The Life of Moses



Mary Giangreco


The life of Moses is about a man who seemed to feel inadequate about what he could accomplish.  In all of his inadequacies he had a visitation from God on Mount Sinai.  He would now be endowed with all the adequacies of heaven that would equip him to deliver God’s people from the oppression of Pharaoh.  He received a heartfelt message from God to deliver to Pharaoh a message, “Israel is My son, My first born…let my son go” (Exodus 4:22-23).   

Life in Egypt for Moses

Moses was born during a very dark time, when a new king was enthroned over Egypt.  This king did not know Joseph; who has already died.  The king imagined a terrifying thought.

Exodus 1:8-10, 16

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.

And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we;

“Come let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happened in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.”

And he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.”

The king, being a warrior himself, took notice that the Israelites who lived in Goshen were in a strategic military position.  This area geographically, was the main route of invasion or defense of Egypt.  This is why the king said, “in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us,” Apparently the Israelites were known as warriors by the Egyptians.  The king not knowing what to do and yet he felt he had to do something, ordered that every son born be put to death and only the daughters could live. 

Historically this is what was taking place when Moses was born.   As a result of this historic event, Moses from the day of birth until three months, was in hiding; the only people who laid eyes on him was his family.  When Moses’ mother could not hide him any longer, she sent him floating down the river bank in a basket of papyrus to Pharaoh’s daughter, who was the first human being to look upon Moses outside of his family (Exodus 2:1-5).  Pharaoh’s daughter had compassion on the child and took the child in her hands and called him Moses, which means in Hebrew “drawn out,” and in Egyptian it means “child,” “a son.”1  She took him as her own son.  Moses was not separated from his mother; she nursed him until he was weaned (Exodus 2:7-9).  Moses was from the tribe of Levi, and was the son of Amram and Jochebed.  He had a brother named Aaron and a sister named Miriam.

Moses Lives as an Egyptian

When Moses was old enough he began his education as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.   He was to be learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and become mighty in words and deeds (Acts 7:22).2  When Moses was forty years old (Acts 7:23) he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew; he fought and killed the Egyptian in defense of the Hebrew.  To cover up the killing he buried the Egyptian.  He didn’t think anyone saw him until the next day he tried to make peace between two Hebrews.  One of the Hebrews said, “Who made you a prince and judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” His secret was revealed and he no longer was safe in Egypt (Exodus 2:11-15).

Exile in Midian

Moses knew that Egypt wasn’t a safe place for him so he fled to Arabia where he spent the better part of his life but would eventually return to Egypt.  He came to a well in Midian, in or near the peninsula of Sinai where he rested, and helped some young women to water their sheep.  These women happen to be Reuel’s (Jethro) seven daughters, who took Moses home and presented him to their father (Exodus 2:16-20).  Moses lives with Reuel’s (Jethro) and later marries Zipporah and takes charge of his father-in-law’s flock (Exodus 2:21; 3:1).

The Call of God

Exodus 3:1

Moses kept the flocks of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the back side of the desert and came to the mountain of God, even Horeb.

The shepherds of the day would take the flocks long distances from their home to find good pasture for the flocks to graze and weeks and months would pass sometimes before they saw another person.  Moses being on the backside of the desert was in very fertile ground where the flocks were ensured good grazing land.  While in seclusion, an angel of the Lord or perhaps the Lord Himself appears in a flame of fire in a bush that did not burn.  Moses curiosity was aroused.  He left what he was doing to investigate, why the bush was not consumed (Exodus 3:2-3).  When the Lord saw that he tuned aside to look, He called to him, “Moses, Moses!”  As he was drawing near to the burning bush the Lord said, “Do not draw near this place.  Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).  God introduces Himself to Moses saying, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6).  At this point Moses was afraid and hid his face from God.  The word afraid speaks of being frightened and having reverence for God all at the same time.  There was a supernatural event taking place, a bush was burning and a voice was coming from the bush; this is not an every day occurrence.  God stepped out of heaven to reveal Himself to a man named Moses; a shepherd at that. Interestingly, it was when God saw that Moses turned aside or stopped what he was doing, that God revealed Himself.   Moses had already taken off his sandals and was standing on holy ground and the twofold revelation of the call begins.  God reveals Himself as the one and true God and unfolds the call on his life to deliver God’s people, who are under the strong arm of Egypt’s Pharaoh.

God’s Promise of Deliverance

God reassures Moses He will deliver His people from the oppression of the taskmasters in Egypt and He will bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey where other nations are living.  The first step to all this was Moses would have to meet with Pharaoh face to face and make known God’s requests.  Moses doubts he can do this for God and he says, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:7-11).  God is pretty positive about His people leaving Egypt, “When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12).  God is literally saying, Moses you will be back with My people and I’ll be here upon your arrival.  Moses wanted to know God’s name which is very significant and He said, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14) meaning, I am the Self-existent One, the Eternal, the One who always has been and always will be, the Ever-present and Living One.  It is equivalent to Jehovah the Eternal.3  God encourages Moses to go to the children of Israel, gather the elders of Israel, tell them I have visited with you and I will take them out of Egypt and then go to the king of Egypt and say to him, “The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God” (Exodus 3:16-18).  Moses still wasn’t convinced.  God said, “I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go” and when they go they will not go “empty handed” (Exodus 3:20-21).

God gave to Moses two signs; the rod or staff that turned into a serpent; and his hand turned into leprosy and then cleansed.  If the people didn’t believe these two signs, the water that Moses would take from the river would be turned into blood on dry land (Exodus 4:1-9).  Moses’ mind is churning and looking for every excuse he could find.  He comes up with, “I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Exodus 4:10).  It would seem Moses is overwhelmed with all of this and is feeling inadequate and yet years later a man named Stephen says, “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22).  God saw beyond Moses’ emotional excuse and He saw what He has destined Moses for.  God understands completely what Moses is doing and He says to bring Aaron with you to be your spokesman; and so it was. 

The Return to Egypt

Moses received permission from his father-in-law to leave for Egypt.  He felt pretty confident about going back to Egypt, for God had reassured him that the people who wanted to kill him were dead.  Moses began his journey back to Egypt with his wife and sons (Exodus 4:18-20).  On the way, God threatened Moses’ life because his son wasn’t circumcised.  Zipporah did the circumcision but she wasn’t too pleased with Moses.  She called him a “bloody husband” because of the circumcision (Exodus 4:24-26).  She and her sons did not continue on with Moses to Egypt but doubled back to her father Reuel’s (Jethro) house and then joined Moses when at Rephidim (Exodus 18:2-6).  Perhaps the reason she left was connected with this event of circumcision.  In the meantime, Aaron hears from God to meet Moses in the wilderness and when the two brothers meet, Moses shares all that the Lord has said.  This was a token of God’s divine favor toward Moses when Aaron met him on the mountain of God.  He and Aaron proceed on to Egypt and shared with the people of Israel what God had said (Exodus 4:27-31).

The Ten Plagues of Egypt

Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go and so He sent ten plagues upon the Egyptians.  These plagues went on for a period of about nine months.  The Nile River turned into blood (Exodus 7:14-25),  frogs took over the countryside (Exodus 8:1-15), people and the animals were infest with lice (Exodus 8:16:19), swarms of flies covered the land (Exodus 8:20-32), disease killed the livestock of Egypt (Exodus 9:1-7),  boils and sores infected the Egyptians and their animals (Exodus 9:8-12), hail destroyed crops and vegetation (Exodus 9:13-35), swarms of locusts covered the land (Exodus 10:1-20),  thick darkness covered Egypt for three days (Exodus 10:21-29) and finally, the Egyptian’s first born, both of the people and their animals were destroyed by God’s death angel (Exodus 11:1-12:30).4  God used these plagues by the hand of Moses to break the stubborn heart of Pharaoh and to demonstrate His power that was far superior to the pagan gods the Egyptians worshiped.  The Hebrew people were not touched by any of these plagues.  In the last plague, the Hebrew’s were instructed to mark their homes with the blood of a lamb on their doorposts and the death angel would pass over them.  It was this plague that finally caused Pharaoh to let the people go and thus the exodus began.

The Exodus

As one home after another lost loved ones and the cries permeated the midnight air, Moses knew what his next step was under the divine headship of God.  He led the Hebrews, not by the nearest way to the Promise Land, which would bring them through the land of the Philistines, but a much longer way. The Hebrew people were not ready to engage in battle, “God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea” (Exodus 13:17-18).  God parted the Red Sea and God’s people passed by in safety and Pharaoh’s armies were destroyed in the seas raging waves.  Their journey to Sinai had many twist and turns.  At Marah the bitter waters were sweetened (Exodus 15:23), the people murmured for the bread and meat of Egypt and God supplied them with manna and quail (Exodus 16).  In Rephidim the people complained there was no water and Moses struck the rock of Horeb and it yielded water (Exodus 17:1-7).  During a battle between the Hebrews and the Amalekites; Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses and the Amalekites were defeated (Exodus 17:8-16) and later Jethro brought Moses his wife and sons (Exodus 18).


Moses goes up the mountain and God tells him to prepare the people to hear divine communications (Exodus 19:1-13).   The people were led to the foot of the mountain and Moses received the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:14-20:17).  He made known the command of God (Exodus 24:1-8) and all the words, judgments and ordinances of the Lord (Exodus 24:3; 21-23).  Moses stayed forty days and nights on the mountain (Exodus 24:18), receiving the plan for the sanctuary and worship of God (Exodus 25-31) and the two tables of stone (Exodus 31:18).  While Moses is with God, the Israelites worship a golden calf and when Moses comes down from the mountain, his righteous indignation causes him to destroy the tablets of stone, on which God has written His commandments.  Moses instructs the sons of Levi to kill the idolaters (Exodus 32:27-28).  Moses acts as a mediator for the people because God was ready to kill them all (Exodus 32:11-14).  Moses ascends up the mountain for a second time for forty days and returned to the people with the new tablets (Exodus 34:1-4).  The glory of God is on his face and he covers it with a veil (Exodus 34:27-29, 33).  Moses was the overseer for the building of the Tabernacle and all its preparation (Exodus 35-40) and he consecrated Aaron and his sons for the office of priesthood (Exodus 8-9).

The Death of Moses

In all of this, Moses’ anger toward the people gets the best of him.  The people were murmuring for water again and God says to Moses “speak to the rock” and instead he strikes the rock with the rod.  Because of his disobedience therefore, Moses and Aaron were not allowed by God to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:7-8, 12).  God was gracious though, allowing Moses to see a portion of the land (Deuteronomy 34:4).  Moses died and was buried in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor (Deuteronomy 34:5-6).


Moses came from the hiding place of the cradle, dodging death at birth, to being tucked into an ark of bulrushes, to land into the arms of Pharaoh’s daughter and then to be raised in the palace with all the perks.  He was branded as a murderer, fled to Midian, married and had a family and became a deliver after having a convincing conversation with God.  Moses was a man who had insecurities and yet God used him tremendously.  As long as he listened and obeyed, God things went well for him.  This teaching will encourage the student of the Word that anything is possible no matter what your background may be.