Poole on Exodus 2:13-15: Moses' Flight from Egypt into Midian

Verse 13:[1] And (Acts 7:26) when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?


[On the other day] Hebrew: second.[2] Acts 7:24-26 supplies light to this passage (Vatablus). Thus diligently he pursues the work entrusted to him (Ainsworth).


The second day: The next day after that achievement, he returns to execute the office in which God had set him as a judge, whose work it is both to destroy enemies, and to reconcile brethren.


[Brawling[3] (thus the Septuagint, Chaldean)] However, נָצָה signifies to lift one’s self, or to fly, Jeremiah 48:9.[4] Thence נוֹצָה/plumage. However, that the Hebrews add that in the Hiphil and Niphal it signifies to brawl, it is without reason. I do not bear gladly equivocations of this sort when the proper signification can be tolerated. I translate it, he was lifted up, that is, the one against the other (Oleaster). Flying at (being roused, rushing at) after the fashion of pugnacious roosters. This it primarily signifies (Malvenda). Contending (Syriac, Montanus, Junius and Tremellius, Samaritan Text).



Verse 14:[5] And he said, (Acts 7:27, 28) Who made thee a prince (Heb. a man, a prince,[6] Gen. 13:8[7]) and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.


[Art thou willing to kill me? (thus the Septuagint, Arabic), Thinkest thou to kill me? (Syriac), הַלְהָרְגֵ֙נִי֙ אַתָּ֣ה אֹמֵ֔ר] Can it be that thou art saying, or thou sayest, to kill me? (Montanus, Junius and Tremllius, Piscator, Ainsworth, Chaldean), supply, in thy heart (Piscator, Ainsworth), as in Genesis 27:41, that is, resolvest thou, or thinkest thou, or determinest thou, to kill me? Thus the Greeks translate it,[8] and Stephen pleads, Acts 7:28.[9] See 2 Samuel 21:16[10] (Ainsworth). Sayest thou that thou art going to kill me? (Junius and Tremellius).


[And he feared] Objection: But it is said in Hebrews 11:27 that he feared not the wrath of the king. Response: There it is spoken concerning his departure with all the people from Egypt (Lyra, Rivet).


Moses feared, through the weakness of his faith, which afterwards growing stronger, he feared not that which now he did fear, the wrath of the king, Hebrews 11:27. Distinguish the times, and scriptures agree which seemed to clash together.



Verse 15:[11] Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But (Acts 7:29; Heb. 11:27) Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down (Gen. 24:11; 29:2) by a well.


[He sought to kill] Partly on account of the murder; partly because he had heard from a certain priest (as Josephus relates) about the time of the birth of Moses that a Hebrew lad was going to be born that would lead the people out, and humiliate the king; and from this deed he judged that Moses was he[12] (Lyra).


He sought to slay Moses; not out of zeal to punish a murderer, but to secure himself from so dangerous a person, probably supposing that this was the man foretold to be the scourge of Egypt, and the deliverer of Israel.


[He sat next to a well, וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב עַֽל־הַבְּאֵֽר׃] Many things are to be understood, of this sort, where, since he would remain for a while, he rested, and settled for a fair amount of time next to a well. Or, and he proceeded into the land of Midian, and he settled next to a well (Vatablus).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֵּצֵא֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשֵּׁנִ֔י וְהִנֵּ֛ה שְׁנֵֽי־אֲנָשִׁ֥ים עִבְרִ֖ים נִצִּ֑ים וַ֙יֹּאמֶר֙ לָֽרָשָׁ֔ע לָ֥מָּה תַכֶּ֖ה רֵעֶֽךָ׃


[2] Hebrew: הַשֵּׁנִי.


[3] Exodus 2:13a: “And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together (נִצִּים)…”


[4] Jeremiah 48:9a: “Give wings unto Moab, that it may flee (נָצֹא/fly) and get away…”


[5] Hebrew: וַיֹּאמֶר מִ֣י שָֽׂמְךָ֞ לְאִ֙ישׁ שַׂ֤ר וְשֹׁפֵט֙ עָלֵ֔ינוּ הַלְהָרְגֵ֙נִי֙ אַתָּ֣ה אֹמֵ֔ר כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר הָרַ֖גְתָּ אֶת־הַמִּצְרִ֑י וַיִּירָ֤א מֹשֶׁה֙ וַיֹּאמַ֔ר אָכֵ֖ן נוֹדַ֥ע הַדָּבָֽר׃


[6] Hebrew: לְאִ֙ישׁ שַׂ֤ר.


[7] Genesis 13:8b: “…for we are brethren (אֲנָשִׁ֥ים אַחִ֖ים, men, brethren).”


[8] Exodus 2:14a: “And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me (μὴ ἀνελεῖν με σὺ θέλεις, in the Septuagint), as thou killedst the Egyptian?…”


[9] Acts 7:28: “Wilt thou kill me (μὴ ἀνελεῖν με σὺ θέλεις), as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?”


[10] 2 Samuel 21:16: “…being girded with a new sword, he thought (וַיֹּאמֶר, said, or said in his heart) to have slain David.”


[11] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁמַ֤ע פַּרְעֹה֙ אֶת־הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֔ה וַיְבַקֵּ֖שׁ לַהֲרֹ֣ג אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיִּבְרַ֤ח מֹשֶׁה֙ מִפְּנֵ֣י פַרְעֹ֔ה וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב בְּאֶֽרֶץ־מִדְיָ֖ן וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב עַֽל־הַבְּאֵֽר׃


[12] Antiquities 2:11.

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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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