The beginning of the Exodus narrative begins with the refusal of the King of Egypt to acknowledge Joseph (lit. “know Joseph”). Chapter 2 ends with God acknowledging Israel (lit. “know”). In between we find acts of faith: the midwives; Moses’ parents; Moses’ sister and Moses himself. Acts that spring from a life lived in the knowledge that God “knows the way of the righteous.”
We also find acts of rebellion: Pharaoh, taskmasters, the general populace and some Israelites. These acts spring from a refusal to acknowledge that which God acknowledges.
“So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them” (Ex. 2:24-25).
Jocheved, and Miriam’s Faith (and Pharaoh’s Daughter?) (2:1-10)
Faith has consequences! Jocheved and Amram having acted in faith and now have a baby boy whom a nation have been mobilized to cast into the river. So, how do you react and what do you do? You put him in the river! How that is done reveals her Jocheved’s faith.
Miriam stands by to “know” what will happen to the boy. Miriam is not waiting out of curiosity, she is waiting in faith. She acts shrewdly, just like the midwives in ch.1, and Moses is restored to his mother before departing to Pharaoh’s household.
Moses’ Faith (2:11-14)
Moses having spent the vast majority of his life in Pharaoh’s household knows he is a Hebrew and that he will redeem Israel (Acts 7:23-25). By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. (Heb 11:25-27)
Moses the Rejected Redeemer (2:11-14)
Moses defends his brethren and “supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.” (Acts 7:25)
“Who made you a prince and a judge over us?” No answer is given to this Israelite’s question because it is already clear! God has made him prince and judge! This lack of awareness is striking in comparison to Jocheved and Miriam’s faith and understanding.
Moses fears and flees when he becomes aware that his killing of the Egyptian was “known.”
Moses in Midian, Israel in Egypt (2:15-21)
Moses settles down to a quiet life in exile. A man cast out of both “homes”: Egyptian and Hebrew. A stranger in a strange land. Having sons who are not born under a death sentence. Shepherding just as Israel’s sons used to do when they first arrived in Egypt. His credentials as Israel’s redeemer become less and less convincing as time passes.
Meanwhile in Egypt… a wicked king dies and a cry goes up. God’s covenant with Abraham, hinted at in the beginning of Exodus 1, is mentioned explicitly. God has not forgotten, even when everything seems to point to that conclusion.