Exodus chapter 2

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What does Exodus chapter 2 mean?

Chapter 2 provides the birth account of Moses (Exodus 2:1–10), the story of his exile to Midian as an adult (Exodus 2:11–22), and the context of the Jews just prior to the call of Moses to free the people (Exodus 2:23–25). In the first section, the text reveals Moses was born to parents from the tribe of Levi (Exodus 2:1). He was hidden for three months to escape death under Pharaoh's command to murder infant Hebrew boys (Exodus 1:22). When the mother of Moses could hide him no longer, she placed him in a basket in the Nile River.

The scene of the basket on the water serves a similar purpose as Noah's ark. The basket becomes the means through which God provides protection from death in an evil context. Floating upon the water, the basket remains upon the Nile River among the reeds. Moses' older sister, later revealed as Miriam, remains with the basket until it stops where Pharaoh's daughter is bathing in the river.

Pharaoh's daughter discovers the baby (Exodus 2:6), and Moses' sister asks if she would like a Hebrew woman to nurse the child for her. This results in bringing the real mother of Moses to Pharaoh's daughter who agrees to pay her to nurse Moses as her adopted son. This providential situation ends with the princess naming the boy Moses, a word that sounds like the Hebrew word "draw out." Ironically, the Egyptian king's effort to subdue Israel through infanticide results in his own household raising and educating the man who would free the slaves (Acts 7:21–22)!

The second section (Exodus 2:11–22) skips ahead to a time when Moses is an adult. Acts 7:23 says this took place when Moses was forty years old. Moses sees an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Hebrew slave, gets involved in an argument with the taskmaster, and kills him. He hides the body in the sand (Exodus 2:12). The next day, Moses tries to break up a fight between two Jews and one of the men answers, "Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" (Exodus 2:14). Moses realizes his crime had become known. Pharaoh seeks to punish him with death, but Moses flees to the land of Midian to escape (Exodus 2:15).

Contrary to popular myth, especially movies and other portrayals, Moses is never presented as a man unaware of his own heritage. The Bible does not record Moses "discovering" his Jewish ancestry. Nor does it claim that Moses was, somehow, considered to be a prince, an heir to the throne, or otherwise treated as a member of the royal family. In fact, Scripture's description of Moses strongly suggests that both he, his Egyptian benefactors, and his family, knew from the beginning who and what he was.

While in exile in Midian, Moses drives away shepherds who were preventing the seven daughters of Midian from feeding their sheep. Their father Reuel—also named Jethro—invites Moses to stay with them, eventually leading to a marriage between Moses and Reuel's daughter Zipporah. The birth of their first son Gershom is noted; the meaning of Gershom's name is connected with Moses as a sojourner or exile (Exodus 2:22).

The third section (Exodus 2:23–25) returns to the land of Egypt. The Pharaoh who had sought to kill Moses had died, yet the people "groaned" due to their slavery. They cried out to the Lord for help. God "remembered" His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He "saw" the people and "knew." The context prepares the reader for upcoming action in which the Lord will act to save His people from their situation.
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