Life of Moses from Birth to Age 80
Two Thirds of the Life of Moses in Just One Chapter
In Exodus the Bible condenses two thirds of the life of Moses from birth to age 80 all in chapter 2. Exodus 2:1 identifies his parents being from the house of Levi, so the destiny of Moses as a priest and great prophet is established early. The parents of Moses are not named here, but they were Amram and Jochebed, Amram having married his aunt, who was his father’s sister.
The time between their marriage in verse one and the birth of Moses in verse two is at least 4 years. His brother Aaron and sister Miriam were older. The life of Moses continues to go fast forward in Exodus 2 as he is set adrift on the Nile because of a decree to kill newborn Hebrew males, is found by an Egyptian princess, and raised in the house of Pharaoh as her son.
In verse 11, the reference to “Moses when grown” going among his brethren is a lot later than most may realize. He sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew brethren and kills the abusive person and buries him in the sand. Without a point of reference one might imagine Moses was a teenager or perhaps young adult. He was 40. The very next day he addresses another Hebrew involved in an altercation and is rebuffed in verse 14 as follows:
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. Exodus 2:14 (KJV)
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. Exodus 2:15 (KJV)
Moses Leaves Egypt at Age 40 for 40 Years
So Moses flees Egypt to Midian, and in the last 10 verses of Exodus 2 he meets 7 daughters of a Midian priest, Jethro, marries one, has a son, and becomes a shepherd working for his father-in-law. The course of time from fleeing Egypt, getting married, years of work keeping the flocks, and up to the first verse of Exodus 3 is another 40 years. Exodus 2 closes with the death of Pharaoh and God considering the groaning of the Hebrews by reason of their bondage in Egypt.
At the beginning of Exodus 3 we find Moses, now 80, tending flocks on the backside of the desert near Mount Horeb, and his next encounter is the well known Bible story of the burning bush. The Hebrew translation of a single two-letter word in verse 3 points out another example of the value of taking English back to the original languages of the manuscripts.
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. Exodus 3:2 (KJV)
The word “of” in the “angel of the LORD” does not equate to “from” as one might assume in English. A better translation is “that is to say”, so the true identity of this supernatural being means “Angel, that is to say the LORD”. There is no doubt that God is appearing to Moses as you continue in the next two verses, and verse 4 is very specific identifying “the Lord” and “God” as the angel in this encounter.
And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. Exodus 3:3 (KJV)
And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. Exodus 3:4 (KJV)
God’s Purpose for Moses and Meeting Face to Face
Here God reveals his purpose for Moses as chosen to lead the people of Israel out of bondage from Egypt. In time Moses is referred to in his relationship with God as a friend, known by name, and meeting God face to face. Later in your studies as you encounter the phrase “face to face” referring to God and Moses, note that the meaning is not literal in the visual sense. Moses was near and in His immeditate presence without seeing His face.
And the LORD spoke unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. Exodus 33:11 (KJV)
And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. Exodus 33:20 (KJV)
Returning to Exodus 3, the last point being made in this study is the response by God when Moses needed an answer for the name of God with Whom he spoke. He expected to be asked for a name by the people of Israel when explaining God’s plan to lead them from bondage in Egypt.
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. Exodus 3:14 (KJV)
The Hebrew for I AM THAT I AM is “hayah asher hayah” meaning “I will be what I will be” and the phrase was known by the people of Israel speaking of God being in eternal existance Who is, was, and will be for ever.
Continue your Bible study through the end of Exodus 3 and all of Exodus 4 to learn more about the conversation between God and Moses with God showing him miracles and preparing him for his mission to rescue Israel from Egypt. Imagine becoming a servant of God at age 80, and then reflect on the historical importance of Moses and what he accomplished in those last 40 years.