A reader wrote asking about the earliest reference to the age of Moses in Exodus, and the emailed reply is given here for others wondering about this riddle. The Bible does not state the age of Moses when he left his mother to be raised as a son of the daughter of Pharaoh. The timeline of his first 40 years happens very quickly in Exodus 2. Moses was born as documented in Exodus 2:2 and that was in 1571 B.C., and Exodus 2:9 points out that he was being nursed. It could have been months or several years before he was weaned based on customs for nursing in those times, yet we would only be guessing.
The next reference to his age is two verses later in Exodus 2:11, and he was suddenly “grown” and within a few more verses (a matter of days, not months or years) he leaves Egypt at age 40. That was in 1531 B.C. The childhood life of Moses and even his adult life to age 40 presents very little detail. Those periods of time reveal as much (or as little) as the Holy Spirit deemed necessary in God’s overall plan.
Skipping ahead to the very next chapter in Exodus 3 when Moses meets God in the wilderness, he is now 80 and first called by God into service. The year is 1491 B.C. The rest of Exodus, all of Leviticus, and part of the book of Numbers take place between 1491 and 1490 B.C. The next leap in the timeline will be covered later in Numbers where we learn that between two verses suddenly 37-1/2 years pass which may not be obvious to the casual reader based on the context there.
Details will be provided in a later Bible lesson when studying the book of Numbers. The first verse subject is current to the year 1491 B.C. and the very next mentions the death of Miriam, the sister of Moses. Knowing the year Miriam died (within months prior to Israel entering the Promised Land) provides the clue to accurately calculate those “missing” or undocumented 37-1/2 years between those two verses.