Exodus 2



Share a time when you felt like God was absent. What were the circumstances? Why did you feel that way?
The book of Exodus continues the story of Genesis. In a nutshell, Genesis tells the story of how God created the heavens and the earth, and everything God created was good.

At the pinnacle of this good world, God created humanity to live in a perfect love relationship with him and to image his glory to the world. The first man and woman were given a mission: to multiply and fill the earth with image-bearers of God so that the glory of God would cover the earth like the waters cover the sea (Gen 1:26-27). But an enemy crept into God’s creation, that ancient serpent, the Devil. And he deceived the man and woman, and the world was plunged into sin and death. God promised that one day a descendant of Eve would come as a deliverer, and he would crush the serpent’s head and lead humanity back into God’s presence forever. But until that day, there would be a battle between the descendants of the Serpent and the descendants of Eve (Gen 3:15).

The rest of Genesis tells the story of how God began to fulfill this redemptive promise through a specific descendant of Eve named Abraham. God came to Abraham and promised that through his family line, all the peoples of the world would be blessed (Gen 12:1-3). In other words, God was telling Abraham that the promised descendant of Eve, who would crush the serpent’s head and bring humanity back to God, would come through his line. Abraham had a son named Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob, and Jacob had twelve sons, and God began fulfilling this redemptive promise.

But Genesis ends with a threat. A famine comes upon the land, and this family, chosen to be the family through whom the deliverer would come, is threatened with extinction. It appears that God’s promises hang in the balance. So they flee to Egypt and find relief there for the next 400 years. The chosen family is spared. This is where Exodus picks up.
In Exodus 1, we saw how the people of Israel were “fruitful and multiplied” in Egypt in fulfillment of God’s ancient promise. In Exodus 2, we read the story of a baby boy born to save Israel's people. Though God seemed to have forgotten his enslaved people, the birth of this baby shows that God was at work in unnoticed ways to answer his people’s prayers and, ultimately, to save them.


Read Exodus 2 aloud.


  • Begin by examining the text together. What do you notice? What stands out? What is unexpected? Who are the main characters? What is surprising?1
  • Read verses 1-3. Here we see that the baby’s mother built a basket, covered it with pitch (something like tar), put the baby boy inside, and sent him down the Nile river. Instead of “casting” him into the Nile to kill him as the King ordered (1:22), she saved him through this basket. If you look up the Hebrew word translated “basket,” you’ll find that it is the same word used for Noah’s ark, which was also covered in pitch (Gen 6:14). Just as Noah was saved from the flood through an ark, so this baby boy is being rescued from a watery death through an ark. In verse 10, he is given the name Moses, which means “one who is drawn out [of water].”
    • As a group, retell the basic story of Noah to refresh everyone’s memory (c.f Gen 6).
    • Why do you think the author of Exodus portrays this baby boy as a new sort of Noah? What do you think he is communicating to us?2
  • In verses 11-15, we read of Moses striking down and killing an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite. Exodus does not tell us whether or not this action was wrong. 
    • Some argue that Moses was taking matters into his own hands in administering justice, which is God’s alone. What clues in the text might lead one to take this interpretation?
    • Others argue that this foreshadows Moses’ future role as a deliverer of Israel. In striking this Egyptian down and saving this Israelite man, it is argued the author of Exodus is giving us a glimpse into Moses’ future role. Furthermore, in Exodus 22:2, God says, “If a thief is found breaking in and is struck (same word used for Moses) so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt.” In other words, if you strike and kill someone in self-defense or defense of another, God says there is no guilt for such an action. In this view, Moses struck and killed a man while defending the life of another. What do you think of this interpretation?
  • In verses 15-22, we read how Moses flees from the King who wants to kill him and takes refuge in a foreign land. He meets a woman at a well, saves her from wicked shepherds, draws water for her, and takes her as his wife. How does Moses’ story prefigure Jesus’ story?3


  • Exodus 2 is a story of faith in God’s promises. Read Hebrews 11:23-25. In these verses, Moses and his parents trusted God’s saving promises in the face of significant danger and great potential loss. Where is God calling you to trust him right now? And what precisely is he asking you to trust him with?
  • Exodus 2 also shows us that, even when it seems like God is unaware of and unresponsive to our suffering, he is working in unseen ways for our deliverance. When Moses was born, none of the Israelites could have known (or would know for years) that God had just brought the deliverer into the world. Read Ex 2:23-25. Where in your life does it feel like God doesn’t see your suffering? How does this help reframe your perspective?


Father, we thank you that you are always working in seen and unseen ways for our ultimate good and deliverance. When we cry out, and you seem silent, give us the faith to know that you hear our groanings and are working for our salvation. When we face the potential loss of what is precious to us, give us the faith of Moses’ mother to place our hopes and dreams in the ark of our salvation - Jesus Christ. When we face danger, give us the faith of Moses’ sister so that we might take risks for the sake of your saving promises. And when we face exclusion, give us the faith of Moses, who chose to be mistreated with your people over the fleeting pleasure of sin. And when we face loneliness and exile, give us the faith to believe the words of our Savior, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Example Observations:
  • Moses was a Levite (the line whom God will eventually make priests in Israel)
  • Moses was born under the threat of death (see 1:22)
  • Pharaoh’s daughter undermined his decree by choosing to spare Moses’ life
  • “Moses” comes from the Hebrew word meaning to “draw out” because he was drawn out of the water. 
  • Moses “saved” the life of an Israelite from an Egyptian who was beating him
  • Moses fled to the land of Midian for fear of Pharaoh (who probably thought he had become a traitor)
  • Moses “saves” the daughters of Midian from wicked shepherds
  • Moses marries a foreign bride and has a son

In the story of Noah, God cleansed the world of evil, saved his people from judgment, and re-established his covenant with humanity. Just as in the beginning, God rolled back the chaotic waters that covered the earth (Gen 1:2) and brought about his good creation, so here God rolled back the chaotic waters of the flood and brought about a new creation for Noah and his family. The author of Exodus portrays Moses as a new sort of Noah because he is foreshadowing what God is about to do. He is about to bring judgment upon Egypt (like a flood), save his people through water (Red Sea), and establish a new covenant with the people of Israel, just as he did with Noah. And when Moses’ mother built an ark for him and put him in the Nile, it seems that she was deliberately reflecting on how God saved Noah, and praying, “God, do it again!”

3 All of Exodus 2 prefigures the life of Jesus:
  • Moses’ parents saved him from a King who wanted to kill him (Ex 2:1-10); Jesus’ parents saved him from a King who wanted to kill him (Matt 2:13-15)
  • Moses was exiled to a foreign land (Ex 2:11-15); Jesus was exiled to a foreign land (Matt 2:13-15)
  • Moses met a foreign woman at a well and gave her water (Ex 2:16-17); Jesus met a foreign woman at a well and gave her the water of life (John 4:1-26).
  • Moses saved people from oppressive shepherds (Ex 2:16-17); Jesus saved people from oppressive shepherds (Jn 10:1-21).
  • Moses marries a foreign bride (Ex 2:18-22); Jesus marries a foreign bride - the church made up of Jews and Gentiles (Eph 5:25; Rev 5:9-10).

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