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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.

18. And when they came to Reuel3131     In the Latin Geneva editions of 1573 and 1617, this name is printed, through the whole commentary on the chapter, Bethuel; but in the commentary on Numbers 10:29, Reuel; whilst A V. has Reuel here, and Raguel in Numbers. In Hebrew, the name in both cases is Reuel; but the Hebrew ע having no equivalent in either the Greek, Latin, or English alphabet, its occurrence has occasioned a dissimilar orthography of several proper names in different translations, or sometimes in the same translation, according as the translator happened to substitute for it a or o, or to omit it altogether. The LXX. seems to have been induced by mere similarity of shape to substitute γ for it in the middle of words, where a consonant seemed desirable.
   As to the person here spoken of, the relation of each to Moses is designated by the same word חתן; viz., Jethro in Exodus 3:1, and 18; Hobab in Judges 4:11; and Reuel (probably) in Numbers 10:29; whilst Zipporah uses the same word, rendered husband in Exodus 4:25, 26;. The radical verb, in this case also, is one which does not occur in Hebrew in its primary conjugation, but is found in Arabic, where it signifies to provide a nuptial feast; and hence the noun came to signify any relative by marriage, though most commonly a father-in-law In Numbers 10:29, and Judges 4:11, Jerome has rendered it simply kinsman. This being premised, it will appear probable that Reuel was the grandfather, Jethro the father, and Hobab the brother, of Zipporah. Hence, after forty years, Reuel is no more spoken of, except to notice descent from him. — W
I do not think any blame attaches to the daughters of Bethuel for not offering hospitality to Moses, because young women should be modest, and it would have been an act of too great forwardness to invite an unknown foreigner, without acquainting their father. But God inspires the heart of their father with gratitude, so that he desires him to be sent for. Moses, therefore, is brought from the well, and finds a home in which he may live comfortably, and is treated with kindness on account of his matrimonial alliance. And certainly there was need of some alleviation for his manifold cares and sorrows; since it was a hard trial, which would not only pain him greatly, but would have altogether overwhelmed him in despair unless the holy man had been supported in some way in enduring his forty years’ exile. We may easily conjecture from our own feelings how great must have been the weariness of so tedious a delay, especially when he saw that the flower of his age was past, and that his strength was failing, so that he would be afterwards but little fitted for activity. It was, therefore, difficult for him to be intent on that vocation, which might seem to be obsolete, and abrogated in this period of forty years. These heavy troubles and anxieties are in some degree mitigated, but yet not so completely as to prevent the recurrence of many opposing thoughts. Wherefore God’s grace is more astonishing, which kept him peaceful and calm in the midst of so many cares, so that, in expectation of the unknown time, he should be content with his mean and humble lot, and stand in daily preparation to perform the part of a deliverer. As to the word יאל,3232     יואל, A V., was content C states the question about the meaning of this word nearly as he found it stated in S M.; who had said, “Radix verbi יאל idem significat quod רצה, voluit, complacuit, consensit. Sunt tamen inter Hebraeos qui etiam אלה et נשבע, id est juravit, exponunt.” They who would interpret it he sware, must suppose יואל to be irregularly formed out of the verb אלה; whilst there is no irregularity of formation assumed by those who accept it as a part of the verb יאל, and consequently translate it consented, or was content W yal, the Jews themselves are not agreed: many think that it merely expresses consent; others take it to mean “to swear.” And perhaps Bethuel was unwilling to give his daughter to an unknown guest, unless he bound himself by an oath to live there, as otherwise it might be feared that Moses might take away his wife elsewhere. Thus the marriage-vow was a promise to remain. Thence we see the integrity of that age, that the sanction of an oath, through reverence to the name of God, was so strong, that both were contented with this bond.

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