Exodus Bible Study (God Saves)

Exodus 2:1-10, The Birth of the Savior


We are studying Exodus as the picture book of God’s redemption. God is showing Israel through the events that happen in Egypt how he is going to save the world when the true Deliverer and Savior comes. The second chapter of Exodus opens as a time of darkness, doom, and death. The decree has been sent through the land that every son born to the Hebrews was to be cast into the river (1:22). Exodus 2 records the birth and early life of Moses.

Genealogy of the Savior (2:1-2)

The scene opens with a genealogy of insignificance. Notice that a son is born to a man and a woman who are unnamed. All that we know is that this son is born to a priest, prequalifying him to be a religious and spiritual leader. The genealogy of Jesus found in Matthew 1 reveals Jesus to be prequalified as king over Israel. Now the declaration in verse 2 is interesting and curious.

The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. (Exodus 2:2 ESV)

Now this sounds really strange, doesn’t it? Is the text suggesting that if when the woman saw that her son was not beautiful, they would not have hid him and let him be thrown into the river? The writer of Hebrews helps us a little more.

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. (Hebrews 11:23 ESV)

We see that what the parents chose to do was a great example of faith. Yet it still sounds like they chose Moses because he was beautiful. Stephen also speaks of this event in his sermon which helps us further.

At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house. (Acts 7:20 ESV)

The beauty that these parents saw in Moses was not in his external beauty but they understood that this child was special. This child was beautiful in God’s sight and he was going to do something in service to God. The NKJV renders this that Moses was “well pleasing to God” which is another possible meaning. So the point is not that the parents saw that Moses was beautiful and disobeyed Pharaoh’s edict. Rather, his parents saw that he was special to God and had the faith to disobey Pharaoh. God was going to do something through this child. This picture of God being with the child to do something amazing continues in the following verses.

Rescue of the Savior (2:3-10)

After three months of hiding the child, he could not be hidden any longer. She put him in a basket, put the child in it, and placed him among the reeds of the river bank. Please read that carefully. The text does not say that she sent him down the middle of the Nile, avoiding crocodiles, and going over waterfalls, and what have you. She does not put him in danger. God’s hand is in this. Most of the translations lose the literal meaning of this “basket” that Moses is put in. But it is the same word in Genesis 6. The NKJV carries the literal rendering “ark.” Moses was put in an ark and placed on the waters. God is saving Moses through water just as God saved Noah and his family through water. The Nile River was intended to be the source of death. But God brings protection and deliverance. Pharaoh’s chosen instrument of destruction (the Nile) is the means of saving Moses. This already points us to Jesus where the chosen instrument of death by the Romans (the cross) becomes the means of saving the world.

The irony of the salvation is even stronger when it turns out to be the daughter of Pharaoh who rescues Moses. At first glance we would think that this is the worst case scenario. Pharaoh’s daughter, of all people, has found a Hebrew boy floating in the basket. But rather than doom, it is deliverance by God’s hand through the daughter of Pharaoh. Please notice yet again that it is women who are identified as providing deliverance and help for the savior. In Exodus 1 we saw the Hebrew midwives defying Pharaoh’s orders to preserve Moses’ life. In Exodus 2 we see the daughter of Pharaoh defying Pharaoh’s orders to preserve Moses’ life. Please consider the dominant role that women have in the life of Jesus. We see the women who find the empty tomb and first see the risen Jesus. We see the importance of the women in Luke 8:1-3.

And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. (Luke 8:1–3 ESV)

God’s providence in the life of Moses continues to be seen when Moses’ sister volunteers a Hebrew woman to nurse the boy, which would be his own mother. So Moses grew up in his own home until he grew older, where he was brought to Pharaoh’s daughter and became her son (2:10). Though belonging to the Hebrews, he will live the life of an Egyptian. Stephen adds in his sermon:

And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. (Acts 7:22 ESV)

Finally, the boy’s name is revealed as Moses. His name means “drawn out.” Pharaoh’s daughter chooses that name because she drew him out of the water. But this is the perfect name because he is drawn out by God (as we will see in chapter 3) and have seen that Moses’ parents understand. His name is also fitting because he will draw Israel out of Egyptian slavery. Moses is a picture of salvation.



The big conception of redemption in this first paragraph of chapter 2 is salvation through water. God saves through water. In Genesis 6 God saved Noah and his family through water. In Exodus 2 Moses is saved through water. Later in Exodus we are going to read Israel’s salvation through water when they go through the Red Sea. In the days of Joshua we will see Israel saved through water again as they will walk through the Jordan River. The apostle Peter uses the same language in speaking about the flood, that eight persons were “saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20). Now listen to what Peter says next.

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. (1 Peter 3:21–22 ESV)

Baptism corresponds to this picture of being saved through water. God’s picture book of redemption, the book of Exodus, taught us that redemption will come through water. When John the Baptizer comes on the scene, he is also picturing salvation through water as they come to him in repentance for forgiveness of sins. Peter says that in Christ you are also saved through water. But this is not some sort of mindless act or faithless act. This is how you make your appeal to God for a good conscience. We are saved by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and the means of salvation is being buried in water. God saved Noah through the flood. God saved Moses through the Nile. God saved Israel through the Red Sea. God saved Israel through the Jordan River. The prophet Jonah is saved through water. The prophets promise salvation and deliverance as pictures of pouring out water and the Spirit.

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. (Isaiah 44:3 ESV)

Now God saves us through the waters of baptism, making our appeal to him to save us from our sins because Jesus has died, raised, and is seated on the throne.


Therefore, to give hope to our lives today I want us to see that in the midst of suffering and seemingly hopeless situations, God is working. While the command is for the Hebrew boys to be thrown into the river, a seemingly hopeless situation being surrounded by death, God is working to save his people. God was not far away. God was already moving pieces in place to save his people. When the women are at the foot of the cross of Jesus, as he hangs on the cross in death, and as the feeling of despair overwhelms the followers, God was not far away and was moving pieces in place to save his people. We have hope in suffering and difficulties for we see that God is at working and moving pieces in place that we cannot see nor understand. We cannot see what God is doing. But we have faith that God is at work. The Hebrews could not have known what was going on as their baby boys are being thrown into the river day after day. But was at work and is preparing to rescue. May we have enduring faith in God who continues to work in the world and in the lives of those who love him.

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