Out of Bondage, chapter 2

Chapter 2

Moses tells us that his mother and father were both members of the tribe of Levi. When he, Moses, was born his mother ascertained the he was special and she hid him so the Egyptians couldn’t kill him. As all babies do, when he was three months old he wanted to explore his world and made it impossible for his mother to hide him anymore. He couldn’t walk, or even crawl yet, but he could squeal for attention and cry out in frustration when he couldn’t grasp everything in sight. He was a healthy boy and healthy boys make a lot of noise.

His mother got a basket made of papyrus – the tall aquatic sedge from which papyrus is obtained, native to the Nile valley. She covered it with tar and pitch to make it waterproof and put her baby boy in it. She must have asked her God, Yahweh, to take care of him – or maybe she just knew he would without asking. Sometimes our God asks us to do things without explanation; but with the sure knowledge that it is he who asks and we obey without question. His older sister was there when she placed her son in the basket and the basket in the reeds at the edge of the Nile River. She waited a little way off and watched to see what would happen next. Perhaps they knew the daughter of the king/Pharaoh bathed there. In any case, she showed up with her maids and when she saw the baby floating in a basket among the sedge and instructed her maids to get it and bring it to her. He was crying and her mother heart went out to him. She realized that he must be one of the Hebrew babies condemned to death by her father but when his sister offered to get one of the Hebrew wet nurses to give him nourishment for her she readily agreed.

So it was that the baby’s own mother took him home and nursed took care of him and Pharaoh’s daughter paid her to do it. She had him in her care until he was weaned at three or four years old. A wise mother will inculcate a good foundation for her child’s life in the first years and Moses’ mother had already proved herself to be a wise mother.

Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him as her own son and named him Moses because she pulled him out of the water.

Moses grew up in the household of Pharaoh’s daughter but he didn’t forget his early training as an Israelite and when he saw and Egyptian hit an Israelite slave – one of his brothers – he looked around and saw that no one was watching so he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.

Moses was educated in the best schools in Egypt. He was equally impressive as a thinker and an athlete.

Stephen told the story this way in Acts 7, “When he was forty years old, he wondered how everything was going with his Hebrew kin and went out to look things over. He saw an Egyptian abusing one of them and stepped in, avenging his underdog brother by knocking the Egyptian flat. He thought his brothers would be glad that he was on their side, and even see him as an instrument of God to deliver them. But they didn’t see it that way. The next day two of them were fighting and he tried to break it up, told them to shake hands and get along with each other: ‘Friends, you are brothers, why are you beating up on each other?’
“The one who had started the fight said, ‘Who put you in charge of us? Are you going to kill me like you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’ When Moses heard that, realizing that the word was out, he ran for his life and lived in exile over in Midian. ”

Moses; however, recorded bare facts and adds that Pharaoh heard about it and sought to kill Moses so he got away to the Land of Midian and sat down by a well. The Midianites were descendants of Abraham through his wife, Keturah who he married after the death of Sarah.

The priest of Midian’s daughters took care of his sheep and came to the well for water. When other shepherds came and chased the girls off Moses came to their rescue and helped them water their sheep. When their father asked them how they got back home so soon they told him that an Egyptian rescued them from a bunch of bullies and helped them water their sheep.

Their father told them to invite their rescuer in to eat with them and he ended up settling down with them and marrying the priest’s daughter, Zipporah. She gave him a son and he named him Gershom which means Sojourner because he was a sojourner in a strange land.

Moses tells us that many years later – Stephen, in Acts 7, says it was forty years later – the king of Egypt died and the Israelites, groaning under their slavery, cried out for relief and their God, Yahweh, heard them and remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We can be sure that God never forgot his pledge to his covenant people. Moses said that he saw and understood. We – and the people going in to possess the Promised Land – need to know and understand that our God, Yahweh, always sees and understands our pain, our needs, and even our discomforts. He cares.

Summary of chapter 2

Moses was born to the tribe of Levi. Perhaps Moses made a point of telling us – and the descendants of Israel going in to possess the Promised Land – that he was a Levite so we would appreciate the fact that our ancestry can’t keep our God, Yahweh, from using us to accomplish his will in the world. We remember that Jacob didn’t have anything good to say about his son, Levi, and his descendants, but our God’s mercy and grace transcends all of pour sin.

Moses’ mother was not only saved his life but trained him well while she was nursing him. He grew up knowing that he was a son of the Promise and a member of the Promised people.

When he saw another member of the family of Promise being mistreated by an Egyptian, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand, but the word spread between the Israelite slaves and they turned on him and put him in danger with his adopted grandfather – the king of Egypt – and he had to leave Egypt.

He went to Midian where he rescued the daughters of the priest of Midian and ended up marrying one of them.

Many years later, after that king of Egypt died, the Israelites cried out for relief from their cruel bondage and their God, Yahweh heard and remembered anthropomorphism) his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being my God. I know that I can trust you to never forget your promises to me and, as you did with the Israelite slaves in Egypt, you will come and remind me of your love, mercy, and grace when I am weary and down in spirit. By the power of your mighty spirit I will be always faithful and obedient to you in whatever circumstances you have placed me. And blessed be the name – Yahweh – of the Lord God from this time forth and forevermore.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Why do you thin Moses made a point of telling his reader that both of his parents were descendants of Levi?
  2. What did his mother do to ensure that he couldn’t forget that he was a son of the promise even though he spent most of his early forty years in Pharaoh’s court learning the ways of Egypt?
  3. What is the example for the family going into the Promised Land – and us – that would have made the nation of Israel – and us as the family of our God, Yahweh, – stronger?
  4. How can what Stephen said help us understand what happened when he killed the Egyptian who was abusing an Israelite slave?
  5. How do you think the Israelites going into the Promised Land felt about Moses killing the Egyptian?
  6. Should that incident have proved Moses’ loyalty to his own people?
  7. Why was it important that Moses leave Egypt for a time?
  8. Why do you think it was important for Moses to spend the designated time – forty years – in the court of Pharaoh learning the ways of the Egyptians and then the same designated time – forty years – in the land of Midian?
  9. What did Moses mean when he said that Yahweh remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

 

 

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