Acts 7:23

23 "But when he was approaching the age of forty, 1it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel.

Acts 7:23 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 7:23

And when he was full forty years old
This Stephen had from tradition, and not from Scripture, which is silent about the age of Moses at this time, and only says, "it came to pass in those days when Moses was grown", ( Exodus 2:11 ) but that he was at this time at such an age, is the general sense of the Jews. Upon the above mentioned passage they have this note F8

``twenty years old was Moses at that time; and there are that say, that he was forty years old. And F9 elsewhere still more particularly; Moses was "forty" years in the palace of Pharaoh, forty years in Midian, (the Amsterdam edition reads, (rbdmb) , "in the wilderness", wrongly,) and he served Israel forty years.''

Indeed, the fabulous history of his life makes him to be but fifteen years of age at this time F11; but Stephen's account is undoubtedly right, and which is confirmed by the above testimonies.

It came into his heart;
by the Spirit of God, under a more than ordinary impulse of which he now was:

to visit his brethren, the children of Israel;
whom he knew to be his brethren, partly from the common report in Pharaoh's court concerning him, and partly from the mark of circumcision in his flesh, and chiefly from divine revelation: for some years he had lived a courtly and military life, and had took no notice of the Israelites in their oppressions; but now the Lord laid it upon his heart to visit them, and observe how things were with them; and though he could not use any public and open authority, yet Philo the Jew says F12, that he exhorted the officers to use mildness and moderation with them, and comforted and encouraged the Israelites to bear their burdens with patience and constancy, and not sink under them; suggesting, that things would take another turn, and would change for the better in time.


F8 Shemot Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 91. 3.
F9 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 100, fol. 88. 4.
F11 Chronicon Mosis, fol. 5. 2.
F12 De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 608, 609.

Acts 7:23 In-Context

21 "And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh's daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son.
22 "Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds.
23 "But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel.
24 "And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian.
25 "And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Exodus 2:11; Hebrews 11:24-26

Footnotes 1

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