Moses and Zipporah (Exodus 2:11-22)

This love story starts with a murder — verses 11 to 15 are about Moses stopping an Egyptian from beating a Hebrew. He knows that he is a Hebrew by birth, but he feels for the injustice and “He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” Wow! Moses grows up and bam gets in trouble immediately. But he’s afraid. He’s didn’t haul the Egyptian to a person in authority for public justice. He didn’t try to change the system. He’s a young man and a hot head at that.

Funny how I don’t think of Moses as being a young man. I think of him as a baby and then as a old man. Chopping away preconceptions frees the text. Interestingly, in the footnotes the word used for “beating” is same word used for the retributive plagues later, only then translated as “strike”. Huh — the plagues will be a beating, will strike the Egyptians, as this Hebrew is now being “striked/beaten”.

The story starting out this way would mean starting with a lot of motion, a lot of action, a lot young-man energy. I find myself resisting the story, wondering about the mixed messages. Moses didn’t like the Hebrew being beaten, didn’t like what he saw of the forced labor, identifies with the people despite his upbringing. Yet he is hiding, tricky, and lying (acting as if he didn’t kill anyone). He looks this way and that…if he had seen that he was observed, he wouldn’t have acted. There’s something mixed up going on, it isn’t just freedom fighting or hot headed anger.

What do you think? How do you feel about about this passage? Would we act if we saw a child hit? an older person? a person our age? if we thought it was unfair? Now a days with a camera in every phone, perhaps the light shines more easily! What if what we saw wasn’t the “real” story? How do we know a story from seeing?

Maybe I’m just completely over-thinking an exciting story!




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