Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The birth and education of Moses. His flight to Midian, and his marriage. God’s compassion on the oppressed Israelites
And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.1. a daughter of Levi] the daughter of Levi (as the same Heb. is rendered, Numbers 26:59), i.e. of the individual, the patriarch Levi. This rend, would seem to bring Moses very near to Levi; but it is in agreement with ch. Exodus 6:20 (P), where the names of Moses’ parents are for the first time given, and where it is stated that his father was Amram, son of Kohath, and grandson of Levi (vv. 16, 18), and his mother Jochebed, Amram’s father’s sister, i.e. the sister of Kohath, and consequently daughter of Levi. See further on Exodus 6:27.
1–10. Birth, deliverance, and education of Moses. ‘The murderous command of the tyrant was to become, in the hand of God, the means of bringing Israel’s future deliverer to the Egyptian court, and of preparing him for his future work (cf. the history of Joseph in the same narrator, E, Genesis 45:5; Genesis 45:7-8; Genesis 50:20)’ (Di.).
And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.2. conceived, &c.] The expression (after ‘took,’ v. 1) suggests that, as in other similar cases (Hosea 1:3; Genesis 4:1; Genesis 4:17; Genesis 38:2 f.), Moses was his parents’ firstborn. A considerably older sister,—presumably Miriam,—appears, however, already in v. 4; and at least in P Aaron is represented as older than Moses by three years. It has hence been supposed that Aaron and Miriam were children of Amram by a former marriage: and it is noticed, as favouring this supposition, that Miriam is somewhat pointedly spoken of as Aaron’s sister (Exodus 15:20); and that Miriam and Aaron join together against Moses (Numbers 12:1). If this supposition be not adopted, it must be concluded that the narrator expressed himself inexactly.
goodly] Heb. good, i.e. comely (cf. Genesis 6:2): LXX. ἀστεῖος (so Hebrews 11:23; and ἀστ. τῷ θεῷ, Acts 7:20). Moses’ mother could not bring herself to part with such a fine infant; so she kept it with her as long as she could. In Hebrews 11:23, however, the beauty of the child is interpreted as a sign of the Divine favour resting upon him, and an omen that God had some great future in store for him, so that by ‘faith’ in this, his parents, heedless of the consequences of disobeying Pharaoh’s edict, hid him for three months.
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.3. an ark] i.e. a chest. The Heb. is tçbâh (only used besides of the ‘ark’ of Noah, Genesis 6-9), an Egypt, word, têbet, a ‘chest.’
papyrus (RVm.)] Heb. gômĕ’ (Job 8:12; Isaiah 18:2; Isaiah 35:7 †: deriv. uncertain). A tall reed, consisting of a bare stem, 6 ft. or mon in height, with a large tuft of leaves and flowers at the top (see ill. in NHB. 434, EB. iii. 3557), extinct now in Egypt, and found only by the banks of the ‘Blue’ and ‘White’ Nile, but abundant in ancient times along the banks of the lower Nile. The pith of the stem was cut into thin strips, which were then laid together side by side to form a sheet; and two such sheets, with the strips in one at right angles to those in the other, placed one upon another, and glued together, were used by the ancients as writing material; the stems themselves, also, bound together and caulked, were used to form light boats (Isaiah 18:2, ‘vessels of gômĕ’’; probably also Job 9:26 : Theophr. H.P. iv. 8, 4; Pliny H.N. vii. 57, &c.)1. Here a small chest, or ‘ark,’ is made of it.
 Cf. Wilkinson-Birch, Anc. Egyptians (1878), ii. 179–82 (with transl. of Pliny’s description, H.N. xiii. 11, 12), 205 f., 208; Erman, pp. 12, 235, 236, 447, 479 f.
daubed it with bitumen (Genesis 11:3; Genesis 14:10 †) and pitch (Isaiah 34:9 †)] to make it water-tight. Bitumen, or asphalt, was brought into Egypt from the Dead Sea; it was used particularly for embalming (Diod. Sic. xix. 99).
flags] or reeds: Heb. suph, usually of the water-growth (see on Exodus 13:18), which gave the ‘Red Sea’ its Heb. name, once (Jonah 2:6) of sea-weed; here, v. 5, and Isaiah 19:6, of some water-growth along the banks of the Nile, or, in Isaiah 19:6 (see RVm.), of the Nile-canals (see on Exodus 7:19). What suph was, is not certainly known. It is commonly supposed to have been some kind of reed. At the present time, the banks of the Nile in the S. half of the Delta are completely bare: but reed-growths are abundant in the Delta, in disused canals in which the level of the water does not change—for instance, in those running through the site of Goshen—and in pools and ponds (see an ill. in R. T. Kelly’s Egypt (1902), opp. to p. 154): Forskål, also, Flora Aeg.-Arab. (1775), p. 24, attests for his time the abundance of the Arundo donax (see ill. in NHB. 436) on the banks of the Nile, apparently in general; and J. Russegger, Reisen (1841), i. 122 (both referred to by Kn.) speaks of the ‘impenetrable reeds’ on its bank, where the canal from Alexandria to Cairo joins the river. Compare the illustrations in Ebers, Egypt, i. 112, ii. 20 (if the artist may be trusted not to have idealized his picture). What we require is some water-growth which will (1) suit Exodus 2:3; Exodus 2:5, Isaiah 19:6; (2) explain reasonably the name ‘Sea of suph’ (see on Exodus 13:18); and (3), unless the late passage Jonah 2:6 is not to be pressed, sufficiently resemble ‘sea-weed’ to be called by the same name. Careful observation in Egypt itself might result in the required plant being found2.
 Might it be the sari of Theophr. H.P. iv. 9, Pliny, H.N. xiii. 45? Cf. Dillm. on xiii. 18.
And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.4. stood] took her stand (Exodus 19:17).
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.5. the daughter of Pharaoh] Tradition gave her name as Tharmuth (Jubilees xlvii. 5), Thermouthis (Jos. Ant. ii. 9. 5), or Merris (Euseb. Praep. Ev. ix. 27). Rameses II is stated to have had 59 daughters (Petrie, Hist. iii. 38, 82); but neither of these names appears among the 45 that have been preserved (ibid. p. 37 f.).
came down] presumably, from her palace: though where this was, or where indeed the entire incident took place, the narrative does not state. Perhaps Tanis (Zoan), one of the chief royal residences in the NE. of the Delta, near the mouth of the Tanitic branch of the Nile, is intended.
to bathe] Women of any position do not at present bathe in the Nile (Lane, Mod. Egyptians, ii. 36): whether the case was different formerly, we do not know. The painting, from a tomb in Thebes (Wilk.-Birch, ii. 353), referred to by Dillmann, and in the Speaker’s Comm., represents (Griffith) not a lady in her bath, but a lady seated in her clothing on a mat, and being anointed and adorned for a party by her attendants (cf. Erman, p. 187).
The Nile was regarded as sacred, and as a giver of life and fertility; but whether this led to the practice of bathing in it, is more than we know. The Heb. at or by the Nile, however, does not necessarily mean that Pharaoh’s daughter bathed publicly in the river; there might have been private bath-houses beside the river, into one of which she went.
her maidens] The court-ladies in attendance on her.
walked along] were walking.
her handmaid] her female slave,—which is what the Heb. ’âmâh regularly denotes (Exodus 20:10; Exodus 20:17, &c.).
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.6. and behold, &c.] Heb. and, behold, a weeping boy. The sight moved her compassion; and despite the Pharaoh’s orders, she determined to spare the child, and bring it up.
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?7. of the Hebrew women] The Egyptians, even till the time when they came in contact with the Greeks (Hdt. ii. 178), were exclusive, and unfriendly towards foreigners (cf. ibid. 41; Genesis 43:32). So a native Egyptian woman would not have undertaken the task.
a nurse] lit. a woman giving suck: so Genesis 24:59; Genesis 35:8. So the verb ‘nurse’ is lit. give suck to (vv. 7, 9).
And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother.8. The girl naturally brings her mother, who thus recovers her infant.
the maid] Heb. ‘almâh, implying that she was a grown up girl, and consequently at least 15 or 16 years older than Moses.
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.9. and I] The pron. is emphatic.
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.10. grew] Heb. became great, implying (cf. Genesis 21:8) that he was 3–4 years old, and was weaned.
became a son to her] was adopted by her, and naturally, therefore, cared for and educated by her. In the Old and Middle kingdoms, as Dillm. remarks, royal princesses had their own establishments, in a separate part of the palace.
Moses] Heb. Môsheh. Probably the Egypt, mosi, ‘born,’ which occurs not only as the second part of a theophorous name, as Thutmosi (Thothmes), ‘Thoth is born,’ Aḥmosi (Amâsis), ‘The moon is born,’ but also as a name by itself (Ebers, Gosen1, p. 526). LXX. vocalize Μωυσῆς, which was explained by the ancients as meaning ‘saved [νσης] from the water [μω]’ (Jos. Ant ii. 9. 6, and others), or ‘taken [σης] from the water’ (gloss in Cod. Sarrav. [Swete, Introd. to the OT. in Greek, p. 137], cited by Ges. Thes. s.v.); but though the Egyptian words are correctly given, the compound is not correct; for ‘saved from the water’ would in Egyptian be wezenmöou (Griffith).
Because I drew him, &c.] ‘Mosheh’ could mean only ‘drawing out’; ‘drawn out’ would in Heb. be mâshûy. The explanation, like those of many other names in the OT. (e.g. Cain, Genesis 4:1, Noah, Genesis 5:29), rests not upon a scientific etymology, but upon an assonance: the name is explained, not because it is derived from mâshâh, to ‘draw out,’ but because it resembles it in sound. The note in RV. is intended to indicate this: it does not, it will be observed, say that ‘Mosheh’ means ‘drawn out,’ but only gives the reader to understand that it resembles the Heb. word signifying to ‘draw out.’ So in similar cases, as Gen. ll.cc., and Exodus 29:32 to Exodus 30:24.
The verb mâshâh is rare, occurring otherwise in Heb. only Psalm 18:16 = 2 Samuel 22:17.
The simple Biblical narrative of Moses’ youth was decorated in later times with many imaginative details. Thus according to Josephus (Ant. ii. 9. 3–9, 10), his father, Amram, when his wife was pregnant, had a vision foretelling how her child would in the future deliver his people; the Egyptian princess, being childless, adopted him that he might ultimately succeed to the throne; he was a precocious child, and attracted by his beauty the notice of the passers by; when Egypt was invaded by the Ethiopians, he was, in consequence of an oracle, appointed leader of the Egyptians, defeated the invaders, and pursued them to the gates of their capital, Meroe, &c.: according to Philo (Vit. Mos. i. 5), he was a studious and thoughtful boy, Egyptian masters taught him arithmetic, geometry, music, and the philosophy contained in the hieroglyphic treatises; teachers from Greece, engaged for high fees, instructed him in other school-learning (τὴν ἄλλην ἐγκύκλιον παιδείαν); he learnt from others Assyrian letters, and Chaldaean astronomy1: according to the more summary statement in Acts 7:22 he was instructed in ‘all the wisdom of the Egyptians.’ A good education was valued in ancient Egypt; and the actual education of an Egyptian of the better class comprised such things as moral duties and good manners, reading, writing, composition, and arithmetic (Erman, pp. 164–6, 328–33, 364–8; 383 ff., 548–50). If however Moses was really instructed in ‘all the wisdom’ of the Egyptians, he must have learnt many things which from a Hebrew point of view it would be extremely undesirable for him to know: for it consisted largely of mythology, astrology, magic, and superstitious practices in medicine (ibid. pp. 348–364).
 See further Stanley’s Jewish Church, i. 107, with the references.
‘The thought that in the life of such a great man the finger of God must have early manifested itself, and he must be shewn from the first to have overcome all hindrances which men opposed to him and his work, is perfectly correct, and has been, and still is, often verified: else the most diverse peoples would not have so variously given expression to it in their myths and legends, e.g. about Semiramis (Diod. ii. 4), Perseus (Apollod. ii. 4. 1), Cyrus (Hdt. i. 110 ff.), Romulus (Liv. i. 4), and especially in the singularly similar story of Sargon, king of Accad (b.c. 3800)2. In particular cases, to be sure, it is always difficult, and even impossible, to determine how much in such narratives is historical. In Exodus 1:15 to Exodus 2:10 there are, as has been shewn, sufficient indications that the narratives were long current as tradition (Sage) before they were written down’ (Dillmann).
 In the words of an inscription of the 8th cent. b.c., said to have been copied from an earlier one: ‘My mother, who was poor, conceived me, and secretly gave birth to me; she placed me in a basket of reeds, she shut up the mouth of it with pitch, she abandoned me to the river, which did not overwhelm me. The river bore me away, and brought me to Akki, the drawer of water, who received me in the goodness of his heart,’ &c. (Maspero, Dawn of Civil., p. 597 f.; KB. iii. 1, 101; Sayce, EHH. p. 161). For details about the others see Jeremias, ATLAO. p. 255 ff. (ed. 2, p. 410 ff.).
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.11. in those days] The days of the Egyptian oppression.
was grown up] According to tradition, 42 (Jubilees 48:1:, comp. with 47:1), or 40 (Acts 7:23) years old (half of the 80 of Exodus 7:7).
looked on] i.e. contemplated with sympathy or grief (Genesis 21:16; Genesis 29:32; Genesis 44:34 Heb.). More than merely ‘saw.’
burdens] as Exodus 1:11.
an Egyptian] Perhaps one of the ‘task-masters,’ or superintendents of the labour-gangs (Exodus 3:7).
11–14. The first acts of Moses’ manhood. He chivalrously interposes, first on behalf of an Israelite maltreated by an Egyptian, and then in a quarrel between two Israelites. On account of his slaughter of the Egyptian, he is obliged to flee to Midian. Cf., in St Stephen’s speech, Acts 7:23-29.
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.
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?13. strove] i.e. quarrelled, fought: cf. Exodus 21:22; 2 Samuel 14:6.
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.14. Moses’ motive in slaying the Egyptian must thus have been misunderstood; it was not seen that he was really intending to help his people. Cf. Acts 7:25. At the same time Moses now shewed definitely that he no longer desired to be counted a son of Pharaoh’s daughter (v. 10), but that he wished to throw in his lot with his own people; cf. Hebrews 11:24-26.
‘In both these acts, the future hero shews himself courageous and energetic, burning with patriotic ardour, full of a strong sense of justice and of sympathy with the suffering, in their service readily giving up all material advantages. To free him, however, from all excess and impetuous passion, and to purify and deepen his spirit, he is now, as a result of his deed of blood, to be removed for a while into another environment’ (Dillm.M). In slaying the Egyptian, Moses acted without authority; his act was consequently unjustifiable, and there was cogency in the Israelite’s remonstrance, ‘Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?’ Motives, in themselves praiseworthy, of justice, patriotism, and sympathy with the oppressed, led him to interpose in an ill-considered manner, and he was obliged to take refuge in flight. Augustine, c. Faust. xxii. 70 (quoted by Keil), points out both the good and the bad features a Moses’ act: he had fine qualities, but they needed training and disciplining, in order to produce worthy fruits. ‘Reperio non debuisse hominem ab illo, qui nullam ordinatam potestatem gerebat, quamvis injuriosum et improbum, occidi. Verumtamen animae virtutis capaces ac fertiles praemittunt saepe vitia, quibus hoc ipsum indicent, cui virtuti sint potissimum accommodatae, si fuerint praeceptis excultae.’ And after referring to Peter’s action in defending his Master with the sword (John 18:20), he continues, ‘Uterque non detestabili immanitate, sed emendabili animositate justitiae regulam excessit; uterque odio improbitatis alienae, sed ille fraterno, hic dominico, licet adhuc carnali, tamen amore peccavit.’
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.15. Midian] The most important of a group of tribes (Genesis 25:1-4), in N.W. Arabia, and E. of Canaan (ib. v. 6; cf. Numbers 22:4), which the Hebrews reckoned to their own race, through Abraham’s second wife Ḳeṭurah, and so a step further removed than the Ishmaelites. The proper home of the Midianites appears to have been on the E. side of the Gulf of ‘Akaba, where Ptolemy (vi. 7. 2) and the Arabic geographers (cf. EB. iii. 3081) mention a place Μοδίανα, Madyan, almost exactly opposite the S. extremity of the Sin. Peninsula; but nomad branches of the tribe wandered northward along the margin of the desert, whence they made forays into Edom, for instance (Genesis 36:35), and even Canaan (Judges 6-8). From Exodus 3:1 (cf. Exodus 18:1; Exodus 18:5; Exodus 18:27) it appears that ‘the land of Midian’ was not far from Sinai: if, therefore, ‘Sinai’ has been rightly located by tradition (see p. 189 ff.), there must have been a Midianite settlement in some part of what is now called the ‘Sinaitic’ Peninsula, probably in its S.E. Others, however, regard ‘the land of Midian’ as denoting more naturally the proper home of the tribe, and consider the passage to support the view that ‘Sinai’ was on the E. of the Gulf of ‘Aḳaba (cf. p. 189 f.).
In the S. or SE. of the Peninsula, Moses would be beyond Egyptian jurisdiction. It is true, in Wâdy Maghârah, and Wâdy Sarbuṭ el-Khadim, there were mines for turquoise and copper, worked by the Egyptians, and protected by military guards, which are mentioned frequently, at intervals, from the 3rd to the 20th dynasty (see full descriptions, with numerous photographs, in Petrie’s Researches in Sinai, 1906): but (see the Map) these were in the NW. of the Peninsula, and not necessarily on the route to the S. or SE. Sayce’s statement (HCM. 265 f.) that in the days of the Exodus the Sin. Peninsula was ‘an Egyptian province’ seems to be an exaggeration of the facts; for even the mining districts were not occupied by them permanently (see Petrie, p. 206).
by the well] the well of the district to which he came.
15–22. Moses’ flight to Midian; and his marriage there to a daughter of the priest of Midian.
Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.16. the priest of Midian] the chief priest of the tribe, or settlement, and so a person of some importance. On the duties and position of the old Arabian ‘priest,’ see on Exodus 28:1.
drew water] cf. Genesis 29:9 (Rachel). To the present day, among the Bedawin of the Sin. Peninsula, ‘the men consider it beneath them to take the flocks to pasture’; it is ‘the exclusive duty of the unmarried girls,’ and those thus employed spend the whole day with the sheep (Burckhardt, Syria, 1822, p. 531, Bedouins, 1831, i. 351 f., cited by Kn.; cf. Doughty, Arabia Deserta, 1888, i. 306, 322).
the troughs] The word rendered, not very happily, gutters in Genesis 30:38; Genesis 30:41. Such troughs are still found regularly in the East about wells; they are often made of stone.
And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.17. drove them away] wishing to water their own flocks first. But Moses chivalrously comes forward (cf. vv. 12, 13) to assist the girls.
And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day?18. Reuel] Heb. רעואל, the ‘friend’ or ‘companion of God’ (Sayce, EHH. p. 163 ‘Shepherd of God’: but why should the name be Assyrian?). (AV. Raguel, where the g comes from the LXX., and is one of the many instances of ע being expressed in that version by g, as Gaza, Gomorrah, Gotholiah, &c.: see the writer’s Notes on Samuel, on 1 Samuel 16:20.) The name occurs also in Edom (Genesis 36:4; Genesis 36:10) and Israel (1 Chronicles 9:8). Here it occasions a difficulty. In Exodus 3:1, Exodus 4:18, and ch. 18, Moses’ father-in-law is called Jethro1; in Numbers 10:29, Jdg 4:11 (RVm.) he is called Hobab (RV. ‘brother-in-law,’ cf. Exodus 1:16, is a doubtful rend., adopted entirely from harmonistic motives): here, if Reuel is correct, he would have had a third name. Perhaps, however, the word here is a gloss, due to a misconception of Numbers 10:29 (so Ryssel in Di. al.): had the name been original, it would naturally have been given in v. 16 (where the ‘priest of Midian’ is first mentioned). Still, it is strange, if a name had to be found, that it was taken from the remote Numbers 10:29, rather than from Exodus 3:1. ‘Tradition,’ says Prof. Sayce (EHH. p. 163), ‘has handed down more than one name for the high-priest of Midian’; perhaps indeed, as Nielsen (Die altarab. Mondreligion u. die Mos. Ueberlief., 1904, p. 131) has suggested, the variation is due to the fact that, like many of the Sabaean kings, and some of the Sabaean priests (Mordtmann, Beiträge zur Z. für Assyr. 1897, p. 75 f.), he had actually two names. There seem also to have been different traditions about his nationality; for Hobab,—whether he were really the same as Jethro, or Jethro’s son,—though he is a Midianite in Num Exo 10:29, is a Kenite in Jdg 4:11 (cf. Exodus 1:16).
 Or, in Exodus 4:18, Jether. The ô, or, as it might be vocalized, u, is doubtless the mark of the Arab. nomin., as in the numerous Arab. names (Zaidu, Sa‘du, etc.) of the Sinaitic inscriptions (p. 179) of 2–3d. cent. a.d.: cf. the Arabian Gashmu, Nehemiah 6:6 (called Geshem in Exodus 6:1-2). The name Yether (meaning apparently excellence) recurs as that of several Israelites. The corresponding Arab. form Watr (or Witr) occurs also several times in the Sabaean inscriptions of S. Arabia, both as a principal name (CIS. iv. Nos. 10, 70, 83), and as a cognomen (Nos. 1, 37; cf. pp. 22, 77); and Witru in CIS. 11. ii. 3156 (from Sinai), and RES. No. 53 (from Ḥauran); οὔιθρος, Waddington, Inscr. Grecques de la Syrie, 2537 h.
drew] actually drew: the Heb. idiom, by accentuating the fact, ‘expresses the surprise which they had felt at the kindness of his action’ (McNeile).
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.
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.20. The hospitable Arab is vexed that his daughters have not invited their defender to a meal; so he bids them call him.
And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.21. was content] or agreed; cf. Jdg 17:11; Jdg 19:6.
And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.22. Gershom] The name might conceivably be derived from גרש, and mean expulsion. The writer, however, thinking, as in v. 10, of an assonance, rather than of an etymology, explains it as though it were equivalent to gêr shâm, ‘a sojourner there.’ It was through a descendant of this Gershom that the priests of Dan claimed in later days descent from Moses (Jdg 18:30).
in a foreign land] This was the meaning of ‘strange’ (from Lat. extraneus), when the AV. was made in 1611; and the old rendering has been often retained in RV. But ‘strange’ has changed its meaning now, and is no longer a sufficiently clear and unambiguous rendering of the Heb. For other cases of ‘strange’ in the same now obsolete sense of ‘foreign,’ see Exodus 21:8 ‘a strange people’; 1 Kings 11:1; 1 Kings 11:8, Ezra 10:2; Ezra 10:10 al. ‘strange women or wives’; Genesis 35:2; Genesis 35:4, Psalm 81:9 b al. ‘strange gods’; Psalm 137:4 ‘a strange land,’ as here. Cf. the passage in the Homilies (cited by Aldis Wright), which speaks of ‘a certain strange philosopher,’ meaning, not an eccentric one, but a foreign one. ‘Stranger’ also often occurs in EVV. in the same sense (see on ch. Exodus 12:43). Comp. the writer’s note on Malachi 2:11 in the Century Bible; and see also DB. s.v.
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.23a (J). The death of the king of Egypt, the Pharaoh of v. 15. The notice is intended to explain how it became possible for Moses to return to Egypt (see Exodus 4:19).
in the course of those [many] days] the days of Moses’ sojourn in Midian. It seems that ‘many’ must be a redactional addition. Moses to all appearance married Zipporah not long after his arrival in Midian; and ‘according to J the Pharaoh must have died very soon after the birth of Gershom; for Gershom in Exodus 4:20; Exodus 4:25 is represented as still quite young. J, therefore, did not picture Moses as remaining long in Midian. That is only the representation of P, according to whom (Exodus 7:7) Moses is 80 years old when he treats with Pharaoh. If Moses was 30 (or 40) years old when he fled from Egypt, he would thus have remained in banishment 50 (or 40) years. This, however, agrees as well with the ‘many’ of v. 23a, as it agrees badly with the representation of J (Exodus 4:20; Exodus 4:25). Dillm. will therefore be right in regarding this ‘many’ as a redactional addition’ (Bäntsch).
23b–25 (P). The sequel in P to Exodus 1:14. God hears, and takes notice of, the cry of the oppressed Israelites.
23b. bondage] as Exodus 1:14 (EVV. service), also P.
their cry for help (שַׁוְעָתָם) came up, &c.] cf. 1 Samuel 5:12 Heb.
And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.24. their groaning] Exodus 6:5 a (P).
and God … remembered] cf. Exodus 6:5 b; also Genesis 8:1; Genesis 19:29 (all P).
his covenant with Abraham, &c.] The covenant concluded with Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 17:7-8; Genesis 17:19 P), and implicitly with Jacob (Genesis 35:12 P), which in Exodus 6:4-5 b also is represented by P as the motive for the deliverance of Israel from Egypt: cf. p. 176.
And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.25. saw] viz. with attention and sympathy.
took knowledge of them] lit. knew (them), i.e. noticed, regarded them: ‘know,’ as Genesis 18:21 (RV.), Amos 3:2, Psalm 1:6; Psalm 37:18 al.