Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses,
&c.] Both for his killing the Egyptian, which by the laws of Egypt F9 was death, whether bond or free; and for his taking part with the Hebrews against the Egyptians, and knowing him to be a wise and valiant man, might fear he would put himself at the head of the Hebrews, and cause a revolt of them; and if there was anything in his dream, or if he had such an one, and had the interpretation of it given by his magicians, that an Hebrew child should be born, by whom Egypt would be destroyed, (See Gill on Exodus 1:15), he might call it to mind, and be affected with it, and fear the time was coming on, and Moses was the person by whom it should be done; and he might be stirred up by his courtiers to take this step, who doubtless envied the growing interest of Moses in his court:
but Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh;
not through want of courage, but through prudence, to avoid danger, and preserve his life for future usefulness; and no doubt under a divine impulse, and by the direction of divine Providence, the time for him to be the deliverer of Israel not being yet come:
and dwelt in the land of Midian:
a country so called from Midian, one of Abraham's sons by Keturah, ( Genesis 25:2 ) . Jerom F11 calls it a city, and says it was on the other side of Arabia, to the south, in the desert of the Saracens, to the east of the Red sea, from whence the country was called Midian; and Philo F12 says, that Moses went into neighbouring Arabia; and which is confirmed by Artapanus F13 the Heathen historian, who says, that from Memphis, crossing the river Nile, he went into Arabia; and this country was sometimes called Cush or Ethiopia; hence Moses's wife is called an Ethiopian woman, ( Numbers 12:1 )
and he sat down by a well;
weary, thoughtful, and pensive. It may be observed, that it was usual with persons in such like circumstances, being strangers and not knowing well to whom to apply for assistance or direction, to place themselves at a well of water, to which there was frequent resort, both for the use of families and of flocks; see ( Genesis 24:11 Genesis 24:13 ) ( 29:2 ) . This well is now called, as some say, Eyoun el Kaseb, fourteen hours and a half from Magare Chouaib, or "the grot of Jethro" F14; but if this was so far from Jethro's house, his daughters had a long way to go with their flock: but some other travellers F15 speak of a very neat and pleasant village, called Hattin, where they were shown the grave of Jethro, Moses's father-in-law; and in the neighbourhood of that place is a cistern, now called Omar, and is said to be the watering place where Moses met with the daughters of the priest of Midian. A late learned man F16 thinks, that Sharma, which is about a day and a half's journey southeast from Mount Sinai, is the place where Jethro lived. The Arabic geographer F17 says, at the shore of the Red sea lies the city Madian, greater than Tabuc, and in it is a well, out of which Moses watered the flocks of Scioaib, that is, Raguel.
F9 Diodor. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 70.
F11 De locis Heb. fol. 93. A. B.
F12 De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 609.
F13 Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 433.
F14 See a Journey from Grand Cairo to Mecca, in Ray's Travels, vol. 2. p. 468.
F15 Egmont and Heyman's Travels, vol. 2. p. 29.
F16 See the Origin of Hieroglyphics, at the end of a Journal from Cairo, to Mount Sinai, p. 55. Ed. 2.
F17 Climat. 3. par. 5.