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Exodus Chapter Two


Exodus 2 Outlines

Moses Is Born (v.1~10)

Moses Flees to Midian (v.11~25)

New King James Version (NKJV)



This chapter relates the birth of Moses, and his preservation in an ark of bulrushes, Exodus 2:1. His being found by Pharaoh's daughter, took up, and put out to nurse by her, and adopted for her son, Exodus 2:4, some exploits of his when grown up, taking the part of an Hebrew against an Egyptian whom he slew, and endeavouring to reconcile two Hebrews at variance, when one of them reproached him with slaying the Egyptian, Exodus 2:11, which thing being known to Pharaoh, he sought to slay Moses, and this obliged him to flee to Midian, Exodus 2:15 where he met with the daughters of Reuel, and defended them against the shepherds, and watered their flocks for them, Exodus 2:16, which Reuel being informed of, sent for him, and he lived with him, and married his daughter Zipporah, by whom he had a son, Exodus 2:18 and the chapter is concluded with the death of the king of Egypt, and the sore bondage of the Israelites, and their cries and groans, which God had a respect unto, Exodus 2:23.


Exodus 2:1  And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi.

   YLT  1And there goeth a man of the house of Levi, and he taketh the daughter of Levi,

And there went a man of the house of Levi,.... This man was Amram, the son of Kohath, and grandson of Levi, as appears from Exodus 6:18.

and took to wife a daughter of Levi; one of the same house, family, or tribe; which was proper, that the tribes might be kept distinct: this was Jochebed, said to be his father's sister; see Gill on Exodus 6:20, her name in JosephusF19Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 4. is Joachebel, which seems to be no other than a corruption of Jochebed, but in the Targum in 1 Chronicles 4:18 she is called Jehuditha.


Exodus 2:2  2 So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months.

   YLT  2and the woman conceiveth, and beareth a son, and she seeth him that he [is] fair, and she hideth him three months,

And the woman conceived, and bare a son,.... Which was not her first child, nor indeed her first son, for she had both Aaron and Miriam before this: this son, which was Moses, was born, as the Jews sayF20Shatshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2. Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 7. 1. , in the thirty seventh year after the death of Levi, A. M. 2365, (or, as others, 2368,) on a Wednesday, the seventh of the month Adar, in the third hour of the day: some say it was on the twenty fourth of Nisan; but, according to Bishop UsherF21Annal. Vet. Test. p. 18. , he was born forty one years after the death of Levi, A. M. 2433, and in the year before Christ 1571:

and when she saw him that he was a goodly child; exceeding fair and beautiful, as Stephen expresses it, Acts 7:20, the Jews sayF23Pirke Eliezer, c. 48. fol. 57. 2. his form was like an angel of God, and TrogusF24Justin e Trogo, l. 36. c. 2. , an Heathen writer, says his beautiful form recommended him: this engaged the affections of his parents to him, and who, from hence, might promise themselves that he would be a very eminent and useful person, could his life be preserved:

she hid him three months; in her bedchamber, some Jewish writers sayF25Chronicon Mosis, fol. 3. 2. ; othersF26Pirke Eliezer, ut supra. (c.48. fol. 57.2) , in a house under ground, that is, in the cellar; however, it was in his father's house, Acts 7:20.


Exodus 2:3  3 But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank.

   YLT  3and she hath not been able any more to hide him, and she taketh for him an ark of rushes, and daubeth it with bitumen and with pitch, and putteth the lad in it, and putteth [it] in the weeds by the edge of the River;

And when she could no longer hide him,.... Because of her neighbours, who might hear the crying of the child, or because of the diligent search made by Pharaoh's officers, which some think was made every three months: the JewsF1Targum Jon. & Jarchi in loc. have a notion that his mother was delivered of him at six months' end, and therefore when the other three months were up women usually go with child, she could hide him no longer, a birth of a child being then expected, and would be inquired about:

she took for him an ark of bulrushes; the word, according to KimchiF2Sepher Shorash. rad. גמא. , signifies a kind of wood exceeding light, so Gersom and Ben Melech; an Arabic writerF3Elmacius apud Hottinger. p. 402. calls it an ark of wood; it is generally taken to be the "papyrus" or reed of Egypt, which grew upon the banks of the Nile, and of which, many writers say, small vessels or little ships were made; see Gill on Isaiah 18:2.

and daubed it with slime and with pitch; with pitch without and slime within, as Jarchi observes; which being of a glutinous nature, made the rushes or reeds stick close together, and so kept out the water:

and put the child therein; committing it to the care and providence of God, hoping and believing that by some means or another it would be preserved; for this, no doubt, was done in faith, as was the hiding him three months, to which the apostle ascribes that, Hebrews 11:23.

and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink; among the sedge, weeds, and rushes, that grew upon the banks of the river Nile; there she laid it, that it might not be carried away with the stream of the river, and that it might be seen and taken up by somebody that would have compassion on it, and take care of it: the Arabic writersF4Patricides, p. 25. Elmacinus, p. 46. apud Hottinger. Smegma, c. 8. p. 400. say, that Jochebed made an ark of the papyrus, though in the law it is said to be of cork, and pitched within and without, and put the child into it, and laid it on the bank of the Nile, where the water was not so deep, by the city Tzan (or Zoan, that is, Tanis), which was the metropolis of the Tanitic nome; but very wrongly adds, that it might be killed by the dashing of the waves, and she might not see its death.


Exodus 2:4  4 And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him.

   YLT  4and his sister stationeth herself afar off, to know what is done to him.

And his sister stood afar off,.... This was Miriam, as the Targum of Jonathan expresses it; who is supposed to be about ten or twelve years of age, others say seven: she was placedF5תתצב "collocata fuerat", Vatablus. , as the word may be rendered, by her parents, or, "she placed herself"F6"Stiterat sese", Junius & Tremellius, "stitit sese", Piscator, Drusius. , by their instruction, at some distance from the place where the ark was, that she might not be observed and be thought to belong to it, and yet so near as to observe what became of it, which was the intent of her standing there, as follows:

to wit what would be done to him; to know, take notice, and observe, what should happen to it, if anyone took it up, and what they did with it, and where they carried it, for, "to wit" is an old English word, which signifies "to know", and is the sense of the Hebrew word to which it answers, see 2 Corinthians 8:1.


Exodus 2:5  5 Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along the riverside; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it.

   YLT  5And a daughter of Pharaoh cometh down to bathe at the River, and her damsels are walking by the side of the River, and she seeth the ark in the midst of the weeds, and sendeth her handmaid, and she taketh it,

And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river,.... Her name, in JosephusF7Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 5. , is called Thermuthis, and by ArtapanusF8Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 432. , an Heathen writer, Merrhis, perhaps from Miriam, and frequently by the Jewish writersF9T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 13. 1. Derech Eretz, fol. 19. 1. Pirke Eliezer, c. 48. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2. , Bithia, which is the name of a daughter of another Pharaoh, 1 Chronicles 4:18 from whence they seem to have taken it: she came down from the palace of her father, the gardens of which might lead to the Nile; for Zoan or Tanis, near to which, the Arabiac writers say, as before observed, the ark was laid, was situated on the banks of the river Nile, and was the royal seat of the kings of Egypt; though perhaps the royal seat at this time was either Heliopolis, as Apion testifiesF11Apud Joseph. Contr. Apion, l. 2. sect. 2. , that it was a tradition of the Egyptians that Moses was an Heliopolitan, or else Memphis, which was not far from it; for Artapanus, another Heathen writer, saysF12Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 433. , that when he fled, after he had killed the Egyptian, from Memphis, he passed over the Nile to go into Arabia: however, no doubt a bath was there provided for the use of the royal family; for it can hardly be thought that she should go down and wash herself in the open river: here she came to wash either on a religious account, or for pleasure: the JewsF13Chronicon Mosis, fol. 3. 2. Ed. Gaulmin. say it was an extraordinary hot season throughout Egypt, so that the flesh of men was burnt with the heat of the sun, and therefore to cool her she came to the river to bathe in it: othersF14Targum Jon. in loc. Pirke Eliezer, ut supra. (c.48. fol. 57.2.) of them say, that they were smitten with burning ulcers, and she also, that she could not wash in hot water, but came to the river:

and her maidens walked along by the river's side; while she washed herself; though it is highly probable she was not left alone: these seem to be the maids of honour, there might be others that might attend her of a meaner rank, and more fit to do for her what was necessary; yet these saw not the ark, it lying lower among the flags, and being nearer the bath where Pharaoh's daughter was, she spied it from thence as follows:

and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it; the maid that waited on her while the rest were taking their walks; her she sent from the bath among the flags to take up the ark: the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, and R. EliezerF15Ibid. Vid. T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 12. 1. , render it,"she stretched out her arm and hand, and took it;'the same word, being differently pointed, so signifying; but this is disapproved of, by the Jewish commentators.


Exodus 2:6  6 And when she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”

   YLT  6and openeth, and seeth him -- the lad, and lo, a child weeping! and she hath pity on him, and saith, `This is [one] of the Hebrews' children.'

And when she had opened it,.... The ark, for it was shut or covered over, though doubtless there were some apertures for respiration:

she saw the child in it, and, behold, the babe wept; and which was a circumstance, it is highly probable, greatly affected the king's daughter, and moved her compassion to it; though an Arabic writer saysF16Patricides apud Hottinger. p 401. , she heard the crying of the child in the ark, and therefore sent for it:

and she had compassion on him, and said, this is one of the Hebrews' children; which she might conclude from its being thus exposed, knowing her father's edict, and partly from the form and beauty of it, Hebrew children not being swarthy and tawny as Egyptian ones: the Jewish writersF17T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 12. 2. Aben Ezra in loc. say, she knew it by its being circumcised, the Egyptians not yet using circumcision.


Exodus 2:7  7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?”

   YLT  7And his sister saith unto the daughter of Pharaoh, `Do I go? when I have called for thee a suckling woman of the Hebrews, then she doth suckle the lad for thee;'

Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter,.... Miriam the sister of Moses, who observing the ark taken up, and the maidens that were walking upon the bank of the river, and other women perhaps, gathering about it to see it; she made one among them, and after hearing their discourse about it, proposed what follows to Pharaoh's daughter: Jarchi says, that Pharaoh's daughter tried several Egyptian women to suckle it, but it would not suck of them: JosephusF18Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 5. says the same, and it also is in the TalmudF19T. Bab. Sotah, ut supra. (fol. 12.1) ; and that, if true, gave Miriam a fair opportunity to offer to do the following message for her:

shall I go and call for thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? for she perceived that she was desirous of having the child brought up as her own.


Exodus 2:8  8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the maiden went and called the child’s mother.

   YLT  8and the daughter of Pharaoh saith to her, `Go;' and the virgin goeth, and calleth the mother of the lad,

And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, go,.... She fell in at once with the proposal, being, no doubt, overruled, by the providence of God, to agree to have such a person called:

and the maid went and called the child's mother; and her own, whose name was Jochebed the wife of Amram, as observed in Exodus 2:1.


Exodus 2:9  9 Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him.

   YLT  9and the daughter of Pharaoh saith to her, `Take this lad away, and suckle him for me, and I -- I give thy hire;' and the woman taketh the lad, and suckleth him.

And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her,.... Being come, having made all possible haste:

take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages; by which means she had not only the nursing of her own child, but was paid for it: according to a Jewish writerF20Dibre Hayamim; sive Chronicon Mosis, fol. 4. 1. , Pharaoh's daughter agreed with her for two pieces of silver a day.


Exodus 2:10  10 And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses,[a] saying, “Because I drew him out of the water.”

   YLT  10And the lad groweth, and she bringeth him in to the daughter of Pharaoh, and he is to her for a son, and she calleth his name Moses, and saith, `Because -- from the water I have drawn him.'

And the child grew,.... In stature and in strength, thriving under the care of its mother and nurse, through the blessing of God:

and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter; when grown up and weaned, and needed a nurse no longer: a Jewish chronologerF21Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2. says, this was two years after his birth; and another saysF23Chronicon. ib. Shalshal. ib. , that when he was three years old, Pharaoh sitting at table, and his queen was at his right hand, and his daughter, with Moses, at his left, and his mother before him, when Moses in the sight of them all took the crown from Pharaoh's head:

and he became her son; by adoption, for though she was a married woman, as some say, yet had no children, though very desirous of them, which accounts the more for her readiness in taking notice and care of Moses; so Philo the Jew saysF24De Vita Mosis, c. 1. p. 604, 605. , that she had been married a long time, but never with child, though she was very desirous of children, and especially a son, that might succeed her father in the kingdom, or otherwise it must go into another family: yea, he further says, that she feigned herself with child, that Moses might be thought to be her own son: and ArtapanusF25Apud Euseb, Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 432. , an Heathen writer, says that the daughter of Pharaoh was married to one Chenephres, who reigned over the country above Memphis, for at that time many reigned in Egypt; and she being barren, took a son of one of the Jews, whom she called Moyses, and being grown up to a man's estate, was, by the Greeks, called Musaeus:

and she called his name Moses, and she said, because I drew him out of the water; by which it appears, that this word is derived from the Hebrew word משה, "Mashah", which signifies to draw out, and is only used of drawing out of water, 2 Samuel 22:17 which Pharaoh's daughter gave him, he being an Hebrew child, and which language she may very well be thought to understand; since there were such a large number of Hebrews dwelt in Egypt, and she was particularly conversant with Jochebed her Hebrew nurse; and besides, there was a great affinity between the Hebrew and the Egyptian language, and therefore there is no need to derive the word from the latter, as PhiloF26 and JosephusF1Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9.) sect. 6. do; who observe that "Mo" in the Egyptian language signifies "water", and "Yses", "saved"; besides, the Egyptian name of Moses, according to Aben Ezra, who had it from a book of agriculture in that language, is Momos: the Jewish writersF2Vajikra Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 146. 3. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2. Chronicon Mosis, fol. 4. 1. give to Moses many names, which he had from different persons, no less than ten: and ArtapannsF3Apud Euseb. ut supra. (praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 432.) says, that by the Egyptian priests he was called Hermes or Mercury, and probably was the Hermes of that people; he is called by OrpheusF4De Deo, v. 23. υδογενης, "born in water", because drawn out of it.


Exodus 2:11  11 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.

   YLT  11And it cometh to pass, in those days, that Moses is grown, and he goeth out unto his brethren, and looketh on their burdens, and seeth a man, an Egyptian, smiting a man, a Hebrew, [one] of his brethren,

And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown,.... To man's estate; some of the Jewish writers say he was eighteen, others twenty years of ageF5Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2. , but Stephen, who is most to be credited, says he was full forty years of age, Acts 7:23,

that he went out unto his brethren the Hebrews: whom he knew to be his brethren, either by divine revelation, or by conversing with his nurse, who was his mother; who, doubtless, instructed him while he was with her, as far as he was capable of being informed of things, and who might frequently visit her afterwards, by which means he became apprised that he was an Hebrew and not an Egyptian, though he went for the son of Pharaoh's daughter, which he refused to be called when he knew his parentage, Hebrews 11:24 now he went out from Pharaoh's palace, which in a short time he entirely relinquished, to visit his brethren, and converse with them, and understood their case and circumstances:

and looked on their burdens; which they were obliged to carry, and were very heavy, and with which they were pressed; he looked at them with grief and concern, and considered in his mind how to relieve them, if possible:

and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren; the Egyptian was, according to Jarchi, a principal of the taskmasters of Israel, who was beating the Hebrew for not doing his work as he required, and the Hebrew, according to him, was the husband of Shelomith, daughter of Dibri, Leviticus 24:11, though others say it was DathanF6lbid. .


Exodus 2:12  12 So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

   YLT  12and he turneth hither and thither, and seeth that there is no man, and smiteth the Egyptian, and hideth him in the sand.

And he looked this way, and that way,.... All around, to observe if there were any within sight who could see what he did; which did not arise from any consciousness of any evil he was about to commit, but for his own preservation, lest if seen he should be accused to Pharaoh, and suffer for it:

and when he saw that there was no man; near at hand, that could see what he did, and be a witness against him:

he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand; in a sandy desert place hard by, where having slain him with his sword, he dug a hole, and put him into it; See Gill on Acts 7:24. Of the slaughter of the Egyptian, and the following controversy about it, DemetriusF7Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 19. p. 439. , an Heathen writer, treats of in perfect agreement with the sacred Scriptures.


Exodus 2:13  13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?”

   YLT  13And he goeth out on the second day, and lo, two men, Hebrews, striving! and he saith to the wrong-doer, `Why dost thou smite thy neighbour?'

And when he went out the second day,.... The day following:

behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together; which the Jewish writersF8Targum Jon. & Jarchi in loc. Shemoth Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 91. 4. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2. Pirke Eliezer, c. 48. take to be Dathan and Abiram:

and he said to him that did the wrong; who was the aggressor, and acted the wicked part in abusing his brother:

wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? friend and companion; signifying, that it was very unbecoming, unkind, and unnatural, and that brethren and friends ought to live together in love, and not strive with, and smite one another, and especially at such a time as this, when they were so oppressed by, and suffered so much from their enemies; See Gill on Acts 7:26.


Exodus 2:14  14 Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” So Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!”

   YLT  14and he saith, `Who set thee for a head and a judge over us? to slay me art thou saying [it], as thou hast slain the Egyptian?' and Moses feareth, and saith, `Surely the thing hath been known.'

And he said, who made thee a prince and a judge over us?.... God had designed him for one, and so he appeared to be afterwards; but this man's meaning is, that he was not appointed by Pharaoh's order then, and so had nothing to do to interfere in their differences and quarrels; though Moses did not take upon him to act in an authoritative way, but to exhort and persuade them to peace and love, as they were brethren:

intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? if this was Dathan, or however the same Hebrew that he had defended and rescued from the Egyptian, it was very ungenerous in him to upbraid him with it; or if that Hebrew had made him his confident, and acquainted him with that affair, as it was unfaithful to betray it, since it was in favour of one of his own people, it was ungrateful to reproach him with it:

and Moses feared; lest the thing should be discovered and be told to Pharaoh, and he should suffer for it: this fear that possessed Moses was before he fled from Egypt, and went to Midian, not when he forsook it, and never returned more, at the departure of the children of Israel, to which the apostle refers, Hebrews 11:27 and is no contradiction to this:

and said, surely this thing is known; he said this within himself, he concluded from this speech, that either somebody had seen him commit the fact he was not aware of, or the Hebrew, whose part he took, had through weakness told it to another, from whom this man had it, or to himself; for by this it seems that he was not the same Hebrew, on whose account Moses had slain the Egyptian, for then the thing would have been still a secret between them as before; only the other Hebrew this was now contending with must hereby come to the knowledge of it, and so Moses might fear, that getting into more hands it would come out, as it did; See Gill on Acts 7:27. See Gill on Acts 7:28. See Gill on Acts 7:29.


Exodus 2:15  15 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.

   YLT  15And Pharaoh heareth of this thing, and seeketh to slay Moses, and Moses fleeth from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelleth in the land of Midian, and dwelleth by the well.

Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses,.... Both for his killing the Egyptian, which by the laws of EgyptF9Diodor. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 70. was death, whether bond or free; and for his taking part with the Hebrews against the Egyptians, and knowing him to be a wise and valiant man, might fear he would put himself at the head of the Hebrews, and cause a revolt of them; and if there was anything in his dream, or if he had such an one, and had the interpretation of it given by his magicians, that an Hebrew child should be born, by whom Egypt would be destroyed; see Gill on Exodus 1:15, he might call it to mind, and be affected with it, and fear the time was coming on, and Moses was the person by whom it should be done; and he might be stirred up by his courtiers to take this step, who doubtless envied the growing interest of Moses in his court:

but Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh; not through want of courage, but through prudence, to avoid danger, and preserve his life for future usefulness; and no doubt under a divine impulse, and by the direction of divine Providence, the time for him to be the deliverer of Israel not being yet come:

and dwelt in the land of Midian: a country so called from Midian, one of Abraham's sons by Keturah, Genesis 25:2. JeromF11De locis Heb. fol. 93. A. B. calls it a city, and says it was on the other side of Arabia, to the south, in the desert of the Saracens, to the east of the Red sea, from whence the country was called Midian; and PhiloF12De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 609. says, that Moses went into neighbouring Arabia; and which is confirmed by ArtapanusF13Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 433. the Heathen historian, who says, that from Memphis, crossing the river Nile, he went into Arabia; and this country was sometimes called Cush or Ethiopia; hence Moses's wife is called an Ethiopian woman, Numbers 12:1.

and he sat down by a well; weary, thoughtful, and pensive. It may be observed, that it was usual with persons in such like circumstances, being strangers and not knowing well to whom to apply for assistance or direction, to place themselves at a well of water, to which there was frequent resort, both for the use of families and of flocks; see Genesis 24:11. This well is now called, as some say, Eyoun el Kaseb, fourteen hours and a half from Magare Chouaib, or "the grot of Jethro"F14See a Journey from Grand Cairo to Mecca, in Ray's Travels, vol. 2. p. 468. ; but if this was so far from Jethro's house, his daughters had a long way to go with their flock: but some other travellersF15Egmont and Heyman's Travels, vol. 2. p. 29. speak of a very neat and pleasant village, called Hattin, where they were shown the grave of Jethro, Moses's father-in-law; and in the neighbourhood of that place is a cistern, now called Omar, and is said to be the watering place where Moses met with the daughters of the priest of Midian. A late learned manF16See the Origin of Hieroglyphics, at the end of a Journal from Cairo, to Mount Sinai, p. 55. Ed. 2. thinks, that Sharma, which is about a day and a half's journey southeast from Mount Sinai, is the place where Jethro lived. The Arabic geographerF17Climat. 3. par. 5. says, at the shore of the Red sea lies the city Madian, greater than Tabuc, and in it is a well, out of which Moses watered the flocks of Scioaib, that is, Raguel.


Exodus 2:16  16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. And they came and drew water, and they filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.

   YLT  16And to a priest of Midian [are] seven daughters, and they come and draw, and fill the troughs, to water the flock of their father,

Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters,.... Who being a descendant of Abraham might have retained the knowledge of the true God, and might be a priest of his, as Melchizedek was, or otherwise it may be thought improbable that Moses would have married his daughter, as he afterwards did; and so Aben Ezra says, he was a priest of God; though the word is sometimes used of a prince, ruler, and governor; and is so rendered here by the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; and ArtapanusF18Ut supra, (Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27.) p. 434. , an Heathen writer, expressly calls him αρχων, a "prince" of those places, that is, of Arabia; he might be both prince and priest, as Melchizedek before mentioned was, and as has been the usage of many countries:

and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock; which is no contradiction to their being daughters either of a priest or a prince, which were both high titles and characters; since it was usual in those early times, and in those countries, for the sons and daughters of considerable persons to be employed in such services; See Gill on Genesis 29:9.


Exodus 2:17  17 Then the shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.

   YLT  17and the shepherds come and drive them away, and Moses ariseth, and saveth them, and watereth their flock.

And the shepherds came and drove them away,.... The daughters of the priest of Midian, and their flock likewise; these were shepherds of some neighbouring princes or great men, who were so rude and slothful, and to save themselves a little trouble of drawing water, brought up their flocks to drink of the water those virgins had drawn, and to do this forced them and their flocks away:

but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock; moved to see such rude and uncivil treatment of the weaker sex, rose up from the ground on which he sat, and took their parts, and obliged the shepherds to give way, and brought up their flock to the troughs, and drew water for them, and gave them it; either he did this alone, or together with the servants that waited upon the priest's daughters, perhaps alone; and if it be considered that shepherds being usually not of a very martial spirit, and these also in a wrong cause, and Moses a man of an heroic disposition, and had doubtless the appearance of a man of some eminence and authority, they were the more easily intimidated and overcome.


Exodus 2:18  18 When they came to Reuel their father, he said, “How is it that you have come so soon today?”

   YLT  18And they come in to Reuel their father, and he saith, `Wherefore have ye hastened to come in to-day?'

And when they came to Reuel their father,.... Or Ragouel, as the Septuagint; and so ArtapanusF19Ut supra. (Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 434.) calls him. The Targum of Jonathan has it, their father's father; and so Aben Ezra says he was; and is the sense of others, induced thereto by Numbers 10:29, but it does not follow from thence: he said:

how is it that you are come so soon today? it being not only sooner than they were wont to come, but perhaps their business was done in so short a time; that it was marvellous to him that it could be done in it, so quick a dispatch had Moses made, and they through his assistance; and especially it might be more strange, if it was usual, as it seems it was, to be molested by the shepherds.


Exodus 2:19  19 And they said, “An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and he also drew enough water for us and watered the flock.”

   YLT  19and they say, `A man, an Egyptian, hath delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also hath diligently drawn for us, and watereth the flock;'

And they said, an Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds,.... A man, who by his habit and by his speech appeared to them to be an Egyptian, and upon their inquiry he might tell them so, being born in Egypt, though of Hebrew parents:

and also drew water enough for us; or "in drawing drew"F20דלה דלה "hauriendo bausit", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator. ; drew it readily, quickly and in abundance:

and watered the flock; by which means their business was done, and they returned home earlier than usual.


Exodus 2:20  20 So he said to his daughters, “And where is he? Why is it that you have left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.”

   YLT  20and he saith unto his daughters, `And where [is] he? why [is] this? -- ye left the man! call for him, and he doth eat bread.'

And he said unto his daughters, and where is he?.... By the account Reuel's daughters gave of Moses, of his courage and humanity, he was very desirous of seeing him:

why is it that ye have left the man? behind them at the well, and had not brought him along with them; he seemed to be displeased, and chides them, and tacitly suggests that they were rude and ungrateful not to ask a stranger, and one that had been so kind to them, to come with them and refresh himself:

call him, that he may eat bread; take meat with them, bread being put for all provisions.


Exodus 2:21  21 Then Moses was content to live with the man, and he gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses.

   YLT  21And Moses is willing to dwell with the man, and he giveth Zipporah his daughter to Moses,

And Moses was content to dwell with the man,.... After he had been called and brought into the house, and had had some refreshment, and after some conversation had passed between them, and perhaps after some days' stay in Reuel's house; Reuel having observed his disposition and behaviour, and being delighted therewith, proposed to him to take up his residence with him, with which motion Moses was well pleased, and accepted of it:

and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter; to be his wife. It is not to be supposed that this was done directly; though both PhiloF21De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 611. and JosephusF23Antiqu. l. 2. c. 11. sect. 2. intimate as if it was done at first meeting together; but it is not likely that Reuel would dispose of his daughter so suddenly to a stranger, though he might at once entertain an high opinion of him; nor would Moses marry a woman directly he had so slender an acquaintance with, so little knowledge of her disposition, endowments of mind and religion. The Targum of Jonathan says it was at the end of ten years; and indeed forty years after this a son of his seems to have been young, having not till then been circumcised, Exodus 4:22. The author of the Life of Moses saysF24Chronicon Mosis, fol. 9. 1. , that he was seventy seven years of age when he married Zipporah, which was but three years before he returned to Egypt. This circumstance of Moses's marrying Reuel's daughter is confirmed by ArtapanusF25Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 27. p. 434. an Heathen historian; and also by DemetriusF26Ib. c. 29. p. 439. , and expressly calls her Sapphora, who he says was a daughter of Jother or Jethro; and likewise by Ezekiel the tragedianF1lb. c. 28. .


Exodus 2:22  22 And she bore him a son. He called his name Gershom,[b] for he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.”

   YLT  22and she beareth a son, and he calleth his name Gershom, for he said, `A sojourner I have been in a strange land.'

And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom,.... Which signifies a "desolate stranger"; partly on his own account, he being in a foreign country, a stranger and sojourner; but not by way of complaint, but rather of thankfulness to God for providing so well for him in it; and partly on his son's account, that when he came to years of maturity and knowledge, he might learn, and in which Moses no doubt instructed him, that he was not to look upon Midian as his proper country, but that he was to be heir of the land of Canaan, and which he might be reminded of by his name:

for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land; so Midian was to him, who was born in Egypt, and being an Hebrew, was entitled to the land of Canaan; this looks as if he had been at this time some years in Midian.


Exodus 2:23  23 Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage.

   YLT  23And it cometh to pass during these many days, that the king of Egypt dieth, and the sons of Israel sigh because of the service, and cry, and their cry goeth up unto God, because of the service;

And it came to pass in process of time that the king of Egypt died,.... According to Eusebius, Orus reigned in Egypt when Moses fled from thence, and that two more reigned after him, Acenchres and Achoris, who both died before the deliverance of the children of Israel; but according to Bishop UsherF2Annal Vet. Test. p. 19. A. M. 2494. , this was the same king of Egypt under whom Moses was born, and from whose face he fled, who died in the sixty seventh year of his reign, Moses being now sixty years of age, and having been in the land of Midian twenty years; and it was about twenty years after this that he was called from hence, to be the deliverer of his people; for things are often put close together in Scripture, which were done at a considerable distance. And the intention of this notice of the death of the king of Egypt is chiefly to show that it made no alteration in the afflictions of the children of Israel for the better, but rather the worse:

and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage; the severity of it, and its long duration, and seeing no way for their escape out of it:

and they cried, and their cry came up unto God; they not only sighed and groaned inwardly, but so great was their oppression, that they could not forbear crying out aloud; and such was the greatness and vehemency of their cry, that it reached up to heaven, and came into the ears of the Almighty, as vehement cries are said to do, whether sinful or religious; see Genesis 18:20.

by reason of the bondage; which may either be connected with their "cry", that that was because of their bondage; or with the "coming" of it unto God, he was pleased to admit and regard their cry, because their bondage was so very oppressive and intolerable.


Exodus 2:24  24 So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

   YLT  24and God heareth their groaning, and God remembereth His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob;

And God heard their groaning,.... The petitions they put up to him with groans and cries:

and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob; that he would bring their seed out of a land not theirs, in which they were strangers, and were afflicted, into the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.


Exodus 2:25  25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.

   YLT  25and God seeth the sons of Israel, and God knoweth.

And God looked upon the children of Israel,.... With an eye of pity and compassion, and saw all the hardships they laboured under, and all the injuries that were done unto them:

and God had respect unto them; had a favourable regard to them; or "knew"F2וידע "et eognovit", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. not only them, the Israelites, and loved them, and approved of them, and owned them as his own, all which words of knowledge sometimes signify; but he knew their sorrows and sufferings, and took notice of what was done to them secretly; see Exodus 3:7.


──John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible


New King James Version (NKJV)


a.    Exodus 2:10 Literally Drawn Out

b.    Exodus 2:22 Literally Stranger There