Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Exodus 2

Verses 1-4


Exodus 2:3. Bulrushes] The well-known Eg. papyrus or paper-reed.

Exodus 2:4. Stood] “Stationed herself.”



I. As occurring of noble parentage.

1. They were of moderate social position. Amram, the father of Moses, was the son of Kohath, who was the son of Levi. He espoused Jochebed, who was also of the tribe of Levi. They had three children, Aaron, Miriam, and Moses. Josephus says that Amram was of noble family. Not much is known about him. The social position of a child has a great influence upon its life—education—habits—and associates. Many sons rise higher in social grade than those who gave them birth—either through fortune—Providence—or industry. Moses was taken to be the son of a monarch’s daughter. He was to become the supreme Lawgiver and Ruler, not merely of a vast nation, but of the moral life of the world. 2 They were of strong parental affection. They took great notice of their children, especially of Moses. The mother thought him a goodly child. This was mother-like. She was anxious for the safety of her infant. Hence she tried to evade the cruel edict of the king. She concealed him in the house. Then she hid him on the waters of the Nile. She may have had a strange presentiment that her young child was destined to be connected with the fortunes of Israel. This made her solicitous for his preservation. Few mothers but would have acted likewise. Would that mothers were as anxious for the moral preservation of their offspring as for the physical. Many mothers will hide their children from a tyrant king, who would not conceal them from a wicked companionship. There are many edicts for the moral slaughter of the young—the edict of a wicked press. Parents should hide their children therefrom.

3. They were of good religious character. “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents.” (Hebrews 11:23.) Thus the parents of Moses were truly pious. They had faith in the unseen Jehovah—not weak—lifeless—inoperative—but powerful—so that it influenced their life—in its most tender sphere—in its most sacred relations—in its brightest hopes—in its truest joys—it made them willing to give up their child to the guardianship of the Nile—nay—to the guardianship of God. Here is a pattern for parents. Have such faith in God that you can trust—even your children—in the most perilous circumstances of life—to His care. Such trust on your part may enhance their temporal good—it may put them in the way of a monarch’s daughter. Many a child has obtained social position through the piety of his mother. Happy the infancy that is linked to the providence of God by a mother’s faith. We cannot tell how much the faith of the parents had to do with the future of their child. Faith in God is the preserving influence of a threatened life—physically—morally—eternally.

II. As happening in perilous times.

1. When his nation was in a condition of servitude. That this servitude was severe—exacting—grievous—disastrous—murderous—is evident from the last chapter. Thus Moses was not born to freedom—to comfort—but to unrewarded toil—and unmitigated sorrow. His earliest experiences would be of cruelty and degradation. It seems a pity, and an injustice, that young children should be born to slavery.

2. When a cruel edict was in force against the young. How were the parents of Moses enabled to conceal him from the officers of Pharaoh? Given a loving mother—a kindly providence—we cannot wonder at the result.

III. As involving momentous issues.

1. Issues relating to the lives of individuals. The birth of Moses made Miriam a watcher—gave her an introduction to a king’s daughter—and has given immortality to her name. It brought Aaron into historical prominence in relation to the Exodus of Israel, inasmuch as Moses lacked the eloquent tongue possessed by his brother. The life of Moses touched these names into fame, gave them an impulse, invested them with a greater meaning than otherwise they would have had—they derive lustre from his work.

2. Issues involving the freedom of an enslaved people. That ark upon the Nile waters contains a power that shall break the fetters of Israel—and lead the nation to a land of promise. Infant lives are linked much more to the interests of freedom than of serfdom. People are little conscious of the instrumentalities that are to give them liberty. The freedom of a kingdom may be involved in the birth of a child. We know not the influence one infant life may have upon a nation.

3. Issues relating to the destiny of a proud nation. That child—the object of a mother’s care—of a sister’s vigilance—will one day be the occasion of a monarch’s fear—torment—overthrow. Now the Nile carries on its tranquil waters a power that shall defeat the Pharaohs. The edict is vain. The slaughter of the young is useless—One has escaped the horrid massacre; that is enough! Egypt is in peril. Israel may strike her first note of freedom. In the life of one child there may be wrapped up the destinies of an Empire. The potentiality of infant life!

IV. As exhibiting the inventiveness of maternal love.

1. In that she devised a scheme for the safety of her child. The mother was more clever than the tyrant king and his accomplices. Tyranny is too calculating to be clever. Maternal love is quick, and spontaneous in its thought, and sees a refuge where tyrants never suspect. The refuge chosen was unlikely—carefully selected—vigilantly guarded—evidently sufficient. She was amply repaid. Only a mother would have thought of it.

V. As eluding the edict of a cruel king. The mother of Moses was justified in eluding this edict—because it was unjust—murderous—it did violence to family affection—to the laws of citizenship—and to the joyful anticipations of men.


Exodus 2:1. Providence is preparing good, while wickedness is working evil to the Church—Times, tribes, and persons are appointed by God, by whom He will work good to His people.

In the desolations of the Church’s seed, God will have His to marry and continue it.
Tribes cursed for their desert, may be made instrumental of good by grace.
Marriages are always to be accounted lawful by God’s will revealed about them.
The greatest instruments of the Church’s good, God ordereth to bring in the common way of man.
The Divine Being orders instruments of salvation to be born in times of affliction.

Exodus 2:2. No policies, or cruelties of man, can hinder God from sending saviours to the Church.

God uses instrumentalities in accomplishing the freedom of the slave, and the welfare of the Church.
God maketh sight serviceable to faith for preserving His own. “She saw.”
That infant life sometimes contains the prophecy of its future. Faith hides the child it wishes to save—

1. As evidence of a holy courage.
2. As using means to secure its end.
3. As manifesting a sacred skill.
4. As embodying the germ of a brilliant hope.… Discretion is not cowardice.

Pharaoh’s laws were against all the laws of nature, or, more properly speaking, against the laws of God; and nature was slowly working against Pharaoh; he had made God his enemy. Against these laws of Pharaoh a mother’s heart revolted [F. W. Robertson.]

In many cases in the scriptures you find the enemy seeking by death to interrupt the current of divine action. But, blessed be God, there is something beyond death. The entire sphere of divine action, as connected with redemption, lies beyond the limits of death’s domain. When Satan has exhausted his power, then God begins to show Himself. The grave is the limit of Satan’s activity; but there it is that divine activity begins. This is a glorious truth. Satan has the power of death; but God is the God of the living; and He gives life beyond the reach and power of death—a life which Satan cannot touch [C.H.M.]

Death is often the edict of man, when life is the promise and ordination of God.

Exodus 2:3. That the loving ingenuity of a mother has its limit; “She could no longer hide him.”

The divine Providence is the refuge of a good, but perplexed parent.
In times of extreme difficulty it is well to venture upon the providence of God [Henry and Scott].

God teaches the good the best way of saving those by whom He intends to deliver His Church.
Tyrants use the river for a grave; God uses it as a cradle for infant life.
Reed and slime, and pitch and flags, shall preserve God’s darlings at His pleasure.
The mother of Moses laid the ark in the flags by the river’s brink. Ay, but before doing so she laid it on the heart of God! She could not have laid it so courageously upon the Nile, if she had not first devoutly laid it upon the care and love of God. We are often surprised at the outward calmness of men who are called upon to do unpleasant and most trying deeds; but had we seen them in secret we should have known the moral preparation which they underwent before coming out to be seen of men [City Temple].

Exodus 2:4. An entire family moving within the circle of an infant’s life.

Faith always waits to see the issue of events.
Society needs watchers as well as workers. Had we been passing the spot at which the sister of Moses took up her position of observation we might have condemned her as an idler standing there and doing nothing. We should be careful of our condemnation, seeing how little we know of the reality of the case. In doing nothing, the girl was, in reality, doing everything. Mark the cunning of love. The watcher stood afar off. Had she stood quite close at hand, she would have defeated the very object of her watching. She was to do her work without the slightest appearance of doing it. (City Temple.)

The beautiful ministry of a youthful life—

1. Loving.
2. Cautious.
3. Obedient.
4. Reflective.
5. Courteous.
6. Successful.

The mother remained at home, shewing—

1. The dignity of her faith—she could wait away from the scene of trial.
2. Her supreme hope in God—the issue was to be divine.
3. Her happy confidence in her little daughter—children do their work better when they feel that they are trusted with it entirely.

How many brothers would be kept from moral injury and peril if they were thus guarded by a loving sister.


Exodus 2:1-10 Stronger far than education—going on before education can commence, possibly from the very first moments of consciousness, parents begin to impress themselves on their children. Our character, voice, features, qualities—modified, no doubt, by entering into a new being, and ruling a different organization—are impressed upon our children. Not the inculcation of opinions, but much rather the formation of principles, and of the tone of character, the derivation of qualities. Physiologists tell us of the derivation of the mental qualities from the father, and of the moral from the mother. But, be this as it may, there is scarcely one here who cannot trace back his present religious character to some impression in early life, from one or other of his parents—a tone, a look, a word, a habit, or even, it may be, a bitter exclamation of remorse [F. W. Robertson].

What if God should place in your hand a diamond, and tell you to inscribe on it a sentence which should be read at the last day, and be shown then as an index of your own thoughts and feelings? What care—what caution would you exercise in the selection. Now, this is what God has done. He has placed before you the immortal minds of your children, more imperishable than the diamond, on which you are about to inscribe every day and every hours by your instructions, by your spirit, or by your example, something which will remain, and be exhibited for or against you at the judgment day [Dr. Payson].

Even as a plant will sooner take nourishment and thrive better in the soil where it first grew and sprung up than in any other ground, because it liketh its own soil best: so, likewise, children will sooner take instruction and good nurture from their parents, whom they best like, and from whom they had their being, than from any other [Cawdray].

Verses 5-9


Exodus 2:6. She saw the child] This verse is surpassingly delightful for simple vividness, when rendered in oriental fashion: “And she opens, and beholds him—even the child, and lo! a BOY, wesping!”

Exodus 2:9. Take] More exactly: “Take away.” Prob. not said with aversion, but prompted by the child’s danger and her own prudence. The time was not yet come for M. to be called “the son of P.’s daughter.”



It is a great mercy that there is a kindly, and special Providence resting upon the lives of young children. They are so helpless—thoughtless—so constantly exposed to danger—in the home—in the street—in the school—that, but for the divine care they would come to woe. God is very near to infancy and childhood—much nearer than many imagine.

I. As rescuing them from the peril of unhappy circumstances.

2. Moses was rescued from murder—in the Egyptian palace he was safe.

2. Moses was rescued from slavery—in the Egyptian palace he was free. It sometimes happens that young children, from the circumstances of their birth, are placed in peril—by orphanage, at a disadvantage in the race of life—these are especially under divine protection.

II. As ensuring an education necessary to fit them for their future engagements.

1. As the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses had the opportunity of a good scholastic education. Had Moses remained at home, had his nation been free, he might have had a moderate education—but certainly not so liberal and advanced as he got in Egypt, the very seat of learning. Thus, Providence placed him in the best school of the day. So it very often happens that God, in some remarkable manner, places a good education at the disposal of children of unfortunate circumstances, who otherwise would grow up ignorant, and unfit for the duty of life. Providence attends to the education of young children much more than many of us imagine.

2. As the son of Pharaoh’s daughter he would be prepared to undertake the freedom of his nation. Mere book knowledge is the poorest—and least useful. Men require another education than that of the academy. They need to be trained in the meaning of life. Especially was this needful to Moses. Hence the discipline of the court was as necessary to his future usefulness as that of the school. In the palace he saw, in all its force, the tyranny of the king—the degradation of Israel—and the prowess of the nation he would have to combat. This, pre-eminently, was the school of his life, and he was made its scholar by Providence. So, many destitute young men are educated by Heaven—not merely in the facts of history and science—but in the duties that pertain to their distinct avocation, whatever it may be.

III. As employing the most unlikely agency. The tyrant’s daughter was the means of rescuing Moses from peril, and of educating him for his future calling. Unlikely means:—

1. Because her father had issued an edict for the death of all Israelitish children. All the newly-born children of Israel were to be thrown into the river. So Pharaoh had decreed. Yet his daughter saves, and educates the very child that is to prove his overthrow. The tyrant is defeated by his own daughter. How thoroughly wicked men are in the hand of God. So, young children of unfavourable early circumstances are often educated by the most unlikely instrumentalities.

2. Because it appeared unlikely that a royal daughter should wish to adopt the son of an Israelite. All hearts are in the divine hand. God can direct our sympathies to the most unlikely persons, and objects. He can put those who need our help into such an attitude that our pity must be awakened. The babe wept. These tears overcame all the improbabilities of the case. Providence uses instrumentality in the accomplishment of its purpose.

IV. As employing the most efficient instrumentality.

1. The mother of the boy—who could better teach him the wrongs of his country than she—that hundreds had suffered the fate he had managed to escape—the slavery of his people—the tyranny of the king—and that during the most sensitive time of his life. His mother instructed him during the earliest days of his youth—her instruction would, therefore, be enduring—hence he would go to the Egyptian court with a knowledge of his country’s woe—and of his father’s God. His murder of the Egyptian was the outcome of the former. His choosing to leave the royal court was the result of the latter. “By faith, Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.”

2. The daughter of the king. Under no other tuition could he have gained a better preparation for his work of the future. Here he would learn sympathy with the oppressed—hatred of the oppressor. When Heaven undertakes the education of a life—it does so thoroughly and completely.

V. As requiring the utmost human effort possible.

1. His mother did the best for Moses that she could. She did not put him on the Nile directly he was born. She had the power to conceal him under her own care then. But when all her means of self-help were exhausted, then she gave him into the Divine care. So, as a rule, God does not educate the children of indolent parents. He moves in the line of the mother’s best effort. When she has done her best—put him on the river—not forgotten him—prays for him—then God will send Pharaoh’s daughter to save, and educate the boy.

2. His mother was judicious in her conduct towards Moses. She did not let maternal affection endanger his safety—her mother’s heart no doubt wished to keep him at home longer—had she done so, the officers of the king might have found him. Many parents ruin their children by excess of love. Moses was placed on the Nile at the right time—she was a wise mother—regarded his welfare—sacrificed her own feeling—at this point the safety of Moses commenced. Let parents do their best for the safety of their children—physically—morally—in wisdom—and Providence will find the means for their temporal—and eternal rescue—education—destiny.

VI. As perfectly consistent with the free agency of individuals. The daughter of the king undertook the training of Moses at the suggestion of her own sympathy—under a perfect knowledge of the case—there was no coercion brought to bear upon her. The providence of God uses willing instrumentalities.


I. The power of young life to endure hardship. (Exodus 2:3.) The mother of Moses made an ark, in which to put her boy, and then placed him on the waters of the Nile. There are few mothers in these days who would put their babes in such a cradle, much less on the waters of a river. They wrap them up—they give them medicine—they treat them as though they had only got a spark of life in them: such codling treatment is foolish—unhealthy—the boy will be far more healthy out on the Nile. Young children are stronger than we imagine—the vital principle in them is not so easily put out. There are few, in these days, who begin life under the same condition as Moses—it would be better if there were more.

II. The use that one member of a family may be to another. (Exodus 2:7.) The sister of Moses was equal to the occasion; her love for her infant brother carried her through the difficulties of her duty. She was not timid at approaching a king’s—a tyrant’s daughter. She knew when to make her suggestion—God told her anxious heart—the babe had wept—the womanly instincts of Pharaoh’s daughter: were touched, “she had compassion on him”—at this moment Miriam stepped up, and suggested the need of a nurse—she was wise beyond her years; the idea was accepted—the boy’s mother was fetched, and received the commission of nurse, with the unnecessary promise of wages. Miriam must have had a good home training; she appears in the scene as a bright—happy—ingenious—loving girl. Thus we see how the younger ones of a family can help each other in their perils—necessities of life. And very extensive this help may be in its influence. Miriam, in helping Moses, rendered possible the freedom of her nation. The little kindness shewn by a sister to a brother may have an unexpected effect upon thousands. Thus we see the loving dexterity of a little girl.

III. The pathetic influence of a babe’s tears. (Exodus 2:6.) There is a great power in tears; they are tokens of sorrow—weakness—helplessness; but they are potent—they invite help—they especially touch a woman’s heart—they defeat a monarch’s cruelty—they aid the intentions of Heaven—they prophesy the sorrows of the future—they render welcome the tearless home. The tears of Moses won the compassion of the Monarch’s daughter; they were a fit emblem of his nation’s grief. She was perhaps unmoved by the story of Israel’s bondage—it was old—as she might think deserved; but the tears of Moses were new—pathetic—were concentrated upon the tender sympathies of her nature. They conquered. Many are moved by the sight, or record of personal grief, who can look unmoved upon a national calamity. So inconsistent are we in the bestowal of our sympathy.

III. The sensitive coscience of a tyrant’s daughter. “This is one of the Hebrew’s children.” (Exodus 2:6.) She needed no voice to tell her to whom the child belonged, the silent monitor within was sufficient. Tyranny does not necessarily run from father to daughter; many a cruel parent has a tender-hearted child. The command of conscience is more authoritative than that of a king—a father. She saved the child—all honour to her memory.


Exodus 2:5. Divine Providence sometimes unites the utmost peril with the best means of safety.

Divine Providence sometimes uses the most unlikely agency for the working of its holy purpose.
The pleasures of individuals are embraced by the wide scheme of Divine Providence.
Tender-hearted women are generally honoured by, and entrusted with, the finding of those who are to be the world’s patriots.
Divine providence generally uses an instrumentality that is completive:—

1. Saw the ark—many see objects of pity, but do nothing more.
2. Took the ark—practical side of pity.
3. Ordered a nurse.
4. Welcomed the child to her own home.

The renewed mind enjoys one of its sweetest exercises while tracing the Divine footsteps in circumstances and events, in which a thoughtless spirit sees only blind chance or rigid fate [C. H. M.]

Exodus 2:6.—

I. The claims of the orphan.

1. The first claim on her compassion was the claim of infancy. “She saw the child.” That sentence contains an argument. It was an appeal to the woman’s heart. Rank, caste, nationality, all melted before the great fact of womanhood. This feeling was spontaneous. She did not feel compassion because it was her duty, but because it was her nature. God has provided for humanity by a plan more infallible than system, by implanting feeling in our nature.

2. Consider the degradation of the child’s origin. “Hebrews’ children.” The exclusiveness of the Egyptian social system was as strong as that of the Hindoo—slave—enemy—to be slain. Princess brought up with these ideas. She was animated by His Spirit who came to raise the abject, to break the bond of the oppressor.

3. The last reason we find for this claim was its unprotected state. It wept; those tears told of a conscious want—the felt want of a mother’s arms.

II. The Orphan’s education.

1. It was a suggestion from another. This woman brought up in luxury—had warm feelings—not knowing how to do good—was told by another. Results of this training:—

1. Intellectually. He learned to ask “Why” “the bush is not consumed.”

2. In the moral part of his character we notice his hatred of injustice [F. W. Robertson].

Even a king’s daughter is the richer and gladder for this stoop of love. Some of us have been trying to reach too high for our enjoyments; the blooming fruit has been beyond our stature; we have therefore turned away with pining and discontent, not knowing that if we had bent ourselves to the ground we should have found the happiness in the dust, which we attempted in vain to pluck from inaccessible heights [City Temple].

The Church’s children, though destroyed by some, yet are pitied by others.
The compassion of the daughter condemns the cruelty of the monarch-father.… The child:—

1. The moment of its degradation.
2. The moment of its sadness.
3. The moment of its hope.
4. The moment of its unknown future.
5. The moment of a mother’s recompense.

Exodus 2:7. A good suggestion:—

1. Made at a proper time.
2. Made in a proper spirit.
3. Made for a proper purpose.

Society would be enriched by many more good deeds if only Christian people would watch their opportunity, and suggest conduct to well-meaning but ignorant people.
Are there not sorrows that enable us to overcome the petty difficulties of etiquette? [City Temple].

If we really cared for lost children we could find ways of speaking for them in high quarters [City Temple].

Hebrew nurses are most desirable for Hebrew children.
Where God moves the question for saving his little ones, he prepares an answer of peace.
A mother the best guardian of infancy.

Exodus 2:8. The Princess gave a prompt reply to the inquiry of the little maid. She did not promise to consider the subject. If she had, the probabilities are that Moses would not have been rescued from the waters of the Nile.

God’s Providence excludeth not man’s prudence [Trapp].

Providence can bring a mother to nurse the child she had concealed, because, through the edict of a cruel king, she could not longer keep it undetected in the house.… When we save the lives of children we should see to their education afterwards.

Exodus 2:9. The king’s daughter is made a mother, while the mother is made a nurse.

“And the woman took the child and nursed it.” What her self-control, in that hour of maddening excitement, cost, no tongue can tell. She took the child as a stranger might have taken it, and yet her heart was bursting with the very passion of delight. Had she given way for one instant, her excitement might have revealed the plot. Every thing depended on her calmness. But love can do anything! The great question underlying all service is a question not so much of the intellect as of the heart. We should spoil fewer things if our love was deeper [City Temple].

The power of a mother’s love:—

1. To control its impulse.
2. To school its utterance.
3. To make self-denial for the good of her child.
4. To enter into the method of Providence concerning the future of her boy.

A beautiful pattern of self-control:—

1. Not arising from indifference.
2. Not arising from hard-heartedness.
3. But arising from the calm indwelling of faith.

This mother a model nurse:—

1. Because she taught her son to have sympathy with the slave.

2. Because she taught him to despise injustice (Exodus 2:12).

3. Because she taught him the folly of anger (Exodus 2:13).

4. Because she taught him to defend the weak (Exodus 2:17).

A mother the best nurse:—

1. Because she has truest sympathy with the circumstances of the child’s life.
2. Because she is more truly concerned for the right developement of its moral character.
3. Because then she will have gladdening memories, of its infancy and childhood.


Exodus 2:1-10 Stronger far than education—going on before education can commence, possibly from the very first moments of consciousness, parents begin to impress themselves on their children. Our character, voice, features, qualities—modified, no doubt, by entering into a new being, and ruling a different organization—are impressed upon our children. Not the inculcation of opinions, but much rather the formation of principles, and of the tone of character, the derivation of qualities. Physiologists tell us of the derivation of the mental qualities from the father, and of the moral from the mother. But, be this as it may, there is scarcely one here who cannot trace back his present religious character to some impression in early life, from one or other of his parents—a tone, a look, a word, a habit, or even, it may be, a bitter exclamation of remorse [F. W. Robertson].

What if God should place in your hand a diamond, and tell you to inscribe on it a sentence which should be read at the last day, and be shown then as an index of your own thoughts and feelings? What care—what caution would you exercise in the selection. Now, this is what God has done. He has placed before you the immortal minds of your children, more imperishable than the diamond, on which you are about to inscribe every day and every hours by your instructions, by your spirit, or by your example, something which will remain, and be exhibited for or against you at the judgment day [Dr. Payson].

Even as a plant will sooner take nourishment and thrive better in the soil where it first grew and sprung up than in any other ground, because it liketh its own soil best: so, likewise, children will sooner take instruction and good nurture from their parents, whom they best like, and from whom they had their being, than from any other [Cawdray].

Exodus 2:5-9. The wheels in a clock or a watch move contrary one to another, some one way, some another, yet all serve the intent of the workman, to show the time, or to make the clock to strike. So in the world, the providence of God may seem to run cross to His promises: One man takes this way, another runs that way; good men go one way, wicked men another; yet all in conclusion accomplish the will and centre in the purpose of God, the great Creator of all things [Sibb’s Sermon].

Verse 10


Exodus 2:10. Moses] Heb. Mosheh (משֶׁה): if of Heb. origin, undoubtedly an active—not a passive—participle = “drawing out,” not “drawn out.” There is no difficulty in this. The starting point of the naming is from the act of “drawing:” the passive “being drawn” wd. necessarily be implied. But the active touches God’s providence at two points instead of one,—the “drawing” of the individual son “out” of the Nile, and the “drawing” of the national son (Hosea 11:1) “out” of Egypt: Johovah “drew out” M. by Ph.’s daughter, and Is. by M. While preferring the derivation just named, we need not decisively reject that adopted by some scholars, after Josephus, from the Coptic = “Water-saved.” It is certainly striking, that whereas “Mo” in Copt. sigs. “water,” Ph.’s d., according to this ver., laid stress on the water:—lit. “OUT OF THE WATERS did I draw him.” Thus rich in resources, we can assure Fürst that we see no reason why the etymol. given in Exodus 2:10 shd “not be taken seriously”: certainly we need not give it up for his conjecture that M. is = “son of Osiris!”



More wisdom and blessing may be got from the contemplation of the birth of a truly great man into the world than from the tracing of the mightiest river to its source. In following up this, you may have to ascend among “the everlasting hills;” in tracking a great soul, you must rise to God. All souls come from God. Some souls are broader mirrors, are greater lights than others, they disclose more fully the way from one eternity to another. Consider the man Moses, specially as illustrating God’s method of raising up souls on earth for Divine use and service.

I. God gives and sends them as they are needed, they have their appointment according to the times. The reader of history cannot but see that the great parent Spirit creates and sends forth souls—of Teachers, lawgivers, deliverers, prophets, poets, kings—at the right time. There was need of Moses. See previous chapter. The greatest revelations come in the times of greatest need, that we may be well assured whose they are. The world owes much to little children, little children coming into it by God.

II. That they may be fully trained and prepared for their work, they “are made like unto their brethren.” Moses is born a child of the people that he may be a true brother and saviour of his people.

III. The very family and people that sought to destroy Israel are made instrumental in nourishing and rearing the deliverer of Israel and the avenger of his brethren’s wrongs. God makes evil powers, evil men, evil counsels, and deeds serve Him, contrary to their own nature and intent, and when they have come to their highest pitch, work their own just retribution and overthrow. So Huss, Wickliffe, Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, Knox were trained in the monasteries and colleges of the Romish Church, to be the leaders in another Exodus out of Egyptian darkness and bondage. Injustice and cruelty are made to avenge themselves in the end.

IV. In the raising up of the man Moses we have a most instructive exemplification of the doctrine and working of the Divine providence. God’s providence does its mightiest works through human hearts.

V. In Pharaoh’s daughter, and the part she takes, we have the proof that human nature, the human heart, is one; and that all classes of mankind, all nations, are destined to become one in God’s great saving plan. [Pulpit Analyst.]


Exodus 2:10. Child-growth—physically—mentally—morally.

1. Important to families—leaving home.
2. Interesting to strangers—Princess.
3. Important to nations—Egypt.


1. Perpetuating the memory of a cruel edict.
2. Perpetuating the memory of a loving mother.
3. Perpetuating the memory of a kindly Providence.
4. Perpetuating the memory of a compassionate stranger. Home life exchanged for palace life.—
1. It would be at first unwelcome—stranger.
2. It would gradually become a temptation—its gaiety.

3. It would forcefully become a discipline. Providence is pleased sometimes to raise the poor out of the dust, to set them among princes (Psalms 113:7-8.)

Under Providence, parents of the Church may be forced to give up their children to strangers.
Acts of pity from earthly powers to the Church’s children, may give them liberty of naming them.
We have now the Church under state patronage—the patronage of a tenderhearted princess.

Verses 11-12



I. There are many instances of cruel oppression in the world. Slavery is almost obsolete. We have not now to build treasure cities for a tyrant king. Our lives are not made bitter by unrequited labour. Yet the spirit of tyranny and injustice is not yet gone.

1. There is oppression in the commercial life of men. The rich smite the poor—the fortunate the unfortunate—the defrauder the honest tradesman. There are many scenes enacted daily in the commercial life of men in which we see “an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew.”

2. There is oppression in the social life of men. The haughty frown upon the humble—the lordly render servile the poor.

3. There is oppression in the political life of men. There is the oppression of an unjust king—of a politic statesman—of an unruly crowd—of an unrighteous edict.

4. There is oppression in the Church life of men. The man of little religion wishes to dictate—to perplex—those who are more devout than himself. In the sanctuary we find “an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew.”

II. It is the duty of a good and patriotic man to oppose these manifestations of oppression.

1. Because he should have sympathy with the burdens of the oppressed. “And looked on their burden.” We little dream of the burdens occasioned by the cruel oppressions of this land. How many homes are rendered sad by the despotism of a cruel husband. How many tradesmen are kept in want through the demands of an unthinking landlord. The good man should have sympathy with these in their grief—and strive to relieve it—by the press—by the power of birth—by the influence of a kindly example.

2. Because he should recognise the brotherhood of men. “One of his brethren.” This argument of humanity should enlist all godly souls against every kind of oppression.

3. Because he should recognise the claim of nationality “Smiting an Hebrew.” While the claims of brotherhood are co-extensive with the universe—those arising from nationality render them more emphatic. A Hebrew should defend a Hebrew—under the relation of citizenship, as well as that of brother. Piety intensifies the national relationships of life.

III. That a good man must be careful as to the spirit and manner in which he resents oppression, or he may be as cruel as those whom he reproves. “He slew the Egyptian.” Moses was right in sympathising with the burden of the Hebrew, in resenting an injury done to one of his own nationality, but he did wrong in murdering the offender. In defending the oppressed, he became an oppressor himself. He meant right—the impulse was heroic—but it was not under sufficient control. A good man ought to be indignant at the sight of oppression—but not passionate—not revengeful.

1. His conscience told him that he was doing wrong. “And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man,” &c. If we cannot rebuke oppression in the presence of others, our method of rebuke must be imprudent or sinful. Do not be afraid to let the world see you reprove a social tyrant. The sympathies of all good citizens will be with you. Embody your conscience in your rebuke.

2. The spirit and manner in which the oppressor should be reproved.

(1) Boldly.
(2) Firmly.
(3) Sometimes kindly.
(4) Make him feel the wrong of his conduct.


Exodus 2:11. Though Moses was elevated to a princely position, he was not unmindful of his enslaved brethren. He was not so charmed with the luxury and gaiety of his own surroundings as to forget theirs. He was not so selfish as to be merely content with his own happiness. The mother’s training had naturally linked his soul to the history of his nation.

Some people will never look on the burdens of their brethren:—

1. They pretend not to see them.
2. They have no sympathy with them.
3. They fear lest their purse, or energy should be taxed.
4. They miss the luxury of relieving them.

The servants of God must have the experience of growth.
When the Church is oppressed, the heroic good must run to her aid.

Exodus 2:12. The inquiring look of conscience:—

1. It was anxious.
2. It was suspicious.
3. It was troubled.
4. It was perplexed.
5. It was mistaken.

The inquiring look of conscience:—

1. Gives a moment for reflection.
2. Indicates the moral evil of the deed.
3. Suspects an unhappy issue from the deed.

HIDDEN SIN.—“He slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.” I. Hidden by fallacy. “The Egyptian.” He was cruel—unjust; had I not a right to kill him? Moses might reason thus to convince himself. A man must bury sin out of the sight of his own conscience, before he can be happy—by false argument or true. II. Hidden by folly. “In the sand:”—

1. Would leave traces of his deed.
2. The dead body would be easily discovered. So all our efforts to bury sin are equally futile. God sees it. He can lead men to its grave. Sin leaves traces. It is better not to be under the necessity of making the soul into a grave, or any spot of life into a tomb. If we do, there will sure to come a resurrection. A man who is going to commit sin, requires to have all his wits about him.

The absence of human observation is a poor argument for, and a wretched consolation in sin.


Exodus 2:11-14. In the ringing of bells, whilst every one keeps his due time and order, what a sweet and harmonious sound they make! All the neighbouring villages are cheered with the sound of them; but when once they jar and check each other, either jangling together or striking preposterously, how harsh and unpleasing is that noise. So that as we testify our public rejoicings by an orderly and well-timed peal, when we would signify the town is on fire, we ring the bells backward in a confused manner. It is just thus in the church: When every one knows his station, authority, and keeps his due rank, there is melodious concert of comfort and contentment: but when either states or persons will be clashing with each other, the discord is grievous and, prejudicial [Halls Occasional Meditations.].

Exodus 2:13. In most quarrels there is fault on both sides. A quarrel may be compared to a spark, which cannot be produced without a flint as well as a steel, either of them may hammer on wood for ever, no fire will follow [Cotton.]

Verses 13-14



I. That it is the duty of Good Men to try to subdue any quarrels they may be called to witness.

1. Because they recognise the common grief of Men. This quarrel was between two Hebrews. They were both the slaves of a tyrant king. Both felt the misery of their condition. See, then, the folly of their quarrel. It would augment their woe. Their own unity ought to have been the relief of their serfdom. So there are many people to-day who increase their trials by a factious spirit. The most abject slave may, and ought to, enjoy the luxury of peace—ought to live on friendly terms with his comrades in suffering. Moses felt this. Good men should recognise the suffering of humanity as an argument for friendliness.

2. Because they recognise the claim arising from the brotherhood of men.

3. Because they ought to be superior to the passion of strife. A good man should be brave—and true bravery is always calm. He is above entering into the paltry and foolish quarrels of men. He may therefore endeavour to stay them, without personal injury. By so doing he will put an end to quarrels that might have resulted in a sad and murderous consequence. He may thus benefit the factious individual by freeing him from the life-long memory of injustice; and society at large, by preventing a public spectacle of immorality.

II. That in this endeavour good men should make moral considerations the basis of their appeal to the quarrelsome. “And he said to him that did the wrong.” Perhaps, in some quarrels it is difficult to determine which party is in the wrong. Very often both are blameworthy. Moral considerations should be made the basis of appeal.

1. Not favouritism. It is just possible that Moses may have seen these two men before. He would no doubt cultivate the acquaintance of his enslaved countrymen. And if he had not he was open to the impressions of the moment. When we see a quarrel we almost instinctively take sides. The one man appears more calm—he is more open in physique—the other appears more fierce and brutal—Our sympathies go with the former. This is not just. Nor can a good man base his appeal on any such predilection. Which is in the right?—this question contains the secret, and points to the method of settlement.

2. Not greater physical strength. In our effort to subdue a quarrel we must not necessarily side with the stronger—true, he may be more likely to come away conqueror. But if the weaker is right, our question must be directed against him that did the wrong, even though he be the stronger. In this case great Christian fortitude will be needed. Worldly men will often aid the strong in their conflict. The world likes to be on the winning side. Christianity must aid weakness when associated with rectitude. She must wait for her victory. It will come.

3. Not hope of reward. Many, in the event of conflict aid the side on which there is the greatest likelihood of plunder or spoil. The influential and the rich seldom lack comrades in their quarrels. The Christian man, in trying to stay the quarrels of men, must put aside all thought of vested interest, of temporal emolument, or transient applause—he must join himself to the right, unmoved by the promise, or hope of reward. His reward is from God—is brighter than gold—is more enduring—the reward of a satisfied conscience.

III. That good men, in trying to subdue the quarrels of others often get little thanks, and may involve themselves in trouble. “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us.”

1. They imagined that Moses assumed unrightful authority. True, Moses had rightful authority over these slaves. As the Son of Pharaoh’s daughter this would be permitted to him. But the right of the good to interrupt a quarrel does not depend upon social or national supremacy, but upon moral. A king might not be a proper person to rebuke a quarrel. Sainthood is the true qualification for such a work. A man who lives much in communion with the unseen, and who has power with God, will have influence to hush the passion of his fellows.

2. They reminded Moses of, and taunted him with, past sin. “Intendest thou to kill me, as thou killest the Egyptian?” Moses thought that no one had seen his act of murder. The sin of a good man’s past life often weakens his present ability for doing good. When men are in the passion of strife, they are not choice as to their invectives. Hence, it requires a blameless life to rebuke evil.

3. The heroic interference of Moses lacked moral continuity. “And Moses feared,” &c. His own sin made him a coward.

4. Moses incurred the hatred of Pharoah. The two Hebrews would no doubt spread the story of Moses’ wrongdoing—it was corroborated by his flight from the palace—the king was amazed—his hospitality had been abused—the commencement of a life struggle between Egypt and Israel. The flight of Moses was the signal for the defeat of Pharoah. Thus, though endeavouring to stay this quarrel, Moses lost position, comfort, but it was the means of putting him upon the track of duty—divinely inposed—that would win him world-wide renown. Thus he did not lose much, according to a true computation, by the exchange. To stop a quarrel is a good man’s duty, regardless of consequences.


Exodus 2:13. “Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow.” Apply this question,

1. To the domestic circle.
2. To society at large.
3. To the Church.

Some find reason for their conduct—

1. In revenge.
2. In impulse.
3. Necessity.… God’s faithful instruments leave courtly pleasures to visit God’s afflicted ones … In visiting for good the oppressed Church, sad contentions may appear among the members.

Duels in the Church, and among its members, are sad things to record. They are reprovable.
Moses did not say, “You are both Hebrews, and therefore you may fight out your own quarrel;” nor did he say, “The controversies of other men are nothing to me; they who began the quarrel must end it:” Moses saw that the conditions of life had a moral basis; in every quarrel, as between right and wrong, he had a share, because every honourable-minded man is a trustee of social justice and common fair play [City Temple].

The reproof Moses gave on this occasion may still be of use, wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? Smiting our fellows is bad in any, especially in Hebrews; smiting with tongue or hand, either in a way of persecution, or in a way of contention. Consider the person thou smitest, it is thy fellow, thy fellow creature, thy fellow Christian; it is thy fellow servant, thy fellow sufferer [Henry and Scott].

Exodus 2:14. Offending parties are often insolent to those who rebuke them.

Wicked men are always impatient of authority.
Quarrelsome men are glad to involve others, that they may escape themselves.
Good men are sometimes frightened at the threats of the wicked.
Factious men are slow to acknowledge those who would do them moral good.
Wicked men are more willing to plead the cause of oppressors, than acknowledge just deliverers.
What authority did Moses assume in thus gently reproving a manifest outrage? Does one need a commission to perform an act of real kindness, and to endeavour to make friends of apparent enemies. It is rare virture ingenuously to confess our faults, and to receive correction with meekness [Bush].

Men know not what they do, nor what enemies they are to their own interest, when they resist, and despise faithful reproofs and reprovers. When the Hebrews strove with Moses, God sent him away into Midian, and they never heard of him for forty years [Henry and Scott].

The best friends of the Church often meet with the most discouragement.

1. Their authority is rejected.
2. They are not understood.
3. Their safety is endangered.
4. The welfare of the Church is imperilled.

The good man must not be turned aside from duty by circumstances.

1. Moses was not offended by this treatment.
2. He did not give up in despair.
3. He worked out the training of his boyhood.
4. He worked out the providence of God.
5. He worked out the dictates of his conscience


Exodus 2:11-14. In the ringing of bells, whilst every one keeps his due time and order, what a sweet and harmonious sound they make! All the neighbouring villages are cheered with the sound of them; but when once they jar and check each other, either jangling together or striking preposterously, how harsh and unpleasing is that noise. So that as we testify our public rejoicings by an orderly and well-timed peal, when we would signify the town is on fire, we ring the bells backward in a confused manner. It is just thus in the church: When every one knows his station, authority, and keeps his due rank, there is melodious concert of comfort and contentment: but when either states or persons will be clashing with each other, the discord is grievous and, prejudicial [Halls Occasional Meditations.].

Exodus 2:13. In most quarrels there is fault on both sides. A quarrel may be compared to a spark, which cannot be produced without a flint as well as a steel, either of them may hammer on wood for ever, no fire will follow [Cotton.]

Verse 15



“And he sat down by a well.” This calls to our mind a New Testament scene. These meditations—

I. They occurred at an important crisis in the life of Moses. “But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh.”

1. Moses had vacated a good home. He had left the wealth—luxury of an Egyptian palace—the kindness of a royal mother who was deeply interested in him. He knew not where he was going—what he was to do for a daily livelihood—how his future was to be spent. All before him was mystery—he might well be perplexed.

2. Moses had incurred the anger of Pharaoh. This might well fill him with terror—he knew the influence and cruelty of that monarch—his hatred was to be feared. Had Moses been permitted a faint insight into his future relations with the Egyptian court, probably his meditations, near this well, would have been more prolonged than they were. There are times when all young men have to spend an hour in contemplation, especially when they are going, alone and unbefriended, into an unknown future of grave importance, not merely to themselves, but also to others. The past sweeps before them like a dream. The future is all mist. They must think for themselves—they must obtain the Divine guidance. The temporary rest by the well marks a crisis in their history.

II. They afford an opportunity for determining on a new course of life. Moses is thinking about the future. He would naturally ask himself, “What am I to do?” Return to Egypt is impossible.—Heaven would, no doubt, influence his thought on this occasion. But a thoughtful spirit will not be long without employment—will not be long without a home. God will send the daughters of the priest of Midian to its aid. Providence has unnumbered agencies for the guidance and help of perplexed souls.

III. They are soon interrupted by a call to new activities. (Exodus 2:17.) The daughters of the priest of Midian were attacked by hostile shepherds. Moses sees this. Will he interpose? Has he not had enough of meddling with the feuds of others? Is he not now a wanderer for so doing? But he cannot remain the quiet spectator of injury. The same spirit and impulse that made him kill the Egyptian shows itself again in his defence of these women. He could not but defend the weak. He is not to be daunted by failure. He is successful now. Good men may be dispirited sometimes. They may need times of thought. But it is not their destiny to rest long by the wells of life: theirs is the conflict with oppression and evil. There is work in Midian as well as in Egypt, for them.

IV. They were indulged in a very favourable place. The well in olden time, a fine scene for rest and contemplation. Christ, when he was tired, sat on a well. His rest was broken by the advent of a woman whom he ultimately led to himself in contrition of heart.


Exodus 2:15. Criminations of God’s servants are soon carried to the ears of persecutors.… An evil report often awakens the anger of men.

It is well sometimes to exchange the excitement of a royal court for quiet thought by the well.
God is in the solicitude of those whom he intends for great service.
God provides a Midian to save what Egypt would destroy.
Never take the responsibility of communicating evil news to a tyrant.


Exodus 2:15. Revenge commonly hurts both the offerer and the sufferer; as we see in a foolish bee, which in her anger envenometh the flesh and loseth her sting, and so lives a drone ever after [Bishop Hall].

Wax, when it is laid in cold places, becomes so hard and stiff that it will break rather than bow; but being laid in the sun, becomes soft and pliable, fit for any impression. So, when we neglect the duty of meditation on good things, our hearts, being changed from God, wax hard and obdurate; but when, by meditation, we draw nigh unto Him, the beams of His favour, shining upon our hearts do make them soft and flexible and fit for any holy impression that He may please to stamp upon them [Downham’s Guide to Godliness].

Moses gave up the palace to share the fortunes of Israel:—“Mrs. Hannah More,” says her biographer, “after pointing out to us some of the many beautiful objects to be seen from the room in which we were sitting, conducted us into an adjoining spartment, which was her sleeping room; and pointing to an arm-chair, ‘That chair,’ said she, ‘I call my home.’ ‘Here,’ looking out of window, ‘is what I call my moral prospect. You see yonder distant hill which limits the prospect in that direction. You see this tree before my window directly in range of the hill. The tree, you observe, from being near, appears higher than the hill which is distant, though the hill actually is much higher than the tree. Now this tree represents to my mind the objects of time; that hill, the objects of eternity. The former, like the tree, from being reviewed near at hand, appears great. The latter, like the distant hill, appears small’ ” [Trench].

Verses 16-22


Exodus 2:18. Reuel] It is common to say that R. is = “God’s friend” (Ges. Dav.); but the theory of Fürst that the giving of these “E1-” names (and others) was a sort of worshipful recognition of Divine Providence. leads him to modify the rendering of the combined roots to “El is friendship.” We have paid some little attention to this theory in its results on the meaning of Bible names, and deem it well worthy of further consideration.

Exodus 2:21. Zipporah] Here we come upon a pleasant touch of human nature. This name sigs “little bird” (cf. Scottish “birdie.”) Pronounced with the sharp hissing sound of the Heb. initial letter (= tz, ts, ss), we may hear the “chirping” of the “little bird” in the name. The Bible is full of human as well as divine beauties. For a suggested relief of M.’s married life from the gloom allowed to gather round it, see C. N. ch. Exodus 4:24-26. Between the “well” and the “mountain” we have years of domestic history spanned over with two or three hints. At least, let us make the best of these.



Moses had defended the daughters of the Priest of Midian from the attack of hostile shepherds. In these verses we see the reward of a kindly action.

I. The hospitality of a kind family. (Exodus 2:20.)

1. This hospitality was much needed by Moses. He was an outcast. He had excited the anger of a tyrant king. Therefore, the provision and protection of a quiet home, the sympathy of tender hearts, would be most welcome to him. Nor was this generosity unmerited on his part. He had protected a family in a time of peril—he had therefore shown himself worthy of help—that he was of good character—of sympathetic and heroic nature—by defending the weak. Such men have a right to the best hospitality of society—they should be welcomed to our homes. See what a refuge of peace—what resources of joy—one little act of kindness may open up to a man.

2. This hospitality was prompted by Parental inquiry. (Exodus 2:20.) Parents should always teach their children hospitality, especially in return for any kindness shown them. We should never leave any man who has benefitted us, in the enterprises of life, sitting by a well. This is often the way of the world—it is ungrateful—unthoughtful—reprehensible. A good and considerate father often turns his home into a sanctuary for the servants of God. By welcoming a heroic stranger to it, he may bring himself into harmony with great histories, and sublime providences.

II. Employment for every day life. It would seem that Moses entered into the occupation of the family whose hospitality he had been called to receive (Exodus 3:1). When a young man is thus welcomed by a kind family he must expect to share their work, as also their food—their perils, as also their repose—their anxieties, as also their hopes. The study of Moses in Egypt had not raised him above hard work.

III. A wife. (Exodus 2:21.) A man who will defend a woman is worthy of a wife. The greatest and most important events of our lives depend upon little deeds of kindness.

IV. Another advance in the intention of Divine Providence. Moses has finished his education in the Palace. He now commences that of the desert. Providence has changed his academy. And men, by shewing a kindness to their fellows, advance themselves in the great destiny of their lives.


Exodus 2:16. A large family—

1. Of sacred station.
2. Of womanly influence.
3. Of industrious activity. It is often the joy of priests to receive those whom tyrant kings reject and seek to slay.

Providence employs varied agencies.

1. Princess.
2. Priest.

Providence orders the coming of help to the place where the good are waiting for it—

1. The king’s daughter to the river.
2. The priest’s daughter to the well.

Domestic toil.—

1. The employment of true womanhood.
2. The test of true womanhood.
3. The glory of true womanhood.

What a contrast between the young ladies of to-day, and the industrious daughters of this primitive family.

Exodus 2:17. Wherever the providence of God casts us, we should endeavour to be useful.… Even honest and industrious labourers sometimes meet with opposition.

There is a great tendency in society for the strong to oppress the weak.
Two classes of men are typified by the conduct of these shepherds, and Moses. The former—

1. Oppose the honest.
2. Persecute the industrious.
3. Hinder the diligent. The latter—
1. Cooperate with the weak.
2. Sympathise with the persecuted.
3. Defend the imperilled.
4. Win the Victory.
5. Receive hospitality.

Exodus 2:18. Fathers’ houses are just habitations for children doing their commands.

Honest, labouring creatures, are carried out, and returned home safely, under Providence.
God’s providence may make speedier returns in mercy to his children than they expect.
Unexpected returns of common mercies may justly raise wonder in the hearts of men.
The providence of God orders means to speed mercies unto creatures at His will.
The hand of strangers is made sometimes a deliverer from the hands of oppressing neighbours.… God takes the weak sometimes out of the hand of the strong.

Exodus 2:20. Men of kindly soul, and heroic deed are sure to be inquired after.

Good men would not have the man who has done them a kindness forgotten.
Why is it that ye have left the man.” This question may be asked in reference to the world’s philanthropists, preachers, who are striving to defend the weak.

1. Is it because you do not understand him?
2. Is it because you do not believe in him?
3. Is it because you are selfish.
4. Is it because you have not been taught better.
5. Fetch him to your home as soon as possible.

Exodus 2:21. A contented resident.—

1. A wondrous sight—accustomed to a palace.
2. A happy sight—pastoral toil.
3. A scarce sight—men are restless.

He was content—

1. With his daily companionships.
2. With his daily occupation.
3. With the scene of his residence,
4. With his matrimonial alliance.

A good man can be content anywhere the providence of God may place him.
Honest work is perfectly consistent with the dignity of those who are to be pioneers of the Church.
Providence may change a servant to a son, and a master to a father.
It is the father’s right to bestow his children in marriage.

Exodus 2:22. Sons born in the time of affliction, are often memorials of help and mercy.

It is the father’s right to name his child.
The best and grandest men reckon themselves but strangers in this world.
A pilgrim life the best for preachers.

1. Good for their health.
2. Good for their moral training.
3. Good for their moral usefulness.
4. Good for the enlargement of their social friendships.

Verses 23-25



Whether this king was the same as the one mentioned in Exodus 1:8 is uncertain. Probably he was the Pharaoh from whom Moses fled. This new king was the Pharoah of the Exodus. On his accession the Children of Israel had reason to hope for a change in their oppressed condition, in which hope, however, they were bitterly disappointed. They renewed their earnest prayers for deliverance and God heard them.

I. The King dying. Review the moral character of this monarch:—

1. He was despotic in his rule. He encouraged a wholesale system of slavery. He employed every possible agency for the entire subjection of Israel He was unmoved by human suffering.

2. He was vindictive in his temper. He sought to slay Moses—Moses was the adopted son of his royal daughter—he was an inmate of the palace. Pharaoh would therefore be interested in him—would regard him with more than ordinary affection. Yet, because he killed an Egyptian, he seeks his death—not that he cared so much about the death of one of his subjects—He was animated by the passion of revenge.

3. He was altogether out of sympathy with the Providential arrangements of God. Did he enslave the Israelites?—They were the chosen people of Jehovah. Did he seek the death of Moses?—He was the representative of an oppressed nation, and an instrument appointed for the accomplishment of the purposes of Heaven. The rule of Pharaoh was thus altogether out of harmony with the moral history of the persons and events with which it had to do, and was counter to the authority of God. Yet this man dies. The despot meets with his conqueror. The revengeful is met by one who is heedless of the threat of passionate temper. The man who has contended with the Divine providence must leave the scene of his hopeless conflict, and intricate confusion, to appear before the God whose authority he has sought to dethrone. What an awful thing to die under such circumstances. How completely wicked men—no matter what their station in life—are in the hand of God. The folly—the woe—the eternal ruin of sin. A king in this world may be a lost spirit in the next.

II. The People Suffering. (Exodus 2:23.)

1. Their suffering was tyrannic. “By reason of the bondage.” They had lost their freedom. They were made to work beyond their strength. The heroic tendencies of their nature were subdued—They were broken spirited by the injustice—the pain of slavery.

2. Their suffering was intense. “And the Children of Israel sighed.”

3. Their suffering was long continued.

4. Their suffering appealed to the Infinite. “And their cry came up unto God,” The suffering of the universe in all its speciality and collective woe is known—and appeals to God—it pleads for the mitigation of its pain—the removal of its grief. Suffering should link our souls to God—it should be an inspiration to prayer—then it will ultimately merge into the highest freedom. It is the delight of heaven to work the freedom of human souls.

III. God reigning. (Exodus 2:24.)

1. God reigns though kings die. Pharaoh died—God is eternal—the folly of trusting in kings—the wisdom of trusting in the Infinite. Pharoah thought more about his own reign than of God’s. That kingdom is the strongest—the purest—the happiest, which makes the Divine reign the basis of its legislation. The Israelites thought more of the kingship of Pharoah, than of Jehovah—the grandeur of the former was seen—its power was felt—the Divine King was invisible—God had to educate the heart of the people to Himself. Now the nation is crying to heaven for release.

2. God reigns though men suffer. The Israelites were in bondage—in grief—yet God reigned. It is sometimes difficult when we are in sorrow—perplexed—oppressed, to realise the Divine Rulership. It must be realised by faith, God rules above to stay the fury of impious monarchs—to protect the injured—to sustain His Church—to soothe the pain of the world. He will ultimately remove the Pharoah—the trouble of a pious soul.

3. God reigns in harmony with His covenant made with the good. “And God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” He had entered into a covenant with the Father of the Faithful, to give his posterity an inheritance in the land of Canaan. In his seed all nations were to be blessed. Four hundred years had passed. God had not forgotten. The time of deliverance is near. The benefit of a pious ancestry—their piety has a tendency to work our freedom. The Divine will is not capricious; it is in harmony with settled principles; it has respect to moral character—to past distinguished service; it is benevolent in its design—continuous in its operation. Let every nation—every family—have a covenant with God. Learn—

1. Do not despond in times of affliction.

2. Afflictions are designed to bring us into harmony with the requirements of God’s covenant for our good.

3. It is the purpose of God to work the freedom and welfare of men.


Exodus 2:23. God makes succession of times—of rulers—to serve the welfare of His Church.

Time appears long to the sorrowful when deliverance is delayed.
Oppressors may die, and yet persecution not die with them.… Cries to heaven are often extorted from God’s persecuted children.… If men want freedom they cannot do better than direct their attention to God.

Exodus 2:24. There is a pitch of oppression which will not fail to awaken the wrath of heaven.

This last is a precious scripture. My soul, put a note upon it. No sigh, no groan, no tear of God’s people can pass unobserved. He putteth the tears of His people in His bottle. Surely, then, He can never overlook what gives vent to these tears, the sorrows of the soul. Our spiritual afflictions Jesus knows, and numbers all. How sweet the thought! The spirit maketh intercession for the saints, with groanings which they cannot utter. And do, my soul, observe the cause of deliverance. Not our sighs, nor our groanings, nor our brokenness of heart; not these, for what benefit can these render to a holy God? But God hath respect in all to His own everlasting covenant. Yes, Jesus is the all in all of the covenant. God the Father hath respect to Him For His sake, for His righteousness, for His atoning blood, the groanings of His people find audience at the mercy seat, and also obtain redress. [Dr. Hawker.]

God’s ear is close to the strong cries of His oppressed people.
Secret groans are as audible with God as loud cries.
God hears when creatures think Him deaf.
Covenant remembrance with God is covenant performance.

Exodus 2:25. God hath ears, and memory, and eyes, and knowledge to help His people.

The sons of Israel are looked on, and regarded when they pray to God.
God’s inspection of His oppressed is a comfortable visitation.


Exodus 2:23. The Romans, in a great distress, were put so hard to it, that they were fain to take the weapons out of the temples of their gods to fight with them; and so they overcame. And this ought to be the course of every true Christian, in times of public distress, to fly to the weapons of the Church, prayers and tears. The Spartan’s walls were their spears, the Christian’s walls are his prayers. His help standeth in the name of the Lord, who hath made both heaven and earth [Callamy’s Sermon].

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Exodus 2". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.