And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.—Better, was trained, or instructed. There is no direct statement to this effect in the history of the Pentateuch, but it was implied in Moses being brought up as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and was in harmony with later paraphrases and expansions of the earlier history. The narrative of Josephus (as above) and the references in the New Testament to Jannes and Jambres as the magicians who withstood Moses (2Timothy 3:8), and to the dispute of Michael and Satan as to his body (Jude 1:9), indicate the wide acceptance of some such half-legendary history. The passage is instructive, (1) as an indirect plea on the part of Stephen, like that afterwards made by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. i. 5, § 28; 6:5, § 42) and Justin (Dial. c. Tryph. c. 1-4), for the recognition of heathen wisdom as an element in the divine education of mankind; (2) as having contributed to fix the attention of the more cultivated and scholarly of the early Christian critics, such as those named, and Origen, and Jerome, and Augustine, on the teaching of Greek poets and philosophers, and having furnished them with a sanction for such studies.
Mighty in words and in deeds.—Josephus (Ant. ii. 10), still following the same traditional history, relates that Moses commanded the Egyptian forces in a campaign against the Ethiopians, and protected them against the serpents that infected the country, by transporting large numbers of the ibis that feeds on serpents. The romance was completed by the marriage of Moses with the daughter of the Ethiopian king who had fallen passionately in love with him. This was possibly a development of the brief statement in Numbers 12:1. The language of Moses (Exodus 4:10), in which he speaks of himself as “not eloquent” and “slow of speech,” seems at first inconsistent with “mighty in words,” but may fairly be regarded as simply the utterance of a true humility shrinking from the burden of a mighty task.Acts 7:22. Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians — Which was then celebrated in all the world, and for many ages after. Geography, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, natural history, physic, and hieroglyphics, are all mentioned by ancient writers as branches of Egyptian literature. Several ancient testimonies to the extraordinary learning of Moses may be seen in Philo, Justin Martyr, Origen, and Clemens Alexandrinus. And was mighty in words — Deep, solid, weighty, though not of a ready utterance. “It expresses,” says Doddridge, “such a weight and solidity in his counsels and speeches, as may be very consistent with the want of a flowing elocution;” and in deeds — Referring to the astonishing miracles which God wrought by him. We may observe here, that it must have been a great piece of self-denial, such as none but a lover of learning, and one who has made some progress in it, can understand, for a person of such a genius and education as Moses, in the prime of life, to leave the polite court of Egypt, and live as a retired shepherd in the Arabian desert.
In all the wisdom ... - The learning of the Egyptians was confined chiefly to astrology, to the interpretation of dreams, to medicine, to mathematics, and to their sacred science or traditionary doctrines about religion, which were concealed chiefly under their hieroglyphics. Their learning is not infrequently spoken of in the Scriptures, 1 Kings 4:30; compare Isaiah 19:11-12. Their knowledge is equally celebrated in the pagan world. It is known that science was carried from Egypt to Phoenicia, and thence to Greece; and not a few of the Grecian philosophers traveled to Egypt in pursuit of knowledge. Herodotus himself frankly concedes that the Greeks derived very much of their knowledge from Egypt. (See Rawlinson's Herodotus, vol. 2, pp. 80, 81; Herodotus, bk. 2, pp. 50, 51.)
And was mighty - Was powerful, or was distinguished. This means that he was eminent in Egypt before he conducted the children of Israel forth. It refers to his addresses to Pharaoh, and to the miracles which he performed "before" their departure.
In words - From Exodus 4:10, it seems that Moses was "slow of speech, and of a slow tongue." When it is said that he was mighty in words, it means that he was mighty in his communications to Pharaoh, though they were spoken by his brother Aaron. Aaron was in his place, and "Moses" addressed Pharaoh through him, who was appointed to deliver the message, Exodus 4:11-16.
Deeds - Miracles, Exodus 7, etc.
and deeds—referring probably to unrecorded circumstances in his early life. If we are to believe Josephus, his ability was acknowledged ere he left Egypt.Learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; the Egyptians were anciently famous for learning, especially in astronomy, and some other parts of philosophy.
Mighty in words; he was eloquent.
And in deeds; his deeds were equal to his words; he could do, as well as say, what became him. 1 Kings 4:30 Philo the Jew says (e) that he learned arithmetic, geometry, and every branch of music, the hieroglyphics, the Assyrian language, and the Chaldean knowledge of the heavens, and the mathematics; yet was not a magician, or skilled in unlawful arts, as Justin suggests (f):
and was mighty in words; he had a command of language, and a large flow of words, and could speak properly and pertinently upon any subject; for though he was slow of speech, and of tongue, and might have somewhat of a stammering in speaking, yet he might have a just diction, a masculine style, and a powerful eloquence, and the matter he delivered might be very great and striking:
and in deeds; or in "his deeds", as the Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions read: he was a man of great abilities, and fit for business both in the cabinet and in the field. Josephus (g) relates an expedition of his against the Ethiopians, whilst he was in Pharaoh's court, in which he obtained victory over them, when the Egyptians had been greatly oppressed by them; in which his prudence and fortitude were highly commended.And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 7:22. ἐπαιδεύθη, cf. Acts 22:3 here with instrumental dative, or, better, dative of respect or manner; not mentioned in Exodus, but see Philo, Vita Moys., ii., 83, Mang., and also Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., p. 343, E.T.; cf. the knowledge of magic ascribed to Pharaoh’s wise men in Exodus 7:11, and “Jannes and Jambres,” B.D.2, and also 1 Kings 4:30, and Isaiah 19:2; Isaiah 19:11-12; Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums “Zauberei,” i., 7, 1068, and references in Wetstein, in loco. παιδεύω, both in LXX and N.T., used in the sense of training; cf. Proverbs 5:13 (Jos., C. Apion, i., 4), 1 Timothy 1:20, Titus 2:12, and also in the sense of chastising, so often in LXX and in N.T., and also similarly used in classical Greek. The passage is also important because it helped to fix the attention of cultivated early Christian writers upon the wisdom of Greek poets and philosophers, and to give a kind of precedent for the right pursuit of such studies; cf. Clem. Alex., Strom., i., 5, 28; vi., 5, 42; Justin Martyr, Dial. c. Tryph., c., 1–4; see Dean Plumptre’s note, in loco.—ἦν δὲ δυνατὸς, cf. Acts 18:24, and especially Luke 24:19; see also Sir 21:7, Jdt 11:8. If αὐτοῦ is retained, the mode of expression is Hebraistic (Blass). There is no contradiction with Exodus 4:10, and no need to explain the expression of Moses’ writings, for Stephen has in his thoughts not so much, as we may believe, the oratorical form as the powerful contents of Moses’ words (e.g., his prophetical teaching, Hamburger, “Moses,” Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 5, 772). Josephus speaks of him as πλήθει ὁμιλεῖν πιθανώτατος, Ant., iii., 1, 4 (see also Jos., Ant., ii., 10, 1, for the traditional exploits of Moses, and Hamburger, u. s., p. 771).22. And Moses was learned [instructed] in all the wisdom of the Egyptians] As was to be expected if he were designed for the kingdom. The wisdom on which the Jewish traditions most dwell is the power of magic, and such knowledge as Pharaoh’s wise men are represented as having in the book of Exodus.
and was mighty in [his] words and in deeds] The same traditions tell of Moses as a great captain among the Egyptians, and as leading them to victory against the Ethiopians (Josephus, ii. 10. 2).Acts 7:22. Ἐπαιδεύθη, was learned) as being designed for the kingdom (to be king). Comp. Hebrews 11:26.—σοφίᾳ, the wisdom) This wisdom the Egyptians had learned from Joseph: Psalm 105:22. This wisdom was surpassed by that of Solomon: 1 Kings 4:30. This was held in great account by the adversaries of Stephen, especially the Alexandrians: ch. Acts 6:9—δυνατὸς, powerful) This power was of more consequence than all the wisdom of the Egyptians, which Stephen, however, mentions in order to commend Moses; nor was it the wisdom that produced that power, but the promise and faith: Hebrews 11:24-25. Often wisdom and power are joined.—ἐν λόγοις, in words) viz. eloquence: although his utterance was defective: Exodus 4:10.—ἐν ἔργοις, in deeds) viz. power.Verse 22. - Instructed for learned, A.V.; he was mighty for was mighty, A.V.; in his words and works for in words and in deeds, A.V. and T.R. The statement of Moses being instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, though not found in Exodus, was doubtless true. Josephus makes Thermeutis speak of him as "of a noble understanding;" and says that he was "brought up with much care and diligence." And Philo, in his life of Moses(quoted by Whitby), says he was smiled in music, geometry, arithmetic, and hieroglyphics, and the whole circle of arts and sciences.
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