And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself.—This would be quite in accordance with Egyptian ideas. “Women were allowed great liberty in Egypt, and moved about much as they pleased. Cleanliness was especially regarded; and the Nile water was considered healthy and fructifying (Strab. 15 p. 695). The princess would, of course, seek a part of the river which was reserved for females. Probably Jochebed know where she was accustomed to bathe.
Her maidens.—As a princess, she was, of course, accompanied by a number of female attendants (na’aroth). Even ordinary Egyptian ladies seem to have been attended at the bath by four or five such persons. One of them was, however, more especially her waiting-woman (âmah), and to her the princess addressed herself.Exodus 2:5-6. And the daughter of Pharaoh came — Providence brings no less a person than Pharaoh’s daughter just at that juncture, guides her to the place where this poor infant lay, inclines her heart to pity it, which she dares do, when none else durst. Never did poor child cry so seasonably as this did; the babe wept — Which moved her compassion, as no doubt his beauty did.
Many facts concur in indicating that the residence of the daughter of Pharaoh and of the family of Moses, was at Zoan, Tanis, now San, the ancient Avaris (Exodus 1:8 note), on the Tanitic branch of the river, near the sea, where crocodiles are never found, and which was probably the western boundary of the district occupied by the Israelites. The field of Zoan was always associated by the Hebrews with the marvels which preceded the Exodus. See Psalm 78:43.
To wash - It is not customary at present for women of rank to bathe in the river, but it was a common practice in ancient Egypt. The habits of the princess, as well as her character, must have been well known to the mother of Moses, and probably decided her choice of the place.
walked along—in procession or in file.
she sent her maid—her immediate attendant. The term is different from that rendered "maidens."1 Chronicles 4:18 from whence they seem to have taken it: she came down from the palace of her father, the gardens of which might lead to the Nile; for Zoan or Tanis, near to which, the Arabiac writers say, as before observed, the ark was laid, was situated on the banks of the river Nile, and was the royal seat of the kings of Egypt; though perhaps the royal seat at this time was either Heliopolis, as Apion testifies (k), that it was a tradition of the Egyptians that Moses was an Heliopolitan, or else Memphis, which was not far from it; for Artapanus, another Heathen writer, says (l), that when he fled, after he had killed the Egyptian, from Memphis, he passed over the Nile to go into Arabia: however, no doubt a bath was there provided for the use of the royal family; for it can hardly be thought that she should go down and wash herself in the open river: here she came to wash either on a religious account, or for pleasure: the Jews (m) say it was an extraordinary hot season throughout Egypt, so that the flesh of men was burnt with the heat of the sun, and therefore to cool her she came to the river to bathe in it: others (n) of them say, that they were smitten with burning ulcers, and she also, that she could not wash in hot water, but came to the river:
and her maidens walked along by the river's side; while she washed herself; though it is highly probable she was not left alone: these seem to be the maids of honour, there might be others that might attend her of a meaner rank, and more fit to do for her what was necessary; yet these saw not the ark, it lying lower among the flags, and being nearer the bath where Pharaoh's daughter was, she spied it from thence as follows:
and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it; the maid that waited on her while the rest were taking their walks; her she sent from the bath among the flags to take up the ark: the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, and R. Eliezer (o), render it,"she stretched out her arm and hand, and took it;''the same word, being differently pointed, so signifying; but this is disapproved of, by the Jewish commentators.
(g) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 5. (h) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 432. (i) T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 13. 1. Derech Eretz, fol. 19. 1. Pirke Eliezer, c. 48. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2.((k) Apud Joseph. Contr. Apion, l. 2. sect. 2.((l) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 433. (m) Chronicon Mosis, fol. 3. 2. Ed. Gaulmin. (n) Targum Jon. in loc. Pirke Eliezer, ut supra. (c.48. fol. 57.2.) (o) Ibid. Vid. T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 12. 1.And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)5. the daughter of Pharaoh] Tradition gave her name as Tharmuth (Jubilees xlvii. 5), Thermouthis (Jos. Ant. ii. 9. 5), or Merris (Euseb. Praep. Ev. ix. 27). Rameses II is stated to have had 59 daughters (Petrie, Hist. iii. 38, 82); but neither of these names appears among the 45 that have been preserved (ibid. p. 37 f.).
came down] presumably, from her palace: though where this was, or where indeed the entire incident took place, the narrative does not state. Perhaps Tanis (Zoan), one of the chief royal residences in the NE. of the Delta, near the mouth of the Tanitic branch of the Nile, is intended.
to bathe] Women of any position do not at present bathe in the Nile (Lane, Mod. Egyptians, ii. 36): whether the case was different formerly, we do not know. The painting, from a tomb in Thebes (Wilk.-Birch, ii. 353), referred to by Dillmann, and in the Speaker’s Comm., represents (Griffith) not a lady in her bath, but a lady seated in her clothing on a mat, and being anointed and adorned for a party by her attendants (cf. Erman, p. 187).
The Nile was regarded as sacred, and as a giver of life and fertility; but whether this led to the practice of bathing in it, is more than we know. The Heb. at or by the Nile, however, does not necessarily mean that Pharaoh’s daughter bathed publicly in the river; there might have been private bath-houses beside the river, into one of which she went.
her maidens] The court-ladies in attendance on her.
walked along] were walking.
her handmaid] her female slave,—which is what the Heb. ’âmâh regularly denotes (Exodus 20:10; Exodus 20:17, &c.).Verse 5. - The daughter of Pharaoh. Probably a daughter of Seti I. and a sister of Rameses the Great. Josephus calls her Thermuthis; Syncellus, Pharia; Artapanus, Merrhis, and some of the Jewish commentators, Bithia - the diversity showing that there was no genuine tradition on the subject. There is nothing improbable in an Egyptian princess bathing in the Nile, at a place reserved for women. (See Wilkinson, 'Manners and Customs of Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 3. p. 389.) The Nile was regarded as sacred, and its water as health-giving and fructifying (Strab. 15. p. 695). Her maidens. Egyptian ladies of high rank are represented on the monuments as attended to the bath by a number of handmaidens. As many as four are seen in one representation (Wilkinson, 1.s.c.). Her maid is her special personal attendant, the others being merely women attached to her household. 2 Samuel 7:11 is interchanged with to "build a house" in 2 Samuel 7:27 (vid., Ruth 4:11). להם for להן as in Genesis 31:9, etc. Through not carrying out the ruthless command of the king, they had helped to build up the families of Israel, and their own families were therefore built up by God. Thus God rewarded them, "not, however, because they lied, but because they were merciful to the people of God; it was not their falsehood therefore that was rewarded, but their kindness (more correctly, their fear of God), their benignity of mind, not the wickedness of their lying; and for the sake of what was good, God forgave what was evil." (Augustine, contra mendac. c. 19.)
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