Birth and Preservation of Moses.
1. there went a man of the house of Levi,
&c. Amram was the husband and Jochebed the wife (compare Ex 6:2; Nu
26:59). The marriage took
place, and two children, Miriam and Aaron, were born some years before
the infanticidal edict.
2. the woman … bare a son,
&c.—Some extraordinary appearance of remarkable comeliness
led his parents to augur his future greatness. Beauty was regarded by
the ancients as a mark of the divine favor.
hid him three months—The parents were
a pious couple, and the measures they took were prompted not only by
parental attachment, but by a strong faith in the blessing of God
prospering their endeavors to save the infant.
3. she took for him an ark of
bulrushes—papyrus, a thick, strong, and tough reed.
slime—the mud of the Nile, which, when
hardened, is very tenacious.
pitch—mineral tar. Boats of this
description are seen daily floating on the surface of the river, with
no other caulking than Nile mud (compare Isa 18:2), and they are perfectly watertight,
unless the coating is forced off by stormy weather.
flags—a general term for sea or river
weed. The chest was not, as is often represented, committed to the
bosom of the water but laid on the bank, where it would naturally
appear to have been drifted by the current and arrested by the reedy
thicket. The spot is traditionally said to be the Isle of Rodah, near
4. his sister—Miriam would probably be a
girl of ten or twelve years of age at the time.
5. the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash
herself at the river—The occasion is thought to have been a
religious solemnity which the royal family opened by bathing in the
sacred stream. Peculiar sacredness was attached to those portions of
the Nile which flowed near the temples. The water was there fenced off
as a protection from the crocodiles; and doubtless the princess had an
enclosure reserved for her own use, the road to which seems to have
been well known to Jochebed.
walked along—in procession or in
she sent her maid—her immediate
attendant. The term is different from that rendered "maidens."
6-9. when she had opened it, she saw the
child—The narrative is picturesque. No tale of romance ever
described a plot more skilfully laid or more full of interest in the
development. The expedient of the ark, the slime and pitch, the choice
of the time and place, the appeal to the sensibilities of the female
breast, the stationing of the sister as a watch of the proceedings, her
timely suggestion of a nurse, and the engagement of the mother
herself—all bespeak a more than ordinary measure of ingenuity as
well as intense solicitude on the part of the parents. But the origin
of the scheme was most probably owing to a divine suggestion, as its
success was due to an overruling Providence, who not only preserved the
child's life, but provided for his being trained in the nurture and
admonition of the Lord. Hence it is said to have been done by faith
11:23), either in the general
promise of deliverance, or some special revelation made to Amram and
Jochebed—and in this view, the pious couple gave a beautiful
example of a firm reliance on the word of God, united with an active
use of the most suitable means.
10. she brought him unto Pharaoh's
daughter—Though it must have been nearly as severe a trial
for Jochebed to part with him the second time as the first, she was
doubtless reconciled to it by her belief in his high destination as the
future deliverer of Israel. His age when removed to the palace is not
stated; but he was old enough to be well instructed in the principles
of the true religion; and those early impressions, deepened by the
power of divine grace, were never forgotten or effaced.
he became her son—by adoption, and his
high rank afforded him advantages in education, which in the Providence
of God were made subservient to far different purposes from what his
royal patroness intended.
she called his name Moses—His parents
might, as usual, at the time of his circumcision, have given him a
name, which is traditionally said to have been Joachim. But the name
chosen by the princess, whether of Egyptian or Hebrew origin, is the
only one by which he has ever been known to the church; and it is a
permanent memorial of the painful incidents of his birth and
Ex 2:11-25. His Sympathy
with the Hebrews.
11. in those days, when Moses was
grown—not in age and stature only, but in power as well as in
renown for accomplishments and military prowess (Ac 7:22). There is a gap here in the sacred
history which, however, is supplied by the inspired commentary of Paul,
who has fully detailed the reasons as well as extent of the change that
took place in his worldly condition; and whether, as some say, his
royal mother had proposed to make him coregent and successor to the
crown, or some other circumstances, led to a declaration of his mind,
he determined to renounce the palace and identify himself with the
suffering people of God (Heb 11:24-29). The descent of some great sovereigns,
like Diocletian and Charles V, from a throne into private life, is
nothing to the sacrifice which Moses made through the power of
he went out unto his brethren—to make
a full and systematic inspection of their condition in the various
parts of the country where they were dispersed (Ac 7:23), and he adopted this proceeding in
pursuance of the patriotic purpose that the faith, which is of the
operation of God, was even then forming in his heart.
he spied an Egyptian smiting an
Hebrew—one of the taskmasters scourging a Hebrew slave
without any just cause (Ac 7:24), and
in so cruel a manner, that he seems to have died under the barbarous
treatment—for the conditions of the sacred story imply such a
fatal issue. The sight was new and strange to him, and though
pre-eminent for meekness (Nu 12:3), he
was fired with indignation.
12. he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the
sand—This act of Moses may seem and indeed by some has been
condemned as rash and unjustifiable—in plain terms, a deed of
assassination. But we must not judge of his action in such a country
and age by the standard of law and the notions of right which prevail
in our Christian land; and, besides, not only is it not spoken of as a
crime in Scripture or as distressing the perpetrator with remorse, but
according to existing customs among nomadic tribes, he was bound to
avenge the blood of a brother. The person he slew, however, being a
government officer, he had rendered himself amenable to the laws of
Egypt, and therefore he endeavored to screen himself from the
consequences by concealment of the corpse.
13, 14. two men of the Hebrews strove
together—His benevolent mediation in this strife, though made
in the kindest and mildest manner, was resented, and the taunt of the
aggressor showing that Moses' conduct on the preceding day had become
generally known, he determined to consult his safety by immediate
flight (Heb 11:27).
These two incidents prove that neither were the Israelites yet ready to
go out of Egypt, nor Moses prepared to be their leader (Jas 1:20). It was by the staff and not the
sword—by the meekness, and not the wrath of Moses that God was to
accomplish that great work of deliverance. Both he and the people of
Israel were for forty years more to be cast into the furnace of
affliction, yet it was therein that He had chosen them (Isa 48:10).
15. Moses fled from the face of
Pharaoh—His flight took place in the second year of Thothmes
dwelt in the land of Midian—situated
on the eastern shore of the gulf of the Red Sea and occupied by the
posterity of Midian the son of Cush. The territory extended northward
to the top of the gulf and westward far across the desert of Sinai. And
from their position near the sea, they early combined trading with
pastoral pursuits (Ge 37:28).
The headquarters of Jethro are supposed to have been where Dahab-Madian
now stands; and from Moses coming direct to that place, he may have
travelled with a caravan of merchants. But another place is fixed by
tradition in Wady Shuweib, or Jethro's valley, on the east of the
mountain of Moses.
sat down by a well—(See on Ge 29:3).
16-22. the priest of Midian—or, "prince
of Midian." As the officers were usually conjoined, he was the ruler
also of the people called Cushites or Ethiopians, and like many other
chiefs of pastoral people in that early age, he still retained the
faith and worship of the true God.
seven daughters—were shepherdesses to
whom Moses was favorably introduced by an act of courtesy and courage
in protecting them from the rude shepherds of some neighboring tribe at
a well. He afterwards formed a close and permanent alliance with this
family by marrying one of the daughters, Zipporah, "a little bird,"
called a Cushite or Ethiopian (Nu 12:1), and whom Moses doubtless obtained in
the manner of Jacob by service [see Ex 3:1]. He had by her two sons, whose names
were, according to common practice, commemorative of incidents in the
family history [Ex 18:3, 4].
23. the king of Egypt died: and the children of
Israel sighed by reason of the bondage—The language seems to
imply that the Israelites had experienced a partial relaxation,
probably through the influence of Moses' royal patroness; but in the
reign of her father's successor the persecution was renewed with