Exodus 2 Bible Commentary

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

(Read all of Exodus 2)
This chapter relates the birth of Moses, and his preservation in an ark of bulrushes, Exodus 2:1. His being found by Pharaoh's daughter, took up, and put out to nurse by her, and adopted for her son, Exodus 2:4, some exploits of his when grown up, taking the part of an Hebrew against an Egyptian whom he slew, and endeavouring to reconcile two Hebrews at variance, when one of them reproached him with slaying the Egyptian, Exodus 2:11, which thing being known to Pharaoh, he sought to slay Moses, and this obliged him to flee to Midian, Exodus 2:15 where he met with the daughters of Reuel, and defended them against the shepherds, and watered their flocks for them, Exodus 2:16, which Reuel being informed of, sent for him, and he lived with him, and married his daughter Zipporah, by whom he had a son, Exodus 2:18 and the chapter is concluded with the death of the king of Egypt, and the sore bondage of the Israelites, and their cries and groans, which God had a respect unto, Exodus 2:23.

Verses 1. And there went a man of the house of Levi,.... This man was Amram, the son of Kohath, and grandson of Levi, as appears from Exodus 6:18

and took to wife a daughter of Levi; one of the same house, family, or tribe; which was proper, that the tribes might be kept distinct: this was Jochebed, said to be his father's sister, See Gill on "Ex 6:20": her name in Josephus {s} is Joachebel, which seems to be no other than a corruption of Jochebed, but in the Targum in 1 Chronicles 4:18 she is called Jehuditha.

{s} Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 4.

Verse 2. And the woman conceived, and bare a son,.... Which was not her first child, nor indeed her first son, for she had both Aaron and Miriam before this: this son, which was Moses, was born, as the Jews say {t}, in the thirty seventh year after the death of Levi, A. M. 2365, (or, as others, 2368,) on a Wednesday, the seventh of the month Adar, in the third hour of the day: some say it was on the twenty fourth of Nisan; but, according to Bishop Usher {u}, he was born forty one years after the death of Levi, A. M. 2433, and in the year before Christ 1571,

and when she saw him that he was a goodly child; exceeding fair and beautiful, as Stephen expresses it, Acts 7:20, the Jews say {w} his form was like an angel of God, and Trogus {x}, an Heathen writer, says his beautiful form recommended him: this engaged the affections of his parents to him, and who, from hence, might promise themselves that he would be a very eminent and useful person, could his life be preserved:

she hid him three months; in her bedchamber, some Jewish writers say {y}; others {z}, in a house under ground, that is, in the cellar; however, it was in his father's house, Acts 7:20.

{t} Shatshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2. Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 7. 1. {u} Annal. Vet. Test. p. 18. {w} Pirke Eliezer, c. 48. fol. 57. 2. {x} Justin e Trogo, l. 36. c. 2. {y} Chronicon Mosis, fol. 3. 2. {z} Pirke Eliezer, ut supra. (c.48. fol. 57.2)

Verse 3. And when she could no longer hide him,.... Because of her neighbours, who might hear the crying of the child, or because of the diligent search made by Pharaoh's officers, which some think was made every three months: the Jews {a} have a notion that his mother was delivered of him at six months' end, and therefore when the other three months were up women usually go with child, she could hide him no longer, a birth of a child being then expected, and would be inquired about:

she took for him an ark of bulrushes; the word, according to Kimchi {b}, signifies a kind of wood exceeding light, so Gersom and Ben Melech; an Arabic writer {c} calls it an ark of wood; it is generally taken to be the "papyrus" or reed of Egypt, which grew upon the banks of the Nile, and of which, many writers say, small vessels or little ships were made, See Gill on "Isa 18:2"

and daubed it with slime and with pitch; with pitch without and slime within, as Jarchi observes; which being of a glutinous nature, made the rushes or reeds stick close together, and so kept out the water:

and put the child therein; committing it to the care and providence of God, hoping and believing that by some means or another it would be preserved; for this, no doubt, was done in faith, as was the hiding him three months, to which the apostle ascribes that, Hebrews 11:23

and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink; among the sedge, weeds, and rushes, that grew upon the banks of the river Nile; there she laid it, that it might not be carried away with the stream of the river, and that it might be seen and taken up by somebody that would have compassion on it, and take care of it: the Arabic writers {d} say, that Jochebed made an ark of the papyrus, though in the law it is said to be of cork, and pitched within and without, and put the child into it, and laid it on the bank of the Nile, where the water was not so deep, by the city Tzan (or Zoan, that is, Tanis), which was the metropolis of the Tanitic nome; but very wrongly adds, that it might be killed by the dashing of the waves, and she might not see its death.

{a} Targum Jon. & Jarchi in loc. {b} Sepher Shorash. rad. amg. {c} Elmacius apud Hottinger. p. 402. {d} Patricides, p. 25. Elmacinus, p. 46. apud Hottinger. Smegma, c. 8. p. 400.

Verse 4. And his sister stood afar off,.... This was Miriam, as the Targum of Jonathan expresses it; who is supposed to be about ten or twelve years of age, others say seven: she was placed {e}, as the word may be rendered, by her parents, or, "she placed herself" {f}, by their instruction, at some distance from the place where the ark was, that she might not be observed and be thought to belong to it, and yet so near as to observe what became of it, which was the intent of her standing there, as follows:

to wit what would be done to him; to know, take notice, and observe, what should happen to it, if anyone took it up, and what they did with it, and where they carried it, for, "to wit" is an old English word, which signifies "to know," and is the sense of the Hebrew word to which it answers, see 2 Corinthians 8:1.

{e} butt "collocata fuerat," Vatablus. {f} "Stiterat sese," Junius & Tremellius, "stitit sese," Piscator, Drusius.

Verse 5. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river,.... Her name, in Josephus {g}, is called Thermuthis, and by Artapanus {h}, an Heathen writer, Merrhis, perhaps from Miriam, and frequently by the Jewish writers {i}, Bithia, which is the name of a daughter of another Pharaoh, 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.

Verse 6. And when she had opened it,.... The ark, for it was shut or covered over, though doubtless there were some apertures for respiration:

she saw the child [in it], and, behold, the babe wept; and which was a circumstance, it is highly probable, greatly affected the king's daughter, and moved her compassion to it; though an Arabic writer says {p}, she heard the crying of the child in the ark, and therefore sent for it:

and she had compassion on him, and said, this is one of the Hebrews' children; which she might conclude from its being thus exposed, knowing her father's edict, and partly from the form and beauty of it, Hebrew children not being swarthy and tawny as Egyptian ones: the Jewish writers {q} say, she knew it by its being circumcised, the Egyptians not yet using circumcision.

{p} Patricides apud Hottinger. p 401. {q} T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 12. 2. Aben Ezra in loc.

Verse 7. Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter,.... Miriam the sister of Moses, who observing the ark taken up, and the maidens that were walking upon the bank of the river, and other women perhaps, gathering about it to see it; she made one among them, and after hearing their discourse about it, proposed what follows to Pharaoh's daughter: Jarchi says, that Pharaoh's daughter tried several Egyptian women to suckle it, but it would not suck of them: Josephus {r} says the same, and it also is in the Talmud {s}; and that, if true, gave Miriam a fair opportunity to offer to do the following message for her:

shall I go and call for thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? for she perceived that she was desirous of having the child brought up as her own.

{r} Antiqu. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 5. {s} T. Bab. Sotah, ut supra. (fol. 12.1)

Verse 8. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, go,.... She fell in at once with the proposal, being, no doubt, overruled, by the providence of God, to agree to have such a person called:

and the maid went and called the child's mother; and her own, whose name was Jochebed the wife of Amram, as observed in Exodus 2:1.

Verse 9. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her,.... Being come, having made all possible haste:

take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages; by which means she had not only the nursing of her own child, but was paid for it: according to a Jewish writer {t}, Pharaoh's daughter agreed with her for two pieces of silver a day.

{t} Dibre Hayamim; sive Chronicon Mosis, fol. 4. 1.

Verse 10. 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 hvm, "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} udogenhv, "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.

Verse 11. And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown,.... To man's estate; some of the Jewish writers say he was eighteen, others twenty years of age {e}, but Stephen, who is most to be credited, says he was full forty years of age, Acts 7:23,

that he went out unto his brethren the Hebrews: whom he knew to be his brethren, either by divine revelation, or by conversing with his nurse, who was his mother; who, doubtless, instructed him while he was with her, as far as he was capable of being informed of things, and who might frequently visit her afterwards, by which means he became apprised that he was an Hebrew and not an Egyptian, though he went for the son of Pharaoh's daughter, which he refused to be called when he knew his parentage, Hebrews 11:24 now he went out from Pharaoh's palace, which in a short time he entirely relinquished, to visit his brethren, and converse with them, and understood their case and circumstances:

and looked on their burdens; which they were obliged to carry, and were very heavy, and with which they were pressed; he looked at them with grief and concern, and considered in his mind how to relieve them, if possible:

and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren; the Egyptian was, according to Jarchi, a principal of the taskmasters of Israel, who was beating the Hebrew for not doing his work as he required, and the Hebrew, according to him, was the husband of Shelomith, daughter of Dibri, Leviticus 24:11, though others say it was Dathan {f}.

{e} Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2. {f} lbid.

Verse 12. And he looked this way, and that way,.... All around, to observe if there were any within sight who could see what he did; which did not arise from any consciousness of any evil he was about to commit, but for his own preservation, lest if seen he should be accused to Pharaoh, and suffer for it:

and when he saw that there was no man; near at hand, that could see what he did, and be a witness against him:

he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand; in a sandy desert place hard by, where having slain him with his sword, he dug a hole, and put him into it; See Gill on "Ac 7:24." Of the slaughter of the Egyptian, and the following controversy about it, Demetrius {g}, an Heathen writer, treats of in perfect agreement with the sacred Scriptures.

{g} Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 19. p. 439.

Verse 13. And when he went out the second day,.... The day following:

behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together; which the Jewish writers {h} take to be Dathan and Abiram:

and he said to him that did the wrong; who was the aggressor, and acted the wicked part in abusing his brother:

wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? friend and companion; signifying, that it was very unbecoming, unkind, and unnatural, and that brethren and friends ought to live together in love, and not strive with, and smite one another, and especially at such a time as this, when they were so oppressed by, and suffered so much from their enemies; See Gill on "Ac 7:26."

{h} Targum Jon. & Jarchi in loc. Shemoth Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 91. 4. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 2. Pirke Eliezer, c. 48.

Verse 14. And he said, who made thee a prince and a judge over us?.... God had designed him for one, and so he appeared to be afterwards; but this man's meaning is, that he was not appointed by Pharaoh's order then, and so had nothing to do to interfere in their differences and quarrels; though Moses did not take upon him to act in an authoritative way, but to exhort and persuade them to peace and love, as they were brethren:

intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? if this was Dathan, or however the same Hebrew that he had defended and rescued from the Egyptian, it was very ungenerous in him to upbraid him with it; or if that Hebrew had made him his confident, and acquainted him with that affair, as it was unfaithful to betray it, since it was in favour of one of his own people, it was ungrateful to reproach him with it:

and Moses feared; lest the thing should be discovered and be told to Pharaoh, and he should suffer for it: this fear that possessed Moses was before he fled from Egypt, and went to Midian, not when he forsook it, and never returned more, at the departure of the children of Israel, to which the apostle refers, Hebrews 11:27 and is no contradiction to this:

and said, surely this thing is known; he said this within himself, he concluded from this speech, that either somebody had seen him commit the fact he was not aware of, or the Hebrew, whose part he took, had through weakness told it to another, from whom this man had it, or to himself; for by this it seems that he was not the same Hebrew, on whose account Moses had slain the Egyptian, for then the thing would have been still a secret between them as before; only the other Hebrew this was now contending with must hereby come to the knowledge of it, and so Moses might fear, that getting into more hands it would come out, as it did; See Gill on "Ac 7:27-29."

Verse 15. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses,.... Both for his killing the Egyptian, which by the laws of Egypt {i} was death, whether bond or free; and for his taking part with the Hebrews against the Egyptians, and knowing him to be a wise and valiant man, might fear he would put himself at the head of the Hebrews, and cause a revolt of them; and if there was anything in his dream, or if he had such an one, and had the interpretation of it given by his magicians, that an Hebrew child should be born, by whom Egypt would be destroyed, See Gill on "Ex 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.

Verse 16. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters,.... Who being a descendant of Abraham might have retained the knowledge of the true God, and might be a priest of his, as Melchizedek was, or otherwise it may be thought improbable that Moses would have married his daughter, as he afterwards did; and so Aben Ezra says, he was a priest of God; though the word is sometimes used of a prince, ruler, and governor; and is so rendered here by the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; and Artapanus {r}, an Heathen writer, expressly calls him arcwn, a "prince" of those places, that is, of Arabia; he might be both prince and priest, as Melchizedek before mentioned was, and as has been the usage of many countries:

and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock; which is no contradiction to their being daughters either of a priest or a prince, which were both high titles and characters; since it was usual in those early times, and in those countries, for the sons and daughters of considerable persons to be employed in such services; See Gill on "Ge 29:9."

{r} Ut supra, (Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27.) p. 434.

Verse 17. And the shepherds came and drove them away,.... The daughters of the priest of Midian, and their flock likewise; these were shepherds of some neighbouring princes or great men, who were so rude and slothful, and to save themselves a little trouble of drawing water, brought up their flocks to drink of the water those virgins had drawn, and to do this forced them and their flocks away:

but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock; moved to see such rude and uncivil treatment of the weaker sex, rose up from the ground on which he sat, and took their parts, and obliged the shepherds to give way, and brought up their flock to the troughs, and drew water for them, and gave them it; either he did this alone, or together with the servants that waited upon the priest's daughters, perhaps alone; and if it be considered that shepherds being usually not of a very martial spirit, and these also in a wrong cause, and Moses a man of an heroic disposition, and had doubtless the appearance of a man of some eminence and authority, they were the more easily intimidated and overcome.

Verse 18. And when they came to Reuel their father,.... Or Ragouel, as the Septuagint; and so Artapanus {s} calls him. The Targum of Jonathan has it, their father's father; and so Aben Ezra says he was; and is the sense of others, induced thereto by Numbers 10:29, but it does not follow from thence: he said,

how is it that you are come so soon today? it being not only sooner than they were wont to come, but perhaps their business was done in so short a time; that it was marvellous to him that it could be done in it, so quick a dispatch had Moses made, and they through his assistance; and especially it might be more strange, if it was usual, as it seems it was, to be molested by the shepherds.

{s} Ut supra. (Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 434.)

Verse 19. And they said, an Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds,.... A man, who by his habit and by his speech appeared to them to be an Egyptian, and upon their inquiry he might tell them so, being born in Egypt, though of Hebrew parents:

and also drew water enough for us; or "in drawing drew" {t}; drew it readily, quickly and in abundance:

and watered the flock; by which means their business was done, and they returned home earlier than usual.

{t} hld hld "hauriendo bausit," Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator.

Verse 20. And he said unto his daughters, and where is he?.... By the account Reuel's daughters gave of Moses, of his courage and humanity, he was very desirous of seeing him:

why [is it] that ye have left the man? behind them at the well, and had not brought him along with them; he seemed to be displeased, and chides them, and tacitly suggests that they were rude and ungrateful not to ask a stranger, and one that had been so kind to them, to come with them and refresh himself:

call him, that he may eat bread; take meat with them, bread being put for all provisions.

Verse 21. And Moses was content to dwell with the man,.... After he had been called and brought into the house, and had had some refreshment, and after some conversation had passed between them, and perhaps after some days' stay in Reuel's house; Reuel having observed his disposition and behaviour, and being delighted therewith, proposed to him to take up his residence with him, with which motion Moses was well pleased, and accepted of it:

and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter; to be his wife. It is not to be supposed that this was done directly; though both Philo {u} and Josephus {w} intimate as if it was done at first meeting together; but it is not likely that Reuel would dispose of his daughter so suddenly to a stranger, though he might at once entertain an high opinion of him; nor would Moses marry a woman directly he had so slender an acquaintance with, so little knowledge of her disposition, endowments of mind and religion. The Targum of Jonathan says it was at the end of ten years; and indeed forty years after this a son of his seems to have been young, having not till then been circumcised, Exodus 4:22. The author of the Life of Moses says {x}, that he was seventy seven years of age when he married Zipporah, which was but three years before he returned to Egypt. This circumstance of Moses's marrying Reuel's daughter is confirmed by Artapanus {y} an Heathen historian; and also by Demetrius {z}, and expressly calls her Sapphora, who he says was a daughter of Jother or Jethro; and likewise by Ezekiel the tragedian {a}.

{u} De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 611. {w} Antiqu. l. 2. c. 11. sect. 2. {x} Chronicon Mosis, fol. 9. 1. {y} Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 27. p. 434. {z} Ib. c. 29. p. 439. {a} lb. c. 28.

Verse 22. And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom,.... Which signifies a "desolate stranger"; partly on his own account, he being in a foreign country, a stranger and sojourner; but not by way of complaint, but rather of thankfulness to God for providing so well for him in it; and partly on his son's account, that when he came to years of maturity and knowledge, he might learn, and in which Moses no doubt instructed him, that he was not to look upon Midian as his proper country, but that he was to be heir of the land of Canaan, and which he might be reminded of by his name:

for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land; so Midian was to him, who was born in Egypt, and being an Hebrew, was entitled to the land of Canaan; this looks as if he had been at this time some years in Midian.

Verse 23. 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.

Verse 24. And God heard their groaning,.... The petitions they put up to him with groans and cries:

and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob; that he would bring their seed out of a land not theirs, in which they were strangers, and were afflicted, into the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.

Verse 25. And God looked upon the children of Israel,.... With an eye of pity and compassion, and saw all the hardships they laboured under, and all the injuries that were done unto them:

and God had respect unto [them]; had a favourable regard to them; or "knew" {b} not only them, the Israelites, and loved them, and approved of them, and owned them as his own, all which words of knowledge sometimes signify; but he knew their sorrows and sufferings, and took notice of what was done to them secretly; see Exodus 3:7.

{b} edyw "et eognovit," Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.