Moses Flees to Midian, Exodus 2:11-25

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” -Exodus 2:11-12

You may read Exodus 2:11-25 here: Gateway Bible.

Moses’ Background

Scripture doesn’t tell us much about Moses’ early years as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. His name—given him by the princess—must have been a constant reminder of his origin. Moses is a bilingual wordplay combining Hebrew and Egyptian words. In Egyptian the root word means “born.” In Hebrew it means “to draw out [of water]”.

Where did Moses live? The Archaeological Study Bible notes: “During the 1990s an enormous royal compound was discovered on the southern bank of the eastern branch of the Nile River. Used throughout the Eighteenth Dynasty (c. 1550-1300 B.C.), the compound consisted of a fortress and a palace. . . . Moses probably meandered the halls of these buildings, and the pharaoh quite likely mobilized his 600 chariots to pursue the Israelites from this location (14:7).

What was Moses’ educational background? Stephen’s address to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:22) asserts that Moses obtained instruction in the science and learning of the Egyptians. He was also gifted with oratorical and leadership skills.

Warren Wiersbe (Be Delivered) writes: “Egypt had a highly developed civilization for its time, particularly in the areas of engineering, mathematics, and astronomy. . . . They developed an amazingly accurate calendar, and their engineers planned and supervised the construction of edifices that are still standing. Their priests and doctors were masters of the art of embalming, and their leaders were skilled in organization and administration.”

As an Egyptian prince, Moses would also have Egyptian military training from the world’s most advanced army.

But for all of his training and pampered lifestyle, Hebrews 11:24-25 tells us “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”


Around the age of 40, Moses’ strong sense of justice and reaction to conflict got him into trouble.

Whether Moses meant to kill the Egyptian slave master, or impulsively protected the beaten Hebrew, his murder didn’t go unnoticed. Nor did his act bid well with either Pharaoh or the Hebrews he tried to help during a dispute.

Pharaoh’s reaction? Kill Moses!

So Moses escapes to Midian. Here he would once again use his deliverer instincts and warrior tactics to easily handle harassing shepherds toward the daughters of a Midianite Priest. As a result, Moses is taken into their home and is given Reuel’s daughter, Zipporah, in marriage.

During the next 40 years, Moses would have a son named Gershom, which sounds like the Hebrew for an alien there. And Moses’ would find work as a shepherd in this foreign land.

In the meanwhile, Pharaoh dies. And God’s alarm clock for deliverance is about to sound. He not only hears the Israelites’ cries, but is also concerned about them as He reflects upon His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


Personal greatness or position doesn’t exempt one from mistakes and consequences. Prince Moses tried to make sure no one was watching when he killed the Egyptian. We may be tempted to do wrong when we think no one notices. But it usually snowballs. And even if no one does notice, God always does. Some day everyone will have a face-to-face evaluation with Him.

I wonder how often Moses questioned God’s plan and purpose for his life during his 40-year hiatus in Midian? It must have felt like the ultimate demotion: from prince of Egypt to a despised shepherd of stubborn sheep.

Prov. 20:24Now for the good news . . . . God was preparing Moses to deliver and shepherd his people in the desert. I like how Layman’s Bible Commentary puts it: “Every detail of our lives, every incident, every failure, is employed by God providentially to further His purposes. While this should in no way make us lax in our desire to know God’s will and to obey Him, it should serve to assure us that even when we fail, He does not.”

Do you see this principle at work in your own journey? What can we learn from Moses’ experiences?

God Chooses Moses as Israel’s Deliverer, Exodus 2:1-10

A small patch of brown rippled upon the Nile’s water, unlike the familiar swaying reeds near the swampy shoreline. What is that? The rectangular shaped carton was a welcome distraction from the constant ache of not being able to conceive.

“Bring that object to me at once,” Hatshepsut ordered her attendant.

A muffled cry grew louder as her attendant neared with a basket woven out of papyrus reeds. She carefully opened the lid, her heart booming within. A robust, but helpless baby boy met her curious gaze. His red cheeks glistening with tears. “This is a Hebrew baby,” she gasped.

Surely the gods have brought him to me! How long has he been floating among the reeds? He’d be swallowed alive if a crocodile spotted him. Poor boy must be starving!

She gently lifted him out of the basket, nestling his warm body against hers. “Shh, you’re going to be alright.” He quieted. Your name will be Moses. For I have drawn you out of the water.

“Excuse me!” a young Hebrew girl called. “Shall I fetch a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for you?”

“Yes, go at once!” The girl wasted no time in bringing back a Hebrew woman. “I will pay you if you take this baby and nurse him. But when he is older you must bring him back to me. Agreed?”

The woman silently nodded as she cradled the baby and took him home.


In this well known story, Pharaoh’s daughter encounters firsthand the effects of her father’s method of extermination. While Pharaoh orders the Egyptians to throw every Hebrew baby boy into the Nile River, God moves his daughter’s heart to draw this baby out of the water. You may read Exodus 2:1-10 here: Bible Gateway.

Who was Pharaoh’s daughter?

The NIV Life Application Study Bible notes: Some think that Hatshepsut was the woman that pulled Moses from the river. Her husband was Pharaoh Thutmose II. . . . Apparently, Hatshepsut could not have children, so Thutmose had a son by another woman, and this son became heir to the throne. Hatshepsut would have considered Moses a gift by the gods because now she had her own son who would be the legal heir to the throne.

Who were Moses’ parents?

Moses’ parents Amram and Jochebed (Ex. 6:20) already had two children: Miriam (the oldest), and Aaron (three years older than Moses). Amram and Jochebed saw that Moses was “no ordinary child” and believed God had a special purpose for him.

Determined to not cave into fear, Jochebed throws her energy into making a tiny boat out of papyrus reeds to hide Moses. She coats the basket with tar and a mineral pitch so it will float. This Bitumen mineral pitch was one of the best waterproofing materials known. Noah also used it to waterproof the ark (Gen. 6:14). Eph. 3:20


I love how God arranged for Pharaoh’s daughter to pay Moses’ mom to nurse him until he’s older. Miriam—Moses’ older sister—jumped on the opportunity to reunite her family when the princess discovered Moses.

Moses—who would grow into a great man of faith—first learned to trust God from his parents. Hebrews 11:23 commends his parents for their faith: for “not being afraid of the king’s edict,” and hiding Moses for three months after birth.

It’s easy to dwell on uncertain situations and worry. But in the midst of uncertain times, God wants us to watch for opportunities He gives and then boldly step out. Just as God used Moses’ parents’ act of courage to preserve this future deliverer, God can certainly use our small acts of faith to fulfill His purpose(s).

Israel Enslaved in Egypt, Exodus 1

But the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them.” –Genesis 1:7

You may read Exodus 1 here: Bible Gateway.

Connecting the Past to the Present (vs. 1-7)

The Old Testament books of Genesis and Exodus are meant to be understood in relationship to one other. Genesis sets the stage for Exodus by reminding the Israelite nation not only of her roots, but also the grounds for blessing that would come soon. The first six verses summarize Israel’s history as a clan, detailed in Genesis 12-50.

In Genesis 15:12-14, God told Abraham: “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.”

Verse 7 spans this 400 year gap from Joseph’s death to the Exodus. God’s covenant promise to Abraham of blessing his descendants and greatly multiplying them is also evidenced during this time (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:5; 17:2, 6; 22:17). Direct descendants from Jacob’s family now number nearly two million people!

Pharaoh’s Plan of Affliction (vs. 8-14)

The new Pharaoh—under the Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty—fears the booming Hebrew population will threaten his kingdom. True to God’s word, the Pharaoh implements controlling measures in hopes to set them back.

So he places slave masters over the Hebrews. They work them ruthlessly to build cities with bricks and mortar, and use them for grueling field work. But instead of destroying their spirits, the Hebrews forge into a mighty nation (Gen. 46:3).

Pharaoh ups his game plan to a disgusting level.

Killing the Jewish Boys at Birth (vs. 15-22)

Some scholars suggest that women who were barren were often used as midwives. Pharaoh orders the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, to kill all the Jewish male babies at birth.

But their fear of God is stronger than their fear of Pharaoh. They show great courage and refuse to do his dirty work of killing innocent children.

God rewards these ladies by blessing them with families of their own. The fact that their names are mentioned, unlike Pharaoh’s, also presents them as honorable examples of ones who follow God.

Pharaoh stoops even lower when he orders all the Egyptians to throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile.


As it probably seemed to the Hebrews during a9fb9994d0a234774636ba0bed7aae98their 400 year stretch in Egypt, God appears silent at times. But He is constantly at work through history, our present, and the awesome future planned for those who unashamedly walk with Him.

During the furnace of trials, God was preparing His people for the following purposes: being a witness to the true and living God; writing the Holy Scriptures, and bringing the Messiah into the world.

Although Pharaoh sought to destroy the Hebrews spirit, they multiplied and grew stronger instead. Pharaoh’s reason for his cruel treatment was because of the threat of their large population. However, Scripture tells us about the underlying conflict of spiritual warfare: “Enmity between God’s people and Satan’s children,” (Genesis 3:15).

Persecution isn’t a fun topic. You won’t hear about it in prosperity gospel circles. But God uses persecution to refine, strengthen, and grow His church. America hasn’t experienced persecution, not like in middle-eastern countries. But while tolerance is exalted in our society, we’re seeing an increase of intolerant attitudes toward Christianity.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise when persecution knocks on our doors.

Now is the time to decide: Will I follow God when forces of evil pressure me to disobey or disown Him? Or will I give in to what is easy and popular? We can’t be overcomers without obstacles to overcome. We know who wins in the end. Let’s ask God for His eternal perspective, pray for strength to be faithful, and encourage one another as we see the day of Christ’s return drawing closer (Heb. 10:25).


Unless a man has the talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden.” – Eric Hoffer (The True Believer)

“You’re free to go!” For some prisoners who have been enslaved for years, freedom must feel like a breath of fresh air. But for others, the loss of familiar surroundings and embarking on a new journey is an unsettling and overwhelming experience.

Leading up to God’s salvation story, Exodus describes a series of God’s call to freedom and how his people respond.

Four hundred years have passed since Joseph’s family moved and thrived in Egypt. After multiplying to over two million strong and being enslaved to cruel bondage under a new Pharaoh, God responds to the Israelites’ cries. The time is ripe to send His leader, Moses, to set His people free from their oppression and bring them into their inheritance (Duet. 4:37-38).

God’s people, however, fail in their newfound freedom. They repeatedly falter after short bursts of confidence in God, their fear chipping away their trust. What was a consequence of their disobedience and lack of faith? Wandering in the desert for 40 years.

God, however, continues to faithfully provide and extends His gracious hand of deliverance.

Warren W. Wiersbe in his Bible Study, Be Delivered writes: “Exodus teaches us that freedom is not license and discipline is not bondage. God tells us how to enjoy mature freedom in His will, a quality that is desperately needed in our churches and in our world today. The privilege of freedom is precious, the responsibilities of freedom are serious, and we can’t have one without the other.”

Exodus was written about the same time as Genesis, around 1450-1410 B.C. Scholars believe that Moses wrote these accounts in the desert—somewhere in the Sinai peninsula—during Israel’s desert wanderings. This book contains the Ten Commandments and relays more miracles than any other Old Testament book, including the famous account of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.


Freedom is the theme of Exodus.

Deliverance is the theme in Exodus.

Just as God heard the Israelites’ cries, we can also be confident He hears our prayers. God led Moses and the Israelite nation. He also wants to lead us. Just as He delivered the Israelites, He wants to deliver us from evil, sin, and eternal death (separation from Him).

As you read Exodus, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I believe God’s promise, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness?” (2 Cor. 12:9).
  • Do I trust God in this situation?
  • Whether it be through deliverance or given strength to endure, do I believe God really loves me and will work all things together for my good?” (Rom. 8:28).

We can rest in the fact that our powerful God loves us and He will never leave us. For faithfulness is the cornerstone of who He is.