Exodus 2

Listen to Exodus 2

The Birth of Moses

1 Now a 1man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman.
2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and 2when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.
3 When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes[a] and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the 3reeds by the river bank.
4 And 4his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.
5 Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it.
6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children."
7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?"
8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go." So the girl went and called the child's mother.
9 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages." So the woman took the child and nursed him.
10 When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became 5her son. She named him Moses, "Because," she said, "I 6drew him out of the water."[b]

Moses Flees to Midian

11 One day, 7when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their 8burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.[c]
12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he 9struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
13 When 10he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, "Why do you strike your companion?"
14 He answered, 11"Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid, and thought, "Surely the thing is known."
15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But 12Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by 13a well.
16 Now the 14priest of Midian had seven daughters, and 15they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.
17 The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and 16watered their flock.
18 When they came home to their father 17Reuel, he said, "How is it that you have come home so soon today?"
19 They said, "An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and 18watered the flock."
20 He said to his daughters, "Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may 19eat bread."
21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter 20Zipporah.
22 She gave birth to a son, and he called his name 21Gershom, for he said, "I have been a 22sojourner[d] in a foreign land."

God Hears Israel's Groaning

23 23During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel 24groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. 25Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God.
24 And 26God heard their groaning, and God 27remembered his covenant with 28Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
25 God 29saw the people of Israel--and God 30knew.

Exodus 2 Commentary

Chapter 2

Moses is born, and exposed on the river. (1-4) He is found, and brought up by Pharaoh's daughter. (5-10) Moses slays an Egyptian, and flees to Midian. (11-15) Moses marries the daughter of Jethro. (16-22) God hears the Israelites. (23-25)

Verses 1-4 Observe the order of Providence: just at the time when Pharaoh's cruelty rose to its height by ordering the Hebrew children to be drowned, the deliverer was born. When men are contriving the ruin of the church, God is preparing for its salvation. The parents of Moses saw he was a goodly child. A lively faith can take encouragement from the least hint of the Divine favour. It is said, ( Hebrews 11:23 ) , that the parents of Moses hid him by faith; they had the promise that Israel should be preserved, which they relied upon. Faith in God's promise quickens to the use of lawful means for obtaining mercy. Duty is ours, events are God's. Faith in God will set us above the fear of man. At three months' end, when they could not hide the infant any longer, they put him in an ark of bulrushes by the river's brink, and set his sister to watch. And if the weak affection of a mother were thus careful, what shall we think of Him, whose love, whose compassion is, as himself, boundless. Moses never had a stronger protection about him, no, not when all the Israelites were round his tent in the wilderness, than now, when he lay alone, a helpless babe upon the waves. No water, no Egyptian can hurt him. When we seem most neglected and forlorn, God is most present with us.

Verses 5-10 Come, see the place where that great man, Moses, lay, when he was a little child; it was in a bulrush basket by the river's side. Had he been left there long, he must have perished. But Providence brings Pharaoh's daughter to the place where this poor forlorn infant lay, and inclines her heart to pity it, which she dares do, when none else durst. God's care of us in our infancy ought to be often mentioned by us to his praise. Pharaoh cruelly sought to destroy Israel, but his own daughter had pity on a Hebrew child, and not only so, but, without knowing it, preserved Israel's deliverer, and provided Moses with a good nurse, even his own mother. That he should have a Hebrew nurse, the sister of Moses brought the mother into the place of a nurse. Moses was treated as the son of Pharoah's daughter. Many who, by their birth, are obscure and poor, by surprising events of Providence, are raised high in the world, to make men know that God rules.

Verses 11-15 Moses boldly owned the cause of God's people. It is plain from ( Hebrews 11 ) . that this was done in faith, with the full purpose of leaving the honours, wealth, and pleasures of his rank among the Egyptians. By the grace of God he was a partaker of faith in Christ, which overcomes the world. He was willing, not only to risk all, but to suffer for his sake; being assured that Israel were the people of God. By special warrant from Heaven, which makes no rule for other cases, Moses slew an Egyptian, and rescued an oppressed Israelites. Also, he tried to end a dispute between two Hebrews. The reproof Moses gave, may still be of use. May we not apply it to disputants, who, by their fierce debates, divide and weaken the Christian church? They forget that they are brethren. He that did wrong quarreled with Moses. It is a sign of guilt to be angry at reproof. Men know not what they do, nor what enemies they are to themselves, when they resist and despise faithful reproofs and reprovers. Moses might have said, if this be the spirit of the Hebrews, I will go to court again, and be the son of Pharaoh's daughter. But we must take heed of being set against the ways and people of God, by the follies and peevishness of some persons that profess religion. Moses was obliged to flee into the land of Midian. God ordered this for wise and holy ends.

Verses 16-22 Moses found shelter in Midian. He was ready to help Reuel's daughters to water their flocks, although bred in learning and at court. Moses loved to be doing justice, and to act in defence of such as he saw injured, which every man ought to do, as far as it is in his power. He loved to be doing good; wherever the providence of God casts us, we should desire and try to be useful; and when we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can. Moses commended himself to the prince of Midian; who married one of his daughters to Moses, by whom he had a son, called Gershom, "a stranger there," that he might keep in remembrance the land in which he had been a stranger.

Verses 23-25 The Israelites' bondage in Egypt continued, though the murdering of their infants did not continue. Sometimes the Lord suffers the rod of the wicked to lie very long and very heavy on the lot of the righteous. At last they began to think of God under their troubles. It is a sign that the Lord is coming towards us with deliverance, when he inclines and enables us to cry to him for it. God heard their groaning; he made it to appear that he took notice of their complaints. He remembered his covenant, of which he is ever mindful. He considered this, and not any merit of theirs. He looked upon the children of Israel. Moses looked upon them, and pitied them; but now God looked upon them, and helped them. He had respect unto them. His eyes are now fixed upon Israel, to show himself in their behalf. God is ever thus, a very present help in trouble. Take courage then, ye who, conscious of guilt and thraldom, are looking to Him for deliverance. God in Christ Jesus is also looking upon you. A call of love is joined with a promise of the Redeemer. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, ( Matthew 11:28 ) .

Cross References 30

  • 1. Exodus 6:20; Numbers 26:59; 1 Chronicles 23:14
  • 2. Acts 7:20; Hebrews 11:23
  • 3. ver. 5; Isaiah 19:6
  • 4. Exodus 15:20; Numbers 26:59
  • 5. Acts 7:21; [Hebrews 11:24]
  • 6. 2 Samuel 22:17; Psalms 18:16
  • 7. Acts 7:23; Hebrews 11:24-26
  • 8. See Exodus 1:11
  • 9. Acts 7:24
  • 10. Acts 7:23-28
  • 11. [Luke 12:14]
  • 12. Acts 7:29; Hebrews 11:27
  • 13. Genesis 24:11; Genesis 29:2
  • 14. Exodus 3:1
  • 15. Genesis 24:11; Genesis 29:10; 1 Samuel 9:11
  • 16. [Genesis 29:10]
  • 17. Numbers 10:29; [Exodus 3:1; Exodus 4:18; Exodus 18:1, 5, 9, 12]
  • 18. [See ver. 17 above]
  • 19. Genesis 31:54; Genesis 43:25
  • 20. Exodus 4:25; Exodus 18:2
  • 21. Exodus 18:3
  • 22. Acts 7:29; [Hebrews 11:13, 14]
  • 23. [Exodus 7:7]; Acts 7:23, 30
  • 24. [Deuteronomy 26:7]
  • 25. Exodus 3:9; Genesis 18:20, 21; James 5:4
  • 26. Exodus 6:5
  • 27. Psalms 105:8, 42; Psalms 106:45
  • 28. Genesis 15:14; Genesis 46:4
  • 29. Exodus 3:7; Exodus 4:31; [Luke 1:25]
  • 30. [Exodus 3:16]

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Hebrew papyrus reeds
  • [b]. Moses sounds like the Hebrew for draw out
  • [c]. Hebrew brothers
  • [d]. Gershom sounds like the Hebrew for sojourner

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates the birth of Moses, and his preservation in an ark of bulrushes, Ex 2:1-3. His being found by Pharaoh's daughter, took up, and put out to nurse by her, and adopted for her son, Ex 2:4-10, some exploits of his when grown up, taking the part of an Hebrew against an Egyptian whom he slew, and endeavouring to reconcile two Hebrews at variance, when one of them reproached him with slaying the Egyptian, Ex 2:11-14, which thing being known to Pharaoh, he sought to slay Moses, and this obliged him to flee to Midian, Ex 2:15 where he met with the daughters of Reuel, and defended them against the shepherds, and watered their flocks for them, Ex 2:16,17, which Reuel being informed of, sent for him, and he lived with him, and married his daughter Zipporah, by whom he had a son, Ex 2:18-22 and the chapter is concluded with the death of the king of Egypt, and the sore bondage of the Israelites, and their cries and groans, which God had a respect unto, Ex 2:23-25.

was Amram, the son of Kohath, and grandson of Levi, as appears from Ex 6:18,20

\\and took to wife a daughter of Levi\\; one of the same house, family, or tribe; which was proper, that the tribes might be kept distinct: this was Jochebed, said to be his father's sister, \\see Gill on "Ex 6:20"\\: her name in Josephus {s} is Joachebel, which seems to be no other than a corruption of Jochebed, but in the Targum in 1Ch 4:18 she is called Jehuditha.

{s} Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 4. 09514-950103-1343-Ex2.2

Exodus 2 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.