What does Exodus 2:15 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: 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.
NASB: 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.
CSB: 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.
NLT: 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.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.
Verse Commentary:
Moses has attempted to break up a fight between two Hebrews, and learned that his own murder of a violent Egyptian was not a secret (Exodus 2:11–12). Soon afterwards, Pharaoh hears of the crime Moses had committed and seeks to have him killed. Moses chose to flee to save his own life. As a result, the location of the narrative shifts from Egypt to the land of Midian. Midian is a name first mentioned in Genesis 25:2 as the son of Abraham and his wife Keturah. Midian had five sons who lived east of where Abraham lived (Genesis 25:4–6). The Midianites lived near the Moabites (Genesis 36:35) and were involved in buying Joseph and selling him into Egyptian slavery (Genesis 37:28–36). Their land was in the northwest Arabian Peninsula.

Moses is specifically said to have rested by a well. This would be a natural stopping point due to the need for water in a desert area. However, in this context, the well serves as a setting connecting Moses with his future wife, Zipporah, and her father. This man is Reuel, also named Jethro, and a priest of Midian. Through this family, Moses would have children, including his firstborn son Gershom, mentioned in Exodus 2:22, who would become the leader of the Gershomites.
Verse Context:
Exodus 2:11–22 describes how Moses went from the adopted son of an Egyptian princess to an exiled shepherd living in Midian. As an adult, Moses defends a fellow Jew by killing an Egyptian aggressor. Moses is shocked to find that his attempt to hide the act failed, and he is forced to flee Egypt. In Midian, Moses heroically defends a group of shepherd girls, and is welcomed into their family. This establishes the backdrop of Moses' life for one of God's most dramatic encounters with man: the burning bush.
Chapter Summary:
Amid an order from Pharaoh to murder newborn Hebrew boys, Moses' mother places him in a basket along the side of the river, staging her daughter there to observe. The Egyptian king's daughter sees the baby and has pity. Thanks to the presence of Moses' sister, the princess winds up paying Moses' own mother to wean him. After this, he is raised in the home of Egypt's royal family. As an adult, Moses unsuccessfully attempts to hide his murder of an abusive Egyptian and flees to Midian as an exile. As Moses builds a family abroad, Israel cries out to God for rescue from the brutality of Egyptian slavery.
Chapter Context:
Exodus chapter 2 introduces the character of Moses, after describing the plight of Israel under Egyptian slavery. This passage provides a few interesting ironies. Primarily, the Egyptian king attempts to oppress Israel through infanticide; this very command leads to his own daughter adopting an abandoned Hebrew boy—Moses. She provides him with support and education, essentially raising the future liberator of the very people her father seeks to control. After chapter 2 establishes Moses' exile from Egypt, chapter 3 will begin narrating his call to lead the nation of Israel out of captivity under the Pharaoh.
Book Summary:
The book of Exodus establishes God's covenant relationship with the full-fledged nation of Israel. The descendants of Abraham prosper after settling in Egypt, only to be enslaved by a fearful, hateful Egyptian Pharaoh. God appoints Moses to lead the people out of this bondage. Moses serves as God's spokesman, as the Lord brings plagues and judgments on Egypt, leading to the release of Israel.
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