Acts 7:20
In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months:
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(20) Exceeding fair.—Literally, as in the margin, fair to God. The adjective is found in the LXX. of Exodus 2:2, as applied to Moses. The special idiom for expressing pre-eminent excellence is itself essentially Hebrew, the highest goodness being thought of as that which approves itself as good to God; but this also had become familiar to Hellenistic Jews through the LXX. version, as, e.g., in Jonah 3:3, a city “great to God” = an exceeding great city. St. Paul’s “mighty to God” (2Corinthians 10:4) is probably an example of the same idiom. Josephus, following probably some old tradition (Ant i. 9, § 6), describes the beauty of the infant Moses as such that those who met him turned to gaze in admiration.

7:17-29 Let us not be discouraged at the slowness of the fulfilling of God's promises. Suffering times often are growing times with the church. God is preparing for his people's deliverance, when their day is darkest, and their distress deepest. Moses was exceeding fair, fair toward God; it is the beauty of holiness which is in God's sight of great price. He was wonderfully preserved in his infancy; for God will take special care of those of whom he designs to make special use. And did he thus protect the child Moses? Much more will he secure the interests of his holy child Jesus, from the enemies who are gathered together against him. They persecuted Stephen for disputing in defence of Christ and his gospel: in opposition to these they set up Moses and his law. They may understand, if they do not wilfully shut their eyes against the light, that God will, by this Jesus, deliver them out of a worse slavery than that of Egypt. Although men prolong their own miseries, yet the Lord will take care of his servants, and effect his own designs of mercy.In which time ... - During this period of oppression. See Exodus 2:2, etc.

Was exceeding fair - Greek: "was fair to God"; properly rendered, "was very handsome." The word "God" in the Greek here in accordance with the Hebrew usage, by which anything that is "very handsome, lofty, or grand" is thus designated. Thus, Psalm 36:7, "mountains of God," mean lofty mountains; Psalm 80:11, "cedars of God," mean lofty, beautiful cedars. Thus, Nineveh is called "a great city to God" (Jonah 3:3, Greek), meaning a very great city. The expression here simply means that Moses was "very fair," or handsome. Compare Hebrews 11:23, where he is called "a proper child"; that is, a "handsome child." It would seem from this that Moses was preserved by his mother on account of his "beauty"; and this is hinted at in Exodus 2:2. And it would also seem from this that Pharaoh had succeeded by his oppressions in what he had attempted; and that it was not unusual for parents among the Jews to expose their children, or to put them to death.

20-22. In which time—of deepest depression.

Moses was born—the destined deliverer.

exceeding fair—literally, "fair to God" (Margin), or, perhaps, divinely "fair" (see on [1960]Heb 11:23).

Exceeding fair, or, fair to God; which though some understand of the inward beauty of the mind, (which is indeed the most admirable), yet in this place there is no more to be understood by it, than the wonderful beauty of his body, which God bestowed in an extraordinary measure upon him, that it might be a means to attract the care and pity of Pharaoh’s danghter, as it afterwards came to pass: besides, that which is eminent in any kind, is, by a Hebraism, said to be of God: upon this account Nineveh is called a city of God, Jonah 3:3; and we read of Rachel’s great wrestlings, or wrestlings of God, Genesis 30:8. Josephus says, that Moses was so beautiful, that all who passed by left the business they were about to gaze at him, Antiq. ii. 5.

In which time Moses was born,.... The word Moses, is differently written in the New Testament; sometimes Moses, as here, sometimes Mo-yses, as in Acts 7:35 sometimes Mo-yseus, as in Acts 15:1 and sometimes Moseus, as in Romans 5:14. He had his name from the Hebrew word, which signifies "to draw", Psalm 18:16 according to the reason of it given by Pharaoh's daughter,

she called his name Moses; and she said, because I drew him out of the water, Exodus 2:10 Though Josephus (i), Philo (k), and others (l), make it to be an Egyptian name; the former of which serves, that the Egyptians call water "Mo", and "yses", such who are saved from water; wherefore compounding the name of both, they gave it to him: though according to Aben Ezra (m), his name in the Egyptian language was Monios; his words are these,

"the name of Moses is interpreted out of the Egyptian language into the Hebrew language, for his name in the Egyptian language was Monios; and so it is written in a book of agriculture, translated out of the Egyptian language into the Arabic, and also in the books of some Greek writers.''

Moses had many names, as a Jewish chronologer observes (n);

"Pharaoh's daughter called his name Moses; his father called him Chabar, or Heber; his mother called him Jekuthiel; and his sister called him Jether (perhaps Jared, since this was one of his names); and his brethren called him Abizanoah; and Kohath called him Abi Socos; and the Israelites called him Shemaiah ben Nathaneel, and sometimes Tobiah, sometimes Shemaiah, and sometimes Sopher; but the Egyptians called him Monios.''

For "Mo", in the Egyptian language, signifies "water", and "Ni" is "out"; and so both together signify, "out of the water", which agrees with the Hebrew etymology of his name. Now he was born at the time that orders were given by Pharaoh to cast all the male children of the Israelites into the rivers, to drown them; Moses was born, whose parents were Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi; he was born, according to the Jews (o), on the seventh day of Adar, or February:

and was exceeding fair; or "fair to God"; divinely fair and beautiful; and so Pharaoh's daughter, acccording to Josephus, said to her father, that she had brought up a child that was (p) "in form divine": and so the Jews say (q), that his form was as an angel of God; or he was fair in the sight of God, as the Ethiopic version; the Syriac version renders it, "he was dear to God"; and the Vulgate Latin version, grateful to God; was well-pleasing to him, in whom he delighted, having designed to do great things by him: or "fair by God": he had a peculiar beauty put upon him by God; partly to engage his parents the more to seek the preservation of him; and partly to engage the affection of Pharaoh's daughter to him, when she should see him. Justin the historian (r) makes mention of his extraordinary beauty, for which he was praised; but very wrongly makes him to be the son of Joseph; and the account Josephus gives of it, is very remarkable (s);

"as to beauty, says he, no man could be so out of love with it, as to see the goodly form of Moses, and not be amazed; it happened to many who met him, as he was carried along the way, that they would turn back at the sight of the child, and neglect their business, to indulge themselves with the sight of him; for such was the loveliness of the child, that it detained those that saw him.''

The Arabic version renders it, he "was consecrated by a vow to God"; but of this we have no account: the Jews say (t), that

"the Spirit of God came upon Miriam, and she prophesied; saying, behold a son shall be born to my father and to my mother at this time, who shall save Israel out of the hand of the Egyptians--and it is further said, that at the time of his birth, the whole house was filled with a great light, as the light of the sun and moon;''

upon which they had raised expectations of him: though this phrase, "fair to God", may be only an Hebraism, just as Niniveh is said to be a city "great to God", i.e. exceeding great, Jonah 3:3 it being usual with the Jews to join the word God to an adjective, to express the superlative degree; and so it is rightly rendered here, "exceeding fair: and nourished up in his father's house three months"; so long he was hid by his mother there, which was a great instance of her faith; see Exodus 2:2. The reason why he was kept no longer there was, because as the Jews say (u), the three months after Jochebed was delivered of a son, the thing was known in the house of Pharaoh, wherefore she could hide him no longer.

(i) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9, sect. 6. (k) De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 605. (l) Clement. Alexandrin. Stromat, l. 1. p. 343. (m) Comment. in Exod. ii. 10. (n) Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2. Vid. Targum in 1 Chron. 18 Vajikra Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 146. 3.((o) T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 38. 1. Shemot Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 91. 2. Targum Jon in Deuteronomy 33.5. (p) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 7. (q) Pirke Eliezer, c. 48. (r) L. 36. c. 2.((s) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 6. Vid. Shemot Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 91. 3.((t) Heb. Chronicon Mosis, fol. 3. 1. Jarchi in Exod. ii. 2. Shemot Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 91. 1.((u) Ib. Colossians 2.

In which time Moses was born, and was {k} exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months:

(k) This child was born through God's merciful goodness and favour, to be of a lovely and fair countenance.

Acts 7:20. Ἐν ᾧ καιρῷ] “tristi, opportuno,” Beng.

ἀστεῖος τῷ Θεῷ] Luther aptly renders: a fine child for God,—i.e. so beautifully and gracefully formed (comp. Jdt 11:23), that he was by God esteemed as ἀστεῖος. Compare Winer, p. 232 [E. T. 310]. In substance, therefore, the expression amounts to the superlative idea; but it is not to be taken as a paraphrase of the superlative, but as conceived in its proper literal sense. See also on 2 Corinthians 10:4. Hesiod, Ἔργ. 825: ἀναίτιος ἀθανάτοισιν, and Aesch. Agam. 352: θεοῖς ἀναμπλάκητος, are parallels; as are from the O. T., Genesis 10:9, Jonah 3:3. The expressions θεοειδής and θεοείκελος, compared by many, are not here relevant, as they do not correspond to the conception of ἀστεῖος τῷ Θεῷ.

Moses’ beauty (Exodus 2:2; comp. Hebrews 11:23) is also praised in Philo, Vit. Mos. i. p. 604 A, and Joseph. Antt. ii. 9. 7, where he is called παῖς μορφῇ θεῖος. According to Jalkut Rubeni, f. 75. 4, he was beautiful as an angel.

μῆνας τρεῖς] Exodus 2:2.

τοῦ πατρός] Amram, Exodus 6:20.

Acts 7:20. ἐν ᾧ καιρῷ, cf. Acts 1:7, Acts 3:19, characterising the time, comp. Bengel, tristi, opportuno: on the name Μωυσῆς see Blass, Grammatik. p. 10, and Hamburger, Real-Encyclopâdie des Judentums, i., 5, p. 768, and critical notes.—ἀστεῖος τῷ Θεῷ: if we render the expression as in A. and R.V., “exceeding fair,” the dative τῷ Θεῷ is used as an equivalent of the Hebrew expression employed almost in a superlative sense, לֵאלהִים, Jonah 3:3. πόλις μεγ. τῷ Θεῷ. Or the expression may be rendered “fair to God,” i.e., in the judgment of God; cf. δυνατὰ τῷ Θεῷ, 2 Corinthians 10:4 and Jam 2:5, τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῷ κόσμῳ. Page and Wendt compare Æsch., Agam., 352, and see also Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 81. ἀστεῖος, lit[201], belonging to the city (opposite to ἄγροικος), witty, clever; then, elegant, pretty; Vulgate, elegans, used as a general word of praise: applied to Moses here, in Exodus 2:2, and Hebrews 11:23, and also by Philo, cf. also Jos., Ant., ii., 97, and see Hamburger, u. s., i., 5, p. 773; Jalkut Rubeni, f. 75, 4. For other instances of the use of the word see LXX, Numbers 22:32, Jdg 3:17, and Jdt 11:23, Susannah, ver 7; in the last two passages used of physical fairness, prettiness (cf. Arist., Eth. Nic., iv., 3, 5, and instances in Wetstein). In 2Ma 6:23 it is also used, and ἀστείως in 2Ma 12:43 in the general sense of right and good, honestly.—ἀνετράφη μῆνας τρεῖς, cf. Exodus 2:2, verb used only by St. Luke, twice in this chapter, and in Acts 20:3, once in Luke 4:16, but cf. margin, W.H[202]—not used in LXX, but in Wis 7:4 (where A has ἀνεστρ.), and see also 4Ma 10:2; 4Ma 11:15 (but A.R., τραφ.). The word is used in classical Greek, as in Wis 7:4 and here, of a child nourished to promote its growth (although sometimes with the idea of improving the mind, cf. Acts 20:3). In the N.T. it is peculiar to St. Luke, and it is just the word which a medical man would use, frequently found in medical writings, opposed to ἰσχναίνω; see L. and ., sub v., and Hobart, Medical Language, p. 207.

[201] literal, literally.

[202] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.

20. In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair] The last phrase is literally “fair unto (i.e. in the sight of) God.” This is a Hebrew mode of expressing a high degree of any quality. Thus (Jonah 3:3) “Nineveh was an exceeding great city,” is “a city great unto God.” Similar instances are found, Genesis 10:9; Genesis 23:6; Genesis 30:8, &c. In the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer, c. 48, we have “The parents of Moses saw his face as [that of] an angel of God.”

and [he was] nourished up in his father’s house three months] Modern English would omit up in this sentence.

Acts 7:20. Ἐν ᾧ καιρῷ, at which time) a sad time, when his birth was seasonable.—ἀστεῖος) So the LXX., Exodus 2:2, express the Hebrew טוב, a goodly child. A specimen of godly physiognomy.—τῳ Θεῷ, to God) So the LXX., 1 Samuel 16:12, ἀγαθὸς ὁράσει Κυρίῳ: Jonah 3:3, πόλις μεγάλη τῷ Θεῷ. Whatever excellent thing there is, derives its excellence from the Divine gift.—μῆνας τρεῖς, three months) They might have thought that their labour is vain, that the child notwithstanding must perish; but they undertook the labour, and the matter eventuated in a successful result very far beyond their hope.—πατρὸς) viz. αὐτοῦ. So 1 Corinthians 5:1; Galatians 4:2.

Verse 20. - At which season for in which time, A.V.; he was nourished three months in his father's house for nourished up in his father's house three months, A.V. Exceeding fair (ἀστεῖος τῷ Θεῷ). In Exodus 2:2 it is simply ἀστεῖος, "a goodly child," A.V., and so in Hebrews 11:23, rendered "a goodly child," "a proper child," A.V. Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 2. 9:5, 7) describes Pharaoh's daughter as captivated by the size and beauty of the child, and as speaking of him to Pharaoh as of Divine beauty. And Justin (quoted by Whitby) says that the beauty of his person was greatly in his favor. Acts 7:20Time (καιρῷ)

Better, season or juncture. "Sad, seasonable" (Bengel). See on Acts 1:7.

Exceeding fair (ἀστεῖος τῷ θεῷ)

Lit., fair unto God: a Hebrew superlative. Compare Jonah 3:3 : great unto God; A. V., exceeding great. Genesis 10:9, of Nimrod: a mighty hunter before the Lord. 2 Corinthians 10:4 : mighty unto God; i.e., in God's sight. Ἀστεῖος, fair (only here and Hebrews 11:23), is from ἄστυ, a town, and means originally town-bred; hence refined, elegant, comely. The word is used in the Septuagint of Moses (Exodus 2:2), and rendered goodly. The Jewish traditions extol Moses' beauty. Josephus says that those who met him, as he was carried along the streets, forgot their business and stood still to gaze at him.

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