The Israelite people were scared of the Egyptians, but not so scared as to willingly hand over their male children for killing. Pharaoh had said that the male Hebrew babies were to be tossed into the Nile. It naturally followed that the male babies would be killed in this way. Moses’ mother did put Moses in the Nile but she did it in a way that would save his life.
Moses was from the tribe of Levi and his mother hid him for three months after he was born to keep him alive. She saw that he was a fine child. When it became too difficult for him to be hidden any longer, she made a little boat for him out of papyrus, tar, and pitch. Moses’ sister kept an eye on what would happen to her little brother in his fashioned boat as he floated down the Nile.
As it would turn out, Moses ended up with Pharaoh’s daughter, who had gone down to the Nile to bathe. She noticed it was a Hebrew baby and before anyone had the opportunity to suggest that he should be killed, Moses’ watchful sister asked, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” Most likely because of the compassion that Pharaoh’s daughter had on the baby, she agreed. Moses ended up becoming the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and she is the one that named him Moses, meaning “drawn out.”
Moses grew up seeing the fear that the Egyptians had of the Hebrews because of their number. He witnessed the burden the Hebrews had to bear because of the oppression of the Egyptians. This had a great effect on him. He killed an Egyptian that he saw beating a Hebrew. He surmised that he did so without anyone else knowing, but the next day Moses found out that some Hebrews did know that he had killed the Egyptian, even though he had hidden the body.
Word spread of the killing and soon Pharaoh found out. Moses fled to Midian to hide. In Midian, Moses is kind to the daughters of a priest and helps them to water the flock they had brought to a well. Materials peripheral to the Bible suggest that this priest and his daughter were actually worshipping the true and living God and not a pagan deity. In fact, the origin of the Midianites can be found back in Genesis 25:1-2 where the children of Abraham’s wife Keturah (his wife after Sarah) are described. So Moses was in good company.
Moses ultimately comes to live with the priest and his family. He marries one of the priest’s daughters named Zipporah. She bears him a son who is named Gershom, a name meaning “stranger there,” because as Moses says of Midian, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.”
The last passage of this chapter is very powerful. It shows God’s love for His people, as well as His faithfulness. Back in Egypt, the Israelites continue to suffer under Egyptian bondage. They pray and cry to God to remove their pain. To say that God’s coming actions on behalf of the Israelites is an acknowledgement is a tremendous understatement. As God reveals Himself to first Moses, then to His people, mankind will witness an amazing sequence of increasingly astonishing miracles.