Moses: Prelude to Becoming a Prophet

I want to do an annotation on the story of Moses. I know that is like the entire book of Exodus and on, so I’m just going to do from chapter 2 to chapter 11. As usual, I’m going to start with Moses’ bio from the Bible Dictionary.

Background on Moses

He was the son of Amram. He’s not in the Bible Dictionary anywhere so I can’t say more than that. Moses refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter. His ministry extended beyond his mortal life. He met up with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration and bestowed the keys of the Priesthood to Peter, James, and John.

Outside the church on the mount of transfiguration

Outside the church on the mount of transfiguration

Inside the church on the mount of transfiguration

Inside the church on the mount of transfiguration

Moses’ ministry is talked about in D&C 84:20-26 and 84:6. He received the priesthood from his father-in-law Jethro (we’ll read about him later). In conclusion, latter-day revelation reveals and confirms his greatness and manliness.

Let’s jump into the story now. 

Moses’ Parents

A Levite man takes a daughter of Levi to wife. Cross reference Exodus 6:20. The man’s name is Amram. His wife’s name is Jochebed. Jochebed is Amram’s father’s sister. So he married his aunt? Both Amram and Jochebed are Moses’ parents.

Jochebed bears Moses. She sees he is a “goodly child” and hides him three months. Cross reference Acts 7:20. Moses was an extremely fair child. My next question was why he needed to hide. He’s good looking and obviously well-behaved. Shouldn’t people be rejoicing? In order to know the answer, you need to back up a bit in the story.

Egypt During this Time

Joseph who was sold into Egypt became a ruler in Egypt. Remember this story? He was one of the top dogs. The rest of his family (brothers, their families, and his parents) came to live in Egypt. Once the Pharoah who knew Joseph dies, as well as Joseph himself, a new Pharoah is put up. Unfortunately, he didn’t know Joseph. The children of Israel are multiplying and this new Pharoah is nervous because he doesn’t want an uprising to occur. His solution is to enslave the people. Pharoah appoints taskmasters over the people and employs them to build cities, work in fields, and with brick and mortar. As they are put to more rigorous work, they continue to multiply. Pharoah’s solution isn’t working. He talks to the Hebrew midwives Shiphah and Puah.

Both of these women are not located in the Bible Dictionary and there are no footnotes on them.

Pharoah tells these midwives to kill all the male babies they deliver, but allow the females to live. Fortunately, the midwives fear God more than Pharoah and they don’t do as he asks. He asks them why and they say that the women are delivered before they even arrive. Cross reference 1 Nephi 17:3. If you keep the commandments, God provides a way for you to do things. Did the midwives purposefully arrive at the delivering late so that when they reported to Pharoah they could say they didn’t have a chance to carry out his orders? Something to think about.

Anyway, Pharoah is pleased with them because they feared God. He makes them part of his household. It seems like Pharoah is doing an 180-degree turn here. He asked these midwives to do this bad thing so they call him out on it. He backs off saying they are right and gives them an inheritance? Something doesn’t seem right here.

Pharoah seems to be in a very touchy situation. I think he realizes this and that’s why he backs off from dealing with the midwives. He is worried that this huge faction of his population could revolt at any time because he is enslaving them. He goes to the two women that have access to every Hebrew house seeking for them to start killing babies. Not the smartest way to go about things. If these two midwives spill the beans, you better bet your bottom dollar that Pharoah will have problems. Although it may seem like he reversed this policy, he may have built them houses to ensure they didn’t speak of his plans to anyone.

Sidenote: Some believe the pharaohs during this story were Seti I and Ramses II of the 19th dynasty.

Sons are to be Killed

Back to Pharoah and the story. He charges all people to cast every son that is born into the river and save the females. Is this an outright attack on the Hebrews? I know in the Prince of Egypt movie, it shows Egyptian soldiers taking the babies from their Hebrew mothers and casting them into the river. Is this what is meant by Pharoah charging “all his people”? I can’t imagine he’d want the Egyptians to do the same thing. This would only hurt their population more. Think about why the Pharoah went making a declaration rather than using the midwives? Perhaps at first, he wanted to see if this was a problem he could solve quietly–via the midwives. Finding a solution impossible, but still needing to obtain his objectives, he makes a declaration to kill the children. Not the cleanest way to do things, but it seems he exhausted his other option.

Think of yourself living when this announcement is made. Actually, don’t. It’s too horrible to imagine. What is the effect of Pharoah doing this? Let’s say Pharoah had succeeded and the Hebrew population continues in slavery with majority females. This would have allowed Egyptian males as the only choice to marry, thereby subjugating the Hebrew people into the Egyptian blood. This would continue to propagate the Egyptian people and eventually knock out the Hebrew blood as a whole. Other countries enact population control as well. Take China’s 2 child policy. People’s logical thinking is, if I can have only two children, I want the most bang for my buck. Traditionally speaking, that is the male. He is the breadwinner, brings honor to the family, supports the parents in their old age, and continue the family name. These aren’t traditionally women’s roles. So, if they find out they are having a girl, it doesn’t always make people happy. As a result of favoring men, you have no females for whom they can marry.

Moses is Put Into a Basket

Let’s go back to Moses being hidden for three months. Unfortunately, his mom cannot hide him any longer. After three months, she puts him in a basket and puts him in the reeds of the river. Moses had a sister. Cross reference Numbers 26:59. Also cross reference Exodus 15:20. Miriam becomes a prophetess. She is standing on the banks of the river to see what is going to happen to her brother.

Sidenote: Moses must be the youngest child. Was Aaron or Miriam the first child?

The daughter of Pharoah (don’t know her name) came down to wash. She sees this basket and tells her maids to go get it. Once she has the basket and opens it, she sees Moses. He’s crying but she has compassion on him. She notices that he is one of the Hebrew children.

Here is a puzzle. Either I have found an inconsistency or I’m misunderstanding the scripture. Verse 7 of chapter 2 of Exodus. It says HIS SISTER talks to Pharoah’s daughter. But then in verse 8, it says that Pharoah’s daughter said to the MAID to go fetch the child’s mom, rather than his SISTER. Now, I do have a few possible solutions. First, Miriam does indeed come off the bank and talk to Pharoah’s daughter and tells her she can fetch the child’s mom. In doing so, since she is serving Pharoah’s daughter, she becomes a maid in the sense that she is doing a favor. Second, Miriam comes out and says what she does, and Pharoah’s daughter turns to a maid she has there with her tells her to go with Miriam to find the child’s mother. Or third, Miriam is a maid to the Pharoah’s daughter in the literal sense. I think this last one is the least likely.

Here is another crazy thing. Miriam asks if she should go get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child. So she goes and gets the child’s mother. This makes it sound like Miriam got her mom to come and take Moses back to raise him. But why would she do that if she had just let Moses go in a basket? I guess I’m confused as to Moses’ mom’s motivations. She can’t hide Moses, people are coming to kill babies. She puts him in a basket in a river to hide him. Was she intending to come back for him or not? Knowing that seeing a Hebrew male would be a signal that someone has avoided the infanticide. After Miriam brings her mom to the courts, does Moses’ mom get to raise him in the courts, as Pharoah’s daughter’s son? Or is it one of the Hebrew midwives that raise him as Pharoah’s son? I don’t know. I’ll need to ask someone smarter than myself.

Pharoah’s daughter decides to call the child Moses because she got him out of the water. Cross reference footnote 10b, the Egyptian translation of Moses means “to beget a child”. and in Hebrew “to draw out”. Clearly, her reasoning for naming follows the Hebrew translation. That must mean that Pharoah’s daughter knew Hebrew, or at least was studying it and knew enough to give him this name. Did she do it to honor his Hebrew heritage? I would have expected an Egyptian name. I wonder what Moses would be in Egyptian?

One thing I find strange is that names in the Bible seem to denote their purpose in life. Moses means “to draw out” and that’s what he did. He drew the children of Israel out of Egypt. Abram means “exalted father” and he was. Then his name becomes Abraham “father of a multitude” which is also true. Makes me wonder if the names we are given has some special connection to the things we will do in this life?

Moses Kills an Egyptian Man

When Moses was fully grown, he went out among his brethren. Cross reference Acts 7:23-24. He was 40 years old when he did this. That’s a long time to spend in Pharoah’s court being raised! He spied an Egyptian smiting one of his brethren who was working hard labor. Moses goes and defends the man, but ends up killing the Egyptian. There was no one around to witness it so Moses hides in the sand. The next day Moses goes out to the Hebrews. This time, he meets two Hebrew men who ask him why he killed the Egyptian? They ask him if he has been made a judge and ruler over them. Moses freaks out because the word has gotten around of his murder. But why were the Hebrew men mad about what he had done? They are in bondage to the Egyptian! I would have been grateful to Moses for saving one of my kin. Perhaps the slaves were spiteful because they saw Moses was Hebrew and yet he was being raised and treated like an Egyptian. Another possibility is that these people had so utterly accepted their fate as slaves they had become cynical about it.

Pharoah hears about his doings and seeks to kill Moses. Moses flees to the land of the Midians and sits at a well. Pharoah must not have liked Moses that much. He was Pharoah’s adopted grandson and he was Hebrew. But you would think that even after all this he would love him enough to not kill him. I guess not. As soon as he becomes of age, he was on his own without his grandfather’s love?

The Land of Midian

Who are the Midianites? Let’s take a look.

Midian the person was one of the sons of Abraham and Keturah. Who is Keturah? She is Abraham’s wife after Sarah dies. Cool! I didn’t know he remarried. Anyway, Midianites were actually a “powerful confederation of wandering Arab tribes, akin to the Hebrews, but often in conflict with them.” Did not know that. I wonder if they recognized Moses as a Hebrew.

The priest of Midian (Jethro?) had seven daughters and they came to fetch water from the well. It is indeed Jethro they are talking about. Cross reference Exodus 18:1. The shepherds drove the daughters away but Moses stayed and helped the girls. Wouldn’t the shepherds have wanted them to stay since the women were there in the first place to water the flocks?

The daughters return to their father, Reul, and he asks them how they came back so quickly. Cross reference Exodus 3:1, Reul is actually referring to Jethro. I don’t  know what Reul means. The daughters said that an Egyptian man delivered them from shepherds and watered the flock.

Where is Midian in relation to the land of Egypt? Looked in the map section in the back and it is so stinking far away! Moses traveled super far! He must have looked terrible when he showed up at the well. He was probably wearing Egyptian garb. The daughters of Jethro must have been shocked to see an Egyptian man so far away from Egypt alone.  and with very little. I can’t imagine Moses had much time to pack.

I love Jethro’s response to his daughters, “Where is he?” They say he is at the well. He responds, “Why is it that you have left the man?” His daughters say they didn’t know he wanted to meet him. He seemed ok enough at the well. Jethro says, “Call him, that he may eat bread.” Or in other words, “Are you crazy?! Go get him! He’s probably dying and you girls left him there! Bring him here, I want to thank him myself.”

Moses comes and contently dwells with Jethro. He even gives Moses a daughter to marry, Zipporah. Cross reference another time when a daughter was offered to a man as payment of service. Ammon and King Lamoni in the Book of Mormon! Except he couldn’t accept because he was on a mission to preach. But, it is a great honor if someone offers you their daughter. Zipporah bears a son, Gershum. Zipporah also has another son later named Eliezer.

Analysis of the Story

Pause here. I feel like I am merely adding to the story and not analyzing much. I’m just regurgitating it with a few notes. Nothing really worth reading here. I need to make more modern day connections or tie it into applicable gospel topics. What I’m going to do now is take a step back from Moses’ life and look at how God has shaped him thus far and how that will play into the story later. Hopefully, we’ll make some connections that will uplift and reveal God’s desire for us to return to him again. Sound fun? Yep! The following is pulled out of my brain.

God wants us to return to live with him again. We volunteered to come to Earth when we did. We were foreordained to do certain things which were left up to us if we accomplish them or not. Our lives are tailored specifically to us in order to allow us maximum growth. Physically, spiritually, and mentally should we choose it. One thing I like to do is look at events in people’s lives and determine how it is they succeeded and how others failed to reach that same success. One thing I have concluded is that success is not only a product of working hard but opportunities you have in the environment you are placed. Pinpointing these moments, one is clearly able to see God’s hand in their life. After I finish talking about Moses, I’ll do my own life a bit.

Moses was born to Hebrew parents. Had he not been born at the time he was, he most likely would have grown up a good Hebrew boy. I think he definitely would have stood among his peers but beyond that, it’s hard for me to speculate what his life would have been like.

Since he was born into a trying time among the Hebrew people, he was hidden in a basket which found its way to Pharoah’s daughter. I think God knew that if he had stayed with his parents, he would have either A: been killed or B: lived a slave’s life and died. But Moses was foreordained to do great things and as a baby, the situation was currently out of his sphere of influence. God inspired his mother and father to do what they did so God could mold him as a prophet.

As he was put into the Egyptian royal family, he would have been well educated and raised as well. One may ask if he would have turned out the same if he had just been born as Egyptian royalty. I don’t think so. Should that have been the case, he would have been raised for Pharoahood and with a knowledge of Egyptian religious practices. He may have been raised as an Egyptian, but he wasn’t an Egyptian. He may have been taught as the Egyptians, but he still wasn’t an Egyptian. There was never a denying of the Hebrew heritage apparent in him. He was an orphan so to speak. Always an outsider.

I like to think his adopted mom, Pharoah’s daughter, was a little more open-minded than the rest of the Egyptian society regarding the Hebrews. After all, she found him and was the first to have compassion on him in Egyptian society. I also like to think God was very prevalent in his life from the beginning. I think that his conscious may have rejected the polytheistic religion of the Egyptians and as such, he relied on one God. Probably learning from his Hebrew caretakers. As an outsider among Egyptians, I think he would have learned early on to rely on God really fast if that was a belief he was going to accept. It seems he may have and as a result thrived.

As the highest and most influential Hebrew in an Egyptian society, Moses may have seen his destiny as something divine. Maybe he was put here for a reason and maybe that reason was to help ease the burden of slavery for the Hebrews. That may have been why he (accidentally?) killed the Egyptian man in defense of the Hebrew slave.

Then he fled from Egypt under penalty of death. That may have put a stump on what he thought of himself. Sometimes God removes us from our surroundings to teach us a higher law and bestow greater blessings on us. As with the case with Moses going to Midian. Scripture is replete with people who were removed from their surroundings in order to obtain higher blessings. Lehi and his family, Jaredites, Mulekites, pilgrims, Columbus, pioneers. Not only exoduses such as the above and Moses going to Midian, but also shorter distances. Prophets go up to mountains to receive revelation. We go to temples to receive revelation. It seems in order for big spiritual growth to occur, we have to remove ourselves, either physically, or metaphorically.

That’s good for now. We’ll continue with the story next week!

 

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