Exodus 1-4: God Supplies a Deliverer from Bondage

Where are we in Exodus?

1.1 – God Supplies a Deliverer from Bondage (1-4)

Outline of the major events of this sub-segment:

  • 1.1.1 Bondage 1
    • Israel ’s Increase 1:1-14
    • Planned Extinction 1:15-22
  • 1.1.2 Deliverer (Moses) 2-4
    • Birth of Moses 2:1-10
    • Flight to Midian 2:11-23
    • God Remembers the Covenant 2:24-25
    • Moses’ Calling 3:1-4:31
      • Burning Bush 3:1-3
      • Call/Commission 3:4-12
      • Name of God 3:13-14
      • Directions for Deliverance 3:15-22
      • Moses’ Objections 4:1-17
      • Moses’ Return to Egypt 4:18-31

1.1.1 Bondage of Israel Isreal’s Increase

Israel Increases Greatly in Egypt
1:1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5 All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Background: This narrative builds on what already happened in Genesis.

To review: Jacob (AKA Israel), is the son of Issac & Rebecca, the grandson of Abraham & Sarah. Jacob fell in love with a girl, Rachel, but was tricked into marriage with Leah her older sister, eventually working to marry Rachel as well, but also pro-created with their two maidservants as well to create a large clan totaling twelve children. Jacob’s most favored and beloved son was Rachel’s firstborn, Joseph. Joseph was sold by his jealous brothers to slave traders, ending up in Egypt. Because he was gifted with interpreting dreams, he made his way into the Pharaoh’s household. There he interpreted a dream for Pharaoh about an upcoming seven year famine, and was given great authority to help Egypt prepare and store up reserves to outlast the famine. Jacob’s family, still living in Canaan (the promised land), went to Egypt to seek food during the famine, only to discover Joseph was a man of great power and authority in Egypt, and were then invited by Joseph to come bring their families to Egypt so they could “live off the fat of the land”.

What happens at the beginning of this passage? We are reminded of what already happened in Genesis, Joseph’s extended family, totaling 70 persons, relocated to Egypt to live with him (during a time of famine). This family included his father and 11 brothers, each mentioned by name in their birth order.

What happens after Joseph’s death? Everyone in Joeseph’s generation (including his brothers) also passes away. However, their desendents are very fruitful and their clan grew significantly until they were “filling the land” and “exceedingly strong”.

What is significant about this? The clan growing this quickly is a fulfillment of a prophesy. “In Genesis chapter 46 God said that Israel would increase and multiply and become a great nation in the land of Egypt. As we come to verse seven, this prophecy has actually taken place.” (McGee) Planned Extinction

Egyptian Taskmasters (Illustrated by O. A. Stemler and Bess Bruce, 1927)Pharaoh Oppresses Israel
1:8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

Who came into leadership at this time? A new pharaoh/king, who did not know Joseph. What is significant about this new king? Not who he was (the author didn’t even bother to mention the king’s name), but what is significant is the dramatic shift in attitude toward the Hebrews this represented. “Because of [Joseph’s] wisdom and administration, he was lifted to high and honored office in Egypt—but eventually, Joseph died and the status his family enjoyed died with him.” (Guzik)

How did this leadership feel about Joseph’s family? The new leadership feared the Hebrews. “It isn’t surprising to see them afraid and discriminating against this strong minority group in their midst, which looked like it would not be a minority very long. At the time, the Egyptians feared invasion from the Hittites of the north. If the Hebrews among them joined with the Hittites, it posed a significant threat to their national security.” (Guzik)

How did the new king respond to his fears? He did not turn to God for protection, he used human means. He attempted to oppress them through forced labor, setting taskmasters over them to give them heavy burdens.

What were the Hebrews tasked to do? Building store cities, they were ruthlessly worked as slaves.

Why were the Egyptians so afraid of the Hebrews? There were a growing minority, and despite efforts to oppress them, they were growing and multiplying.

Picture this from the perspective of the Egyptians: “These outsiders are going to take our jobs away from us!”  “They disrespect our culture and don’t appreciate our history!”  “They don’t speak our language!”  “They’re dirty and only interested in reproducing!” Not much different than things we still here today about various outsider groups. (Rev. Allen Harris)

Frank & Earnest - Full Employment
Frank & Earnest comic strip humorously depicting the sorts of slave
labor the Israelites were doing in Egypt at this time


1:15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”

Basic Questions:

What was the King’s next effort to solve to his “problem” with the Hebrews? Since hard labor wasn’t getting his desried result, he ordered all the sons born to be killed by the midwives.

How did the Hebrew midwives respond? They did not kill the sons. Why not? They feared God. “These women showed great courage and love for God by risking their lives to disobey Pharaoh’s command.” (Life Application Study bible)

It seems as though the Hebrew midwives were perhaps spinning a false tale to the king? Yet, God “dealt well” with them? Why this apparent paradox? What does this tell us about God? He values human life, and rewarded those who protected human life.

 God rewards those who protect human life. 

Does Pharaoh relent when the Hebrew midwives say they can’t get to the babies in time? No, he just pushes harder.

Why kill only the sons and not daughters? The sons were more of a threat to Pharoah. Being a patriachial society, when women married, they moved into the household of the man’s family and became a part of that family. Females were not a threat, because they would either not reproduce without men, or they would have to marry Egyptians, they would assimilate into the Egyptian households they married into. Perhaps also, Hebrew women may have been an object of lust for the Eyptians, so Pharoah may have wanted to let the women live for selfish reasons. By this scheme, had it worked, Isreal would be swallowed up into Egypt, and would have failed to thrive as a seperate culture within that area.

Digging Deeper:

Shiphrah & Puah (Illustrated by O. A. Stemler and Bess Bruce 1927)What does it mean that Shiphrah and Puah were Hebrew midwives? The term Hebrew midwives is somewhat ambiguous. It could mean “midwives for the Hebrew people” or “midwives who were Hebrew people”. Their comparison of Hebrew women to Egyptian women suggests they had some familiarity with both ethnic groups. But as their names are Hebrew, and not Egyptian, it is reasonable to presume they were Hebrews and not just midwives for the Hebrew people.

Were these two women the only midwives for all of Hebrew society? It must not be thought that the Israelites had only two midwives (lit., “those who help to bear”). Most likely, because of the vast number of Israelites, these two women were the chief administrators of an organization of midwives.” (Walvoord)

Is there a significance to their names? Shiphrah means brightness, Puah means splendid. Brightness is typically associated with God in the bible (eg: God shining brightly in Revelation) and splendid has a positive connotation. Both suited for the kind of people these two women were.

Fear vs Faith
Pharoah Shiphrah & Puah
Operated out of… Fear Faith
Result… Efforts were futile God blessed their households

1.1.2 Moses, the Deliverer (Ch 2-4)

Starting in Chapter 2, we are introduced to one of the main characters of Exodus, Moses. We learn about two significant events in his history, his miraculous circumstances, and his departure from the royal kingdom.

Observe the order of Providence: just at the time when Pharaoh’s cruelty rose to its height by ordering the Hebrew children to be drowned, the deliverer was born. When men are contriving the ruin of the church, God is preparing for its salvation.” (Matthew Henry Concise Commentary) –> Application: “Faith in God will set us above the fear of man.”

 “Faith in God will set us above the fear of man.” 
—Matthew Henry Birth of Moses (2:1-12) “Moses out of the water”

2:1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 2The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. 3When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with tar and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. 4And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. 5Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. 6When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 7Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9And 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.10When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

What do we learn about Moses’s lineage? What is the significance? (2:1) Moses was the son of two Levites. Levi was the third son of Jacob/Isreal, the tribe that later the priests will come from. Later we’ll also learn Levites were the only tribe that would not get an inheritance in the promised land (later on), because their inheritance was the God of Isreal himself (Deu. 18:2). This detail appears to be included to enhance the emphasis on the extraordinary child that he was…he wasn’t just from any tribe, he was from the tribe of Levi through and through.

What does it mean for Moses to be described as a “beautiful” (NASB/NKJV) or “fine” (ESV/NIV) child? (2:2) The word טוב/ṭôb is most commonly translated as good, and usually describes things the Lord has done, or things the Lord has created. For example, טוב/ṭôb is the word translated as “good” in Genesis repeatedly when the different aspects of creation are described as “good”. Seems to describe the Godly “goodness” of the baby.

Why did Jochebed hide Moses for three months? She saw he was good, a piece of God’s good creation. She may have done it partly out of maternal instinct, however “The hiding of the child is spoken of as an act of faith in Heb. 11:23. It was done in the belief that God would watch over the child.” (Barnes)

Cause and Effect of Faith
Character Mindset (Cause…) Action (Effect…)
By Faith… Moses’s Parents Were not afraid of the King’s edict Hid baby Moses for 3 months

Application Questions: In what situation is God calling you to step out in faith and trust Him? What promises of God are you trusting?

Why did she after three months place the child in the river? “In a literal sense, Moses’ mother did exactly what Pharaoh said to do: put her son into the river (Exo. 1:22). However, she took care to put him in a waterproofed basket and strategically floated him in the river.” (Guzik)

What is significant about the materials used to make Moses’s basket? (2:3)

  • Basket (תּבה/têbâh): The only other place this word (meaning basket, vessel, or box) is used in the bible is in Genesis, where it is usually translated as ark, as in Noah’s ark, making the term appear to describe the basket more in its function than size. It is interesting to note the parallels in the roles of both vessels to preserve and protect life! It is also worth noting there are other more “common” words used for basket, such as סל/sal, which usually describes baskets that hold bread, so this type of “basket” isn’t just any old basket.
  • Bulrushes, large reeds from which Papyrus was also made, were a material that was commonly used for light, swift Egyptian river boats. “The species is no longer found in the Nile below Nubia. It is a strong rush, like the bamboo, about the thickness of a finger, three cornered, and attains the height of 10 to 15 feet. It is represented with great accuracy on the most ancient monuments of Egypt.” (Barnes)
  • Tar/Bitumen/Slime (חמר/chêmâr): From Genesis, we know this material was suitable for use as mortar in the Tower of Babel (11:3), and the Valley of Siddim was full of pits of this material, and the Kings of Soddom and Gomorrah fatally fell into pits of this material (14:10). Likely, it is a form of sticky mud or tar. “In this case was used to bind the stalks of the papyrus into a compact mass, and perhaps also to make the surface smooth for the infant.” (Barnes)
  • Pitch (זפת/zepheth): Pitch can mean a variety of viscous substances such as resins, asphalts, tar residues, or saps that are used for caulking or paving. The word root used suggests liquification, such as that heat may be involved in the process. In this case, the material is believed to be used for purposes of water-proofing.

a Reed Riverboat“This tiny boat made of papyrus reeds was fashioned by a woman who knew what she was doing. Egyptian riverboats were made with these same reeds and waterproofed with tar. The reeds, which grew as tall as 16 feet, could be gathered in swampy areas along the Nile. Thus a small basket hidden among the reeds would be well insulated from the weather and difficult to see.” (LASB)

Note about the reeds along the river in which Moses’s basket was placed: “This is another species of the papyrus, called tuff, or sufi (an exact equivalent of the Hebrew סוּף sûph), which was less in size and height than the rush of which the ark was made.” (Barnes)

What was Pharoah’s daughter doing when she found Moses? Who was nearby? (2:5) Pharoah’s daughter had gone, with her attendants, down to the river to wash or bathe herself. The Egyptians thought the portions of the Nile that flowed near their temples were especially sacred, so bathing in the sacred water would not be unheard of. “It is not customary at present for women of rank to bathe in the river, but it was a common practice in ancient Egypt. The habits of the princess, as well as her character, must have been well known to the mother of Moses, and probably decided her choice of the place.” (Barnes) Moses’s sister, Miriam, was also nearby watching what would happen.

How did Pharoah’s daughter react to her discovery of Moses? (2:6) She sent one of her attendants to fetch the basket out of the reeds/water. She then took pity (or had compassion) on the crying baby.

What happens next? (2:7-8) Miriam pops into the scene and suggests to the royal group that she fetch a wet-nurse for the baby, conveniently suggesting her own mom for the task.

What ultimately happens to the family of this baby (Moses) as a result? (2:9) Moses’s mother gets paid wages by the Pharaoh to nurse and care for her own son during his primitative years. Guzik attributes this to God’s providence.

What do we learn becomes of Moses? (2:10) He is adopted into Pharoah’s daughter’s family as her son. “Being the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses was in the royal family.” (Guzik)

What does the name Moses mean? (2:10) “The Egyptian origin of this word is generally admitted. The name itself is not uncommon in ancient documents. The exact meaning is “son,” but the verbal root of the word signifies “produce,” “draw forth.” The whole sentence in Egyptian would exactly correspond to our King James Version. She called his name Moses, i. e. “son,” or “brought forth,” because she brought him forth out of the water.” (Barnes)

Digging Deeper:

Was it all really just one coincidence after another?

Something to think about: “This chapter is full of seeming coincidences. For example, why did Pharaoh’s daughter happen to bathe right where the ark was floating? Why did the baby happen to cry and thus draw out her compassion? Why was Moses’ mother accepted by Pharaoh’s daughter as his nurse?” (Believers Bible Commentary) All of these things point to the likelihood God was involved in his circumstances.

What additional insight do we get from other passages that mention this event?

Cross-Reference (Acts 7:18-22) 18“…until there arose another King over Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph. 19It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive. 20It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home. 21And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. 22Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds.” We don’t really learn a whole lot of new information here, however, the description of Moses being nurtured both in his parent’s home and his adopted family’s royal home is emphasized more than in the passage here in exodus.

Cross-Reference (Heb 11:23) “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” Here we learn with confidence that not killing Moses was an act of faith, and they feared God rather than the Pharaoh. Flight To Midian “Moses In Hot Water”

Moses Kills the Egyptian (Barbara Griffiths)2:11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. 12He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” 14He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” 15aWhen Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian.

Moses killed a man. On purpose. If God can redeem and use a murderer for great things, surely he could use you too.

Why did Moses go out to look on the burdens of his bretheren? “This seems to mean that Moses had already made the critical decision to identify with his people, before he went out to observe the affliction of his brethren. Hebrews informs us that the reason Moses visited his brethren was due to his decision to identify with them and even to suffer with them. Thus, Moses did not lose his status as a son of Pharaoh’s daughter by the killing; he gave that up before the killing. Moses’ visit to his brethren backfired, in one sense, but it was used providentially to prepare him for his future calling” (Bob Deffinbaugh)

How much time passes between this paragraph and the previous paragraph? (2:11) The previous paragraph recounts his birth and early childhood. Here, he is fully grown, an adult. Acts 7:23 clarifies Moses is 40 years old at this point.

Why did Moses kill the Egyptian? (2:11-12) He felt compassion for one of “his people” (the Hebrews) being mis-treated by an Egyptian slave-master. Also, Acts 17:25 suggests an additional reason, that “he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.” By the fact that he looked “this way and that” before hitting him we are told that the murder was pre-meditated, not accidental.

Was compassion for the Hebrew a legitimate reason to kill the Egyptian? No. Although it solved one problem, it just created another. Although his anger toward the situation may have been been in line with God’s heart, trying to solve the problem in his own power was not in line with God’s commands not to kill others. “While Moses’ method of dealing with this problem was wrong, we can see that his motivation was commendable.” (Bob Deffinbaugh)

What were the consequences for Moses? It caused him further trouble. Other Hebrews feared he might lash out on them as well in judgment. Pharaoh saught to kill him. Moses ended up fearing for his life and fleeing to Midian for 40 years. Overall the concequence for his sin was severe and long-lasting, though he was still used by God in mighty ways later in in spite of his sin.

Lesson to learn: The fallibility of men and women of faith.

Application: How has your own sin or temper affected you negatively? Do you let your temper rule you, and do you try to carry out judgment on God’s behalf? Or do you bring your hatred toward injustice to God and pray for God to resolve the situation?

How did the other Hebrews react to Moses’s killing of the Egyptian? “As Stephen’s message highlighted, the rejection of Moses’ leadership by this Israelite typified Israel’s hardness of heart and rebellion against God (cf. Acts 7:23-29).” (Bob Deffinbaugh)

Digging Deeper:

What additional details do we learn from reading Steven’s recounting of this event in Acts 7:23-29? The reason he killed the Egyptian is clarified as defending the Hebrew who was being treated unjustly. Moses’s age is recounted as 40 years.

How is Moses shown to be similar to and/or different from Christ in this passage? “Moses was a murderer in sharp contrast to Christ our Savior. However, Moses was a type of Christ in that he was God’s chosen deliverer; he was rejected by Israel and turned to the Gentiles, taking a gentile bride; afterward he again appears as Israel’s deliverer and is accepted.” (J. Vernon McGee)

Failures of Moses: “Moses failed as well. He started very well when he determined to divest himself of the privileges and power of being known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He did very well in seeking to identify with the suffering of his brethren. But what began well quickly fell apart (or so it would seem). He failed badly in trying to deliver his brethren from Egyptian oppression, murdering the offender and thus resorting to violence and cruelty himself. Standing up to Pharaoh at first soon deteriorated to fleeing from Pharaoh because of the slaying of the Egyptian. And, finally, we find Moses in a “foreign land” married to a “foreign wife” and seemingly forever derailed as far as his original commitments are concerned.” (Bob Deffinbaugh)

 Moses defending the daughters of Jethro by Carlos Saraceni, 1609AD2:15b[Moses fled to the land of Midian] And he sat down by a well. 16Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. 18When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?” 19They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” 21And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. 22She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”

Moses Flees to Midian (Visual Bible Alive)Where does Moses go into voluntary exile? (2:15) Midian. Where is Midian? The precise location of Midian is difficult to be certain of, but the most common view is that it is on the Arabian peninsula, somewhat east and south of the Jordan river. What is the significance of Midian? Its name literally means strife, and was a land settled by the descendents of the fourth son of Keturah (Abraham’s concubine), the same people to whom Joseph was sold into slavery. cf Gen 25:2, 1 Ch. 1:32. The name seems fitting here that this is where Moses goes at a time in his life filled with strife and contention.

Summary of biblical references to Midian:

  1. Genesis 37:28 Joseph is sold by his brothers to Midianites.
  2. Exodus 2:11-15 Midian was where Moses spent the forty years in voluntary exile after murdering the Egyptian.
  3. Exodus 2:21 Moses married Zipporah the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian.
  4. Numbers 10:29 Moses attempts to recruit his Midianite father in law, to guide them through the wilderness, but he declines.
  5. Numbers 31:1 God instructs Moses to collect an army and destroy Midian.
  6. Judges 6 Israel is oppressed by Midian during the time of the Judges. Gideon is called by God to deliver Israel from Midian’s armies.


What happened to Moses in Midian? (2:15-16) Moses was sitting by a well, and witnessed the injustice of shepherds driving away some maidens looking to water their sheep. “[The] seven daughters were shepherdesses to whom Moses was favorably introduced by an act of courtesy and courage in protecting them from the rude shepherds of some neighboring tribe at a well. He afterwards formed a close and permanent alliance with this family by marrying one of the daughters, Zipporah, “a little bird,” called a Cushite or Ethiopian (Num. 12:1), and whom Moses doubtless obtained in the manner of Jacob by service [see Exo. 3:1]. ” (JFB)

“Moses loved to be doing justice, and to act in defence of such as he saw injured, which every man ought to do, as far as it is in his power. He loved to be doing good; wherever the providence of God casts us, we should desire and try to be useful; and when we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can.” (Matthew Henry)

What were the daughters doing? The watering of the sheep requires a little explanation for those unfamiliar with the practice. Conveniently, Genesis has a bit more explanation of the process.

Gen 29:1-3 1 Jacob […] came to the land of the people of the East. 2 […] and saw a well in the field; and behold, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks. A large stone was on the well’s mouth. 3 Now all the flocks would be gathered there; and they would roll the stone from the well’s mouth, water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the well’s mouth.

water was apparently scarce in Midian, and a large rock would protect the well from selfish interests using the water. Once all the shepherds gathered, they would unroll the rock together (too heavy to do by oneself) and all feed their sheep.

“Giant stones were used to seal and protect something valuable and precious, whether it be a well in an area with little water, or the dead body of a troublesome crucified prophet who had predicted He would rise three days after death.” (Emily Gibson)

“What took place on this particular day was typical, not unusual. The seven daughters of Reuel arrived at the well, where they apparently waited in line for the well to be opened (cf. Gen. 29:2-3). It would seem that these women arrived earlier than the other shepherds who came later, knowing they could “bully” their way ahead of the women who would end up watering their flocks last. Moses did not like what he saw at all. One way or the other, Moses enforced the policy of “ladies first.” The oppressed were once again “delivered.” Moses could not look the other way, even when advantage was being taken of strangers.” (Bob Deffinbaugh)


“Reuel gently chastised his daughters for not extending the hospitality of a meal to this stranger who to them was an “Egyptian.” No doubt his speech and dress led to this conclusion. Regardless of his nationality, he should have been extended hospitality, especially due to his kindness.” (Bob Deffinbaugh)



“I personally see this as an indication of a rather low point in the spiritual state of Moses. He has fled from Egypt to Midian. He has married a non-Israelite (technically, at least, although Zipporah was certainly more closely related than an Egyptian woman would have been). From Moses’ point of view, Egypt, his homeland, is far away. One can hardly think of this time as that of great faith or purpose in Moses’ life. This becomes even more evident when God’s call of Moses is described in chapters 3 and 4. The great faith and commitment to the people of God with which verse 11 began has somehow eroded into something far less.” (Bob Deffinbaugh)

Digging Deeper:

What symbolism do sheep have in the Bible? What does that symbolism imply here? How would you interpret this event as a allegory or parable?

“Pro 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” God Remembers the Covenant

2:23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

“To me, this final paragraph reads like the expression, “Meanwhile, back at the ranch …” The point of it is to remind us that, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, God is very much at work. Humanly speaking, it looks as though everything is working against Israel, but this paragraph reminds us that God is very much informed, involved, and intent upon fulfilling His purposes and promises with respect to Israel.” (Bob Deffinbaugh)

How did God respond to the people’s cry for help? God remembered his covenant with their fathers, which in turn becomes the cause for God calling Moses in the following paragraphs.

What was the covenant with their fathers? “That covenant was, I am going to give you this land as an everlasting possession. That covenant was that you are going to be in bondage and you are going to serve a people that you do not know for 400 years. And for 30 years they were under Joseph and it was fine. For 400 years they were slaves. And then He says that at the end of those 400 years, I will bring you out and bring you in.” (Kay Arthur) Moses’s Calling (Ch 3-4)

Burning Bush 3:1-3, Call/Commission 3:4-12

3:1Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.”

“his father-in-law is now referred to as “Jethro,” which seems to mean “excellence” or “superiority”—could Moses have made him a rich man by now?” (Bob Deffinbaugh)

‘Moses in front of the Burning Bush’ by Raphael (1483-1520) – Exodus 3

4When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 7The LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. 8So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 9Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” 12And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”

3:4 ~ What’s significant about when (and how) the Lord responded? The Lord started speaking to Moses after Moses turns aside (out of his way) to look at a miracle the Lord had done.

Implication? God may wait to speak to us until ???

“Natural” explanations for some possibilities on how God might have made the bush not be consumed, but mind you “Such explanations as we have seen above are not only unacceptable, they are also unnecessary. We are told by none other than the author himself (remember, Moses is the author of this book) that the “angel of the Lord” (cf. Gen. 16:7; 22:11Judg. 6:11; 13:3), the preincarnate manifestation of the second Person of the Godhead, was manifested in the burning bush.”: (Bob Deffinbaugh)

  • (1) “St. Elmo’s fire.” This is a discharge of electricity which causes a kind of glow.
  • (2) “… firebrands or reflexes of light, which must often have occurred in dry lands with an abundance of storms.”61
  • (3) A volcanic phenomenon.
  • (4) A myth, based on ancient accounts of burning objects which were not consumed.
  • (5) “… a flake of gypsum blown against a twig may have set a bush alight.”
  • (6) A beam of sunlight, piercing through a crack in the mountain.
  • (7) A purely psychological experience.
  • (8) A gas plant, which burst into flames.
  • (9) The brilliant blossoms of mistletoe twigs.

5:7 “See, you are suffering, you’re hurting, you think nobody knows, nobody cares, and nobody may know, and nobody may care, but God knows. His name is EL ROI. He is the God who sees.” (Kay Arthur)

Name of God 3:13-14, Directions for Deliverance 3:15-22

13Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” 15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations. 16Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt. 17So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”‘ 18They will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ 19But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. 20So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go. 21I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed. 22But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians.”



Moses’ Objections 4:1-17

Moses's Staff Turns to a SnakeEx4:1Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.'” 2The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.” 3Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. 4But the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”–so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand–5“that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

4:6The LORD furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand into your bosom.” So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7Then He said, “Put your hand into your bosom again.” So he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8“If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign. 9But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

4:10Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 11 The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12 “Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” 13But he said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.” 14 Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. 16Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him. 17You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”

Four Doubts of Moses

Doubt His Doubt God’s Response Scripture
His Qualifications “Who am I…?” “I will be with you” 3:11-12
The Plausibility of who is Calling Him Who shall I say You are? God tells Moses his sacred name, “I AM” (Yahweh) and three signs are given 3:13-22, 4:1-9
His Reception
His Speaking Abilities I am ineloquent 4:10-12
Moses’ Return to Egypt 4:18-31

18 Then Moses departed and returned to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Please, let me go, that I may return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see if they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” 19 Now the LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and his sons and mounted them on a donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt. Moses also took the staff of God in his hand.

4:21 The LORD said to Moses: When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.'”

4:24 Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.” 26 So He let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood”–because of the circumcision.

4:27 Now the LORD said to Aaron, “Go to meet Moses in the wilderness.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD with which He had sent him, and all the signs that He had commanded him to do. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel; 30 and Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. He then performed the signs in the sight of the people. 31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.