Monday, June 24, 2013

Exodus 2: Kill the Slave Driver and Run

Today's Podcast

The Birth of Moses (v. 1-10)

Moses was born and his mother hid him for three months. When she couldn't hide him anymore she took him down to the river and made him a basket out of reeds and put him in it and put it in the river. The daughter of the Pharaoh happened to be bathing in the river at the time and saw the basket, when she looked into it she saw the baby and took pity on him. She knew it was one of the Hebrews children, so she had a Hebrew woman (the boy's mother) nurse him until he was older and then he became the son of the Pharaoh's daughter's son.

I guess the point is the law was that the boys are supposed to be put in the river, and Moses was put there. The intention was that he would die, but that's not the letter of the law. Is that right? Or it the point that it was the Pharaoh's daughter that pulled him out of the river, no one else could get away with it?

From Guzik
The baby Moses opened his eyes to an unfriendly world. He was born in a superpower of a nation, but was of an alien, oppressed race during a time when all babies such as himself were under a royal death sentence. Nevertheless, Moses had something special in his favor: he was the child of believing parents.
This really struck me because he credits Moses' survival with the fact that his parents were believers. I would argue that it is actually because his mother was willing to take action, and not just because she believed. Furthermore, he seems to be implying that all of the other mothers whose children died weren't really believers. It really reminds me of when people thank God that they survived a natural disaster, it only makes sense if you don't consider people who didn't survive.
In a literal sense, Moses' mother did exactly what Pharaoh said to do: put her son into the river (Exodus 1:22). However, she took care to put him in a waterproofed basket and strategically floated him in the river.
But more so, this is a great example of trusting the child's welfare and future to God alone. When Moses' mother let go of that ark made of bulrushes, she was giving up something precious, trusting that God would take care of it, and perhaps find a way to give it back to her.
Did she trust God, or did she just have no other choice? I would argue that trusting God would have been just tossing him in the river, putting him in the basket was an act of desperation.

Guzik keeps referencing Acts 7, apparently Paul summarized this story there and includes more details. I would like to know how he is able to add details that are not in the old testament.

Moses Flees to Midian (v. 11-22)
perfect picture! Source

One day Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew guy, so he made sure no one was watching and killed the Egyptian.

This is interesting, Moses kills a slave-driver. Do we call him a murderer now? Is this evidence of Moses' terrible character? Honestly, I'm not so sure. We do know that the Egyptian was beating a slave, does that make killing him justified? Again, I'm not sure. Given what little information we have, I think we can drum up scenarios where Moses was totally justified (the slave was about to be beaten to death and killing the Egyptian was the only way to prevent that death) and where he completely overreacted (in many situations Moses could have protected the Hebrew man without using lethal force). I think I'm inclined to give Moses the benefit of the doubt here and not count this against him too harshly.

The next day some Hebrew men were gossiping about the murder, and Moses freaked out because he figured this meant that everyone knew about it, including Pharaoh. He fled, and it's a good thing too, because Pharaoh heard about it he tried to kill Moses.

Presumably this means that he sent out some guys to kill him, or perhaps he set up a bounty, or something.

When Moses got to Midian he saw seven women trying to water their flock, but some guys were trying to drive them away. Moses helped them, which led to him being invited over to their house, and ultimately marrying one of them (Zipporah) and having a son named Gershom.
God led Moses to this specific family at this specific time.
I find this mentality fascinating, largely because I used to think this way. Everything has a deeper purpose, everything was intended to happen, God is always in charge. The interesting thing is, if things happen randomly, this mentality will find God everywhere. I talked about this using a coin flip game a while ago. Ultimately a single person in the united states wins this game, God could have guided him to be the winner, but if there is no God guiding things, someone has to win, and that guy will probably feel like God helped him out.

God Hears Israel's Groaning (v. 23-25)

The king of Egypt died, the people of Israel cried out to God for help and God remembered his covenant with those people.

This is such a weird section. Did God previously forget about them? Did their collective complaining have to reach a certain volume before he took notice? Perhaps this is just a poetic way of saying that it is time for God to help them, but it is certainly not the way it seems to read to me.
God remembered (again, in the sense of turning His active attention towards them)
Even this doesn't really make sense to me. Isn't an omniscient God supposed to be completely aware of everything all the time? Does God have active attention and passive attention


  1. "This is interesting, Moses kills a slave-driver. Do we call him a murderer now? Is this evidence of Moses' terrible character?"

    There is a lot of "evidence' as to how terrible Moses's character was. He obviously had a very short fuse...such as when he came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments and became so outraged with how his "flock" was acting, he immediately commanded that over ten thousand of them be slayed on the spot. This is the one thing in the Bible that convinces me over and over...religion is a horrific curse on mankind.

    1. This is interesting Anna Maria. I think it also shows that leaders of religions are not always these great people. They are not adherents of practice watch you preach.
      Then again maybe Moses was practising what he was preaching as the old testament is pretty horrific.

    2. haha Anna, love the quotes on evidence :) Of course I was referring to the Moses depicted in the story, we obviously won't take this as evidence of a real person and real actions that happened.

      You make a great point though, given his later actions and evidence that he does seem to have a short fuse, it's a reasonable bet that he flew off the handle killing this slave-driver.

      "This is the one thing in the Bible that convinces me over and over...religion is a horrific curse on mankind."

      Agreed. In fact, as I keep reading the bible, I keep having that reaction anew. I have a hard time believing that anyone can actually read this book and come away thinking it is good. I know me and my family growing up never just sat down and read the bible, we would occasionally read passages that are recommended, but never just reading at random. There's so much terrible stuff in here it's hard to imagine someone reading it and thinking God is good. I know people do just that, but I still have trouble understanding.

  2. If Moses killed the slave driver. Would it have been such an issue as he was the son of Pharaohs daughter now.

    This is a real conundrum for theists. If it was an issue then Moses was not Pharaohs son or the Egyptians were not as bad as they are made out to be. After all if royalty cannot get away with murder who can?

    1. That's an interesting point, if he really was the son of the Pharaohs daughter he should have been able to get away with murder. Perhaps he was always seen as an adopted son and therefore not as protected as a real son? In any case, interesting :)


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