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Exodus chapter 2

New International Version

1 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5 Then Pharaoh's daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. 'This is one of the Hebrew babies,' she said.
7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh's daughter, 'Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?'
8 Yes, go,' she answered. So the girl went and got the baby's mother. 9 Pharaoh's daughter said to her, 'Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.' So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, 'I drew him out of the water.'
11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, 'Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?'
14 The man said, 'Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?' Then Moses was afraid and thought, 'What I did must have become known.'
15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father's flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.
18 When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, 'Why have you returned so early today?'
19 They answered, 'An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.'
20 And where is he?' Reuel asked his daughters. 'Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.'
21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, 'I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.'
23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.
English Standard Version

1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when 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 and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. 4 And his 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 older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When he 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, “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 Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.
16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they 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 watered their flock. 18 When they came home to their father Reuel, 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 watered the flock.” 20 He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. 22 She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”
23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.
King James Version

1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. 2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. 3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.
5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children. 7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? 8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother. 9 And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. 10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
11 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 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. 13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? 14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. 15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.
16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. 17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. 18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? 19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. 20 And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread. 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. 22 And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.
23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.
New American Standard Bible

1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi. 2 And the woman conceived and gave birth to a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could no longer hide him, she got him a papyrus basket and covered it with tar and pitch. Then she put the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. 4 And his sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him.
5 Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her female attendants walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave woman, and she brought it to her. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had 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 a woman for you who is nursing from the Hebrew women, so that she may nurse the child for you?' 8 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, 'Go ahead.' So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 Then 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 And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. And she named him Moses, and said, 'Because I drew him out of the water.'
11 Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up, that he went out to his fellow Hebrews and looked at their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his fellow Hebrews. 12 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. 13 Now he went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, 'Why are you striking your companion?' 14 But he said, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?' Then Moses was afraid and said, 'Surely the matter has become known!'
15 When Pharaoh heard about this matter, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well.
16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came to draw water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them and watered their flock. 18 When they came to their father Reuel, he said, 'Why have you come back so soon today?' 19 They said, 'An Egyptian saved us from the shepherds, and what is more, he even drew water for us and watered the flock.' 20 So he said to his daughters, 'Where is he then? Why is it that you have left the man behind? Invite him to have something to eat.' 21 And Moses was willing to live with the man. And he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses. 22 Then she gave birth to a son, and he named him Gershom, for he said, 'I have been a stranger in a foreign land.'
23 Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage ascended to God. 24 So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25 And God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.
New Living Translation

1 About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married. 2 The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. 3 But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. 4 The baby's sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him.
5 Soon Pharaoh's daughter came down to bathe in the river, and her attendants walked along the riverbank. When the princess saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it for her. 6 When the princess opened it, she saw the baby. The little boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him. 'This must be one of the Hebrew children,' she said.
7 Then the baby's sister approached the princess. 'Should I go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?' she asked.
8 'Yes, do!' the princess replied. So the girl went and called the baby's mother.
9 'Take this baby and nurse him for me,' the princess told the baby's mother. 'I will pay you for your help.' So the woman took her baby home and nursed him.
10 Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh's daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses, for she explained, 'I lifted him out of the water.'
11 Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. 12 After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand.
13 The next day, when Moses went out to visit his people again, he saw two Hebrew men fighting. 'Why are you beating up your friend?' Moses said to the one who had started the fight.
14 The man replied, 'Who appointed you to be our prince and judge? Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?' Then Moses was afraid, thinking, 'Everyone knows what I did.'
15 And sure enough, Pharaoh heard what had happened, and he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian. When Moses arrived in Midian, he sat down beside a well. 16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters who came as usual to draw water and fill the water troughs for their father's flocks. 17 But some other shepherds came and chased them away. So Moses jumped up and rescued the girls from the shepherds. Then he drew water for their flocks.
18 When the girls returned to Reuel, their father, he asked, 'Why are you back so soon today?'
19 'An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds,' they answered. 'And then he drew water for us and watered our flocks.'
20 'Then where is he?' their father asked. 'Why did you leave him there? Invite him to come and eat with us.'
21 Moses accepted the invitation, and he settled there with him. In time, Reuel gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to be his wife. 22 Later she gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, for he explained, 'I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.'
23 Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. 24 God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25 He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.
Christian Standard Bible

1 Now a man from the family of Levi married a Levite woman. 2 The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son; when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could no longer hide him, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with asphalt and pitch. She placed the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. 4 Then his sister stood at a distance in order to see what would happen to him.
5 Pharaoh's daughter went down to bathe at the Nile while her servant girls walked along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds, sent her slave girl, took it, 6 opened it, and saw him, the child--and there he was, a little boy, crying. She felt sorry for him and said, "This is one of the Hebrew boys."
7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Should I go and call a Hebrew woman who is nursing to nurse the boy for you?"
8 "Go," Pharaoh's daughter told her. So the girl went and called the boy's mother. 9 Then Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child and nurse him for me, and I will pay your wages." So the woman took the boy and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, "Because," she said, "I drew him out of the water."
11 Years later, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his own people and observed their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his people. 12 Looking all around and seeing no one, he struck the Egyptian dead and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, "Why are you attacking your neighbor?"
14 "Who made you a commander and judge over us?" the man replied. "Are you planning to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses became afraid and thought, "What I did is certainly known."
15 When Pharaoh heard about this, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian, and sat down by a well.
16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to draw water and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. 17 Then some shepherds arrived and drove them away, but Moses came to their rescue and watered their flock. 18 When they returned to their father Reuel, he asked, "Why have you come back so quickly today?"
19 They answered, "An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock."
20 "So where is he?" he asked his daughters. "Why then did you leave the man behind? Invite him to eat dinner."
21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 She gave birth to a son whom he named Gershom, for he said, "I have been a resident alien in a foreign land."
23 After a long time, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned because of their difficult labor; and they cried out; and their cry for help because of the difficult labor ascended to God. 24 And God heard their groaning; and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob; 25 and God saw the Israelites; and God knew.

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.