One can only assume that Pharaoh must have known where his daughter’s boy had come from! Obviously he was a Hebrew but at the same time he was now growing up in the royal household, learning Egyptian language and customs and no doubt being educated with the other royal children. Probably he was also free to visit his family from time to time

But as he grew to manhood what position would he have? What would he do during the day? Weeks – months – years? (A member of the Egyptian royal household, but as he was not a son of Pharaoh, and was therefore not a prince; at the same time, he was a Hebrew but not a slave.)

We are told in Acts 7:22-23

22 Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.

23 When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. 

Everyone would have known about Moses, and his exalted position within the royal court. His clothes would have made him instantly recognisable as he travelled in the land of Goshen, idly watching his fellow Hebrews at their hard labour.

Exodus 2

Read verses 11-25

11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labour. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

There was no-one around. No-one knew what Moses had done.

Except of course, the Hebrew who was being beaten, and who was bound to tell what had happened.

13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, ‘Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?’

14 The man said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Then Moses was afraid and thought, ‘What I did must have become known.’

Of course it had; the story was spreading quickly amongst the Hebrews and would soon get back to the palace. His position of a tolerated curiosity had now become one of a dangerous imposter, and there was only one outcome. He had to flee for his life.

Can we trace the Lord’s hand in Moses life?

Did God now need to get Moses away from Egypt?

As Moses recorded these events many years later, he remembered the words and perhaps realised their prophetic significance – and he could then answer the question ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?

Why did God seem to wait so long before bringing Moses back to lead the Israelites into Canaan? (Answer below!)

Many people believe that the famine in Joseph’s time, took place in Egypt’s ‘Second Intermediate Period’ (Perhaps 1780-1550bc). During the period that followed, the Egyptians tried to expand their territory, and raids took place into Sinai, Canaan and even as far north as the Euphrates. But by the 1300s it seemed that the Egyptian armies had largely withdrawn. By the time that the Israelites occupied Canaan the Egyptians were no longer a threat.  

Some suggest that the oppression of the Hebrews began in the Reign of the Hyskos dynasties (1620-1520bc approximately!) And the date of the Exodus could be any time between 1400bc to 1200bc but no-one can agree. I have arbitrarily chosen 1270bc on my timeline! (Chart003)


 Back to Moses:

15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well.

Moses realized that he had to leave quickly. He probably had time to get some supplies, money and clothes together, and he may well have taken a camel. Camels can run for short distances at speeds of up to 40mph. Over quite long distances they can gallop at up to 25mph. But which direction should he take? The quickest way out of Egypt was east. There were Egyptian armies in Canaan so Midian was the safest option, but 200 miles away.

Who was Midian? (Genesis 25:1)

The Midianites had settled generally to the east of the eastern arm of the Red Sea (although they seem to have been nomadic, and some commentators suggest they were also on the west side, in Sinai). They may also have joined forces with the Ishmaelites – see Genesis 37:25,28,36. (Ishmael was the older half-brother of Abraham. He married an Egyptian and may well have settled in the Sinai between Egypt and Canaan)

16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 

We are not told what god the priest worshipped but his name ‘Reuel’ means ‘friend (Reu) of God (El)’. We may assume this was the one true God, but Exodus 18:9-12 hints that he may have acted as priest for many gods. However in v11 he says ‘ Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods’.

17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.

18 When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, ‘Why have you returned so early today?’

The ‘other shepherds’ obviously waited for the girls to fill the troughs, and then drove them away so they could use the water for their own flocks – a regular labour-saving solution. The girls would then have to draw water all over again for their own flocks, probably an hour or so later. Moses appeared to be an influential Egyptian and his bearing was enough to scare the shepherds away and he made sure the girl’s flocks had sufficient water. The girls returned home noticeably early.

19 They answered, ‘An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.’

20 ‘And where is he?’ Reuel asked his daughters. ‘Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.’

Meeting girls drawing water seems to be a recurring theme! (Genesis 24:15, 29:9). As God had arranged the first two encounters, so it seems he has also arranged this one.

An interesting question: how many women have so far been involved in the frustration of Pharaoh’s plans, and the furtherance of God’s plans? (Midwives, mothers, Moses mother, Miriam (her daughter), Pharaoh’s daughter, Reuel’s daughters)

Whether or not Moses explained that he was a runaway murderer is not mentioned! But to outward appearances he was a wealthy Egyptian, with the bearing of a royal prince. We were told in verse 16 that Reuel ‘had seven daughters’, presumably indicating he had no sons. To marry a daughter to this eligible man would be a fine match, and a very useful addition to his household.

21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, ‘I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.’

Obviously, Moses would have to earn his keep, and as the only young(ish) man in the family would join in looking after the flock.

23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died.

The Israelites may have hoped that with a new Pharaoh on the throne, their slavery might have ended. But it was not to be:

The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

Again, we have to ask: did God need reminding about his chosen people?

Had he forgotten his covenant?

Was he not concerned about them before they started groaning and crying out in prayer?

God knew they were there – he had put them there in order to grow a nation. It was part of his purposes.

God wants us to pray, not just assume he will always just step in to help.

Sometimes God even needs to encourage us to pray.

Once people are desperate enough to pray, God will help; but in his way, and in his timing.

God is well aware of our questions and in a few verses time he will answer them for us specifically!

Exodus 3

Read verses 1-10

1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 

‘Jethro’ was a title, rather than a name – something like ‘Excellency’, and this title will be used from now on.

Horeb is usually accepted as another name for Mount Sinai. Nomadic shepherds can travel on a 150 mile circuit during a yearly hunt for grass, so it is quite possible that as he wandered in the wilderness (of Sin = Sinai) he would find himself approaching the mountain.

2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.’

The expression ‘Angel of the Lord’ is generally taken to refer to a Theophany – where God manifests himself to Man, as we will see in the next verse:

4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’

And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’

We might imagine that up to this point Moses had not been concerned with God. He had been brought up amongst the religion of the Pharaohs, had killed someone and run away, and had married a foreigner. But God now steps into his life in a dramatic way.

5 ‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’ 6 Then he said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

Was Moses in any doubt who was speaking to him?

Do you see any similarities with Paul on the road to Damascus? (Acts 9:3-6)

7 The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 

There’s our answers!

8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey – the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 

This is the first time we are introduced to the phrase ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ and it will be repeated another fifteen times before they enter this ‘Promised Land’. So what do we understand by it?

What will the land need to produce such abundant amounts of milk, and honey?

Obviously plenty of grass, and a profusion of flowers.

Not the semi-desert conditions that Moses had grown used to. With a climate quite different to that in much of modern-day Israel. The area we would now describe as desert was once chosen by Lot: Genesis 13:10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan towards Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)

And now God is about to step in. Rescuing his people and providing a wonderful country for them. Moses’ heart must have thrilled at the thought.

9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.’

How would we react?

Exodus 1Exodus 3

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Exodus  2:11-25, 3:1-10 Moses murders, flees to Midian, marries, meets God at the Burning Bush