At the end of the book of Genesis, Joseph and his family are in the land of Egypt, in the area of Goshen, now a large family of power and prestige because of God blessing Joseph.
But in just a few short generations new Egyptian leaders forget about Joseph and what he had done for the country, and a level of resentment arose for the people of Jacob, which culminated in them being enslaved by the Egyptians. Eventually God heard the cries of his chosen people and found them a leader to bring them out of Egypt, Moses.
Moses, whose name means “drawn out”, after the unique way in which he was found by his adoptive family, was the biological son of Amram and Jochebed. Exodus 6 notes that Amram is the son of Kohath, who is the son of Levi, the namesake for one of the twelve tribes of Egypt. Sometimes the genealogies listed in the Bible skip generations for various reasons, but the main point of this passage is to demonstrate that Moses is a close and direct link in the people of God’s promise, another step in the long line of people set apart by God since Abram. He and his brother Aaron and sister Mariam, while not perfect, were a family put in place by God to be used by him to bring the people out of Egypt and eventually into the Promised Land.
What is the connection between Jacob’s family and Moses?
What is the significance of Moses coming from the line of Levi?
Why does God keep choosing people to accomplish his plans? Why not do things himself?
Before the Exodus
When Moses was an infant Jochebed, his mother, placed him in a basket and put the basket into the Nile, as a way to avoid Moses being killed, as was a law at the time for all Hebrew boys born at this time. The floating basket was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter, who took Moses in as her own child. In an interesting twist by God, when Pharaoh’s daughter declared out loud that she needed to find a wet-nurse to care for the child, Moses’s older sister Miriam, who was nearby, told her that she knew just who to ask. As a result, Moses’ mother, who thought she lost him forever, was given the opportunity to raise her own son again.
We do not have much information on the first part of Moses’ life growing up in the family of the Pharaoh, however, it would appear that at some point he was made aware of his heritage. Exodus chapter 2 tells the story of Moses seeing an “Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people.” Moses’ anger gets the best of him and he kills the Egyptian, hiding his body in the sand. When the Pharaoh hears of this crime, Moses flees in fear, out to the land of Midian.
When Moses goes to Midian he finds a group of shepherdesses in distress and defends them, gaining the respect of Jethro (also called Reuel), their father. Jethro eventually has Moses work for him and allows him to marry one of his daughters. Moses’ relationship with Jethro would be very important to him over the years, as demonstrated in Exodus 18, where they reunite and worship God together.
In what ways can we see God working through Moses’s life up to this point?
What led to Moses fleeing Egypt?
Moses is 80 before he is called back to Israel. How does that change the way you think about how God uses you in your life?
Drawn Out to Lead Israel
It is while he is working for Jethro as a shepherd that Moses eventually finds himself on the mountain of Horeb, which came to be known as the Mountain of God. Here is where he sees the burning bush and speaks to God. This is where God first declares himself as the God of “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” It is also where God tells Moses to refer to him as “I am” when he goes back to his people. From that phrase is where the Israelites get the name Yahweh. Even through Moses was reluctant, shy and anger prone, God encouraged Moses to go back to Egypt, stand against Pharaoh and lead God’s people to freedom, which he did.
After bringing his people out of Egypt Moses took the people to Mount Saini, where God gave him the Ten Commandments to pronounce to his people. Moses led the people through the desert, but unfortunately was not able to enter the Promised Land, once again, due to him acting out in anger against God. Even though he was denied passage into the land he was appointed to lead his people to, Moses is renowned as one of the greatest prophets, priests and leaders of Israel until Jesus.
What significance did God show by professing himself as “I am”?
What does it mean for us that God was able to use Moses for such good things even though he was shy, nervous and anger prone?