Exodus – Chapter 2

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 2


Now a certain man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman,


who conceived and bore a son. Seeing that he was a goodly child, she hid him for three months.


1 When she could hide him no longer, she took a papyrus basket, daubed it with bitumen and pitch, and putting the child in it, placed it among the reeds on the river bank.


His sister stationed herself at a distance to find out what would happen to him.


Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river to bathe, while her maids walked along the river bank. Noticing the basket among the reeds, she sent her handmaid to fetch it.


On opening it, she looked, and lo, there was a baby boy, crying! She was moved with pity for him and said, «It is one of the Hebrews’ children.»


Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, «Shall I go and call one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?»


«Yes, do so,» she answered. So the maiden went and called the child’s own mother.


Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, «Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will repay you.» The woman therefore took the child and nursed it.


2 When the child grew, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her son and called him Moses; for she said, «I drew him out of the water.»


3 On one occasion, after Moses had grown up, when he visited his kinsmen and witnessed their forced labor, he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own kinsmen.


Looking about and seeing no one, he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.


The next day he went out again, and now two Hebrews were fighting! So he asked the culprit, «Why are you striking your fellow Hebrew?»


But he replied, «Who has appointed you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?» Then Moses became afraid and thought, «The affair must certainly be known.»


Pharaoh, too, heard of the affair and sought to put him to death. But Moses fled from him and stayed in the land of Midian. As he was seated there by a well,


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


But some shepherds came and drove them away. Then Moses got up and defended them and watered their flock.


4 When they returned to their father Reuel, he said to them, «How is it you have returned so soon today?»


5 They answered, «An Egyptian saved us from the interference of the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock!»


«Where is the man?» he asked his daughters. «Why did you leave him there? Invite him to have something to eat.»


Moses agreed to live with him, and the man gave him his daughter Zipporah in marriage.


6 She bore him a son, whom he named Gershom; for he said, «I am a stranger in a foreign land.»


A long time passed, during which the king of Egypt died. Still the Israelites groaned and cried out because of their slavery. As their cry for release went up to God,


he heard their groaning and was mindful of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.


He saw the Israelites and knew…

1 [3] Basket: literally, «chest» or «ark»; the same Hebrew word is used in ⇒ Genesis 6:14 for Noah’s ark. Here, however, the chest was made of papyrus stalks.
2 [10] When the child grew: probably when he was weaned or a little later. Moses: in Hebrew, Mosheh; the Hebrew word for «draw out» is mashah. This explanation of the name is not intended as a scientific etymology but as a play on words. The name is probably derived from an Egyptian word for «has been born,» referring the birth to a god thought to be its sponsor.
3 [11] After Moses had grown up: ⇒ Acts 7:23 indicates that this was after an interval of nearly forty years. Cf ⇒ Exodus 7:7. Striking: probably in the sense of «flogging»; according to some, «slaying.»
4 [18] Reuel: he was also called Jethro. Cf ⇒ Exodus 3:1; ⇒ 4:18; ⇒ 18:1.
5 [19] An Egyptian: Moses was probably wearing Egyptian dress, or spoke Egyptian to Reuel’s daughters.
6 [22] Gershom: the name is explained as if it came from the Hebrew word ger, «stranger,» joined to the Hebrew word sham, «there.» Some Greek and Latin manuscripts add here a passage taken from ⇒ Exodus 18:4.