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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Exodus 2

Verse 1

EXODUS - CHAPTER TWO

Verses 1-4:

The "man" of verse 1 was Amram. He was a descendant of Levi, by his son Kohath (for additional comments, see Ex 6:12-20). His wife was Jochebed, whose name means "the glory of Jehovah." She was a "daughter" (descendant) of Levi, the sister of Amram’s father. Marriages with aunts and nieces were not uncommon, and natural instinct did not forbid them. It was not until the giving of the Mosaic Law that this became unlawful (see Le 18:6-18).

"Went" is "had gone," at some time prior. The oldest child of Amram and Jochebed was a daughter, Miriam, who at this time was likely about fourteen years old. A son was born about three years prior to this occasion, named Aaron. Pharaoh’s edict demanding the death of all male babies likely occurred after Aaron’s birth, at some point prior to the events of these verses.

Jochebed’s third child was a "goodly," tob or toar, child. This denotes that he was strong and healthy, of a "goodly" form. She was unwilling to obey the king’s mandate and cast her son into the river. The text indicates she concealed him "in the house," likely in the female apartments. When he reached the age of three months, it was no longer possible to conceal him, so she was forced to make other arrangements.

Jochebed followed the exact letter of Pharaoh’s edit: she cast her son into the river - but in such a way that he was saved alive, and not drowned. She fashioned an "ark" teb or teba, a chest, from "bulrushes" gome, the papyrus common to the Egyptian river banks. This plant grew to a height of 10 to 15 feet. The Egyptians used its pithy fiber to make papyrus or paper for writing. Jochebed waterproofed this chest with "slime’ chemar, bitumen (see Ge 11:3; 14:10) and "pitch" zepheth, possibly vegetable pitch of some kind. She then placed her infant son in the chest, and laid it in the "flags" suph, water plants growing in the backwaters of the Nile River.

The mother stationed Miriam nearby to watch over the precious cargo in the little "ark" or boat.

Verse 5

Verses 5-10:

"The daughter of Pharaoh" was probably a sister of Rameses the Great. Josephus calls her "Thermuthis." Other historians refer to her by different names. Tradition says that she had recently suffered the loss of an infant son.

It was not uncommon for royal princesses to bathe in the Nile River, at a place reserved for women. The Egyptians regarded the Nile as sacred, and its waters as health-giving. This princess was accompanied by her personal attendants. When she saw the chest floating among the "flags," she ordered that it be brought to her. She opened the lid, and saw there the infant boy. At that precise moment, the child cried. This touched the mother instinct within the Egyptian princess, and at that point she determined that this would be her child, even though she recognized at once that this was a Hebrew boy, one who was under Pharaoh’s death sentence.

Miriam was nearby, to observe what would befall her baby brother. She offered to secure a nurse from among the Hebrew women, who would care for the child until he was weaned. The princess accepted her offer, and the baby’s own mother became his paid nurse.

The hand of God is evident throughout this narrative. God moved to bring Pharaoh’s daughter to the exact spot at the precise time in order to assure the safety of this special child. He arranged that the baby would cry at the exact moment to touch the heart of the princess. Then, God arranged that the pious and faithful Jochebed should have custody of this child during his formative years.

Jochebed took her son to the Egyptian princess at the proper time which was likely when he was weaned. He then became one of the princess’ family. As royalty, Moses received the best education possible, as well as training in military and administrative matters. This was to prepare him for his life’s work when Jehovah called him to service.

The princess named her adopted son "Moses," which means "drawn out." This is an allusion to his deliverance from drowning.

Jochebed took her son to the Egyptian princess at the proper time which was likely when he was weaned. He then became one of the princess’ family. As royalty, Moses received the best education possible, as well as training in military and administrative matters. This was to prepare him for his life’s work when Jehovah called him to service.

The princess named her adopted son "Moses," which means "drawn out." This is an allusion to his deliverance from drowning.

Verse 11

Verses 11-15:

Stephen summarized Moses’ life, Ac 7:20-36. He implied that Moses at an early age was aware of God’s purpose for his brethren, and that he was sympathetic to their sufferings. He attempted by his own efforts to deliver them from this oppression. He murdered an Egyptian slave-master who was mistreating a Hebrew. He thought his brethren would understand his motive. They did not.

Moses made a choice which was to affect his entire life. He chose to become identified with God’s people, rather than to enjoy the pleasures and luxuries of Egypt (Heb 11:24). He made this choice on the basis of faith. This faith must have been instilled in him during the years Jochebed cared for him as his nurse. This emphasizes the importance of early childhood training.

The day following the murder of the Egyptian, Moses attempted to reconcile two Hebrews who were having a dispute. The one in the wrong responded to this by referring to the murder. Moses thought his crime was hidden. But now it became evident that it was not. Pharaoh soon heard of the crime, and Moses became a fugitive from Egyptian justice.

Moses fled to Midian. This refers to no particular geographical region, since these people were nomads. Their principal settlements appear to have been on the Eastern side of the Gulf of Akabah. At times they ranged as far north as the territory of Moab. They also roamed throughout the Sinai Peninsula, where they apparently were at the time Moses encountered them.

Verse 16

Verses 16-22:

When Moses arrived in the "land of Midian," he "sat down" or took up residence in the region of the principal well in that area. How long he remained here is unknown.

"The priest of Midian" was named Reuel, or Raguel (Nu 10:20). This name means "friend of Elohim."

The daughters of Reuel drew water for his flocks, a common practice for the time (see Ge 29:9). But when they had drawn water for their own flocks, the shepherds rudely pushed them aside and used the water for their own flocks. This was apparently a regular practice of these men. On this occasion, however, there was a difference.

Moses was near the well. He was quick to come to the aid of the weak against the strong. He was one man, but he intimidated the shepherds, and forced them to allow the sheep of the women to drink. He even helped draw water for them.

Moses’ dress was that of Egypt. From this, the women deduced he was an Egyptian.

When Reuel learned what had taken place, he scolded his daughters for their lack of hospitality. He sent for Moses to partake of his hospitality. Moses consented to stay with Reuel. Later, he was accepted into the family, and Reuel gave his daughter Zipporah to him in marriage. To this union was born a son whom Moses named Gershom, which means "I was a stranger," denoting Moses’ status as a stranger in that land.

Verse 23

Verses 23-25:

"In process of time" covers a period of at least forty years, in which Moses lived in Midian. Rameses II was apparently the king of Egypt, at this time. He had reigned 27 years when Moses fled; at this point he had ruled for 67 years.

During Moses’ absence, the conditions for Israel in Egypt did not improve. Additional burdens were laid on them. They groaned under the tyranny of Egypt., God was not deaf to their cries. He was moving to develop a plan for their deliverance. And even though the years seemed long and the burdens became steadily heavier, God did not forget His people.

God’s remembrance of Israel was based upon the Covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was ever mindful of that Covenant of grace.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Exodus 2". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/exodus-2.html. 1985.