Summary: Moses is a picture of what "justice" is, in a true OT sense.

If I asked most of you to describe your spouse, or your boss, or a friend, you'd probably give me a list of their qualities. They're funny. Smart. Organized. Stubborn. Easy going. That's how we normally think about people-- with adjectives. But a few of you, maybe, would lean back in your chair, and say, "Let me tell you a couple stories about so-and-so: When I got laid off from my job, and couldn't pay the bills, my friend lent me money for two months so I could feed my kids. When I lost a loved one unexpectedly, my friend stopped by, and just listened, and grieved with me. When I needed someone to watch the kids at the last minute, my friend was always willing to drop what he was doing, and come over. I told my friend a secret-- the kind that's too good to keep-- and no one else every learned it."

When someone leans back in their chair, and tells you a couple stories about someone, who that person is becomes far more real.

Our passage today is going to give us three stories about Moses, the grown man. Each story seamlessly leads to the next, so it's hard to draw a sharp line between them. But these stories, are how Exodus shows you who Moses really is.

So. Story #1, verses 11-12:

(11) And then, in those days, Moses grew up,

and he went out to his brothers,

and he saw their burdens/forced labor,

and he saw an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew man-- from his brothers,

(12) and he turned this way and that,

and he saw that there was no one,

and he struck the Egyptian,

and he hid him in the sand,

Put yourself in Moses' shoes for a minute. You grow up in the Egyptian palace. You're some type of minor royalty, presumably. Your adopted mom-- the mom who has raised you since you were maybe 2 or 3-- is Egyptian. What does that make you?

Are you a Hebrew? Or are you an Egyptian?

Adopted kids often wrestle with questions like this. Who are they, really? Who is their family, really?

In verse 11, Moses grows up, becomes an adult. Exodus says, "He went out to his brothers," and we ask ourselves, "Who are his brothers?" Where is Moses' loyalty? Are his brothers Egyptians, or are they Hebrews?

And the answer we get, immediately, is that in his heart, Moses is a Hebrew. At the risk of triggering people, that's how he self-identifies.

So Moses, the Hebrew, goes out, and he sees two things. The first, is the forced labor that every Hebrew brother suffers under. And the second thing he sees, is an Egyptian "striking" a Hebrew man.

Notice the last three words in verse 11. "From his brothers." Exodus stops, and tells you a second time who Moses is-- Moses is a Hebrew. And every other Hebrew man, is his brother.

Now, what exactly is the Egyptian doing to his Hebrew brother? He is "striking" him. The Hebrew word is easy to remember-- "naka." Like you'd "naka" someone. [I should have people lightly punch their neighbor, and say "naka."]

This verb, "strike," covers a large spectrum of violent acts. To get a feel for this, let's turn first to Exodus 5:15-16:

(5:15) and the foremen of the sons of Israel came,

and they cried out to Pharaoh, saying,

"Why are you treating your servants like this?

(16) Straw isn't being given to your servants,

while bricks they are telling us to make,

and LOOK! Your servants are being struck/beaten,

and the sin of your people."

Here, "striking" the Hebrews describes beatings, not killing.

Now, when we worked through the book of Joshua, one of the key verbs used to describe the conquering of cities was this same verb, "to strike." And there, as far as I can remember, "naka" is always used to describe the killing of the enemy armies.

One more little rabbit trail. Leviticus 24:17-21:

(17) and a man, when he strikes any life/soul of a human, he shall surely be put to death,

while the one striking the life/soul of a domestic animal shall repay it-- a life/soul in place of a life/soul,

(19) while a man, when he gives a disfigurement/blemish to his fellow citizen, just as he did, thus to him-- break in place of break, eye in place of eye, tooth in place of tooth.

Just as he gives a disfigurement/blemish to the man, thus it shall be given to him,

(21)while the one striking a domestic animal shall repay it,

while the one striking a human shall be put to death."

And when we turn back to Exodus 2:12, we see that when Moses "strikes" the Egyptian, this "striking" kills him.

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