Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelled in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)When Pharaoh heard . . . he sought to slay Moses.—Naturally. The administration of justice was one of the chief duties of the royal office; and the crime committed by Moses was one to be punished by death. There was nothing to reduce it from murder to manslaughter. And the motives which extenuate it in the eyes of moderns—patriotic zeal and hatred of oppression—would not have commanded the sympathies of a Pharaoh.
Moses fled.—Or, had fled. Moses would fly as soon as he found his act was known. He fled “at the saying” of the Israelite (Acts 7:29). When Pharaoh sought for him, he was gone.
Dwelt in the land of Midian—i.e., “Was led to make Midian his home,” under circumstances about to be related. The Midian of this book seems to be the south-eastern portion of the Sinaitic peninsula, not the opposite Arabian coast, where were the main settlements of the nation.
Sat down by a well.—Rather, the well. There must have been one principal well in these parts, copious, and so generally resorted to. Moses fixed his temporary-abode in its neighbourhood.Exodus 2:15. Moses fled from Pharaoh — God ordered this for wise ends. Things were not yet ripe for Israel’s deliverance. The measure of Egypt’s iniquity was not yet full; the Hebrews were not sufficiently humbled, nor were they yet increased to such a multitude as God designed: Moses is to be further fitted for the service, and therefore is directed to withdraw for the present, “till the time to favour Israel, even the set time, come.” God guided Moses to Midian, because the Midianites were of the seed of Abraham, and retained the worship of the true God; so that he might have not only a safe, but a comfortable settlement among them; and through this country he was afterward to lead Israel, which that he might do the better, he now had opportunity of acquainting himself with it. Hither he came, and sat down by a well — Tired and thoughtful, waiting to see what way Providence would direct him. It was a great change with him, since he was but the other day at ease in Pharaoh’s court.
dwelt in the land of Midian—situated on the eastern shore of the gulf of the Red Sea and occupied by the posterity of Midian the son of Cush. The territory extended northward to the top of the gulf and westward far across the desert of Sinai. And from their position near the sea, they early combined trading with pastoral pursuits (Ge 37:28). The headquarters of Jethro are supposed to have been where Dahab-Madian now stands; and from Moses coming direct to that place, he may have travelled with a caravan of merchants. But another place is fixed by tradition in Wady Shuweib, or Jethro's valley, on the east of the mountain of Moses.
sat down by a well—(See on Ge 29:3).He sought to slay Moses; not out of zeal to punish a murderer, but to secure himself from so dangerous a person, probably supposing that this was the man foretold to be the scourge of Egypt, and the deliverer of Israel. Exodus 1:15, he might call it to mind, and be affected with it, and fear the time was coming on, and Moses was the person by whom it should be done; and he might be stirred up by his courtiers to take this step, who doubtless envied the growing interest of Moses in his court:
but Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh; not through want of courage, but through prudence, to avoid danger, and preserve his life for future usefulness; and no doubt under a divine impulse, and by the direction of divine Providence, the time for him to be the deliverer of Israel not being yet come:
and dwelt in the land of Midian: a country so called from Midian, one of Abraham's sons by Keturah, Genesis 25:2. Jerom (k) calls it a city, and says it was on the other side of Arabia, to the south, in the desert of the Saracens, to the east of the Red sea, from whence the country was called Midian; and Philo (l) says, that Moses went into neighbouring Arabia; and which is confirmed by Artapanus (m) the Heathen historian, who says, that from Memphis, crossing the river Nile, he went into Arabia; and this country was sometimes called Cush or Ethiopia; hence Moses's wife is called an Ethiopian woman, Numbers 12:1.
and he sat down by a well; weary, thoughtful, and pensive. It may be observed, that it was usual with persons in such like circumstances, being strangers and not knowing well to whom to apply for assistance or direction, to place themselves at a well of water, to which there was frequent resort, both for the use of families and of flocks; see Genesis 24:11. This well is now called, as some say, Eyoun el Kaseb, fourteen hours and a half from Magare Chouaib, or "the grot of Jethro" (n); but if this was so far from Jethro's house, his daughters had a long way to go with their flock: but some other travellers (o) speak of a very neat and pleasant village, called Hattin, where they were shown the grave of Jethro, Moses's father-in-law; and in the neighbourhood of that place is a cistern, now called Omar, and is said to be the watering place where Moses met with the daughters of the priest of Midian. A late learned man (p) thinks, that Sharma, which is about a day and a half's journey southeast from Mount Sinai, is the place where Jethro lived. The Arabic geographer (q) says, at the shore of the Red sea lies the city Madian, greater than Tabuc, and in it is a well, out of which Moses watered the flocks of Scioaib, that is, Raguel.
(i) Diodor. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 70. (k) De locis Heb. fol. 93. A. B. (l) De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 609. (m) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 433. (n) See a Journey from Grand Cairo to Mecca, in Ray's Travels, vol. 2. p. 468. (o) Egmont and Heyman's Travels, vol. 2. p. 29. (p) See the Origin of Hieroglyphics, at the end of a Journal from Cairo, to Mount Sinai, p. 55. Ed. 2.((q) Climat. 3. par. 5.Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. Midian] The most important of a group of tribes (Genesis 25:1-4), in N.W. Arabia, and E. of Canaan (ib. v. 6; cf. Numbers 22:4), which the Hebrews reckoned to their own race, through Abraham’s second wife Ḳeṭurah, and so a step further removed than the Ishmaelites. The proper home of the Midianites appears to have been on the E. side of the Gulf of ‘Akaba, where Ptolemy (vi. 7. 2) and the Arabic geographers (cf. EB. iii. 3081) mention a place Μοδίανα, Madyan, almost exactly opposite the S. extremity of the Sin. Peninsula; but nomad branches of the tribe wandered northward along the margin of the desert, whence they made forays into Edom, for instance (Genesis 36:35), and even Canaan (Judges 6-8). From Exodus 3:1 (cf. Exodus 18:1; Exodus 18:5; Exodus 18:27) it appears that ‘the land of Midian’ was not far from Sinai: if, therefore, ‘Sinai’ has been rightly located by tradition (see p. 189 ff.), there must have been a Midianite settlement in some part of what is now called the ‘Sinaitic’ Peninsula, probably in its S.E. Others, however, regard ‘the land of Midian’ as denoting more naturally the proper home of the tribe, and consider the passage to support the view that ‘Sinai’ was on the E. of the Gulf of ‘Aḳaba (cf. p. 189 f.).
In the S. or SE. of the Peninsula, Moses would be beyond Egyptian jurisdiction. It is true, in Wâdy Maghârah, and Wâdy Sarbuṭ el-Khadim, there were mines for turquoise and copper, worked by the Egyptians, and protected by military guards, which are mentioned frequently, at intervals, from the 3rd to the 20th dynasty (see full descriptions, with numerous photographs, in Petrie’s Researches in Sinai, 1906): but (see the Map) these were in the NW. of the Peninsula, and not necessarily on the route to the S. or SE. Sayce’s statement (HCM. 265 f.) that in the days of the Exodus the Sin. Peninsula was ‘an Egyptian province’ seems to be an exaggeration of the facts; for even the mining districts were not occupied by them permanently (see Petrie, p. 206).
by the well] the well of the district to which he came.
15–22. Moses’ flight to Midian; and his marriage there to a daughter of the priest of Midian.Verse 15. - Pharaoh heard. If we have been right in supposing the Pharaoh of the original oppression to have been Seti I., the present Pharaoh, from whom Moses flies when he is "full forty years old" (Acts 7:23), and who does not die till Moses is near eighty, must be his son, the Great Rameses, Rameses II. This prince was associated by his father at the age of ten or twelve (Brugsch, 'History of Egypt,' vol. 2. pp. 24-5), and reigned sixty-seven years, as appears from his monuments. He is the only king of the New Empire whose real reign exceeded forty years, and thus the only monarch who fulfils the conditions required by the narrative of Exodus supplemented by St. Stephen's speech in the Acts. He sought to slay Moses. We need not understand from this expression that the Pharaoh's will was thwarted or opposed by anything but the sudden disappearance of Moses. As St. Stephen says (Acts 7:29), "Then fled Moses at this saying," i.e. at the mere words of the aggressor, "Writ thou slay me as thou didst the Egyptian?" Moses fled, knowing what he had to expect, quitted Egypt, went to Midian; and the Egyptian monarch "sought to slay him" too late. The land of Midian is a somewhat vague expression, for the Midianites were nomads, and at different times occupied distinct and even remote localities. Their principal settlements appear to have been on the eastern side of the Elanitic Gulf (Gulf of Akabah); but at times they extended northwards to the confines of Moab (Genesis 36:35; Numbers 22:4, 7, etc.), and westward into the Sinaitic peninsula, which appears to have been "the land of Midian whereto Moses fled (see below, Exodus 3:1). The Midianites are not expressly mentioned in the Egyptian inscriptions. They were probably included among the Mentu, with whom the Egyptians contended in the Sinaitic region, and from whom they took the copper district north-west of Sinai. And he sat down by a well. Rather "and he dwelt by the well." He took up his abode in the neighbourhood of the principal well belonging to the tract here called Midian. The tract was probably one of no great size, an offshoot of the greater Midian on the other side of the gulf. We cannot identify the well; but it was certainly not that near the town of Modiana, Ñ spoken of by Edrisi and Abulfeda, which was in Arabia Proper, on the east of the gulf.
CHAPTER 2:16-22 Zechariah 5:10; Ecclesiastes 10:20) and suckle it for me," the king's daughter gave the child to its mother, who was unknown to her, and had been fetched as a nurse.
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