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Birth and Youth of Moses


Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. 2The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. 3When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. 4His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

5 The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. 6When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. 7Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. 10When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

Moses Flees to Midian

11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and saw their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsfolk. 12He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13When he went out the next day, he saw two Hebrews fighting; and he said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow Hebrew?” 14He answered, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” 15When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses.

But Moses fled from Pharaoh. He settled in the land of Midian, and sat down by a well. 16The priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to draw water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17But some shepherds came and drove them away. Moses got up and came to their defense and watered their flock. 18When they returned to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come back so soon today?” 19They said, “An Egyptian helped us against the shepherds; he even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20He said to his daughters, “Where is he? Why did you leave the man? Invite him to break bread.” 21Moses agreed to stay with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah in marriage. 22She bore a son, and he named him Gershom; for he said, “I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.”

23 After a long time the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God. 24God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them.

14. Who made thee a prince? No wonder if the headstrong and wicked man repels angrily this mild admonition; for thus are those, who are disposed to injustice, accustomed to rage as soon as they are reproved, and to drive away good advisers with contumely. And certainly it is an uncommon virtue to acknowledge our faults, and patiently to submit to correction. For in proportion to a man’s evil disposition, and to the greatness of his offense, is his rage under admonition, and his violence in altercation; wherefore, whoever undertakes to restrain the wicked must expect to meet with these indignities. Still, we may understand from the petulance of this individual how perverse were the minds of the whole nation. On this account Stephen says that Moses was refused by his own nation, and accuses them all of ingratitude. (Acts 7:35.) But, without being too hard on this people, we learn from this example how rude is the nature of those whom God has not tamed; for their perverseness as firmly repels correction, as an anvil repels the blow of a hammer. When, therefore, they are so stubborn that though ten times reproved they are still hardened, no wonder if God deals with them more roughly, as he declares he will do by the mouth of David. (Psalm 18:27.) Lest we should experience this, let us submit to his rod in time; and since this is not given to all, let us entreat him to make us truly teachable. For what shall we gain by kicking against the pricks? Moreover, a kind of brutal fierceness accompanies this perverseness, as is again seen in this instance. The vile and abject slave asks Moses, Who made him a judge over the Hebrews? as if he, and all his race, were not exposed to universal contumely. If the lowest of the Egyptian rabble had struck him a blow, he would not have dared to murmur; yet he rages as imperiously against this mild admonition, as if he were free from all subjection. What follows is even worse, “Intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian?” He ought to have received Moses as if he had been an angel of God, on account of such a proof of his zeal and piety; but, turning the benefit into an accusation, he not only hatefully taunts him with what it would have been just to praise, but even threatens him. Meantime, we cannot doubt but that the holy man must have been racked by a sore temptation, when he finds such barbarity in his nation. He knew, indeed, that the Egyptians would have been his professed enemies, if the matter had got abroad; but he never could have expected such an unworthy return from his brethren, whose misery he desired to relieve; and therefore it was a proof of incredible strength of purpose to surmount such an obstacle.

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