Exodus 2: The Characterization of Moses

Part 1

Both Moses and Sargon are presented to the reader as characters that are placed into their unique and powerful roles through a fortuitous series of events. While the stories told in the two narratives are eerily similar, Sargon's 1st person telling paints a more selfish picture. Understandably, a ruler would frame his background in a way that highlights the luck and possible divine intervention that lead him to lead. On the other hand, Moses, known as the most humble of men, is spoken about in the 3rd person, with the narrator foreshadowing his success. Although seemingly small, this difference in voice changes the story from one of a boisterous claim to one of heart-warming pity.

Rashbam writes that when the verse says: "וַתִּפְתַּח וַתִּרְאֵהוּ אֶת־הַיֶּלֶד וְהִנֵּה־נַעַר," the verb "saw" is redundant, obviously when she opened it she saw the child, rather that she saw that it was a boy, and that he was circumcised.

The verse states that Pharaoh's daughter orders her maiden to nurse the child, and only after it says that he has grown, is he returned to Pharaoh's daughter to be her son.

The repeated use of the word "אחיו" seems to indicate a possible switch in meaning; the first one referring to his Egyptian brethren, and after taking notice of the conditions and hatred, realizing his true identity and sympathizing with his real brethren.

Growing up in the house of Pharaoh's daughter he was probably raised to treat the Israelites as slaves. The phrase of "וַיְהִי בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם" seems to imply it was over a period of time, and not an immediate realization.

Moses is careful, deliberate and fearful. The effort he put in to dealing with the Egyptian was noted clearly and he did not doubt himself or regret the action at that time. It was only later, when two people, who he thought were his allies, accused him, that he panicked and ran instead of defending his actions. This seems to be an odd characteristic for the future leader of the Israelites. He should have been proud to defend one of his own against an enemy.  

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