education yet should not be strangers to servile work, because
they know not what necessity Providence may put them in of working for
themselves, or what opportunity Providence may give them of being
serviceable to others. These young women, it seems, met with some
opposition in their employment, more than they and their servants could
conquer; the shepherds of some neighbouring prince, as some think, or
some idle fellows that called themselves shepherds, drove away their
flocks; but Moses, though melancholy and in distress, stood up
and helped them, not only to get clear of the shepherds, but, when
that was done, to water the flocks. This he did, not only in
complaisance to the daughters of Reuel (though that also did very well
become him), but because, wherever he was, as occasion offered itself,
(1.) He loved to be doing justice, and appearing in the defence of such
as he saw injured, which every man ought to do as far as it is in the
power of his hand to do it.
(2.) He loved to be doing good. Wherever the Providence of God casts us
we should desire and endeavour to be useful; and, when we cannot do the
good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can. And he that is
faithful in a little shall be entrusted with more.
2. How well he was paid for his serviceableness. When the young women
acquainted their father with the kindnesses they had received from this
stranger, he sent to invite him to his house, and made much of him,
Thus God will recompense the
kindnesses which are at any time shown to his children; they shall in
no wise lose their reward. Moses soon recommended himself to the esteem
and good affection of this prince of Midian, who took him into his
house, and, in process of time, married one of his daughters to him
by whom he had a son, whom he called Gershom, a stranger there
that if ever God should give him a home of his own
he might keep in remembrance the land in which he had been a stranger.
Now this settlement of Moses in Midian was designed by Providence,
(1.) To shelter him for the present. God will find hiding-places for
his people in the day of their distress; nay, he will himself be to
them a little sanctuary, and will secure them, either under heaven or
in heaven. But,
(2.) It was also designed to prepare him for the great services he was
further designed for. His manner of life in Midian, where he kept the
flock of his father-in-law (having none of his own to keep), would be
of use to him,
[1.] To inure him to hardship and poverty, that he might learn how to
want as well as how to abound. Those whom God intends to exalt he
[2.] To inure him to contemplation and devotion. Egypt accomplished him
as a scholar, a gentleman, a statesman, a soldier, all which
accomplishments would be afterwards of use to him; but yet he lacked
one thing, in which the court of Egypt could not befriend him. He that
was to do all by divine revelation must know, by a long experience,
what it was to live a life of communion with God; and in this he would
be greatly furthered by the solitude and retirement of a shepherd's
life in Midian. By the former he was prepared to rule in Jeshurun, but
by the latter he was prepared to converse with God in Mount Horeb, near
which mount he had spent much of his time. Those that know what it is
to be alone with God in holy exercises are acquainted with better
delights than ever Moses tasted in the court of Pharaoh.
|Cry of the Oppressed Israelites.
||B. C. 1491.|
23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of
Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the
bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason
of the bondage.
24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his
covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had
respect unto them.
1. The continuance of the Israelites' bondage in Egypt,
Probably the murdering of their infants did not continue; this part of
their affliction attended only the period immediately connected with
the birth of Moses, and served to signalize it. The Egyptians now were
content with their increase, finding that Egypt was enriched by their
labour; so that they might have them for slaves, they cared not how
many they were. On this therefore they were intent, to keep them all at
work, and make the best hand they could of their labour. When one
Pharaoh died, another rose up in his place that was governed by the
same maxims, and was as cruel to Israel as his predecessors. If there
was sometimes a little relaxation, yet it presently revived again with
as much rigour as ever; and probably, as the more Israel were oppressed
the more they multiplied, so the more they multiplied the more they
were oppressed. Note, Sometimes God suffers the rod of the wicked to
lie very long and very heavily on the lot of the righteous. If Moses,
in Midian, at any time began to think how much better his condition
might have been had he staid among the courtiers, he must of himself
think this also, how much worse it would have been if he had had his
lot with brethren: it was a great degradation to him to be keeping
sheep in Midian, but better so than making brick in Egypt. The
consideration of our brethren's afflictions would help to reconcile us
to our own.
2. The preface to their deliverance at last.
(1.) They cried,
Now, at last, they began to think of God under their
troubles, and to return to him from the idols they had served,
Hitherto they had fretted at the instruments of their trouble, but God
was not in all their thoughts. Thus hypocrites in heart heap up
wrath; they cry not when he binds them,
God unbound them he put it into their hearts to cry unto him, as it is
Note, It is a good sign that God is coming towards us with deliverance
when he inclines and enables us to cry to him for it.
(2.) God heard,
The name of God is here
emphatically prefixed to four different expressions of a kind intention
[1.] God heard their groaning; that is, he made it to appear
that he took notice of their complaints. The groans of the oppressed
cry aloud in the ears of the righteous God, to whom vengeance belongs,
especially the groans of God's spiritual Israel; he knows the burdens
they groan under and the blessings they groan after, and that the
blessed Spirit, by these groanings, makes intercession in them.
[2.] God remembered his covenant, which he seemed to have
forgotten, but of which he is ever mindful. This God had an eye to, and
not to any merit of theirs, in what he did for them. See
(3.) God looked upon the children of Israel. Moses looked upon
them and pitied them
but now God looked upon them and helped them.
(4.) God had a respect unto them, a favourable respect to them
as his own. The frequent repetition of the name of God here intimates
that now we are to expect something great, Opus Deo dignum--A work
worthy of God. His eyes, which run to and fro through the earth,
are now fixed upon Israel, to show himself strong, to show himself a
God in their behalf.