Exodus 2:10
And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
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(10) The child grew.—Josephus regards these words as implying a growth that was strange and abnormal (Ant. Jud. ii. 9, § 6). But nothing more seems to be intended than nature’s ordinary course. The child grew and reached the time when it was usual in Egypt that children should be weaned. We have no means of determining what this time was. It may have been the completion of the first year; but more probably it was the completion of the second (2 Maccabees 7:27).

She brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter.—Jochebed carried out the terms of her engagement faithfully, and gave up her son to the princess at the time agreed upon.

He became her son.—Possibly by a formal act of adoption; but we have at present no evidence that adoption was an Egyptian custom. Perhaps the writer means simply that she brought him up as if he had been her son, gave him a son’s education, and a son’s privileges. (On the education of Moses, see Excursus II. at the end of this Book.)

She called his name Moses.—In Egyptian probably “Mesu,” which is found as a name in the monuments of the nineteenth dynasty, and which is common as the latter half of a name—e.g., Ra-mesu, Aah-mesu, Amen-mesu, &c. In ordinary use this word meant “born” and “son.” (Comp. the Latin natus.) It was, however, derived from an Egyptian verb, meaning “to produce,” “to draw forth;” and the princess justified her imposition of the name by a reference to this etymology. Owing to the existence of a cognate verb in Hebrew, it was possible to transfer her explanation into the Hebrew language exactly and literally. The play upon words cannot be rendered in English.


Moses would be educated like the sons of princesses generally, not like those of priests, or of persons destined for the literary life. St. Stephen, when he says that Moses was “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,” does not (probably) mean more than this. The question then is, In what did the education of princes and young nobles at the time of the exodus consist?

It would consist, in the first place, of orthography and grammar. Moses would be taught to speak the Egyptian language, and to write it, correctly. He would probably not be taught the hieroglyphic character, the knowledge of which was reserved to the priests, but would be familiarised with the ordinary cursive writing—the hieratic, as it was called in later times—which was the common character for books, and even for official documents, in his day. Care would be taken to instruct him in the graces of style, so far as they were understood at the time; and he would be especially practised in epistolary correspondence, which was regarded as one of the most necessary of all gentlemanlike accomplishments. Whether his attention would be turned to poetry, might perhaps be doubtful;[113] but he would certainly be taught a clear and perspicuous prose style, such as was required for official reports and other communications between members of the governing class.

[113] The poetry of Moses his “songs” (Exodus 15:1-19; Deuteronomy 32:1-43), his “blessing” (Deut. Xxxii), and his “prayer” (Ps. xc), indicate an actual study of Egyptian poetry, whether, it was a part of his education or not.

The next branch of his education would be arithmetic and geometry. The Egyptians had made considerable progress in the former, and their calculations ran up to billions. In the latter they are said to have been exact and minute, but not to have pushed their investigations very far. It was sufficient for a youth of the upper classes to be able to keep correct accounts; and a speculative knowledge of the intricacies of numbers, or of geometrical problems, scarcely formed a part of the established curriculum.

He would be further instructed in morality, and in the Egyptian views on the subjects of the Divine Nature, of the relations subsisting between God and man, of a future life, and of a judgment to come. Egyptian morality was, for the most part, correct so far as it went, and was expressed in terse gnomic phrases, resembling those of the Proverbs of Solomon. The points especially inculcated were obedience to parents and to authorities generally, courtesy to inferiors, and kindness to the poor and the afflicted. The mysteries of religion were the exclusive property of the priests; but life beyond the grave, judgment, reward and punishment, probably metempsychosis, were generally inculcated; and the mystic volume, known as the Ritual of the Dead,” must have been pressed on the attention of all the educated.

It is not to be supposed that one brought up as the son of a princess would attain to the scientific knowledge possessed by Egyptian professionals of different kinds. Moses would not be an astronomer, nor an engineer, nor a physician, nor a theologian, nor even an historian; but would have that general acquaintance with such subjects which belongs to those who have enjoyed a good general education in a highly civilised community. He would also, no doubt, have a knowledge of the main principles of Egyptian jurisprudence. But here, again, his knowledge would be general, not close or intimate; and it would be a mistake to expect, in the Mosaical legislation, reproductions, to any extent, or adaptations, of the Egyptian judicial system.

Exodus 2:10. And he became her son — The tradition of the Jews is, that Pharaoh’s daughter had no child of her own, and that she was the only child of her father, so that when he was adopted for her son, he stood fair for the crown: however, it is certain he stood fair for the best preferments of the court in due time, and in the mean time had the advantage of the best education, with the help of which he became master of all the lawful learning of the Egyptians, Acts 7:22. Those whom God designs for great services, he finds out ways to qualify for them. Moses, by having his education in a court, is the fitter to be a prince, and king in Jeshurun; by having his education in a learned court, (for such the Egyptian then was,) is the fitter to be an historian; and by having his education in the court of Egypt, is the fitter to be employed as an ambassador to that court in God’s name. She called his name Moses — The Jews tell us that his father, at his circumcision, called him Joachim, the rising or establishing of the Lord; but Pharaoh’s daughter called him Moses, drawn out, namely, of the water, either from the Hebrew word משׁה, masha, to draw out, 2 Samuel 21:17; or from two Egyptian words, Mo uses, of the same import. Henry, taking it for granted that the latter is the etymology of the word, observes, “The calling of the Jewish lawgiver by an Egyptian name was a happy omen to the Gentile world, and gave hopes of that day when it should be said, Blessed be Egypt my people, Isaiah 19:25. And his tuition at court was an earnest of that promise, (Isaiah 49:23,) Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers.” Whether there be propriety in this observation or not, it is reasonable to suppose that this name, Drawn out, would tend to keep alive in the mind of Moses a remembrance of the danger he had escaped, and would induce him, out of gratitude for his deliverance, more readily to become a worker together with God in drawing his brethren out of still greater danger and misery.

2:5-10 Come, see the place where that great man, Moses, lay, when he was a little child; it was in a bulrush basket by the river's side. Had he been left there long, he must have perished. But Providence brings Pharaoh's daughter to the place where this poor forlorn infant lay, and inclines her heart to pity it, which she dares do, when none else durst. God's care of us in our infancy ought to be often mentioned by us to his praise. Pharaoh cruelly sought to destroy Israel, but his own daughter had pity on a Hebrew child, and not only so, but, without knowing it, preserved Israel's deliverer, and provided Moses with a good nurse, even his own mother. That he should have a Hebrew nurse, the sister of Moses brought the mother into the place of a nurse. Moses was treated as the son of Pharoah's daughter. Many who, by their birth, are obscure and poor, by surprising events of Providence, are raised high in the world, to make men know that God rules.He became her son - See the margin reference. His training and education was, humanly speaking, all but indispensable to the efficient accomplishment of his work as the predestined leader and instructor of his countrymen. Moses probably passed the early years of his life in Lower Egypt, where the princess resided. However, there may be substantial grounds for the tradition in Josephus that he was engaged in a campaign against the Ethiopians, thus showing himself, as Stephen says, "mighty in word and deed."

Moses - 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.

10. she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter—Though it must have been nearly as severe a trial for Jochebed to part with him the second time as the first, she was doubtless reconciled to it by her belief in his high destination as the future deliverer of Israel. His age when removed to the palace is not stated; but he was old enough to be well instructed in the principles of the true religion; and those early impressions, deepened by the power of divine grace, were never forgotten or effaced.

he became her son—by adoption, and his high rank afforded him advantages in education, which in the Providence of God were made subservient to far different purposes from what his royal patroness intended.

she called his name Moses—His parents might, as usual, at the time of his circumcision, have given him a name, which is traditionally said to have been Joachim. But the name chosen by the princess, whether of Egyptian or Hebrew origin, is the only one by which he has ever been known to the church; and it is a permanent memorial of the painful incidents of his birth and infancy.

He became her son, by adoption, Hebrews 11:24. For, as Philo reports, she, though long married, had no child of her own; and therefore treated him as her own, and gave him royal education and instruction. See Acts 7:21.

Moses; it matters not whether this be an Egyptian name, or a Hebrew name answering to it in signification, seeing the meaning of it is here explained.

And the child grew,.... In stature and in strength, thriving under the care of its mother and nurse, through the blessing of God:

and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter; when grown up and weaned, and needed a nurse no longer: a Jewish chronologer (u) says, this was two years after his birth; and another says (w), that when he was three years old, Pharaoh sitting at table, and his queen was at his right hand, and his daughter, with Moses, at his left, and his mother before him, when Moses in the sight of them all took the crown from Pharaoh's head:

and he became her son; by adoption, for though she was a married woman, as some say, yet had no children, though very desirous of them, which accounts the more for her readiness in taking notice and care of Moses; so Philo the Jew says (x), that she had been married a long time, but never with child, though she was very desirous of children, and especially a son, that might succeed her father in the kingdom, or otherwise it must go into another family: yea, he further says, that she feigned herself with child, that Moses might be thought to be her own son: and Artapanus (y), an Heathen writer, says that the daughter of Pharaoh was married to one Chenephres, who reigned over the country above Memphis, for at that time many reigned in Egypt; and she being barren, took a son of one of the Jews, whom she called Moyses, and being grown up to a man's estate, was, by the Greeks, called Musaeus:

and she called his name Moses, and she said, because I drew him out of the water; by which it appears, that this word is derived from the Hebrew word "Mashah", which signifies to draw out, and is only used of drawing out of water, 2 Samuel 22:17 which Pharaoh's daughter gave him, he being an Hebrew child, and which language she may very well be thought to understand; since there were such a large number of Hebrews dwelt in Egypt, and she was particularly conversant with Jochebed her Hebrew nurse; and besides, there was a great affinity between the Hebrew and the Egyptian language, and therefore there is no need to derive the word from the latter, as Philo (z) and Josephus (a) do; who observe that "Mo" in the Egyptian language signifies "water", and "Yses", "saved"; besides, the Egyptian name of Moses, according to Aben Ezra, who had it from a book of agriculture in that language, is Momos: the Jewish writers (b) give to Moses many names, which he had from different persons, no less than ten: and Artapanns (c) says, that by the Egyptian priests he was called Hermes or Mercury, and probably was the Hermes of that people; he is called by Orpheus (d) "born in water", because drawn out of it.

(u) Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2.((w) Chronicon. ib. Shalshal. ib. (x) De Vita Mosis, c. 1. p. 604, 605. (y) Apud Euseb, Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 432. (z) Ut supra. (x)) (a) Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9.) sect. 6. (b) Vajikra Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 146. 3. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2. Chronicon Mosis, fol. 4. 1.((c) Apud Euseb. ut supra. (praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 432.) (d) De Deo, v. 23.

And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
10. grew] Heb. became great, implying (cf. Genesis 21:8) that he was 3–4 years old, and was weaned.

became a son to her] was adopted by her, and naturally, therefore, cared for and educated by her. In the Old and Middle kingdoms, as Dillm. remarks, royal princesses had their own establishments, in a separate part of the palace.

Moses] Heb. Môsheh. Probably the Egypt, mosi, ‘born,’ which occurs not only as the second part of a theophorous name, as Thutmosi (Thothmes), ‘Thoth is born,’ Aḥmosi (Amâsis), ‘The moon is born,’ but also as a name by itself (Ebers, Gosen1, p. 526). LXX. vocalize Μωυσῆς, which was explained by the ancients as meaning ‘saved [νσης] from the water [μω]’ (Jos. Ant ii. 9. 6, and others), or ‘taken [σης] from the water’ (gloss in Cod. Sarrav. [Swete, Introd. to the OT. in Greek, p. 137], cited by Ges. Thes. s.v.); but though the Egyptian words are correctly given, the compound is not correct; for ‘saved from the water’ would in Egyptian be wezenmöou (Griffith).

Because I drew him, &c.] ‘Mosheh’ could mean only ‘drawing out’; ‘drawn out’ would in Heb. be mâshûy. The explanation, like those of many other names in the OT. (e.g. Cain, Genesis 4:1, Noah, Genesis 5:29), rests not upon a scientific etymology, but upon an assonance: the name is explained, not because it is derived from mâshâh, to ‘draw out,’ but because it resembles it in sound. The note in RV. is intended to indicate this: it does not, it will be observed, say that ‘Mosheh’ means ‘drawn out,’ but only gives the reader to understand that it resembles the Heb. word signifying to ‘draw out.’ So in similar cases, as Gen. ll.cc., and Exodus 29:32 to Exodus 30:24.

The verb mâshâh is rare, occurring otherwise in Heb. only Psalm 18:16 = 2 Samuel 22:17.

The simple Biblical narrative of Moses’ youth was decorated in later times with many imaginative details. Thus according to Josephus (Ant. ii. 9. 3–9, 10), his father, Amram, when his wife was pregnant, had a vision foretelling how her child would in the future deliver his people; the Egyptian princess, being childless, adopted him that he might ultimately succeed to the throne; he was a precocious child, and attracted by his beauty the notice of the passers by; when Egypt was invaded by the Ethiopians, he was, in consequence of an oracle, appointed leader of the Egyptians, defeated the invaders, and pursued them to the gates of their capital, Meroe, &c.: according to Philo (Vit. Mos. i. 5), he was a studious and thoughtful boy, Egyptian masters taught him arithmetic, geometry, music, and the philosophy contained in the hieroglyphic treatises; teachers from Greece, engaged for high fees, instructed him in other school-learning (τὴν ἄλλην ἐγκύκλιον παιδείαν); he learnt from others Assyrian letters, and Chaldaean astronomy1[100]: according to the more summary statement in Acts 7:22 he was instructed in ‘all the wisdom of the Egyptians.’ A good education was valued in ancient Egypt; and the actual education of an Egyptian of the better class comprised such things as moral duties and good manners, reading, writing, composition, and arithmetic (Erman, pp. 164–6, 328–33, 364–8; 383 ff., 548–50). If however Moses was really instructed in ‘all the wisdom’ of the Egyptians, he must have learnt many things which from a Hebrew point of view it would be extremely undesirable for him to know: for it consisted largely of mythology, astrology, magic, and superstitious practices in medicine (ibid. pp. 348–364).

[100] See further Stanley’s Jewish Church, i. 107, with the references.

‘The thought that in the life of such a great man the finger of God must have early manifested itself, and he must be shewn from the first to have overcome all hindrances which men opposed to him and his work, is perfectly correct, and has been, and still is, often verified: else the most diverse peoples would not have so variously given expression to it in their myths and legends, e.g. about Semiramis (Diod. ii. 4), Perseus (Apollod. ii. 4. 1), Cyrus (Hdt. i. 110 ff.), Romulus (Liv. i. 4), and especially in the singularly similar story of Sargon, king of Accad (b.c. 3800)2[101]. In particular cases, to be sure, it is always difficult, and even impossible, to determine how much in such narratives is historical. In Exodus 1:15 to Exodus 2:10 there are, as has been shewn, sufficient indications that the narratives were long current as tradition (Sage) before they were written down’ (Dillmann).

[101] In the words of an inscription of the 8th cent. b.c., said to have been copied from an earlier one: ‘My mother, who was poor, conceived me, and secretly gave birth to me; she placed me in a basket of reeds, she shut up the mouth of it with pitch, she abandoned me to the river, which did not overwhelm me. The river bore me away, and brought me to Akki, the drawer of water, who received me in the goodness of his heart,’ &c. (Maspero, Dawn of Civil., p. 597 f.; KB. iii. 1, 101; Sayce, EHH. p. 161). For details about the others see Jeremias, ATLAO. p. 255 ff. (ed. 2, p. 410 ff.).

Verse 10. - The child grew. Compare Genesis 21:8, where the full phrase is used - "The child grew, and was weaned." Jocbebed had saved her son's life by a transfer of her mother's right in him to Pharaoh's daughter. She had received him back, merely as a hired nurse, to suckle him. When the time came, probably at the end of the second year, for him to be weaned, she was bound, whatever the sufferings of her heart may have been, to give him up - to restore him to her from whom she had received him, as a child put out to nurse. And we see that she made no attempt to escape her obligations. No sooner was the boy weaned, than "she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter" - as it would seem, of her own accord. And he became her son. There is no evidence that formal "adoption" was a custom of the Egyptians; and probably no more is here meant than that the princess took the child into her family, and brought him up as if he had been her son, giving him all the privileges of a son, together with such an education as a princess's son usually received. We obtain the best general idea of what such an education was from the words of St. Stephen (Acts 7:21) - "Now Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians." This "wisdom," though not perhaps very deep, was multiform and manifold. It included orthography, grammar, history, theology, medicine, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and engineering. Education began, as in most countries, with orthography and grammar. The hieroglyphical system was probably not taught, and the knowledge of it remained a special privilege of the priest-class: but the cursive character, known as the hieratic, was generally studied, and all tolerably educated persons could read it and write it. Style was cultivated, and though no great progress was made in the graces of finished composition, the power of expressing thought and relating facts in a simple and perspicuous prose was acquired by the greater number. Much attention was paid to letter-writing; and models of business and other letters were set before the pupil as patterns which he was to follow. By the more advanced, poetry was read, and poetic composition occasionally practised. Arithmetic and geometry, up to a certain point, were studied by all; and a plain morality was inculcated. But history, theology, astronomy, medicine, and engineering, were viewed as special studies, to be pursued by those intended for certain professions, rather than as included within the curriculum of an ordinary education; and it may well be doubted whether Moses' attention was much directed to any of them. He may indeed have been initiated into the mysteries, and in that case would have come to understand the esoteric meaning of the Egyptian myths, and of all that most revolts moderns in the Egyptian religion. But, on the whole, it is most probable that he was rather trained for active than for speculative life, and received the education which fitted men for the service of the State, not that which made them dreamers and theorists. His great praise is, that "he was mighty in words and deeds "(Acts, 1.s.c.); and he was certainly anything rather than a recluse student. We should do wrong to regard him as either a scientific man or a philosopher. His genius was practical; and his education was of a practical kind - such as fitted him to become the leader of his people in a great emergency, to deal on equal terms with a powerful monarch, and to guide to a happy conclusion the hazardous enterprise of a great national migration. And she called his name Moses. The Egyptian form of the name was probably Mesu, which signifies "born, brought forth, child," and is derived from a root meaning "to produce," "draw forth." Egyptian has many roots common to it with Hebrew, whereof this is one. The princess's play upon words thus admitted of being literally rendered in the Hebrew - "he called his name Mosheh (drawn forth); because, she said, I drew him forth (meshithi-hu) from the water." Mesu is found in the monuments as an Egyptian name under the nineteenth dynasty

CHAPTER 2:11-15 Exodus 2:10When the child had grown large, i.e., had been weaned (יגדּל as in Genesis 21:8), the mother, who acted as nurse, brought it back to the queen's daughter, who then adopted it as her own son, and called it Moses (משׁה): "for," she said, "out of the water have I drawn him" (משׁיתהוּ). As Pharaoh's daughter gave this name to the child as her adopted son, it must be an Egyptian name. The Greek form of the name, Μωΰσῆς (lxx), also points to this, as Josephus affirms. "Thermuthis," he says, "imposed this name upon him, from what had happened when he was put into the river; for the Egyptians call water Mo, and those who are rescued from the water Uses" (Ant. ii. 9, 6, Whiston's translation). The correctness of this statement is confirmed by the Coptic, which is derived from the old Egyptian.

(Note: Josephus gives a somewhat different explanation in his book against Apion (i. 31), when he says, "His true name was Moses, and signifies a person who is rescued from the water, for the Egyptians call water Mo." Other explanations, though less probable ones, are attempted by Gesenius in his Thes. p. 824, and Knobel in loc.)

Now, though we find the name explained in the text from the Hebrew משׁה, this is not to be regarded as a philological or etymological explanation, but as a theological interpretation, referring to the importance of the person rescued from the water to the Israelitish nation. In the lips of an Israelite, the name Mouje, which was so little suited to the Hebrew organs of speech, might be involuntarily altered into Moseh; "and this transformation became an unintentional prophecy, for the person drawn out did become, in fact, the drawer out" (Kurtz). Consequently Knobel's supposition, that the writer regarded משׁה as a participle Poal with the מ dropped, is to be rejected as inadmissible. - There can be no doubt that, as the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter, Moses received a thoroughly Egyptian training, and was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, as Stephen states in Acts 7:22 in accordance with Jewish tradition.

(Note: The tradition, on the other hand, that Moses was a priest of Heliopolis, named Osarsiph (Jos. c. Ap. i. 26, 28), is just as unhistorical as the legend of his expedition against the Ethiopians (Jos. Ant. ii. 10), and many others with which the later, glorifying Saga embellished his life in Egypt.)

Through such an education as this, he received just the training required for the performance of the work to which God had called him. Thus the wisdom of Egypt was employed by the wisdom of God for the establishment of the kingdom of God.

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