Poole on Exodus 2:1, 2: The Birth of Moses

Verse 1:[1] And there went (Ex. 6:20; Num. 26:59; 1 Chron. 23:14) a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.


[He went out, וַיֵּלֶךְ] He proceeded: from his own city into another (Vatablus).


[A man of the house of Levi] This was Amram (Lyra, Munster, Fagius, Vatablus, Ainsworth, Lapide).



[He took] That is, for a wife,[2] Exodus 6:20[3] (Ainsworth).


[Of his own stock, בַּת־לֵוִי] A daughter of Levi, namely, Jochebed, his paternal aunt, or his father’s sister (Munster, Junius, Ainsworth, Piscator, Fagius, Vatablus). See Exodus 6:18, 20; Numbers 26:58, 59 (Junius). Such marriages were afterwards prohibited, Leviticus 18:12 [with the tribes and families then multiplied] (Ainsworth). But previously such marriages were tolerated, in the paucity of the holy race, and in the public confusion (Junius, Piscator, Dutch). [Others deny that this was Jochebed.] For at that time Jochebed would have been one hundred and thirty years old (for she was among those descending with Levi into Egypt), and therefore she was not fit for conception. Responses: 1. The Hebrews concede this, but they say that Moses was conceived miraculously. But certainly Aaron was conceived somewhat before Moses; likewise also Miriam (Lyra). 2. It can be responded that that is falsely supposed: for, either Levi begat Jochebed at one hundred and ten years of age, or even at hundred and thirty-six years of age (since Abraham also begat after one hundred and forty years, Genesis 25:2), and Jochebed conceived Moses either in her seventieth year, or in her fourty-second year. Thus, therefore, the years can be filled out. The Israelites were in Egypt for two hundred and ten years. Of those, eighty are to be allotted to Moses; the remaining one hundred and thirty are to be distributed between Levi (who was perhaps fifty when he descended) and Jochebed (Muis). 3. Others maintain that she was called a daughter of Levi, that is, a granddaughter, as Elizabeth was a daughter of Aaron, Luke 1:5; and that this Jochebed was another of the same name (Lyra, Lapide).


There went a man, namely, Amram, Exodus 6:20; Numbers 26:58, 59, from the place of his abode to another place for the following purpose. A daughter of Levi, namely Jochebed, Numbers 26:59, called a daughter, not strictly, but more largely, to wit, a grandchild, as the words father and son are oft used for a grandfather and a grandson, as hath been showed before: And so the word sister, Exodus 6:20, is to be taken largely, as brother is oft used for a cousin. This seems more probable than that an Israelite should marry his own sister, which even heathens by the light of nature have condemned, especially now when he had such abundant choice elsewhere.


[1571 BC] Verse 2:[4] And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and (Acts 7:20; Heb. 11:23) when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.



[Seeing that he was handsome (thus the Septuagint), כִּי־טוֹב] That he was handsome (Samaritan Text, Syriac, Arabic), good (Montanus, Nobilius), that is, of a good appearance, as in Genesis 6:2.[5] It is a synecdoche (Junius). Justinus,[6] Of Phillipic Histories[7] 36, notes that this Moses was beautiful (Ainsworth).


[Three months] That is, as long as she was able, Acts 7:20. There are those that say that by the royal edict a visitation was to be made every third month (Vatablus, Lyra on verse 3).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֵּ֥לֶךְ אִ֖ישׁ מִבֵּ֣ית לֵוִ֑י וַיִּקַּ֖ח אֶת־בַּת־לֵוִֽי׃


[2] Exodus 2:1b: “…and took (supply, to wife) a daughter of Levi.”


[3] Exodus 6:20a: “And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife (לְאִשָּׁה)…”


[4] Hebrew: וַתַּ֥הַר הָאִשָּׁ֖ה וַתֵּ֣לֶד בֵּ֑ן וַתֵּ֤רֶא אֹתוֹ֙ כִּי־ט֣וֹב ה֔וּא וַֽתִּצְפְּנֵ֖הוּ שְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה יְרָחִֽים׃


[5] Genesis 6:2: “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair (כִּ֥י טֹבֹ֖ת הֵ֑נָּה); and they took them wives of all which they chose.”


[6] Junianus Justinus was a Roman historian of the third century.


[7] Historiarum Philippicarum.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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