Exodus 2:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Exodus 2:12, NIV: "Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand."

Exodus 2:12, ESV: "He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand."

Exodus 2:12, KJV: "And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand."

Exodus 2:12, NASB: "So he looked this way and that, and when he saw that there was no one around, he struck and killed the Egyptian, and hid his body in the sand."

Exodus 2:12, NLT: "After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand."

Exodus 2:12, CSB: "Looking all around and seeing no one, he struck the Egyptian dead and hid him in the sand."

What does Exodus 2:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The phrase, "He looked this way and that," is the modern equivalent of the literal wording "he turned thus and thus." The idea is that Moses looked around to make sure no one would witness what he was about to do. Since no one was seen to stop him or witness the event, Moses felt he could stop unjust violence against his fellow Hebrew, using violence of his own. Suggestions that this was an accident, as suggested in some fictional portrayals, are not supported by the Bible.

Some believe Moses killed the man with his bare hands, though this is uncertain. The text only says "he struck down the Egyptian," and no weapon is mentioned, but the phrasing suggests he used some kind of instrument. Samson "struck down" 1,000 men with a donkey jawbone (Judges 15:16), David "struck down" animals with a sling (1 Samuel 17:36), and the Israelites struck down enemies with swords (1 Samuel 11:11). Moses may have used his hands or any kind of weapon. However, Exodus later shows God had His own plan that involved striking down the Egyptians in judgment (Exodus 12:29). Moses hides the man's body "in the sand," indicating a quick and quiet burial to avoid being caught.