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Traditional Jewish text - Exodus 2:11-22 (Moses kills Egyptian/intervenes in Jewish argument/gets water for Zipporah)

11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, "Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?"

14 The man said, "Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid and thought, "What I did must have become known."

15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father's flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.

18 When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, "Why have you returned so early today?"

19 They answered, "An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock."

20 "And where is he?" he asked his daughters. "Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat."

21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, "I have become an alien in a foreign land."

Discussion Questions
  1. How would you characterize Moses' actions in this story? What do you think motivates him to do the things he does (e.g. kill the Egyptian, intervene in the argument among the two Hebrews, help Reuel's daughters)? Do you see any relationship among these actions?
  2. How would you characterize Moses' identity in the various parts of this narrative? How does he identify himself? How do others identify him? What is the relationship between his identity and his actions?
  3. At what point(s) in this story does Moses have power? What is the source of this power? How does it affect his actions? How does it affect how others respond to him?

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Traditional Jewish text - Exodus 2:11-22 (Moses kills Egyptian/intervenes in Jewish argument/gets water for Zipporah)." (Viewed on July 25, 2014) <http://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy/exodus-2-11-22-moses-kills-egyptian-intervenes-in-jewish-argument-gets-water-for-zipporah>.

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