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Bible Commentaries

Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Exodus 2

Verses 1-25



God's hand of overruling power and grace is seen beautifully in this chapter. There is nothing spectacular, but an incident takes place that would be normally unnoticed. A man of the tribe of Levi, Amram by name, married a woman (Jochebed) of the same tribe, who gave birth to a son. However, not being afraid of the king's commandment, and being specially encouraged by the beauty of the child, she hid him for three months. Hebrews 11:23 tells us that it was the reality of faith that moved the parents in their hiding him.

But the hiding could not continue. Jochebed then did an unusually strange thing which proved to be the leading of God. Making an ark of bulrushes, which we would consider a basket, she covered it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it and laid it among the reeds in the water near the bank of the river. Thus, in one respect, she obeyed the king's orders by putting her son in the river, but with the ark around him. What a lesson for every Christian mother! Every parent should realize every child born is really under sentence of death from its birth because of the curse of sin. It is wise therefore for the believe by faith to virtually put the child into the place of death, but committing it to the Lord and to the value of His own death, by which alone the child can ever be save.

The mother, in calmness of faith, returned home, but left his sister to watch from a distance to see what would happen (v.4). Likely Jochebed knew of the habits of Pharaoh's daughter, and anticipated in some measure what would transpire, for she must have instructed her daughter to do just what she did.

She had chosen the best spot in which to leave the ark, for Pharaoh's daughter came there to bathe, bringing her female attendants with her. Seeing the ark among the reeds, she sent a maid to bring it to her. Her woman's heart was tenderly affected in seeing the beautiful child and hearing him weep. She knew immediately that he was a Hebrew child, but how could she obey her father's decree that the child must be drowned? In fact, before she had time to consider what she should do, the child's sister appeared immediately and asked her if she should go and get a Hebrew woman who could nurse the child for her (v.7).

Pharaoh's daughter would not be acquainted with Hebrew women, and the suggestion of Moses' sister was to her a providential opportunity of possessing a child of her own, with a more natural mother to nurse the child. The immediate suggestion of his sister also averted the alternative that Pharaoh's daughter might have considered, in having the child put to death.

The child's sister brought her own mother to Pharaoh's daughter, who asked her to take the child and nurse it for her with promise of payment for this (v.9). Thus, not only was her child preserved alive, but she was privileged to nurse her own child and receive payment for so doing? Very likely she would hear a voice higher than that of Pharaoh's daughter, saying "Take this child away and nurse him for me." Since she had faith in the living God, she would certainly rear the child for His glory rather than for the pleasure of Pharaoh's daughter.

Those first few formative years would have an unerasable effect on the boy who was to become great among the Egyptians. But the day came when his mother had to give him up to be recognized as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. This would certainly be traumatic for the mother.



This history here passed over many years, but Acts 7:22 tells us, "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, and was mighty in words and deeds." Then it is added that he was forty years old (v.27) when verse 11 ofExodus 2:1-25; Exodus 2:1-25 took place. At this time the Lord was moving him to remember seriously his relationship to the suffering nation Israel. No doubt the training of his early years had eventual effect in awakening a long dormant exercise of heart. His first action was to go out to observe how his people were treated by the Egyptians. This was apparently shocking to him, and when he saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite, this stirred his anger. He looked both ways, however, to see that there were no witnesses before he killed the Egyptian and covered him with sand.

The following day he again went out, and this time saw two Israelites fighting. Seeking to remonstrate with the aggressor, he was repulsed by the man as being a meddler, as though he were a prince or a judge appointed over them (v.14). Further still, he asked, "Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" Thus Moses found that his killing of the Egyptian was not concealed. In championing the cause of Israel he expected some recognition of this on their part (Acts 7:25), but they did not think that he might deliver them from bondage. At this time they were not ready, and in fact Moses himself was not ready to be the deliverer. God had work to do in his heart as well as in theirs.

This work of God involved the change of attitude of Pharaoh toward him. Though Pharaoh had highly honored him, now he turned against him with the intention of killing him. It was impossible for Moses to be half on Pharaoh's side and half on the side of Israel. God showed him, by means of Pharaoh's opposition, that he could not serve two masters.

What could he do but escape from Egypt entirely? He took a long journey to Midian, possibly nearly one hundred miles, thus being separated altogether from his own people Israel as well as from Egypt. How intense must have been his loneliness! But it was God who had led him there. Sitting down to rest by a well, he witnessed a scene that again stirred his concern for those who were oppressed. Seven daughters of one man, the priest of Midian, came to water their father's flock of sheep, but other shepherds came to drive them away. Moses took up the cause of the weak, helping the young women and watering their flock (v.17).

When they told their father, Reuel, of the Egyptian who had helped them, he answered them, "And where is he? Why is it that you have left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread" (v.20). This hospitality developed into an arrangement pleasing to Moses, that he might make his home with Reuel. From Reuel's family Moses then received his wife, Zipporah, who bore him a son, to whom he gave the name Gershom, meaning "a stranger here."



Moses remained forty years in Midian (Acts 7:30), and in the meanwhile the king of Egypt died. Yet the bondage of Israel was not relieved. We are not told they prayed to God for relief, but their groaning and crying out nevertheless was heard by God. The length of time may seem to us too great, but God's wisdom in greater than ours. In fact, though He took account of their groaning, remembering His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, yet the time would be still lengthened out before their deliverance. It was necessary that they should be made to most deeply feel the oppression and bondage under which they suffered, so that they might later appreciate the greatness of God's grace in delivering them. Thus today also God deals with awakened sinners to put them through experiences that will make them realize that bondage to sin is a dreadful thing, so that, when He delivers them, they will have so learned the abhorrence of sin that they will never desire to go back to such a state as that which they had left, and also that they should become thankful worshipers, giving glory undividedly to God the Father and to His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

Moses had become a shepherd, just as David later was a shepherd before becoming king of Israel. If Moses was to be a true deliverer, he must learn to have a heart of kindness toward those weak and dependent, therefore to treat Israel with shepherd care rather than with a scepter of authority. Thus too, the Lord Jesus was prepared by lowly suffering and kind concern for mankind in all His path on earth, in view of His eventually being exalted as Supreme Ruler over all. His life of devoted obedience to God has proven Him to be qualified to rule, not only in righteousness, but in tender grace. Believers today must have the same character if they are to be a true blessing to others. Peter a natural leader, who might therefore desire a place for himself, had to endure a sad fall before he was properly fitted to feed God's sheep (John 21:15-17).

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Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Exodus 2". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. 1897-1910.