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?
33 Comments

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Thanks for your help

"Glancing this way and that way and seeing no one,"

Premeditated murder? Perhaps the characterisation is harsh but slavery was the norm of the time and his life was not his to take.

Or this is just immense compassion and we should also be empowered to violently stop evil? I'm not so sure

Moses started realizing who he was and where he belonged.When he saw the Egyptian beating the Israelite he found that it was inhuman and that the Israelite were treated as if they are not human beings and because they were Hebrews like himself this treatment angered him.This feeling can only come to a person who have a heart for others and this is from God.It tells you that the Egyptians did not have love for ethnic groups and they see themselves as the only people on the planet.He knew that it was risk to kill another person but he was influenced by the love he had for his people.

Moses is awakening to the abuse and slavery around him and that these enslaved Hebrews are his people though he was raised free like an Egyptian. So seeing an Egyptian beating an enslaved Hebrew, he killed him in defense of his people. Identifying with his true Hebrew identity, he then chides 2 co sufferers for not supporting each other. When he helps the Midian daughters he now extends his compassion to anyone being opprressed whether they're his people or not, universal compassion and justice for all. His power comes from knowing his true identity even though it's an oppressed one then identifying with anyone oppressed. In this universal human identity, he also feels like an alien sort of an outsider to those who can only extend compassion and justice to their own.

What was God’s judgement for Moses killing Egyptian?

1. Moses appeared to be defending his people who appeared to be mistreated. 2. Moses appears to be a protector and fearless. Moses was confused being taught that he was Hebrew 3 Moses gained his power when he ran from Pharoah and when he protected the priest daughters from the shepherds, Moses is strong willed but does not think before he reacts and his actions is the reason that he’s now a murderer

MOSES WAS A PEACE MAKER.ASIGN OF HIS CALLING INTO THE WILL OF GOD.
MATTHEW CH5 V9 HIS POWER WERE IN HIS ABILITY TO LEAD PEOPLE.

Was Moses' action an act of reconciliation,judge, or an avenger? Explain.

1)Moses nursed by Hebrew woman.Hebrew forbid to kill by God's Law given to Noah.There's a possibility Moses knew this.
2)God NEVER commanded Moses to kill.God appear to Moses after he ran away and married Zipporah and got a son named Gershom.
3)When God appointed Moses to lead exodus, he hesitated for 3times.he is nobody, had no miracles/sign, and not a good speaker.Yet, not a single word of confession and asking forgiveness for his sins shedding man's blood.
This is the reason why God chased Moses to death.By Noah's law, Moses should have sentenced to death, or killed by a man.It was Ziphorah that confessed Moses's sin that made God spared Moses life.husband of blood.But until the end, Moses never confessed nor asking for forgiveness.Thus Moses's life spared, but he can not enter the Promised Land.Moses disrespected God, three times.What is the difference of kill a man and struck a rock without God's permission?the answer is none.Moses killed an egyptian, and massacre after the "bull accident" and struck rock, without God's permission.Just as moses reluctantly 3times when God gave Moses the task to lead exodus.

I like this website and I like how it gives questions.

1. Moses was provoked by gross injustice against humanity.
2. Moses identified with God, God's will for humanity, and for the purpose of life. Moses was imaging the God of righteousness, justice and love.
3. At the Conviction level, Moses resolved in his heart to rather suffer affliction with the children of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a moment.
3b Moses's source of power was his position in God....identifying with the God of righteousness, justice, love and Peaceful relationships for the well being of all.
3c. it increased Moses's vulnerability-exposure to death (execution) threats and his operational space was completely shut.
3d. Others responded by mistrust, was viewed as violent, a
murderer.

Mode was that person who was ready to defend his people even if it means taking the opponent's life

yeh sure is

God sent him Moses killing that taskmaster was part of gods plan. Moses was obeying god and he didn’t even know it. He is no murderer he is just playing a planned part in gods story

This is really awesome

There was no 10 commandments yet, when Moses killed the Egyptian.

Moses was the chosen one

GG my homies

Moses was a murderer who was changed by the hand of God. He was chosen for God's purpose. Any mistake a person makes god can recycle and transform a person's life glory belongs to God in all things 1LOVE

I think moses killing the Egyptian felt like the right thing to do at that moment because he probably felt that it it was an eyptian that say an hebrew and an eyptian fight it would have been the hebrew that would have been killed.He probably felt that it was the right to do but I don't think it justifies his action at that moment

Why would Pharaoh seek to slay Moses for killing an Egyptian? As far as Pharaoh knew, Moses was his grandson. Surely He would not slay his grandson for killing a common egyptian.

In reply to by Darran

Exactly my point 🤔 or he came to know that his not his tribe 🤔

We don't know if Moses meant to kill the Egyptian. It may be that by Moses looking both ways means that he meant to kill the Egyptian , otherwise if he only wanted to separate them it would not have mattered if someone was looking. It may be also that the Hebrew told his bretheren that Moses killed the Egyptian and no one else saw Moses kill the Egyptian.

I wonder if it was the act of killing that made Moses re
nly questions here that don't square with the 10 Commandments.

Did God condem Moses for killing the oppressor? Please respond

Moses killed a lot more people than this one Egyptian.

i think that this story teaches you that you have to make hard choices

Moses was exposed to education system of egpyt, he was academic, multi linguist nd advance technology knowledge but he was fighting small boy issues. U can be bless but still bevahoiur but still be confused. Wat moses is seeing going on outside, it a reflection of wat's going on inside. Whenever, dey is adversity( background)dey is a opportunity( prosperity)
He has to choose b/w his condition vs Pedigree. He opted for pedigree, killed Egyptian nd escape. # dont leave in chatter!

10 commandments say DO NOT KILL, how can we justify Moses's killing!

In reply to by Moshseh

The commandments hadn't been given to Moses yet.

I think that Moses wanted to use the jewish to takeover pharaoh regime and come to power . Maybe he tried to bring back joseph time in a different way .
Thus we see him interfering with jewish problems . He may tries to gain their support .But his plan went not as planned .

When Moses when out to see (spy on) his brethren, He had a spiritual awakening ( break-out) The Hebrew word Yatsa mean break-out , escape , pull-away; leaving something behind and moving forward . He was no longer content to be a half Egyptian and half Hebrew , he broke-out of his spiritual stupor and began walking in his God given destiny . Spiritually ,killing the Egyptian ( many Rabbi believe it was one of Pharaohs sons) was akin to dying to the old man . This is valuable lesson for all of us !

In reply to by Javier

Very well said Hebrews tells us
24 By faith Moses when he was come to years refused to be called the son of Pharaohs daughters
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Exodus 2:11-22 (Moses kills Egyptian/intervenes in Jewish argument/gets water for Zipporah)." (Viewed on May 26, 2022) <https://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy/exodus-2-11-22-moses-kills-egyptian-intervenes-in-jewish-argument-gets-water-for-zipporah>.

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