Exodus 2:23 Commentaries: Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God.
Exodus 2:23
And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up to God by reason of the bondage.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) in process of time.—Heb., in those many days. As Moses was now eighty years old (Exodus 7:7), and only forty when he quitted Egypt, the Pharaoh from whom he fled must have reigned above forty years. Between the commencement of the eighteenth and the close of the nineteenth dynasty, two kings only seem to have reigned so long as this—Thothmes III. and Rameses II. Our choice of the Pharaoh from whom Moses fled thus lies between these two.

The children of Israel sighed.—Or, “groaned.” They had perhaps expected that a new king would initiate a new policy, or, at any rate, signalise his accession by a remission of burthens. But the new monarch did neither.

Their cry came up unto God.—“Exceeding bitter cries” always find their way to the ears of God. The existing oppression was such that Israel cried to God as they had never cried before, and so moved Him to have compassion on them. The miraculous action, begun in Exodus 3, is the result of the cries and groans here mentioned.

Exodus 2:23. The king of Egypt died — And, after him, one or two more of his sons or successors. And the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage — Probably the murdering of their infants did not continue; that part of their affliction only attended the birth of Moses, to signalize that. And now they were content with their increase, finding that Egypt was enriched by their labour; so they might have them for their slaves, they cared not how many they were. On this therefore they were intent, to keep them all at work, and make the best hand they could of their labour. When one Pharaoh died, another rose up in his place, that was as cruel to Israel as his predecessors. And they cried — Now at last they began to think of God under their troubles, and to return to him from the idols they had served, Ezekiel 20:8. Hitherto they had fretted at the instruments of their trouble, but God was not in all their thoughts. But before God unbound them, he put it into their hearts to cry unto him. It is a sign God is coming to us with deliverance when he inclines us to cry to him for it.2:23-25 The Israelites' bondage in Egypt continued, though the murdering of their infants did not continue. Sometimes the Lord suffers the rod of the wicked to lie very long and very heavy on the lot of the righteous. At last they began to think of God under their troubles. It is a sign that the Lord is coming towards us with deliverance, when he inclines and enables us to cry to him for it. God heard their groaning; he made it to appear that he took notice of their complaints. He remembered his covenant, of which he is ever mindful. He considered this, and not any merit of theirs. He looked upon the children of Israel. Moses looked upon them, and pitied them; but now God looked upon them, and helped them. He had respect unto them. His eyes are now fixed upon Israel, to show himself in their behalf. God is ever thus, a very present help in trouble. Take courage then, ye who, conscious of guilt and thraldom, are looking to Him for deliverance. God in Christ Jesus is also looking upon you. A call of love is joined with a promise of the Redeemer. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Mt 11:28.In process of time - Nearly forty years Acts 7:30. This verse marks the beginning of another section. We now enter at once upon the history of the Exodus.

Their cry came up unto God - This statement, taken in connection with the two following verses, proves that the Israelites retained their faith in the God of their Fathers. The divine name, "God," אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym, is chosen because it was that which the Israelites must have used in their cry for help, that under which the covenant had been ratified with the Patriarchs (compare James 5:4).

23. the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage—The language seems to imply that the Israelites had experienced a partial relaxation, probably through the influence of Moses' royal patroness; but in the reign of her father's successor the persecution was renewed with increased severity. In process of time; Heb. in those many days, viz. in which he lived or abode there, i.e. after them. In is put for after here, as it is Numbers 28:26 Isaiah 20:1 Mark 13:24, compared with Matthew 24:29 Luke 9:36. After forty years, as appears by comparing Exodus 7:7, with Acts 7:30.

The king of Egypt died; and after him one or two more of his sons or successors, and the rest who sought for Moses’s life, Exodus 4:19.

The children of Israel sighed, because though their great oppressor was dead, yet they found no relief, as they hoped to do. And it came to pass in process of time that the king of Egypt died,.... According to Eusebius, Orus reigned in Egypt when Moses fled from thence, and that two more reigned after him, Acenchres and Achoris, who both died before the deliverance of the children of Israel; but according to Bishop Usher (b), this was the same king of Egypt under whom Moses was born, and from whose face he fled, who died in the sixty seventh year of his reign, Moses being now sixty years of age, and having been in the land of Midian twenty years; and it was about twenty years after this that he was called from hence, to be the deliverer of his people; for things are often put close together in Scripture, which were done at a considerable distance. And the intention of this notice of the death of the king of Egypt is chiefly to show that it made no alteration in the afflictions of the children of Israel for the better, but rather the worse:

and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage; the severity of it, and its long duration, and seeing no way for their escape out of it:

and they cried, and their cry came up unto God; they not only sighed and groaned inwardly, but so great was their oppression, that they could not forbear crying out aloud; and such was the greatness and vehemency of their cry, that it reached up to heaven, and came into the ears of the Almighty, as vehement cries are said to do, whether sinful or religious; see Genesis 18:20.

by reason of the bondage; which may either be connected with their "cry", that that was because of their bondage; or with the "coming" of it unto God, he was pleased to admit and regard their cry, because their bondage was so very oppressive and intolerable.

(b) Annal Vet. Test. p. 19. A. M. 2494.

And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they {h} cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.

(h) God humbles his by afflictions, that they should cry to him, and receive the fruit of his promise.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23a (J). The death of the king of Egypt, the Pharaoh of v. 15. The notice is intended to explain how it became possible for Moses to return to Egypt (see Exodus 4:19).

in the course of those [many] days] the days of Moses’ sojourn in Midian. It seems that ‘many’ must be a redactional addition. Moses to all appearance married Zipporah not long after his arrival in Midian; and ‘according to J the Pharaoh must have died very soon after the birth of Gershom; for Gershom in Exodus 4:20; Exodus 4:25 is represented as still quite young. J, therefore, did not picture Moses as remaining long in Midian. That is only the representation of P, according to whom (Exodus 7:7) Moses is 80 years old when he treats with Pharaoh. If Moses was 30 (or 40) years old when he fled from Egypt, he would thus have remained in banishment 50 (or 40) years. This, however, agrees as well with the ‘many’ of v. 23a, as it agrees badly with the representation of J (Exodus 4:20; Exodus 4:25). Dillm. will therefore be right in regarding this ‘many’ as a redactional addition’ (Bäntsch).

23b–25 (P). The sequel in P to Exodus 1:14. God hears, and takes notice of, the cry of the oppressed Israelites.

23b. bondage] as Exodus 1:14 (EVV. service), also P.

their cry for help (שַׁוְעָתָם) came up, &c.] cf. 1 Samuel 5:12 Heb.Verses 23-25. - DEATH OF THE PHARAOH FROM WHOM MOSES FLED - CONTINUANCE OF THE OPPRESSION OF ISRAEL-ISRAEL'S PRAYERS - GOD'S ACCEPTANCE OF THEM. - After a space of forty years from the time of Moses' flight from Egypt, according to the estimate of St. Stephen (Acts 7:30), which is not, however, to be strictly pressed, the king whose anger he had provoked - Rameses II., as we believe - died. He had reigned sixty-seven years - about forty-seven alone, and about twenty in conjunction with his father. At his death, the oppressed Israelites ventured to hope for some amelioration of their condition. On his accession, a king in the East often reverses the policy of his predecessor, or at any rate, to make himself popular, grants a remission of burthens for a certain period. But at this time the new monarch, Menephthah I., the son of Rameses II., disappointed the hopes of the Israelites, maintained his father's policy, continued the established system of oppression, granted them no relief of any kind. They "sighed," therefore, in consequence of their disappointment, and "cried" unto God in their trouble, and made supplication to him more earnestly, more heartily, than ever before. We need not suppose that they had previously fallen away from their faith, and "now at last returned to God after many years of idolatrous aberration" (Aben Ezra, Kalisch). But there was among them an access of religious fervour; they "turned to God" from a state of deadness, rather from one of alienation, and raised a "cry" of the kind to which he is never deaf. God therefore "heard their groaning," deigned to listen to their prayers, and commenced the course of miraculous action which issued in the Exodus. (This section is more closely connected with what follows than with what went before, and would better begin ch. 3. than terminate ch. 2.) Verse 23. - In process of time. Literally, "in those many days." The reign of Rameses II. was exceptionally long, as previously explained. He had already reigned twenty-seven years when Moses fled from him (Exodus 2:15). He had now reigned sixty-seven, and Moses was eighty! It had seemed a weary while to wait. The children of Israel sighed. If the time had seemed a weary while to Moses, how much more to his nation! He had escaped and was in Midian - they toiled on in Egypt. He kept sheep - they had their lives made "bitter" for them "with hard bondage, in molter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field" (Exodus 1:14). He could bring up his sons in safety; their sons were still thrown into the river. No wonder that "an exceeding bitter cry" went up to God from the oppressed people, so soon as they found that they had nothing to hope from the new king. Here Moses secured for himself a hospitable reception from a priest of Midian, and a home at his house, by doing as Jacob had formerly done (Genesis 29:10), viz., helping his daughters to water their father's sheep, and protecting them against the other shepherds. - On the form יושׁען for יושׁען vid., Genesis 19:19; and for the masculine suffixes to יגרשׁוּם and צאנם, Genesis 31:9. תּדלנה for תּדלינה, as in Job 5:12, cf. Ewald, 198a. - The flock of this priest consisted of nothing but צאן, i.e., sheep and goats (vid., Exodus 3:1). Even now there are no oxen reared upon the peninsula of Sinai, as there is not sufficient pasturage or water to be found. For the same reason there are no horses kept there, but only camels and asses (cf. Seetzen, R. iii. 100; Wellsted, R. in Arab. ii. p. 66). In Exodus 2:18 the priest is called Reguel, in Exodus 3:1 Jethro. This title, "the priest of Midian," shows that he was the spiritual head of the branch of the Midianites located there, but hardly that he was the prince or temporal head as well, like Melchizedek, as the Targumists have indicated by רבא, and as Artapanus and the poet Ezekiel distinctly affirm. The other shepherds would hardly have treated the daughters of the Emir in the manner described in Exodus 2:17. The name רעוּאל (Reguel, friend of God) indicates that this priest served the old Semitic God El (אל). This Reguel, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses, was unquestionably the same person as Jethro (יתרו) the חתן of Moses and priest of Midian (Exodus 3:1). Now, as Reguel's son Chobab is called Moses' חתן in Numbers 10:29 (cf. Judges 4:11), the Targumists and others supposed Reguel to be the grandfather of Zipporah, in which case אב would mean the grandfather in Exodus 2:18, and בּת the granddaughter in Exodus 2:21. This hypothesis would undoubtedly be admissible, if it were probable on other grounds. But as a comparison of Numbers 10:29 with Exodus 18 does not necessarily prove that Chobab and Jethro were the same persons, whilst Exodus 18:27 seems to lead to the very opposite conclusion, and התן, like the Greek γαμβρός, may be used for both father-in-law and brother-in-law, it would probably be more correct to regard Chobab as Moses' brother-in-law, Reguel as the proper name of his father-in-law, and Jethro, for which Jether (praestantia) is substituted in Exodus 4:18, as either a title, or the surname which showed the rank of Reguel in his tribe, like the Arabic Imam, i.e., praepositus, spec. sacrorum antistes. Ranke's opinion, that Jethro and Chobab were both of them sons of Reguel and brothers-in-law of Moses, is obviously untenable, if only on the ground that according to the analogy of Numbers 10:29 the epithet "son of Reguel" would not be omitted in Exodus 3:1.
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