We’ve been “doing” the Exodus story at church. Actually, we haven’t got to the exodus bit of Exodus yet. But oh, the backstory! It’s a bit tantalising, really. Moses lives through so many lifetimes before he even gets to the burning bush. And when he arrives at the burning bush, who is he? Is he a solemn, chesty type with a can-do attitude? Heroic and muscular, able to heft stone tablets and run down mountains with ease? Maybe that’s how he ends up. But when he stumbles across a well in the middle of the desert and into into Zipporah’s life, I am thinking that he is probably scrawny, desperate and lost. And when he removes his sandals before the burning bush, he seems reluctant to leave his obscure shepherd life- even when it is God who is calling him to do so.
Anyway, there is lots that I am still curious about… Lots of living between the words of Exodus chapter 2 that Moses didn’t hand down to us as part of the official Exodus story. Maybe I will get a chance to do some research on Moses after I arrive in heaven, even speak to the man himself. Who knows! Maybe someone there will be allowed to write the official prequel(s) to Exodus. There’ll be time, and probably interest.
In the meantime I’m releasing these little question balloons into the theological atmosphere. Let’s look at them as they float away, and wonder where they will end up…
Moses Afloat – The Early Years
Moses’ mother and sister loom large in the early years. What was Moses’ father doing and thinking during this time? Did he know about his wife and the papyrus basket? Did he agree with this Nile plan of action for his son?
How long did Moses’ birth mother look after him? Was it long enough for her to impart to him the story of his rescue? If so, how did Moses feel about being let loose on a big river in a small basket? How did he feel about being a survivor amongst Hebrew boys? Did he feel, even as a child, that he had been set aside by his God or his people for a special role, perhaps a rescuer role?
Was Pharoah’s daughter a good “mother”? Did she let him eat at the table with other family members? Did she respect his Hebrew heritage? Did she like his Hebrew heritage? Was her rescue of Moses a quietly subversive act in the court of Pharaoh?
Fight and Flight
Moses is “grown up” – has he been given any role in Pharaoh’s court, or is he being pushed to the fringes of royal life? When he goes to watch the Hebrews at work, is he already thinking of defecting to their side?
Does Moses know the Hebrews are being oppressed before he goes to watch them? Has he ever witnessed violence before? Does his anger at the beating of a Hebrew by an Egyptian take him by surprise? What angers him most: Egyptian oppression of the Hebrews, or Hebrew-Hebrew conflict? Does the latter shatter an idealised view of working-class Hebrews, held as a counterpoint to his privileged Egyptian upbringing?
Does Moses want to be the leader and judge of the Hebrews at this time? If he wasn’t forced to flee after the murder, would he have tried to integrate himself back into Hebrew society?
Sheep and Romance at the Well
What kind of priest was Moses’ future father-in-law? Did he know about the covenant God made with Abraham? Did he think his family were covenant people?
What made the girls at the well identify Moses as an Egyptian? Did he have an accent, clothes or or a “look”? Did they see him as a hero, or as a crazed loner, perhaps capable of violence?
Was Moses famous- did his new family know some of his story already? Did his father-in-law suspect who he was from the beginning? Did the family regret their welcome (and perhaps the offer of marriage) after finding out Moses was a murderer?
Did Moses find his shepherd life too lonely and quiet, or was it a relief? Did he actually like being “an alien in a foreign land”? Perhaps this was better than feeling like an alien in the land you grew up in; and/or feeling like an alien amongst your own people?
What is Moses thinking as he tends sheep and looks at rock, rocks and rocks? Is he hoping to anchor his life in comfortable obscurity, or is he plotting some form of “return”?
It’s just as well that bush starts burning.
Praise God for rescuing, calling and forming such a great prophet.
Moses- himself allowed to help rescue, call and form a people who belonged to God.
Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt- to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no-one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.