The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Exodus 2

Exo 2:1

"Exo 1 had portrayed in graphic detail the suffering which Pharaoh had inflicted upon the Israelites. What would God do about it? Would He have mercy on the Hebrews and deliver them from their shame? And if so, how?

Exo 2 begins to answer these questions, but apparently in a tangential manner. For God's solution consists not in some phenomenal miracle or in the promotion of a mighty Israelite leader who was already alive (either of which we might have expected, had we not already known the story). God's solution consists instead in the birth of a son.

This provides both a pattern for the future and a salutary lesson. One day God would again send a son -- this time HIS OWN -- to deliver a people from slavery. Again He would prepare the child from birth, bringing it safely from the womb and nourishing and developing it for the immense task that lay ahead. How does one begin to create a people, as God begins to do in the book of Exodus? One does it, so Exo informs us, by means of a son. How remarkably history repeats itself!" (MV, Tes 71:108,109).

Exo 2 outlined: "[1] Egypt resisted: Moses is hid in the ark: vv 1-4. Moses is a type of Christ, who was similarly hid by his guardians from the slaughter of Herod). [2] Moses saved and named: vv 5-10. [3] Moses seeks to save his people: vv 11,12. [4] Moses forced to flee: vv 13-15. [5] Moses in banishment marries in Midian: vv 16-22. [6] God recalls His covenant: vv 24,25. This is the story of 'out of weakness, made Strong.' Israel's deliverer was a helpless babe, crying in the arms of Israel's oppressors. From this developed the nation that will yet conquer Egypt (Isa 19:17-25) Faith triumphed (Heb 11:23), through the compassionate aid of women (Exo 1:19; 2:3,4,6): the midwives, Jochebed, Miriam, and Pharaoh's daughter" (GEM).

MAN... WOMAN: Amram and Jochebed (Exo 6:20; Num 26:59; 1Ch 23:14). The family lived very near the house of Pharaoh (1Sa 2:27), as servants perhaps?

Exo 2:2

SHE SAW THAT HE WAS A FINE CHILD: "A goodly child" (AV), "fair to God" (AV mg). "By faith Moses was hid" (Heb 11:23; cp also Act 7:20). Impl declared divine purpose, which motivated Jochebed to preserve the baby (Rom 10:17). Josephus suggests a special revelation to Amram (2:9:3).

"What it was precisely that she saw we cannot say. What we can say is that she saw it, and that she had the courage to act upon what she saw, by hiding the child. It is interesting that Pharaoh's daughter is likewise moved to disobey Pharaoh when she first observes the child.

"The Heb reads lit, 'she saw that he was good', which is exactly what is said of God each time He surveys His creative acts in Gen 1. Here is another subtle piece of evidence that God is once again embarking on an act of creation, this time the creation of a people through the creation of a son" (MV, Tes 71:112).

Exo 2:3

She literally obeyed Pharaoh's edict (Exo 1:22)! The ark in the marshes was a conscious imitation of Noah's ark.

A PAPYRUS BASKET: "An ark of bulrushes" (AV). Prob made to resemble the small chests used to store household gods by Egyptians (WBS 46).

PAPYRUS: Used only here and Isa 18:2 (re boats). Papyrus had many uses in Egyptian life, one of which was boat-making.

REEDS: A different term than "papyrus" earlier, prob a slightly more general term.

Exo 2:5

Bathing in the Nile was supposed to induce fertility (WBS 46).

Vv 5,6: The verbs (went down, saw, sent, saw, felt sorry for) are each used elsewhere in the narrative of Exo 1-4 of God Himself. God 'comes down' to 'see' the sufferings of the Israelites. He 'feels sorry' for them, and He 'sends' Moses to deliver them. The compassion and care that Pharaoh's daughter showers on Moses prefigures the attitude God Himself will show towards the Hebrews.

Exo 2:6

Prob she saw through the ruse immediately, but did not approve of her father's policy. And so she kept the child anyway, knowing Miriam to be the sister, and Jochebed the real mother.

THIS IS ONE OF THE HEBREW BABIES: Prob because of the circumcision.

Exo 2:10

SHE NAMED HIM MOSES, SAYING, 'I DREW HIM OUT OF THE WATER': "The name chosen by Pharaoh's daughter is particularly apt, since it can exist both in Egyptian and in Hebrew. It was a common enough name in Egypt, and is often found in compounds, as for example in the name of the Pharaoh Thutmose. Its basic Egyptian stem means 'to be born', and the Egyptian word 'ms' means 'child', 'son'.

"The interesting point is that Pharaoh's daughter ascribes to the name a Heb rather than an Egyptian significance. She makes it a pun on the root 'm-sh-h', to draw up/out, by explaining that the baby was drawn out of the water. In this way, the significance of Moses' name is based on sound-play, not strict etymology. This is often the case with Biblical names, and is an equally legitimate naming technique as using the historical derivation of a word...

"But as she makes this pun, it is intriguing that she seems to make a tiny grammatical slip of just the kind that a foreign language learner might make. She explains the name as if the form were 'mashuy', one drawn out (a passive participle...). However, the form 'mosheh', Moses' actual name, looks much more like an active participle in form. This would mean 'he who draws out'! Such a meaning powerfully prefigures the work that Moses would do in drawing God's people out of bondage of Egypt and bringing them to the land that God had promised. True, Moses was drawn out of water, but he would himself be one who would draw out others. Pharaoh's daughter inadvertently gives us a name with a prophetic meaning, and her saving of Moses from the Egyptians itself prefigures Moses' own work!" (MV, Tes 71:110,111).

Exo 2:11

AFTER MOSES HAD GROWN UP: 40 years old (Act 7:23,24).

Exo 2:12

Moses became the avenger of blood (cp Num 35:19-21). See also Act 7:25,26. This was an open act of political revolution. But Moses' own people were divided as to whether to follow him.

SEEING NO ONE: Not necessarily a furtive act, but rather an inquiry: 'Is there anyone qualified to step in and do the right thing here?' and there was no one; so Moses intervened (cp idea, Isa 59:16; 63:5; Jer 5:1; Eze 22:30).

HID: Or 'buried'.

Moses tried to save his people at the time he thought best and in the only way he knew. But even though Moses had great authority in Egypt, and he had physical strength and the ability to draw together an army, and even though he was motivated to save his people -- it was not God's time or God's way. When it came to the right time and the right way 40 years later, Moses didn't feel qualified or ready, but it was right for God.

Sometimes we think we know when and how to do God's will, but it turns out that it was neither His time nor His way, and then our plans will be fruitless. God will work out His plan but He will do it in His own time and in His own way -- not ours.

Exo 2:14

"Jesus replied, 'Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?' " (Luk 12:14).

Moses had shown his hand, and Pharaoh must act. With no support from his own people, Moses could only flee in fear (Act 7:29). But what about Heb 11:27?: "By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger."

"The question of the authority of Moses would arise again at a number of points in his life, for example in the murmuring of Miriam and in the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Such disputes foreshadowed similar questions that would later be asked of Jesus" (MV, Tes 71:113).

Exo 2:15

SAT DOWN: Resided, ie permanently.

Exo 2:17

SOME SHEPHERDS... DROVE THEM AWAY: Those who should be gentle protectors and caregivers can brutally deprive others of needed sustenance.

Exo 2:18

REUEL: "Friend (masc of 'Ruth') of El": a faithful descendant of Abraham, through Keturah.

Exo 2:19

AN EGYPTIAN: Moses has forsaken Egypt, but he retains its imprint on his person in some sense.

Exo 2:23

Vv 23-25: "It is because the cry of the Israelites is so intense that the story continues to unfold in the way it does... they cry, and consequently (and immediately) God responds. It is a pattern which is repeated time after time in the Scriptures. The cry of Israel initiates history; God is galvanised into action. His people cry; God is mobilised into activity on their behalf. Not that He has not been working quietly in the background all along -- far from it, for the instant they cry Moses is ready to be sent, yet this was a process that was set in motion many years before! But whereas God had been preparing behind the scenes so that everything would be ready once His people cried to Him, now that pivot point has been reached God springs into action. For He is a responsive God; what He does is determined to some extent by the actions of His people. If they cry to Him then He will listen, and potentially intervene on their behalf" (MV, Tes 71:239).

THE KING OF EGYPT DIED: "Those who were trying to take the child's life are dead" (Mat 2:20).

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