I appreciate how the Bible presents both the successes and failures of the people portrayed throughout its pages. The Bible’s heroes often failed just like we do. Moses was born of a humble existence to parents of a people enslaved by Egypt, and as a baby, was condemned to die. The order had been given for all male babies born to Hebrew families be thrown into the Nile river. The mother of Moses built an Ark of bulrushes and lovingly placed him among the rushes along the Nile River.
His older sister kept watch as the Pharoah’s daughter came to bathe in the river. The princess saw the Ark and her heart went out to the young boy. Eventually, when Moses was old enough, his mother brought him to the palace to be raised by the Pharoah’s daughter to become the next Pharoah of Egypt.
As we have discovered in Scripture, the Ark is a symbol of Salvation. His mother told Moses about the symbol the Ark represented and that he would save the Hebrew people from the oppression of slavery and bring the people back to the land promised to Abraham.
But Moses had failed when he tried to rescue the Hebrews doing it his way instead of relying on God’s leading. As a result, Moses killed a man, Pharoah threatened to have Moses killed. Moses fled from the face of Pharoah and dwelt in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well.
The Midianites were descendants of Abraham by Keturah (see Genesis 25:1, 2). They seemed to have remained worshipers of the true God for some time. Reuel (later known as Jethro, (see Exodus 3:1) was a priest to the true God in Midian (see in Exodus 2:16), and that he had seven daughters.
“And they (the daughters of Reuel) came and drew water, and they filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. Then the shepherds came and drove them away; But Moses stood up and helped them water their flock” (Exodus 2:16b, 17).
Despite what had happened in Egypt, the text tells us several things about Moses’s character. His flight from Egypt had not blunted his instinct for intervening again in injustice and righting wrongs. He was quick to act against oppression, even when he was alone and isolated. And interestingly enough, the odds were not stacked in his favor. He commanded enough strength of personality and physicality. He was strong enough to chase off a group of shepherds that had thwarted the actions of Reuel’s daughters. When he finished defending them, Moses then accomplished the work the seven sisters had been sent to do.
The passage implies that these shepherds refused to wait their turn and took advantage of their numbers and strength over the seven sisters. Moses acts as a kind of saviour to the girls, accomplishing what they couldn’t do with their power. But the passage also sets the scene for the re-education of Moses.
But Moses had a lot to learn. He relied upon his strength and will of character instead of relying upon God. Yes, I am sure God helped with the situation. Still, the reality is, Moses once again took it upon himself to defend those who were oppressed and suffering from injustice. Moses showed in this act that he was not a coward. He was generous and helpful to people he hardly knew. Moses acted out of principle without thought of personal gain. Traits that would do him well 40 years later when he returned to Egypt to lead God’s chosen people, the descendants of Abraham, back to the promised land.
Moses was content to live with the man (Reuel), and he gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses. And she bore him a son. He called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land” (Exodus 2:21, 22).
Over time, the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; their cry came up to God because of their bondage. God heard their groaning, and God remembers His covenant with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them (Exodus 2:23-25).
From the time he fled Egypt to verse 25 of Exodus 2, Forty years passed. Moses has been re-educated while tending sheep. It is believed that he wrote the books of Job and Genesis while tending his father-in-law’s sheep. The proud arrogance of his youth was gone. In its place, a humble man existed. A man that was still moved by the injustice he saw around him. Moses was now a man that was in tune with God and reliant upon God. He was no longer self-reliant. He was ready to be used by God for great work. The question is, does Moses still see his great potential?