Acts 7:25

ESV He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.
NIV Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.
NASB And he thought that his brothers understood that God was granting them deliverance through him; but they did not understand.
CSB He assumed his people would understand that God would give them deliverance through him, but they did not understand.
NLT Moses assumed his fellow Israelites would realize that God had sent him to rescue them, but they didn’t.
KJV For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
NKJV For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.

What does Acts 7:25 mean?

Stephen, in his defense against those who claim he doesn't respect Moses or the Mosaic law, recounts the story of Moses murdering a man and fleeing for his life. Moses wanted to save the Israelites, but he tried to do so by his own power (Zechariah 4:6). He also tried to do so forty years before the four hundred years of slavery was complete (Genesis 15:13).

While speaking of Moses, Stephen makes some assertions that aren't found in the original text (Exodus 2:1–15). He says that when Moses was born, God found him "beautiful" or well-bred (Acts 7:20). He explains Moses' education in the house of Pharaoh's daughter (Acts 7:22). And he gives an indication that Moses knew God planned to use him to rescue the Israelites before the conversation at the burning bush (see Exodus 3:1–4:17). Moses' education is a pretty safe assumption since he was raised in the Pharaoh's court. The other claims come from the Talmud.

The Jewish Scriptures are our Old Testament. When Moses led the Israelites to Mount Sinai, God gave him the Law to write down; the record of the Law and the story from creation to the Israelites' journey to the Promised Land are the first five books of the Bible. Throughout the centuries, Jewish scholars have insisted that God also gave Moses the oral law which provides more specific information. After the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, scholars realized that without the central authority of the temple, the oral law needed to be recorded and they wrote down the different debates and explanations given throughout the centuries. The Babylonian Talmud is the compilation of these writings by scribes who lived in Babylon. It is more comprehensive and more widely used than the Jerusalem Talmud, and it contains a lot of information that is not included in the Scriptures.

The Talmud, in the Nashim Order, Tactrate Sotah 12b, says that Pharaoh's astrologers "saw that the savior of the Jewish people would be stricken by water" and reacted by ordering that the Israelite newborn boys should be thrown into the river. The text explains that the prophecy was actually pointing toward Moses' failure at Meribah (Numbers 20:2–13). The text also explains that after Jochebed, Moses' mother, put Moses in the water, the astrologers sensed that Israel's redeemer was "in the water," and Pharaoh repealed the order, not realizing his daughter had saved the baby he had tried to destroy.

Sotah 13a says that before Moses' birth, Miriam prophesied that her mother would "give birth to a son who will save the Jewish people. When Moses was born, the entire house was filled with light." Sotah 12a suggests that the passage that says Jochebed found Moses to be a "fine child" (Exodus 2:2) means he was "fit for prophecy" or fit to fulfill the prophecy given by his sister.

The Talmud is not the inspired Word of God and other passages prove this. Nashim Sotah 12a says righteous women do not have pain in childbirth. Sotah 11b says that when the Egyptians came to the fields to look for the Israelite infants, the earth would absorb the babies. It claims that after the Egyptians plowed the fields and found nothing, the babies would grow out of the ground like grass.

Exodus 1—2 doesn't mention any prophecy about a baby being born that would rescue the Israelites, and it gives the reason for Pharaoh's infanticide as the fertility of the Hebrew women (Exodus 1:12). So, is Stephen reciting historically accurate information, or is he repeating what he was taught from the oral law? It is notable that he doesn't recall any of the more fantastical entries of the Talmud. God certainly never promises us that He will give every detail of every story mentioned in the Bible. And Miriam is called a prophetess in Exodus 15:20.

There are two possibilities. The first is that the Holy Spirit allowed Stephen to recount what parts of the oral law were actually true, that Moses somehow knew it was his job to save the Israelites from the Egyptians. The second possibility is that Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit as to what to record, wrote what Stephen said even though Stephen was misinformed—this would explain the confusion of Acts 7:16, as well. The former is more likely, although the latter would not infer the narrative recorded in the passage is not inspired, nor would it adversely affect Stephen's argument.
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