Page images
PDF
EPUB

.

the highest treachery and cruelty to have done it; but saved the SB men children alive. And tke king of Egypt called for the midwives and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing,

19 and have saved the men children alive? And the midwives said unte Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women [are] not as the Egyptian women ; for they [are] lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. This was no doubt

20 often the case, but not always. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very

21 mighty. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses j God increased their families, and prospered their affairs.

32 And Pharaoh, finding this design ineffectual, broke out into open rage and violence, and charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall take byJorce and cast into the .river, mid every daughter ye shall save alive.

REFLECTIONS.

X. T EARN hence how wisely God permits his churches 1 i to be afflicted. He did thus to Israel, as a punishment for their idolatry, and w> excite their desires to depart from Egypt. Thus God afflicts his people still, to punish them for .sin, to wean tbem from this world .of distress; and makes it a house of bondage, that they may long to go free, and not desire to live here always. Be mtr afflictions ever so long, or ever so bitter, they ar< appomted to answer some very wise purpose.

2. See how powerfully he can preserve them amidst their affliction, and strengthen them by it. Their enemies thought by this means to weaken their strength, and lessen their numbers; but God increased them. Thus the enemies of the church, like the Egyptians, do but increase their own grief. Times of affliction and persecution, have been those times in which the church has flourished most ; the ordinances of worship are more conscientiously attended upon, and watchfulness and prayer more seriously regarded. The faith and patience of God's servants bring in others, so that the saying is true, 'the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.' Persecuting the church, is but like casting manure upon the ground; which for a while covers the plants, and seems to destroy them, but it makes the earth more fertile, and the plants more numerous and vigorous.

3. What an excellent principle is the fear of God, and what a noble remedy against the fear of man! The midwives feared God, and therefore feared not the wrath of the king. They thought it was their duty rather to obey God, to keep to the rules of justice, fidelity, and humanity, than to obey men ; and dared to disobey a bloody and tyrannical prince, rather than displease God. The fear of man bringeth a snare, but the fear of God keepeth from evil, even from doing evil privately ; which the midwives were commanded to do, though hid from the eye and inspection of men. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ; a good 'understanding have all they that keep his commandments.

4. How safe and happy are they in whom such principles prevail! Pharaoh might be angry ; but what did it signify, when God favoured them and made their way prosperous ? Some have asserted that they were married to Israelites, and their families built up by them, and made eminent in Israel ; but this is certain, God rewarded their kindness to his people, and repaid their compassion with prosperity. He that feareth the Lord, shall not only be safe from fear of evil, but shall be rewarded with all desirable good. O fear the Lord then, all ye his saints, for there is no usant to them that Jear him. The Egyptian midwives were an instance of this truth ; In every nation he that feareth God and noorketh righteousness, is accepted of him. Of this we may be sure, that God's salvation is nigh unto them that fear him. In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence, and his children shall have a place ofrefuge.

CHAP. II.

We are now entering on the history of Moses, the man of God^ the del.verer and lawgiver oJ Israel, In this chapter we have the occurrences of his infancy; his pious choice when grown up; his settling for a while in the land of Midian; and God's gracious regard to' the afflictions of his people.

1 AND there went a man of the house of Levi, Amram the

son of Kohath, fch. vi. 20.) and took [to wife] Jochebed

2 his kinswoman, a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son ; she had two children before this, Miriam and Aaron: And when she saw him that he [was a] goodly [child,] she hid him three months, in his father's house, Acts

3 vii. 20. And when she could not longer hide him, when notice was taken of it by the Egyptians, and search was made for him, she took for him an ark, or basket, 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. No doubt her design was, to h ':de it there till the search was over, and then fetch it back and p'reserve it. This, the apostle tells us, was done in faith, trusting in Providence to preserve it.

4 And his sister, who was about twelve years old, stood afar off, to wit, or mark, what would be done to him.

5 And the daughter of Pharaoh* came down to wash [her-.

[ocr errors]

self] at the river, in a bathing place at the bottom of the king'* gardens, which comedown to the river; and. her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark

6 among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 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 Hebrew's children. She might imagine this by the king's edict, and be certain of it, from his circumcision. Her maidens gathered around to look at the babe, and his sister join

7 ed them. Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she

8 may nurse the child for thee? And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's moth

9 er. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto heiv Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give [thee] thy wages.

10 And the woman took the child, and pursed it.* And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses, that is, drawn out: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.f

11 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, being forty years old, (Acts vii. 23.) that he went out unto his brethren, with a full purpose to abandon the honours of the court, to join himself to the poor oppressed people of God, and lend them what help he could for their deliverance; and he looked on their burdens with grief and pity: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren ; probably'

12 a task master on the point of killing an Israelite. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that [there was] no man, he slew the Egyptian, he defended the oppressed; and, knowing the Israelites could not have justice done them, lie

13 prudently hid him in the sand.} 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? and would have reconciled matters between

14 them. And he that did the wrong (Acts vii. 27.) Said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to

• It was a happy circumstance that he was nursed by hi■ ows> mother, as he would be managed with tenderness ; know his own parents; be brought up in the true religion; have his life secured through Pharaoh's daughter ; and some wages and provision be made for the family.

t Here is a great chasm in the history of Moses. His modesty forbade him relating particulars ; but Stephen tells us. {Acts vii. 22.) that he was brought up at court, and skilled in all the learning 01 the Egyptians; such as arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and. natural philosophy, and thus fitted for his future station, Stephen adds, that he was mighty in words and deeds; an eloquent man, (though not a good sneaker) as his admirable compositions testify ; a wise counsellor; and, some add, a mighty general; with many other particulars of his early life, which cannot be depended upon.

t Stephen says (Aclt vii. 35.) he supposed that Ui? Israelites by this would have know* that he would deliver them, probably he exhortea them to return to Canaan, promised to lead them, and told them the time for their deliverance was near ; but they understood not, therefore their captivity was prolonged.

kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian ?• And Moses feared, J5 and said, Surely this thing is known. 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 the welL f 6 Now the priest, or prince, of Micfian, who waa a descendant of Abraham-, by Keturah, had seven daughters : and they came and drew [water,] and filled the troughs to water their father's floek; this was the emfiloyment of persons of rank in

17 those days. And the Shepherds of some neighbouring prince came and drove them away, insisting that they would water their flocks first : but Moses stood up and helped them, and

18 watered their flock. And when they came to Reuel their father another, name for Jethro, or else his father, he said, How

19 [is it that] yc are come so soon today ? And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and

20 also drew [water] enough for us, and watered the flock. 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:

21 and they did so. And Moses was content to dwell with the man: thus he was sheltered for the present, and prepared for the greater services that were before him: and he gave to Mo

22 ses Zipporah his daughter. And she bare [him] a son, and he called his name Gershom : for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.t

23 And it came to pass in process of time, after forty years (Jets vii. 30.) 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. Though there was a new king, yet the old oppression continued,

24 and their sufferings were as great as ever. And God heard their groaning, took notice of their afflictions and burdens, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac,

25 and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel with a kind and compassionate regard, and determined to show them mercy, and God had respect unto [them.$]

• This wai an impertinent and onerateful speech; he upbraided him with that for which he oujrhttohave nraisedhim, and which was a specimen of their promised deliver, ance: and inn refusal of Moses by one, is imputed to al] the rest of the Israelites, (Actsvil. 35.) and God. for their inithanknilness* withdrew him for forty years.

+ The Syriac, Arabic, and Vuliratc versions add here. She alio bare another ion to Moses, and he called him Eiiexer, saying, Tha God of my fathers hath been my heifer, &c. osicott.

I Or, according to the LXX, And tvj; made known unto them.

REFLECTIONS.

T. (TJ E E how much of Providence is to be observed in those things which seem the resuh of chance. Providence appeared in the birth of Moses, and in supporting him till he was three months old, when he was better able to bear an abode in the ark. The same wise Providence laid him in the river, just tit the time when Pharaoh's daughter came; she meant only to wash, but God intended other things. It was a providential circumstance to find the child weeping, to move her compassion. Had any other person came there and seen the child, it, most probably, had been thrown into the river, for to have rescued it would have been death. Let us adore the wisdom of Providence, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.

2. On what minute accidents do the lives of men depend, yea, the lives of some of the best of men ! In how precarious a situation was Moses f A little longer delay, and he had famished, or been carried away with the tide or stream of the river, or been devoured by the crocodiles. How many narrow escapes had those persons, whose names are so eminent in the Jewish and in, the christian church J There are several instances in history, of most surprising events attending the births of the most eminent personages ; in all which the wisdom and goodness of God ia seen. The mercies of our infancy should be thankfully acknowledged. How many near escapes from death have we all had, though not in so remarkable a manner as Moses ; by the same Providence we were taken out of the womb, hung on our mothers* breasts, and are preserved to this day.

3. Observe with pleasure, Moses choosing to suffer affliction with God's people: it was a wise choice, which the apostle Paul extols. There was every thing in Pharaoh's court, but religion, to engage him ; nothing among the Israelites, but religion, to tempt him. He might have been serviceable to the Israelites at court ; but he knew they were God's people, and therefore he chose to suffer with them. This choice we should make; we should form alliances with God's servants, and prefer affliction to sin, the reproach of Christ rather than the riches of Egypt, and should have respect to the recompense of reward, that is, to the glory which God hath promised.

4. How shameful are any contentions among brethren, especially under afflictions. It is a sad thing for them to quarrel, es" pecially when they are joined in one common affliction. This istoo often the case. The English exiles in Queen Mary's days, at Frankfort, quarrelled about habits and ceremonies. Those who were advocates for them, called the civil magistrate to interpose, and would not rest till they had driven out their brethren. There has often been great quarrels among sufferers, when persecuted by their brethren. Uncharitable contentions are shame

« PreviousContinue »