I’m writing about my reading in Exodus and the wisdom I’m gaining from doing so. The first part, I gave some history on the tribe of Levi, which is where Moses descended from and I think it’s important to know that history going into the story of Moses. You can read that here.
In the beginning of Exodus, we read that a new king was ruler over Egypt where the Israelites lived because of the great famine that had occurred. This new king did not know Joseph, who was Levi’s brother, that had saved Egypt from the famine.
This new king greatly feared the Israelites that lived among them because they were very “fruitful” and were growing in number greater and mightier than the Egyptians.
He took a heavy handed approach and it backfired as things things so often do. He told his taskmasters to work the Israelites harder and make their labor excruciating and exhausting. The Israelites waxed even mightier the harder he worked them. The very thing meant to weaken them ended up making them stronger.
We see this specifically repeat throughout history. The Christian religion did not die with the murders of the disciples. The US government tried to blackmail Martin Luther King Jr and it didn’t work. Further, his assasination did nothing to stop the movement he had started but further propelled the change.
We see it again and again. These leaders get scared of a perceived threat so they oppress and oppress hoping to eradicate the threat, but history teaches us it doesn’t work.
So when the heavy handed approach didn’t work, he doubled down and turned to murder.
He first asked the midwives to kill baby boys during labor. This makes me think that he didn’t want people to know what he was doing because, I’m thinking people probably wouldn’t have gone along with it. It’s one thing to work people to the bone but it’s another to start killing off people’s babies. Maybe he promised the midwives special privileges for carrying out his evil deeds? It doesn’t say so we can only wonder.
Either way, the midwives wouldn’t do it. They feared God more than they feared this king. So then once again, the king responded by telling “his people” to drown any boy babies in the river.
Much is NOT said about how they went about this. Was it done by force? Were male babies ripped from their mother’s arms and just thrown in the river? We don’t know for sure because it’s not explicitly stated but there’s some clues in the surrounding text that lead me to believe that it was possibly still done in a covert manner.
I mean, for one thing, if you are mightier than the Egyptians and they start murdering your children, I would think there would be a great deal of pushback. What if it was carried out in secret? But people started to notice that all the male babies were mysterious going missing and they knew that something wasn’t quite right? Again, we don’t KNOW how it happened so I’m just trying to figure out what life was like for the Israelites. Were there whispers? Were people afraid?
Moses’s mother, a descendant of Levi, gives birth to Moses and it says she saw that he was a “goodly child” so she hid him for 3 months. Again, the text is so interesting in what it says and what it doesn’t say.
His mother clearly knew she needed to hide him, but how did she do it? Again, this makes me think that babies were not openly ripped from mother’s arms but something happened that they all were more or less suspicious or aware of.
So she made a basket and he floated over to where the King’s own daughter would be bathing. And it was the King’s own daughter that had compassion on the babe and raised him as her own. It says she knew he was a Hebrew baby, and she even hired Moses’s mother as a wet nurse. Do you think she knew it was his own mother? Again, we don’t know for sure but as a mother myself, my thought is that she did know. The baby bonded with his mother for 3 months and my thinking is that it would have been obvious to the princess to see how the baby responded to his own mother.
The princess was not afraid to raise a Hebrew baby, so again, it doesn’t seem as though there was obvious murder of Hebrew males that all the people were aware of. But I could be wrong about that.
Later, as Moses grew, he definitely knew he wasn’t an Egyptian. He comes across a taskmaster beating a Hebrew man and the words used here are “his brethren” to describe the Hebrew man. Here’s where Levi comes back to mind. Remember how Levi was prone to acting in anger? Moses kills the taskmaster in his anger. He later realizes that his murder is known so he flees to escape punishment.
Why is this mentioned in the text? I think for a couple reasons. One, we see that Moses very much has some of the same weaknesses to sin that his ancestors did. Since he identified the Hebrew man as “his brethren” that was being beaten and berated by the Egyptian, we see that he acted on his pride and on his anger. Killing this one mean taskmaster did nothing to help his people.
The other reason I think it’s mentioned is because God used Moses, a murderer and someone prone to pride and sinful anger and violence to free His people from slavery. The lesson for me is that sometimes God uses unlikely leaders with sinful pasts to accomplish His plans.
So Moses flees and ends up working for a man named Jethro who is a minister of many gods. It was very common for tribes of that time to practice religion that worshipped many gods and the Israelites were separate from this because they worshipped the one God, the God of Abraham.
Jethro likes Moses and gives him his daughter to marry and they have two children. The story tells us that Moses seemed to be doing just fine out there with his new family, seeming to have escaped from his past when God starts talking to him one day and changes everything.