Before we dive into the 10 commandments themselves, I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to my friend, Moses.
This is where I invite you to pull out your Bible and read God’s Word with me! I have summarized Moses’ story for you throughout this post, but I highly recommend taking time to read through the scripture yourself. I prefer CSB or ESV version if you would like a suggestion.
Scripture to read: EXODUS 1 – 17
First Meeting Moses
Leading up to Exodus 1, God had arranged for the Israelites to find refuge in Egypt during a famine and we see that they have thrived there, with favor, as Joseph’s family. Now Joseph, and the Pharaoh he served under, are no longer around and the new Egyptian Pharaoh and his council have some concerns. The Israelites (also known as Hebrews) grew great in number and over time this made the Egyptians very fearful that the Israelites might one day join forces with future enemies of Egypt. Out of this fear, Pharaoh enslaves the Israelites.
This however, doesn’t slow down the growth of God’s people. They continue to grow in number and it gets to the point where Pharaoh commands that all the sons born to the Hebrews are to be thrown in the Nile. It is during this time that Moses is born. He is born to a Levite father, Amram (son of Kehath), and mother, Jochebed. Moses also has an older sister, Miriam, and older brother, Aaron.
Moses’ mom hid him for three months from the Egyptians, and when she couldn’t hide him any longer, she made a basket out of bulrushes (papyrus reeds), bitumen, and pitch and put the baby boy in it. She placed the basket in the reeds by the river bank and Miriam (Moses’ sister) watched from a distance to see what would happen to him. Pharoah’s daughter sees the basket and sends her attendant to bring it to her. When Pharoah’s daughter sees the baby boy, she knows he is a Hebrew child and must have realized that he was therefore destined to a grim fate. Now, Moses is only 3 months old, but we can already see God working in his life – get ready! At this point Miriam steps out of the reeds and asks Pharaoh’s daughter if she wants her to fetch a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for her. Then…YA’LL – Miriam runs home and gets Moses’ MOTHER! Pharaoh’s daughter gives the baby to Jochebed telling her to nurse him and she would pay her for caring for the baby. This part just gets me every time! Moses’ mom gets to take her baby home and 1) care for him until he is done nursing 2) know that he will one day be a prince of Egypt 3) and most importantly, he is safe – he will live! What a beautiful gift from God. We do not know what his family called him, but in Exodus 2:10 we see that Pharaoh’s daughter names the baby Moses.
“When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.” Exodus 2:10
NERD NOTE: Pharoah’s daughter named him Moses (Moshe), saying, ‘I drew him out (meshitihu) of the water.’ This explanation links it to a verb mashah, meaning “to draw out”, which makes the Pharaoh’s daughter’s declaration a play on words. The princess made a grammatical mistake which is prophetic of his future role in legend, as someone who will “draw the people of Israel out of Egypt through the waters of the Red Sea.WIKIPEDIA
This is one of my favorite stories of Moses’ life, and it is a brief intro into what is going on at the time. But now I am going to speed up a bit and just share some highlights and key points to catch us up to where we first see the 10 commandments.
- Moses grows up in Pharaoh’s household for 40 years. Then he becomes concerned for his people (the Hebrews) and their mistreatment as slaves.
- Moses kills an Egyptian who was hurting an Israelite and hides him under the sand (thinking no one else knew). The next day two Hebrews taunt him about it and, finding out that people do know what he has done, he runs away to the land of Midian.
- Moses rescues the 7 daughters of the priest of Midian, Reuel, from rude shepherds. Moses stays with this family and marries the priests daughter Zipporah.
- Moses & Zipporah have a son, Gershom.
- Moses shepherds the flock for his father-in-law and one day comes across a bush that seems to be in flames, but is not burning, and he goes to investigate.
- The Lord speaks to Moses through the bush. He lets Moses know that He has heard the cries of His people in Egypt and plans on freeing them. He also lets Moses know that Moses will have a part in this process.
- Moses insists that he is not up for the job, not once but 5 times. In fact, it gets to the point where the Lord is angry with Moses because of his reluctance.
- The Lord tells Moses all the people who wanted him punished for his crime are now dead and Moses packs up and returns to Egypt with his wife and children. On the way, the Lord gets angry with Moses again (perhaps he is still trying to get out of it somehow, it doesn’t say specifically) and intends to kill Moses, but Moses’ wife Zipporah steps in and circumcises their son, and the Lord doesn’t kill Moses.
- Moses’ brother Aaron meets up with Moses on his way into Egypt and becomes his right hand man through all of this. Aaron is the one who actually tells everyone what God said to Moses.
- Moses and Aaron meet up with Pharaoh and begin the process of trying to get him to let the Israelites go. But the Lord hardens Pharaohs heart and he refuses, which in turn brings on the plagues of Egypt. (Which I am sure you are a little more familiar with.)
- After the final plague the Israelites are “allowed” to leave and begin their journey in the wilderness. Not long after, the Pharaoh changes his mind and sends his army after Moses.
This is a side note: This is where the Israelites start complaining, and they COMPLAIN A LOT throughout this journey. This is definitely worth taking some time to read through. I know when I first studied this section of scripture I learned so much about human nature and unfortunately realized how often I complain in my own life while surrounded by blessings. That said, I still read it going “What in the world are these people complaining for????” They complain so much that the Lord gets angry at them MULTIPLE times and punishes them MULTIPLE times, and they make Moses pretty miserable the whole time.
- As they leave Egypt, the Lord goes with the Israelites as a pillar of cloud leading them during the day and a pillar of fire at night. When the Egyptians get close to the Israelites the pillar shifts and casts the Egyptians in night when the Hebrews have day and vice versa, so they don’t catch up with each other.
- The Lord has Moses stretch his hand over the sea and it parts to dry ground for the Israelites to cross. The Egyptians take off after them, and after the Hebrews make it safely to the other side, the water falls back in its place destroying the Egyptian army.
- Moses has seen God do some amazing things, and he trusts the Lord, but those Israelites start nagging and complaining, which tests Moses patience in an already stressful situation.
- The Israelites complain about food, so the Lord sends manna down from heaven (the manna is described “like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” Exodus 16:31) to feed them. In fact, they are blessed with manna every day for the forty years of their wandering in the desert. Then they complain about not having any meat or water, so the Lord sends quail for them to eat and water from a rock.
Needless to say, it was an eventful beginning to Moses’ time with the Israelites. The Israelites often give Moses the blues, but the Lord carries them through so much. I hope you take time to read through it all!
Keep a look out for the next post, when we start digging into the 1st commandment!
Photo credit to my amazing husband, Leroy Tademy Jr. | Tademy Photography