Chapter 2

  1. Moses’ Birth and Adoption

    • A man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married and had a son.

      • Guzik’s notes, “ Exodus 6:20 tells us the names of Moses’ parents: Amram and JochebedMoses was not the firstborn in his family. He had at least an older brother (Aaron) and an older sister (Miriam).”

    • When the woman saw that her baby was healthy and beautiful she hid him for three months.

      • Guzik also points out, “The parents of Moses did not do this only because of the natural parental 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.”

    • When she couldn’t hide him any longer, she placed the baby in a papyrus basket that she had waterproofed by coating it in tar and pitch.

    • She then put the basket with the baby in it in the reeds beside the bank of the Nile River. His sister stood a nearby, watching to see what would happen to him.

      • “In a literal sense, Moses’ mother did exactly what Pharaoh said to do: put her son into the river (Exodus 1:22). However, she took care to put him in a waterproofed basket and strategically floated him in the river.” (Guzik)

    • Pharaoh’s daughter went to bathe in the river and her servant girls walked along the riverbank.

    • She saw the basket in the reeds and sent one of her girls to get it.

    • When she opened it, she saw a baby boy crying and felt sorry for him saying, “This is one of the Hebrew boys.”

      • The NLT Illustrated Study Bible provides some cultural context, “Much like the Ganges River in modern India, the Nile was understood by the Egyptians to be a goddess who had life-giving and healing properties. When Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the river, she was not merely washing but completing her morning devotions. The discovery of the baby floating on the river, in the embrace of the Nile goddess (as she saw it), would be very significant to her. It is also natural for a young woman to feel sorry for a crying baby. The combination of factors may account for her rescuing the child, though she recognized that he was Hebrew (Hebrews and Egyptians practiced circumcision differently.)”

    • Then the baby’s sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Should I go find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for you?”

    • Pharaoh’s daughter agreed so the girl brought her mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said, “Take this child and nurse him for me and I’ll pay your wages.” So the woman took him home and nursed him. When the boy had grown old enough, she brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter. She adopted him as her son and named him Moses because she “drew him out of the water.”

      • “Using both the clever initiative of Moses’ family and the need of Pharaoh’s daughter, God arranged a way for Moses’ mother to train him in his early years and be paid for it.” (Guzik)

      • Some skeptics raise an issue with the idea that the Pharaoh’s daughter would have given her adoptive son a Hebrew name (Moses means “drawing out” in Hebrew), but HCSB commentary has this explanation, “…the name she chose was both an Egyptian word and a Hebrew word. In Egyptian the root word means “born”, and was commonly used as an element in personal names (e.g. Pharaohs Ahmose, Thutmose). In Hebrew it means ‘to draw out [of water].’ This bilingual wordplay fit Moses in both ways, especially since he was ‘drawn out’ of the Nile.”

      • “No doubt it was in these early years that Moses learnt of the ‘God of the fathers’ (Exodus 3:15) and realized that the Hebrews were his fellow countrymen (Exodus 2:11).” (Cole quoted in Guzik’s commentary)

      • “ Being the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses was in the royal family. The ancient Jewish historian Josephus wrote that Moses was heir to the throne of Egypt and that while a young man he led the armies of Egypt in victorious battle against the Ethiopians…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 among ancient cultures. It is reasonable to think that Moses was instructed in geography, history, grammar, writing, literature, philosophy, and music.” (Guzik)

    • Since I’m a proponent of a literal interpretation of the Bible I’ll add here Guzik’s excellent example of the dangerous trap of interpreting the Bible in an allegorical way. Obviously, I’m not insinuating that every single word of the Bible is meant to be interpreted literally. The Bible makes use of all kinds of literary devices, however, it is generally apparent by noting the context when a literary device is being employed. The slippery slope of applying allegory to historical accounts is illustrated perfectly in Guzik’s following example of the early Christian writer, Origen:

        • “An ancient Christian writer named Origen had a fanciful allegorical way of interpreting the Scriptures, and what he does with this account of Moses and Pharaoh’s daughter is a good example of the peril of over-allegorizing the Scriptures. In Origen’s take on this passage:

· Pharaoh represents 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 were 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 represent the waters of baptism

· 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.

          • Guzik then includes Clarke’s admonishment regarding this manner of Scripture 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.”

2. Moses in Midian

    • Years passed, and when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and saw how hard they were being forced to work as slaves to the Egyptians.
      • Acts 7:23 says this happened when Moses was forty years old. Up until then, he was trained and groomed to become the next Pharaoh of Egypt (according to Josephus), all the while aware of his true origins because of his mother.” (Guzik)
      • Cole notes, “The phrase means more than ‘to see’. It means, ‘to see with emotion’, either satisfaction (Genesis 9:16) or, as here, with distress (Genesis 21:16). Moses is one who shares God’s heart.”
      • Hebrews 11:24-26 tells us some of what happened in the heart and mind of Moses as he looked at their burdens. It says that by faith, Moses deliberately decided to identify with the people of Israel rather than his Egyptian prestige and opportunity.” (Guzik)
    • He saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. He looked around and didn’t see anyone. Moses then hit the Egyptian, killing him, then hid his body in the sand.

      • Guzik notes the New Testament insight into why Moses did this, “The Bible itself explains some of Moses’ thinking behind this action. Acts 7:23-25 explains that Moses did this to defend and avenge the beaten Israelite, but also with the expectation that his fellow Israelites would recognize him as their deliverer. 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. (Acts 7:23-25)…Just like Jesus, Moses could not deliver when he lived in the palaces of glory. He had to come down off the throne, away from the palace and into a humble place before he could deliver his people.”
    • When Moses went out the next day he saw two Hebrews fighting and he asked the one who was in the wrong, “Why are you fighting your friend?”
    • The Hebrew man responded, “Who made you a leader and judge over us? Are you going to killed me like you killed the Egyptian?”
      • “Moses had reason to believe that his education, royal background, success, and great sympathy for the people of Israel would give him credibility among them. He here tried to intervene in a violent dispute between two Hebrew men…We could say that Moses was first a murderer, and then a meddler…Moses seemed to act like a prince given his royal background. He acted like a judge in that he determined that one of these men did the wrong. He seemed to be the perfect prince and judge for Israel, but they did not want him.” (Guzik)
    • Then Moses realized that everyone knew what he had done and he became afraid.
    • When Pharaoh found out about what Moses had done, he tried to kill Moses.
    • So Moses ran away and went to live in Midian. When he got to Midian, he sat down beside a well.

      • Guzik makes a hilarious observation in his Exodus sermon series. He notes that God’s plan almost always plays out in a way that no man would ever plan. Guzik comically notes that God’s plans are never notable for their efficiency. And that is undoubtedly because He is teaching us valuable lessons along the way. The story of Moses perfectly illustrates this point. Moses’ plan to deliver his people from slavery in Egypt made perfect sense to him. He assumed the Israelites would accept him as their savior and follow him. But they didn’t. They rejected him, and he ended up on the run to escape death from Pharaoh. Instead, according to God’s plan, Moses was to spend 40 years in the desert. Then, he and his brother Aaron would return to Egypt with a special stick that transformed into a snake to present to Pharaoh in order to convince him to release the Israelites. An impressive array of supernatural plagues would follow, culminating in the Israelites’ ultimate escape across an ocean path created by miraculously parted waters. Guzik ends by saying, “Such an unlikely plan would never come from man.”
    • As Moses was sitting there, the seven daughters of the priest of Midan came to draw water from the well to water their father’s flock. Some shepherds came and tried to chase them away, but Moses came to their rescue and watered their flocks.
      • “Moses probably had little idea of it at the time, but he was too big for God to use. Moses tried to do the Lord’s work in man’s wisdom and power and it didn’t work. After 40 years of seemingly perfect preparation, God had another period of preparation for both Moses and the people of Israel, to make them ready to receive Moses.” (Guzik)
      • “In that day Midian described 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).” (Guzik)
    • When the girls returned home they told their father, Reuel, he asked why they had come back so early that day.
    • They explained that an Egyptian had rescued them and Reuel told them to go back an invite him to eat with them.
      • Kaiser explains, “Since Moses still had his Egyptian clothing on, they judged him to be Egyptian in nationality.”
    • Moses came and ate with them, then agreed to stay with the man. After a time, Moses married Reuel’s daughter Zipporah.

– Wait; wasn’t Moses’ father-in-law named Jethro? NLT Illustrated Study Bible offers this insight, “The priest of Midian was named Reuel (2:18), but later he is called Jethro (18:1). It was common for a person to have both an official name and a personal name, though in this case it is not clear which is which.”

    • Moses and Zipporah had a son that they named, Gershom, because Moses said, “I have become a stranger in a foreign land.”
      • I like what Trapp says about Moses’ time in Midian, “In Egypt Moses learned how to be somebody. In Midian he learned how to be nobody. “Much he had learned in Egypt, but more in Midian.”
    • A long time passed and the Pharaoh in Egypt died. The Israelites struggled with their burden of hard work and they cried out to God for help.
    • God heard them and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
      • “If Moses ‘forgot’ about Israel in Egypt (in the sense of turning his active attention away from them), God did not. God remembered (again, in the sense of turning His active attention towards them) Israel and their affliction…God did not turn His attention to Israel because they were such good people, but because of the covenant He made with them. He gives His love and attention to us on the same basis – the covenant relationship we have with God through Jesus.” (Guzik)