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2. The Birth of Moses

And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. 2And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. 3And 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 river’s brink. 4And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.

5And 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 it. 6And 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. 7Then 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? 8And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother. 9And 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. 10And 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.

11And 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. 12And 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 sand. 13And 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? 14And 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. 15Now 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. 16Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. 18And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? 19And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. 20And 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. 21And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. 22And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

23And 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. 24And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto 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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