Acts 7:20

20 “At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child.[a] For three months he was cared for by his family.

Acts 7:20 in Other Translations

20 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months:
20 At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God's sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father's house,
20 “At that time Moses was born—a beautiful child in God’s eyes. His parents cared for him at home for three months.
20 "In just such a time Moses was born, a most beautiful baby. He was hidden at home for three months.
20 At this time Moses was born, and he was beautiful before God. He was nursed in his father's home three months,

Acts 7:20 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 7:20

In which time Moses was born
The word Moses, is differently written in the New Testament; sometimes Moses, as here, sometimes Mo-yses, as in ( Acts 7:35 Acts 7:37 ) sometimes Mo-yseus, as in ( Acts 15:1 Acts 15:5 Acts 15:21 ) and sometimes Moseus, as in ( Romans 5:14 ) . He had his name from the Hebrew word, (hvm) , which signifies "to draw", ( Psalms 18:16 ) according to the reason of it given by Pharaoh's daughter,

she called his name Moses; and she said, because I drew him out of
the water,
( Exodus 2:10 ) Though Josephus F9, Philo F11, and others F12, make it to be an Egyptian name; the former of which serves, that the Egyptians call water "Mo", and "yses", such who are saved from water; wherefore compounding the name of both, they gave it to him: though according to Aben Ezra F13, his name in the Egyptian language was Monios; his words are these,

``the name of Moses is interpreted out of the Egyptian language into the Hebrew language, for his name in the Egyptian language was Monios; and so it is written in a book of agriculture, translated out of the Egyptian language into the Arabic, and also in the books of some Greek writers.''

Moses had many names, as a Jewish chronologer observes F14;

``Pharaoh's daughter called his name Moses; his father called him Chabar, or Heber; his mother called him Jekuthiel; and his sister called him Jether (perhaps Jared, since this was one of his names); and his brethren called him Abizanoah; and Kohath called him Abi Socos; and the Israelites called him Shemaiah ben Nathaneel, and sometimes Tobiah, sometimes Shemaiah, and sometimes Sopher; but the Egyptians called him Monios.''

For "Mo", in the Egyptian language, signifies "water", and "Ni" is "out"; and so both together signify, "out of the water", which agrees with the Hebrew etymology of his name. Now he was born at the time that orders were given by Pharaoh to cast all the male children of the Israelites into the rivers, to drown them; Moses was born, whose parents were Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi; he was born, according to the Jews F15, on the seventh day of Adar, or February:

and was exceeding fair;
or "fair to God"; divinely fair and beautiful; and so Pharaoh's daughter, acccording to Josephus, said to her father, that she had brought up a child that was (morfh yeion) F16 "in form divine": and so the Jews say F17, that his form was as an angel of God; or he was fair in the sight of God, as the Ethiopic version; the Syriac version renders it, "he was dear to God"; and the Vulgate Latin version, grateful to God; was well-pleasing to him, in whom he delighted, having designed to do great things by him: or "fair by God": he had a peculiar beauty put upon him by God; partly to engage his parents the more to seek the preservation of him; and partly to engage the affection of Pharaoh's daughter to him, when she should see him. Justin the historian F18 makes mention of his extraordinary beauty, for which he was praised; but very wrongly makes him to be the son of Joseph; and the account Josephus gives of it, is very remarkable F19;

``as to beauty, says he, no man could be so out of love with it, as to see the goodly form of Moses, and not be amazed; it happened to many who met him, as he was carried along the way, that they would turn back at the sight of the child, and neglect their business, to indulge themselves with the sight of him; for such was the loveliness of the child, that it detained those that saw him.''

The Arabic version renders it, he "was consecrated by a vow to God"; but of this we have no account: the Jews say F20, that

``the Spirit of God came upon Miriam, and she prophesied; saying, behold a son shall be born to my father and to my mother at this time, who shall save Israel out of the hand of the Egyptians--and it is further said, that at the time of his birth, the whole house was filled with a great light, as the light of the sun and moon;''

upon which they had raised expectations of him: though this phrase, "fair to God", may be only an Hebraism, just as Niniveh is said to be a city "great to God", i.e. exceeding great, ( Jonah 3:3 ) it being usual with the Jews to join the word God to an adjective, to express the superlative degree; and so it is rightly rendered here, "exceeding fair: and nourished up in his father's house three months"; so long he was hid by his mother there, which was a great instance of her faith; see ( Exodus 2:2 ) ( Hebrews 11:23 ) . The reason why he was kept no longer there was, because as the Jews say F21, the three months after Jochebed was delivered of a son, the thing was known in the house of Pharaoh, wherefore she could hide him no longer.


F9 Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9, sect. 6.
F11 De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 605.
F12 Clement. Alexandrin. Stromat, l. 1. p. 343.
F13 Comment. in Exod. ii. 10.
F14 Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2. Vid. Targum in 1 Chron. iv. 18 Vajikra Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 146. 3.
F15 T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 38. 1. Shemot Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 91. 2. Targum Jon in Deut. xxxiii. 5.
F16 Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 7.
F17 Pirke Eliezer, c. 48.
F18 L. 36. c. 2.
F19 Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 6. Vid. Shemot Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 91. 3.
F20 Heb. Chronicon Mosis, fol. 3. 1. Jarchi in Exod. ii. 2. Shemot Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 91. 1.
F21 Ib. col. 2.

Acts 7:20 In-Context

18 Then ‘a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.’
19 He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our ancestors by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.
20 “At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for by his family.
21 When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son.
22 Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Exodus 2:2; Hebrews 11:23

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "was fair in the sight of God"
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