“Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown.” This does not end the sentence but it certainly lets us know that some time had elapsed from when his mother brought him to Pharoah’s palace and the events that we are about to see.
In the New Testament, Stephen the deacon, while on trial before the Sanhedrin, gives us additional details regarding Moses and his instruction in the court of Pharoah. “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22). The fact that the book of Acts uses the word Learned rather than trained or instructed implied the relationship Moses had with the household of Pharaoh. He had been brought into the Household of Pharoah was considered next in line to become Pharoah. Therefore, some of his education he received from the Egyptian priests and some from army commanders. Such was the training ordinarily given a royal prince. Since Moses was mighty in words and deeds, it would be amiss to assume that he led important military expeditions to foreign countries. His outward appearance, his dress, his speech, and his behavior may have been entirely Egyptian. Still, he remained a Hebrew in Character, religion, and loyalty. Paul in the book of Hebrews tells us: “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjo9y the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26).
Acts 7:23 gives us additional information regarding Moses. At the time of the events in Exodus 2:11-15, Moses is forty years old. The text in Acts says: “Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel.”
As we will see in Exodus 7:7, Moses is now eighty years old when God sends him back to Egypt. And in Deuteronomy 34:7, Moses is 120 years old when he finally falls asleep for the last time.
“Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren” (Exodus 2:11). In the above passage, I have underlined five keywords we need to understand.
The words looked and saw are the same word but used in two different ways. The first word, “looked,” means to gain an understanding, while the second word, “saw,” means to “observe” or “see.”
It was well established in Exodus chapter 1 that Israel was now enslaved or oppressed by the Egyptians. Moses being a brethren of the Hebrews, came to gain an understanding of the burden the Hebrews had to bear from the hand of the Egyptians. While gaining this understanding, he observed or saw an Egyptian. The original Hebrew uses the word “ish” before the word “Egyptian.” We understand this was an Egyptian man, one of the taskmasters placed over the Hebrews, beating the slave. The final word is “beaten,” which is the Hebrew word “nakah,” which means slaying or killing.
Ok, so this was a lot of boring information to get us to where we need to be. Moses left the palace and toured the country, attempting to understand or gain knowledge as to the condition of his brethren, the Hebrews. While on tour, he saw a Hebrew being killed by an Egyptian man, one of the taskmasters set over the Hebrew slaves.
Based upon the first part of chapter 2, Moses has an understanding through the ark story that he is supposed to bring salvation from slavery to the Hebrews. This understanding is based upon the Hebrew understanding of the word Ark. For Noah and his family, the Ark brought deliverance from the flood. Thus based upon the previous story involving an Ark, Moses is supposed to deliver his people. He is to bring salvation to them. Deliverance and salvation are being used in the sense of being saved from. In Noah’s day, the flood, in Moses time, slavery and Egypt.
This understanding and seeing another Hebrew being slain caused Moses and his military training to jump into action. “So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw on one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand” (Exodus 2:12).
Two wrongs do not make it right. As the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis chapter 4 indicates, murder is a type of sin against God. Because Moses saw this Egyptian killing, a Hebrew did not make it suitable for Moses to do the same.
God may have chosen Moses to deliver the Hebrews from slavery and Egypt. God certainly did not intend for it to be carried out in this way. God’s way is not murder for murder. Moses could have been an influence within the court of Pharoah to effect change as Joseph had done. But Moses took matters into his own hands, which even caused the other Hebrews to now dear him. “Then he said, (the Hebrew who was beaten) ‘Who made you a prince and judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’” (Exodus 2:14).
“So Moses feared and said, ‘Surely this thing is known!” When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharoah and dwelt in the land of Midian and he sat down by a well” (Exodus 2:14b-15).
The deliverer of the Hebrew people was gone. God’s carefully laid plains were laid to waste by choice of one man’s actions. Or are they?