Exodus 2:1 there went a man of the house of Levi
A man whose name was Amram, one of the nobler sort of the Hebrews, was afraid for… his wife being then with child… he knew not what to do. Hereupon he betook himself to prayer to God; and entreated him to have compassion… Accordingly God had mercy on him, and was moved by his supplication. He stood by him in his sleep, and exhorted him not to despair of his future favors. He said further, that he did not forget their piety towards him, and would always reward them for it, as he had formerly granted his favor to their forefathers…. Know therefore that I shall provide for you all in common what is for your good, and particularly for thyself what shall make thee famous; for… this child of thine… shall be concealed from those who watch to destroy him: and when he is brought up in a surprising way, he shall deliver the Hebrew nation from the distress they are under from the Egyptians. His memory shall be famous while the world lasts; and this not only among the Hebrews, but foreigners also:—all which shall be the effect of my favor to thee, and to thy posterity. He shall also have such a brother, that he shall himself obtain my priesthood, and his posterity shall have it after him to the end of the world. (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1; 10:3)
Exodus 2:2 and the woman conceived and bare a son
When the vision had informed him of these things, Amram awaked and told it to Jochebed who was his wife. And now the fear increased upon them on account of the prediction in Amram's dream; for they were under concern, not only for the child, but on account of the great happiness that was to come to him also. However, the mother's labor… was not known to those that watched her, by the easiness of her pains, and because the throes of her delivery did not fall upon her with violence. And now they nourished the child at home privately for three months; but after that time Amram, fearing he should be discovered, and, by falling under the king's displeasure, both he and his child should perish, and so he should make the promise of God of none effect, he determined rather to trust the safety and care of the child to God, than to depend on his own concealment of him. (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1; 10:4)
Exodus 2:3 when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes
Josephus, the great Jewish historian, tells us the names of Moses’ parents, Amram and Jochebed. For this, we are very grateful. However, the biblical text says it was Jochebed that could no longer hide him and therefore put him in the Nile. Josephus gives the credit to Amram. We just want to take a minute and underscore the faith of Jochebed as equal if not superior to that of her husband. How much faith would it take to take your son and put him in a little ark in the great Nile River? Could you do it? Could you “trust the safety and care of the child to God”?
Really, Jochebed was just following the commandment of Pharaoh anyway—she was casting her male son into the Nile. Pharaoh’s edict didn’t specifically say not to make an ark for him. She was just doing what she was told, so that if the Egyptian enforcers asked, she could say she cast him into the Nile.
Exodus 2:5-8 the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river… she saw the child
Thermuthis was the king's daughter. She was now diverting herself by the banks of the river; and seeing a cradle borne along by the current, she sent some that could swim, and bid them bring the cradle to her. When those that were sent on this errand came to her with the cradle, and she saw the little child, she was greatly in love with it, on account of its largeness and beauty; for God had taken such great care in the formation of Moses… Thermuthis bid them bring her a woman that might afford her breast to the child; yet would not the child admit of her breast, but turned away from it, and did the like to many other women. Now Miriam was by when this happened, not to appear to be there on purpose, but only as staying to see the child; and she said, "It is in vain that thou, O queen, callest for these women for the nourishing of the child, who are no way of kin to it; but still, if thou wilt order one of the Hebrew women to be brought, perhaps it may admit the breast of one of its own nation." Now since she seemed to speak well, Thermuthis bid her procure such a one, and to bring one of those Hebrew women that gave suck. So when she had such authority given her, she came back and brought the mother, who was known to nobody there. And now the child gladly admitted the breast, and seemed to stick close to it; and so it was, that, at the queen's desire, the nursing of the child was entirely intrusted to the mother. (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1; 10:5)
Exodus 2:10 she called his name Moses
Hereupon it was that Thermuthis imposed this name Mouses upon him, from what had happened when he was put into the river; for the Egyptians call water by the name of Mo, and such as are saved out of it, by the name of Uses: so by putting these two words together, they imposed this name upon him. (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1; 9:6)
Exodus 2:11 when Moses was grown
Now wait a minute! Is Moses grown up already? What about his youth, a Hebrew being raised as an Egyptian? What was his education like, his training, his relationship to Pharaoh? Again, we may turn to the historian Josephus for more information. Josephus lived after the time of Christ and was witness to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. He must have had more records at his disposal because he relates quite a bit of information about Moses’ youth. For Josephus’ complete record of Moses’ youth, click here.
In summary, Moses was a bright and beautiful child. His Egyptian mother brought him before her father Pharaoh as a possible heir to his throne. He was raised by Thermuthis an Egyptian but still identified with the Hebrews. He became the general of the Egyptian army in a battle against the Ethiopians, who had made an incursion into Egypt. The Egyptian oracles and sages recommended Moses lead the army and the Pharaoh agreed. Moses was able to engineer a surprise attack on the Ethiopians who expected him to travel by water. Instead, he took his army through snake infested lands carrying snake eating birds called ibes that allowed the army to pass safely. As general, he beat the Ethiopians and drove them back into their lands. His success raised the suspicions of the oracles and Pharaoh.
Now Moses's understanding became superior to his age, nay, far beyond that standard; and when he was taught, he discovered greater quickness of apprehension than was usual at his age, and his actions at that time promised greater, when he should come to the age of a man. God did also give him that tallness, when he was but three years old, as was wonderful. And as for his beauty, there was nobody so unpolite as, when they saw Moses, they were not greatly surprised at the beauty of his countenance; nay, it happened frequently, that those that met him as he was carried along the road, were obliged to turn again upon seeing the child; that they left what they were about, and stood still a great while to look on him; for the beauty of the child was so remarkable and natural to him on many accounts, that it detained the spectators, and made them stay longer to look upon him. (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1; 9:7)
Exodus 2:11-12 He spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew… he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand
Moses’ mother nursed him for Thermutis, but for how long? Raised by Egyptians, educated by Egyptians, but nursed by his mother, Moses could have identified with either the Egyptians or the Hebrews. Actually, it is more likely that he would feel strong ties with his Egyptian benefactors, but all the Egyptian food, education, and culture in the world couldn’t erase Moses’ divine memory of his Israelite heritage. There must be an unwritten story of the influence of Moses’ righteous mother. The first lesson of the skirmish between the Egyptian and the Hebrew is that Moses sided with the Hebrews. God’s plan required an indignant allegiance to the Hebrew cause.
“We wonder also if, during those first forty years in Egypt, he knew what his mission was and what significance his name had. We do not know how much his mother told him; if he was with her enough years, she probably informed him that he was an Israelite, but we do not know if she knew what his mission was to be. Finally, we cannot help but wonder if it was a difficult thing for Moses to give up the splendor and prestige of the palace to live in the desert with the sheep.” (Robert J. Matthews, A Bible! A Bible! [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990], 57 - 58.)
Hebrews applauds Moses’ character saying, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” (Heb. 11:23). “Having discovered his people in their suffering, Moses cannot rest.” (The Interpreter’s Bible, ed. by G. A. Buttrick et al [New York, Abingdon Press, 1952] 1:863)
The second lesson of this interesting skirmish is that Moses kills an Egyptian—an act of manslaughter. Years later, the Law of Moses had an interestingly lenient punishment for those guilty of manslaughter. There was no prison time, nor was there a monetary punishment. Instead, there were three designated cities of refuge for those who committed manslaughter. Separating the slayer from the rest of society made it less likely that a friend of loved one of the slain would seek revenge (Ex. 21:12-14; Deut. 19:1-10). For Moses, he would have to separate himself from the entire nation of Egypt.
“Every detective story is proof of the futility of looking this way and that. Someone always sees, some clue is always left. Violence seems sometimes inevitable, but is generally a mistake.” (The Interpreter’s Bible, ed. by G. A. Buttrick et al [New York, Abingdon Press, 1952] 1:863)
Exodus 2:14 Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? Intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian?
This is the first Hebrew to complain about Moses’ leadership. The whining, murmuring, and complaining would be the noise in his ears for the rest of his life. The taunt is always the same, “who put you in charge? Are you going to kill us by bringing us out into this wilderness?”
Exodus 2:16 Jethro, the priest of Midian
Joseph Fielding Smith
The Midianites were descendants of Abraham, through the children of Keturah, wife of Abraham, therefore the Midianites, who were neighbors to the Israelites in Palestine, were related to the Israelites, and were Hebrews. As descendants of Abraham they were entitled through their faithfulness to his blessings (see Abraham 2:9-11), and in the days of Moses and preceding them, in Midian the Priesthood was found. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 2: 103)
Midian was the son of Abraham, by his second wife Keturah. He and his posterity peopled the land, which was called after his name, and Jethro being the fifth in regular descent from Midian, lived in the days of Moses, and was priest of the Most High God, when Moses was a young man, forty years before God called him to lead Israel from Egypt.—(See Exodus iii. 1.) Moses married Jethro's daughter, and lived with him about forty years, and then God sent him to lead Israel out of Egypt: and we are told in the eighteenth chapter of Exodus that after Moses had brought Israel into the wilderness Jethro came to them, and praised God among them, and offered sacrifices and set in order all the officers in Israel, and gave Moses commandments how to proceed: and all this was long before Aaron and his sons were consecrated to the priest's office. (Times and Seasons, vol. 2 (November 1840-October 1841), Vol. 2 No. 19 August 2, 1841, 489-490)
John A Widstoe
Moses received the priesthood from Jethro in Midian; and the descent of the priesthood from Abraham to Jethro is given in names that do not appear at that period in the Bible. (D. & C. 84:6-13.) (Evidences and Reconciliations [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era], 231.)
Exodus 2:19 An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds
Two points make: Moses looked like an Egyptian, but he was a Hebrew—Hebrew on the inside; Egyptian on the outside. The second point is that we see Moses as the judge of right and wrong in his own world. He wants to rectify the abuse of a fellow Hebrew; he wants to be a peacemaker between two quarreling Hebrews; and he won’t stand for the mistreatment of the daughters of Jethro. His natural tendency is to be a judge and make things right—both qualities would follow him throughout his ministry.
Exodus 2:21 Moses was content to dwell with the man
“Moses married Jethro's daughter Zipporah, had two sons—Gershom and Eliezer, and settled in the area for the next forty years of his life (Ex. 2:16-22; 18:3; Acts 7:29-30). We suppose that it was in Midian that Moses began to be taught the true gospel and to be introduced to the teachings of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for we know also by modern revelation that Moses received the higher priesthood from Jethro (D&C 84:6).” (Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 3: Genesis to 2 Samuel [Salt Lake City: Randall Book, 1985], 97)