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Bible story: Moses

Updated on November 26, 2010
From: The Devotional And Practical Pictorial Family Bible, Copyright, By J. R. Jones, 1879.
From: The Devotional And Practical Pictorial Family Bible, Copyright, By J. R. Jones, 1879. | Source

Common chronology assigns the commencement of the severe persecution which the Israelites endured in Egypt, to the beginning of the sixteenth century before Christ, and it is supposed by some that the Pharaoh who figures in Exodus as the enemy of the Hebrew race, was the first of the great Eighteenth Dynasty of native kings. Dread­ing some foreign war, and regarding with jealous fear the Israelites, "who were more numerous and mightier than his own subjects/' he began a series of cruel persecutions, by which he hoped to extermi­nate them. He reduced them to slavery, and imposed upon them a series of tasks which he believed would be so onerous as to be fatal to many of them. The severer the labor, however, the more they in­creased, and as a means of checking this growth Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill all the male children at their birth, but to preserve the females alive. The midwives feared God, and refused to obey the barbarous edict. Pharaoh then commanded that all the new-born sons of the Israelites should be drowned in the Nile, but that the girls should be saved.    At this time there lived among the Israelites a man named Amram, a grandson of Levi, whose wife, also of the tribe of Levi, was named Jochebed. They had two children, a daughter named Miriam, and a son named Aaron. Soon after the pro­mulgation of Pharaoh's edict, a second son was born to them. The mother concealed him as long as possible, and when she could no longer hide him in her own house, she made a water-proof basket, in which she placed the babe, and laid it among the rushes that grew along the banks of the Nile. Then she went back to her home, leaving Miriam to watch the fate of the babe. 'The daughter of the king of Egypt, coming down to the river to bathe, discovered the babe, took compassion on him, adopted him as her own son, and gave him to his mother to nurse for her. He grew up to manhood at the court of Pharaoh, and was instructed in all the learning of the Egyptians. He was given the name of Moses.

Moses and the burning bush

When Moses grew to man's estate, he felt keenly the wrongs iflicted upon his people ; and once, his indignation having mastered him, he slew an Egyptian whom he saw beating a Hebrew. The af­fair coming to the knowledge of the king, Moses was obliged to fly from Egypt. He sought refuge in the desert which surrounds the head of the Red Sea, and which was inhabited by the people of Midian, who were descended from Abraham and Keturah.    He entered into the service of Jethro, the prince and priest of the region, and finally married his daughter, Zipporah. By her he had a son, whom he called Gershom. He remained in the service of his father-in-law forty years, keeping his sheep.

While here, Jehovah, who heard the great groaning of the Israelites in their bondage, appeared to him in the symbol of a burning bush, and announced his intention to put an end to the captivity of the Israel­ites, and to lead them into the land He had promised their father Abraham. 

Moses rod turned to a serpent

Jehovah commanded Moses to become His messenger to the king of Egypt, and the leader of his people. Jehovah met his protestation of his unworthiness to accept so great a charge by assuring him that He would be with him to sustain him in all things. He then revealed to Moses the name by which the God of the Hebrews has ever since been known. In order to remove the doubts which Moses entertained concerning his reception by the people, God added two signs—the handmade leprous and cured again, and had the rod changed to a serpent and restored to its former shape. These signs were worked on the spot, and each had its significance. The leprous hand and its cure indicated the power by which he should deliver the people whom the Egyptians regarded as lepers; and the transformations of the shepherd's staff into a serpent, the Egyptian symbol for the evil spirit (Typhon), and then back again into the " rod of Moses," and "of God," was emblematic of the power which was to be committed to him as the leader of the people.

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