Poole on Exodus 2:11, 12: Moses, Called to Jesus Christ, and to the Deliverance of Israel

Verse 11:[1] And it came to pass in those days, (Acts 7:23, 24; Heb. 11:24-26) when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their (Ex. 1:11) burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren.

[In those days] That is, in the fortieth year of Moses, says Stephen, Acts 7:23 (Menochius).

In those days, whilst Moses lived at court, and was owned as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and, as some write, designed to succeed Pharaoh in the throne. Moses was grown to maturity, being forty years old, Acts 7:23.

[Unto his brethren] Thus the Hebrews call all of the same family and nation (Menochius).

He went out unto his brethren; partly by natural affection and inclination, that he might learn the state of his brethren, and help them, as occasion should offer itself; and partly by Divine instigation, and in design that he might give some manifestation to them that he was raised and sent of God to deliver them; as may be gathered from Acts 7:25.

[And he saw their affliction, וַיַּ֖רְא בְּסִבְלֹתָ֑ם] He saw their burdens (Vatablus), their labor (Munster). He looked upon their oppressions (Vatablus).

[An Egyptian man] One of the prefects, who was oppressing them (Philo in Menochius).

[1531 BC] Verse 12:[2] And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he (Acts 7:24) slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.

Looked this way and that way; not from conscience of guilt in what he intended, but from human and warrantable prudence.

[The stricken Egyptian, etc.] Hebrew: he struck,[3] that is, he killed (Tirinus). It is asked whether he acted justly. Responses: 1. Some deny it, and they find fault with Moses. Thus formerly Augustine (although afterward he changed his mind) and Hillary[4] (in Rivet and Quistorpius). 1. He did not yet have jurisdiction, etc., nor a mandate for battering the Egyptians, or for liberating his people. 2. He was looking around, from an evil conscience: but divine zeal does not have fear, but rather solid strength of soul and steadfastness. 3. He was forced to live in exile for forty years, so that he might learn to lay aside the disposition of an immoderate spirit (Quistorpius). But in Scripture this is never imputed to Moses as sin. 2. Others say that he acted justly, from the common duty of defending the oppressed, especially in a case of blameless defense. This does not satisfy; for in Acts 7:24 it is called ἐκδίκησις/vengeance, which is not granted to private persons, Romans 12:19[5] (Rivet). 3. Others, therefore, say that he did this by Divine right, and by a power already at that time bestowed upon Moses by God, by which he was constituted the defender and liberator of the people (Tirinus). Stephen supports this, Acts 7:25 (Menochius). This is done out of an awareness of his vocation (Rivet). It was sufficiently clear to him; but it is uncertain whether by external revelation, or in fact by internal inspiration alone (thus Lyra, Rivet, Bonfrerius, Pererius, Lapide, Thomas[6] and Rupertus