3.2 Moses' Early Life

 The Egyptians were not "all bad."  One of the things to be noted throughout the Bible are the exceptions.  These are individuals from hostile nations who played an important positive role in Israel's history (Jethro, Rahab, Ruth).  Ultimately, it was not a matter of ethnic origin that included or excluded a person from participation in the Covenant, but a decision or action at a crucial moment.  Like Asenath before her, so the unnamed daughter of Pharaoh joined herself to God's people by having compassion for a child hidden in reeds along the Nile.  She even gave him his name:

         She named him Moses, saying, "I drew him out of the water" (Ex 2:10).    

         Unwittingly, her intervention saved not just Moses, but the nation of Israel.  

        

Moses was bi-cultural.  He may have been raised in a royal home, yet he was not completely Egyptianized.  One open question, not resolved by Scripture, was if and when he was circumcised.  We can assume that this occurred before he was set afloat in the Nile, but it is never stated.  A possible indication of his circumcision might be found in the fact that Pharaoh's daughter did not state that he was Hebrew until she had opened the basket and looked at the child.  Since the Egyptian hired Moses' mother to nurse him, she would have taught him his true identity as a Hebrew.  Doubtless, he came to know the racial divide within his country.  Possibly he was discriminated against in the royal household, since he was quick to take sides with a Hebrew against an Egyptian master.  His killing of the Egyptian brought him no gratitude from the Israelites, however (Ex 2:14).

        

Nor was Pharaoh pleased.  It was one thing for Egyptians to kill slaves, but not for free Hebrews to kill Egyptians.  He sought to kill Moses (Ex 2:15).  So Moses fled eastward to Midian, along the Gulf of Aqaba. Here he met a priest and his family, who initially considered him an Egyptian (Ex 2:19).  Moses joined Jethro's household and married one of his daughters, Zipporah.  They had a son, Gershom (Ex 2:21-22).  Significantly, his son's name meant Alien or Stranger.  This reflected Moses own feelings of exile and homesickness -- not exile from Egypt, but from the people of Israel.  As long as he was near them, even though living as an Egyptian, he did not feel alienated.

         

The Midianites were descendants of Abraham through Ketura, a non-covenant people (Gen 25:1).  Moses' marriage to Zipporah was another of the many additions to the Israelite bloodline from what Moses himself called "a foreign land" (Ex 2:22).  His destiny looked rather bleak -- a man with no citizenship, about 40 years old, facing another 80 years or so of herding sheep in the bleak terrain of Arabia.