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Monday, February 10, 2014



Moses was born to a man and a woman from the house of Levi, the Hebrew tribe of priests.  Moses was born in the terrible time when the Pharaoh of Egypt had ordered that all male Hebrew babies should be killed at birth. They were to be thrown into the Nile River.  His mother hid him for three months.  When she realized that she could not hide him any longer, she put him in a wicker basket and sealed it with tar and pitch so that it would float.  The Hebrew word translated "basket" means "ark" and is the same word used for Noah's ark.  Moses' mother put him in this little saving ark and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile River.  His sister Miriam stood at a distance to watch over him.  Pharaoh's daughter came down to the river to bathe, along with her maidens. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it to her.  As soon as she opened the basket and saw baby Moses crying, she had pity on him and noticed he was of the Hebrews' children.  Miriam, Moses' sister, said to her, "Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?  Pharaoh's daughter said to her, 'Go ahead.' So the girl went and called the child's mother.  Then Pharaoh's daughter said to her, 'Take this child away and nurse him for me and I will give you your wages.' So the woman took the child and nursed him. The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. And she named him Moses, and said, 'Because I drew him out of the water."'  Exodus 2:7-10.  We can clearly see God's providential hand when Moses was saved from Pharaoh's death sentence by Pharaoh's own daughter, and was able to remain with his mother until he was weaned, most likely between the ages of 3 to 5 years old.

Although Moses grew up as the son of Pharaoh's daughter, he was very aware of his origin as the child of a Hebrew slave.  When Moses grew up and went out to his Hebrew brethren and saw how oppressed they were with hard labor, he noticed an Egyptian beating one of his Hebrew brethren and became disturbed in his heart. Notice that there are 3 times in this section of Exodus 2 where Moses was willing to get involved where there was conflict.  Moses intervened in all three times of conflict with an action.  It is obvious to me that he was a peacemaker in all three cases.  He had compassion on the weak and the vulnerable and was willing to intervene to protect.

1. Egyptian abusing Hebrew
Moses kills Egyptian
Moses turns away from life of privilege

"Now it came about in those days.... and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.  So he looked this way and that, and when saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand."  Exodus 2:11-12.

2. Hebrew fighting Hebrew
Moses attempts to reconcile them
Moses is forced to flee

"He went out the next day; and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, 'Why are you striking your companion?'  But he said, 'Who made you a prince or a judge over us?  Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?'  Then Moses was afraid and said, 'Surely the matter has become known.' When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he tried to kill Moses.  But Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well."'  Exodus 2:13-15.

3. The Midianites drive off the shepherd girls
Moses defends the girls
Moses gains a wife, Zipporah

"When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came to draw water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.  Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them and watered their flock."  Exodus 2:15-17.

4. This period of Israelite history ends with the increased abuse of the Israelites by a new Pharaoh. Moses possibly knew this Pharaoh since he was raised in the Pharaoh's household. The Israelites begin to cry out to God, and a compassionate God hears their cry.

"Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died.  And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God.  So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them."  Exodus 2:23-24.

NOTICE that in the same way that Moses responded to oppression, God also responded.  The oppressed did not go unnoticed by God when they cried out. God listened!   

Moses ran to Midian after he fled Egypt. The Midianites were descendants of Abraham, just as Moses was: "Now Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah.  She bore to him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan became the father of Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim and Letushim and Leummim.  The sons of Midian were Ephah and Epher and Hanoch and Abida and Eldaah.  All these were the sons of Keturah."  Genesis 25:1-4.

The Hebrews' relationship with the Midianites was friendly allowing Moses to be welcomed in the house of Jethro, the priest and judge of Midian.  Moses married one of Jethro's daughters and had two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, Exodus 18:2-4.

In Exodus 18, Jethro helped Moses set up a court system similar to the one he used as a priest and judge in Midian.  Together they brought offerings of worship to God for all that He had done for the Hebrews.

In Numbers 22:4-7, the Midianites have become the Israelites' enemies because of their conspiracy with the Moabites to curse Israel through Balaam becoming enemies until finally Gideon defeats the Midianites in Judges 6-7.

The first 80 years of Moses' life prepared him to take the leadership of a slave nation, the Israelites, and led them out of Egyptian slavery through another 40 years of wandering in the dessert.  The second part of this study concerns the deliverance of the Israelites from their Egyptian taskmasters.


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