For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2005 James Melough

2:1.  “And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.”


Levi means joined, and whatever else may be signified in that meaning, and in the fact that all the tribes were joined to God as His people, Levi enjoyed the unique distinction of being the priestly tribe whose privilege it was to be the link between God and His people in making known to them His will, and in presenting their offerings to Him.


As has been noted in previous studies, the believing wife represents the expression of the believer’s new spiritual life, while the unbelieving wife represents what the unbeliever mistakes for spiritual life, e.g., morality, church membership, generosity, prayer, Bible study, etc., so that Levi’s taking this wife of his own tribe, presents him typologically as a believer, which he was also in reality.


2:2.  “And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.”


In scripture literal fruitfulness is symbolic of its spiritual counterpart: there should be produced in the believer’s life not only the fruits of the Spirit as catalogued in Galatians 5:22, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance ....” but there should be also spiritual children, i.e., others led to the Savior.


“... goodly” as used here is associated with the idea of being beautiful, fair, pleasant, precious.


Moses of course is an easily recognized type of the Lord Jesus Christ, his physical attributes being but the type of the Lord’s spiritual perfection; nor is it difficult to see in the three months during which Moses was hidden, a foreshadowing of the obscurity in which the Lord dwelt during the first three decades of His life.


2:3.  “And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.”


This appears to be the continued symbolic portrait of the first thirty years of the Lord’s life when even His own brethren failed to recognize Him as the long-foretold Messiah.  It is also interesting to note that it was in an ark that God preserved Noah and his family through the flood, that preservation being also a foreshadowing of the Lord’s being in the midst of the waters of death, but emerging from them as the victorious Lord of both life and death, see Psalm 69:1,14-15, and 88:6-7, 16-17.


2:4.  “And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.”


His sister Miriam, meaning their rebellion, watched from a distance to see what might happen to him.  The meaning of her name conveys no readily apparent spiritual message.


2:5.  “And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.”


2:6.  “And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept.  And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”


In this present context Pharaoh’s daughter may represent those Gentiles who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and received Him as Savior, His presentation to them being symbolically portrayed by the opened ark which revealed the baby Moses.  The child’s weeping may be a typological foreshadowing of the Lord’s sorrow and suffering as He hung on the cross, Moses in the ark in the midst of the waters of the Nile being a figure of the Lord in the midst of the waters of death, see, for example the description of His death as recorded in Psalm 69:1, “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.  I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me;” Psalm 88:6, “Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.  Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves.  Selah.”  And again, Psalm 88:16-17, “Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.  The came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.”


2:7.  “Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?”


2:8.  “And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go.  And the maid went and called the child’s mother.”


2:9.  “And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages.  And the woman took the child, and nursed it.”


This points to the Lord as belonging to both Jew and Gentile as their Savior, but with the first thirty years of His life spent exclusively amongst the Jews.


His mother’s being paid while having the pleasure of nurturing  her own son, is an oblique assurance that everyone who receives Christ as Savior is abundantly recompensed, not only by the peace enjoyed here on earth, but by the eternal reward awaiting him in heaven.


2:10.  “And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son.  And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.”


Moses means drawing out; and here may refer symbolically to the Lord’s literal resurrection out of the waters of death.


His transfer from his mother’s home to that of Pharaoh’s daughter, seems to point very clearly to the Lord’s having turned from Israel to the Gentiles during this present dispensation, because Israel has given Him up, and it is mainly Gentiles who accept Him as Savior.


2:11.  “And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew one of his brethren.”


This brings us typologically to the beginning of the Lord’s public ministry when Israel was again under Gentile dominion, the only difference being that the Roman had replaced the Egyptian.


2:12.  “And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.”


Clearly the Egyptian didn’t just stand unresisting while Moses slew him.  There was a struggle between the two, which is a typological miniature of the conflict at Calvary, the slain Egyptian representing Satan the persecutor of all men, who there received his death blow, the hymnist having described Christ’s victory in the words, “In weakness and defeat, He won the meed and crown; Trod all His foes beneath His feet, by being trodden down.”


2:13.  “And 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?”


The “second day” seems to point to this present day of grace, so that the striving of the two Hebrews represents the bitter squabbling that has divided the professing church into warring factions, in spite of the injunction given in Ephesians 4:3 that we endeavour “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” it being also written, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity,” Psalm 133:1.


2:14.  “And he said, Who made thee a prince 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.”


The wrongdoer represents those who first brought dissension into the Church, and who have continued their evil work until the present; Moses’ fear being figurative of the grief caused the Lord by the resultant division of His people into the opposing sects of Christendom.


2:15.  “Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses.  But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.”


Pharaoh continues to represent Satan, and as he sought to slay Moses so did Satan seek to destroy the Lord; but as the king of Egypt was frustrated in his attempt to kill God’s servant, so was Satan foiled in his evil endeavor to slay Christ, for though it seemed that he had succeeded, his joy was changed to wrathful chagrin by the Lord’s glorious resurrection. 


Moses’ flight from Egypt portrays the Lord’s physical departure from this world back to heaven; but his dwelling in Midian, which means contention: strife, is the symbolic announcement of the fact that He, through the Holy Spirit, is still present here on earth, the place of contention and strife, as represented by Midian.


In the typological language of the Bible a well is the universal symbol of the Scriptures, as sitting is of rest, so that Moses’ sitting by the well is symbolic of the Lord’s present rest even as He, the Living Word, dwells in the midst of His redeemed people in the form of the written Word.


The land of Midian lay east of the Gulf of Aquabah, in what is today Saudi Arabia.


2:16.  “Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.”


Since seven is the number of perfection or completeness; and  daughters speak of obedient submission, these seven young women are the symbolic declaration of the truth that the priest of Midian walked in perfect obedience before God, so that he is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ whose obedience was “even unto death, the death of the cross,” Philippians 2:8; and inasmuch as water is a symbol of the written Word, their coming to the well to draw water points to them as being representative of all those who, by daily study, draw the water of life from the well of the written Word.


Their filling the troughs “to water their father’s flock” marks them also as being types of those believers who not only themselves drink from the well of the Word, but who also share with others the results of their reading, study, and meditation.


2:17.  “And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.”


It isn’t difficult to see in those evil shepherds the counterpart of those unconverted clerics who today lord it over Christendom. They are those who will neither enter into the kingdom themselves nor suffer others to enter, as the Lord himself declared of their Jewish prototypes, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in,” Matthew 23:13.  And as Moses helped those women to water their flock, so does the Lord help obedient believers to do what is symbolically portrayed in that watering, i.e., to minister to others.


2:18.  “And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon today?”


Reuel means associate ye with God: tend ye God, a name particularly apt for the father of such daughters as these seven appear to have been.


2:19.  “And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.”


His dress had caused them to mistake Moses for an Egyptian; and likewise the Lord’s coming amongst the Jews in human form caused them to mistake Him for just another man; but as Moses delivered those women, so has Christ delivered believers out of the hand of Satan, their ultimate experience of that deliverance coming when they enter heaven.


2:20.  “And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread.”


Few will have difficulty seeing in this the foreshadowing of the Lord’s Supper.  As Moses was the guest of honor at that meal in Reuel’s house, so is Christ the Guest of honor at the Lord’s Supper, where believers, on the first day of each week, remember His death, and present their worship to the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.


2:21.  “And Moses was content to dwell with the man: And he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.”


As Moses was content to dwell in that home, so is the Lord Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, pleased to dwell today in the midst of His redeemed.


Zipporah means a sparrow, and she is a fitting type of the Church, the corporate body comprised of all those who have been redeemed by the Lord’s precious blood.  But in Scripture the sparrow is synonymous with what is of little value in the eyes of men, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?” Matthew 10:29.  What man despises however, God values, as it is written, “And one of them “a sparrow” shall not fall on the ground without your Father ... Fear not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows,” Matthew 29:30.  As Zipporah became the bride of Moses, so are we declared to be the bride of Christ, see Ephesians 5:23-32


2:22.  “And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.”


Gershom means a stranger there: a stranger desolate.  The typological picture continues to be of Christ, for Gerhsom is also a type of the Lord, who was as a desolate stranger here in the world, “He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not,” Isaiah 53:3.


But Gershom is also a type of the believer here in the world, for as the Master was despised and rejected, so also will the obedient believer suffer the same treatment; and if we don’t, we can be sure that something essential is lacking from our testimony.


2:23.  “And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.


2:24.  “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.”


2:25.  “And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.”


The Egyptian king mentioned here is generally understood to have been Thutmose III (1504-1450 B.C.), who was succeeded by Amenhotep II (1450-1425 B.C.), under whom the oppression of the Israelites continued unabated.


God may use a heathen nation as His rod to discipline His people, but that doesn’t mean that He has cast them off for ever.  When the chastisement has done its work, and caused them to cry out repentantly to Him, He hears and delivers them, but failure to repent simply prolongs the chastening.


His having respect unto them means that He took notice of them; He looked on them with compassion.

[Exodus 3]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough