Moses as the Man of Justice - RR171C5

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Moses As the Man of Justice
Course: Course - Exodus; Unity of Law and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 5
Length: 0:30:37
TapeCode: RR171C5
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Exodus Unity of Law and Grace.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


Let us worship God. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endureth to all generations. Let us pray.

Oh Lord, our God, we thank thee that thou art He who art mindful of us. But as we come to thee, as have the assurance that there is nothing too great or too small for thee. We come, therefore, to case our every care upon thee knowing thou carest for us. We come because we are thine. Thou hast made us for thyself, and hast redeemed us by thy grace, and hast called us to thy service. Now, empower us by thy word and by thy spirit, that we may serve thee with all our heart, mind, and being. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Our scripture this morning is Exodus 2:11-22. Moses as the Man of Justice. Exodus 2:11-22, as we continue our studies through the book of Exodus. “And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, who made thee a prince and a judge over us? Intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, surely this thing is known. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, how is it that ye are come so soon to day? And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread. And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.” [00:04:12]

We are not told that Moses, when he was grown or literally...[edit]

We are not told that Moses, when he was grown or literally when he became great, very important, in stature within the Egyptian empire, went out with his brethren and looked on their burdens. The meaning is that he separated himself from the palace to identify himself with his people, the Hebrews. This is stressed in Hebrews 11:24-26 where we read, “By faith, Moses when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.”

Now, we must not sentimentalize this text. Moses did not choose his natural mother over his adopting mother. He may well have retained to his death a strong regard and love for both of them. The choice however, was not between mother here and mother there; adopting and natural mother, but it was a religious choice. This is what we are plainly told. He identified himself with the covenant people of God. The pleasures of sin, of which Hebrews speaks, is a phrase that does not refer to a variety of actions, but rather contrasts a covenant life in God as against a covenant breaking life lived in terms of his own will, his own Law as a supposedly autonomous man. Because he was, in a real sense, neither Hebrew nor Egyptian, he had been separated from both by birth a Hebrew but not growing up with them, by upbringing an Egyptian and yet knowing he was not one of them. Moses apparently had looked at that situation, had studied both faiths; the faith of Egypt and the faith of Israel. He thus saw his roots, not in terms of being the same blood as the Hebrews, but in terms of the covenant God and a covenant people. We are told he also clearly understood the messianic goal and kingdom, which were in process, as well as apparently the atonement, that is, the reproach of Christ. [00:07:24]

Thus, Moses, by his upbringing, was both of Israel...[edit]

Thus, Moses, by his upbringing, was both of Israel and of Egypt, and yet he was alien to both. By leaving the palace to live apart from Pharaoh’s men, Moses now isolated himself from the Egyptians without breaking with them in any dramatic form. Now an incident occurred that was going to separate him forever, from both Israel and Egypt. He was never to be a part of both. He was separated to God, and to his dying day, he had problems with Israel. He saw an Egyptian, probably an overseer, beating a Hebrew, and the kind of beating that was commonplace was murderous. Thousands and even hundreds of thousands would die on the projects of the Pharaoh’s, building cities, or building pyramids. In anger, Moses intervened, and in the struggle he killed the Egyptian. He hid the body then in the sand. Apparently, the only eyewitness was the Hebrew. The next day, however, when Moses saw one Hebrew assaulting, or beating another, he intervened. The man who was the oppressor in this situation may have been a Hebrew who was used as a taskmaster by the Egyptians. This was not an uncommon practice. In such a case, the Hebrew would be as savage as any Egyptian, in order to prove he deserved the better job with the pay and the freedom that went with it. On the previous day, Moses had looked this way and that way before he had killed the Egyptian, and he had seen no man. There was just he and the man’s life whom he had saved. He had realized as he did it, as he began to fight the overseer, that if the man lived, he would have Moses killed. There was no toleration by the Pharaohs with their orders, even though by virtue of his status as a prince, Moses was a prince and a judge. There was a point beyond which no one dared cross Pharaoh. This guilty Hebrew, when Moses intervened, asked, and Moses asked, “Why do you beat your fellow Hebrew?” turned insolently to Moses to ask two questions which were really accusations. First, “Who made thee a prince and judge over us?” You may be a prince and judge with the Egyptians, but not with us.” In other words, “As far as we’re concerned, you’re an outsider.” And second, “Are you going to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” [00:11:43]

Two things are at once apparent...[edit]

Two things are at once apparent. First, by virtue of being the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses was, in fact, a prince judge. But the Hebrew denied that Moses is acceptable to the Hebrews as a prince judge. He is, to them, a foreigner he says. And second, Moses killing of the Egyptian is known to this man, and the Hebrews are not viewing it favorably. Had the popular reaction been strongly favorable to Moses, the man would not so readily shown contempt for Moses. He would have known that when he went home, because he dwelt among the Hebrews, there would have been possibly reprisals. But he knew that Moses was now rejected by both Egypt and Israel. He was an outsider to both.

In Stephens works, uh words in the book of Acts when he preached his last sermon before he was executed, we have another account of this episode and we read, “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and in deeds. And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel, and seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him and avenged him that was oppressed and smoke the Egyptian, for he supposed that his brethren would have understood how that God, by his hand would deliver them, but they understood not. And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove and would have set them at one again saying, ‘Sirs, you are brethren, why do ye wrong one to another?’ But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away saying, ‘Who made thee a rule and a judge over us? Wilt thou kill me as thou didst kill the Egyptian yesterday, then fled Moses at this saying and was a stranger in the land of Midian where he begat two sons.”

We are told three things about Moses by Stephen. Namely that he was learned, that he was mighty in words, and also mighty in deeds. He was, thus, a man of power. We are then told that Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known,” as it was. The root of Moses’ fear was religious. He was trying to restore Israel unto covenant faithfulness and to deliver them, but he found himself rejected when he staked his life and future on saving a Hebrew. It is a mistake to believe that because a people are oppressed that that makes them good. That’s one of the great myths of our time, that minority groups or oppressed groups are necessarily good. It doesn’t follow. They’re just as sinful and evil as anyone else, sometimes more so. [00:15:48]

Thus, Moses saw that he had no place, either with the...[edit]

Thus, Moses saw that he had no place, either with the Egyptians or the Israelites, and hence, he fled. He knew himself to be a stranger to both Israel and Egypt and later, as a stranger in Midian, also called Madian. He named his firstborn son, Gershom, meaning “a stranger.” Moses fled to Midian and he rested there by a well. The seven daughters of a man of Midian were there to water the sheep, but the male shepherds drove them away. These were the daughters of Jethro, which means “His excellence,” and it’s probably a title. He was probably a nomadic chief. He is also called Rual in verse 18 and Hobab in Numbers 10:29. Rual means “a friend” or “a shepherd of God.” He was a believer in the Lord. He is called, in verse 16, a priest of Midian, and the word translated as priest is kohan. Kohan can mean priest or chief. Jethro was thus, the leader of a very small, nomadic band. Perhaps because of his faith, his true faith, he was isolated and limited in power, and may have had only a bare handful of men following him. The fact that the other Midianite shepherds treated his daughters badly, indicates that he was held in disrespect. However, the fact that the girls were able to work with their small bands of sheep without being sexually assaulted indicates that there was a little bit of respect and power for Jethro.

Now in Egypt, Moses faced death for his action. It was motivated by a sense of justice in seeing a man unjustly beaten. Such beatings, during work levies, were, in those days commonly murderous. His sense of justice, which he felt in Egypt had not abandoned him. He now intervened to protect the girls and to draw water for them. The father, being otherwise busy at the time, was surprised when they returned early. When he learned that an Egyptian had helped the girls, he insisted that someone go to that nearby well and bring the man to dinner. As an Egyptian who was well-dressed, and with some indications of his palace prestige, Moses probably intimidated the shepherds when he drove them back from the well. To oppose a man of rank, and Moses obviously was dressed in a way that indicated he was of the royal family, could be dangerous. Jethro could have been motivated by both a natural gratitude and a desire to befriend a prominent Egyptian. [00:19:51]

Moses’ history very soon became known to Jethro, and...[edit]

Moses’ history very soon became known to Jethro, and Moses was content to live there and herd sheep. He had no other choice, for one thing. He was given Zipporah, Jethro’s daughter, as a wife. Zipporah means “bird” or “little bird, and it can be transferred “ladybird,” a name we’re familiar with because a president’s wife wore it not too long ago. The child, Gershom, also sometimes Gershon, is of interest in a double sense. First of all, Moses uses that name to set forth the fact that he is a stranger to Israel, Egypt, and Midian. The name indicates his sense of isolation, his loneliness. Then, second, the name can also be seen as an affirmation of faith. In Genesis 46:11, we are told that Levi’s firstborn son was named Gershon. Moses was harkening back to his roots. Like Levi, he is the head of a great beginning, and against all hope, he uses the name to invite a comparison of himself with Levi. Even as Levi was a great beginning, so, too was Gershom.

Midian was an area outside the main lines of trade and communication. It was a backwater in those days, back country, and thus, a safe hiding place, especially with an obscure leader with a small band of nomadic sheep herders. Moses was now a sheep herder. He had once been a prince and a judge. A prince always had legal powers. His intervention in both cases between the Egyptian and the Hebrew, and between the two Hebrews, had an element of legality because of his status. A prince could intervene as a judge. The problem, however, was with the labor levies, slave labor. The overseers had great powers and were doing Pharaoh’s bidding and it was dangerous to intervene. Whatever the cause of justice that Moses might have pled, the fact remained that he intervened in Pharaoh’s key area, the royal construction projects and his labor levies. This was an offense against Pharaoh. Moses had no assigned jurisdiction over the Hebrews, as action was seen as lawless. The Hebrew reads literally that Moses struck the Egyptian and the man died. [00:23:32]

God called Moses to be His lawgiver...[edit]

God called Moses to be His lawgiver. The training of Moses as the prince of Egypt was a schooling in political justice, that is in state power, and in the use of forced labor levies, in legal racism, and in disregard for the common man. In his flight for life, Moses again encounters injustice at the well. He was given, by God, a radical schooling in humanist law as a prince of Egypt, and in his experiences. His allegiance to both Egypt and Israel, to the palace and to the slave worker, and to all man-centered visions of righting injustice, were now thoroughly shattered. If we cannot be separated from man’s ideas of justice, we cannot be used by God. Moreover, men are never ready to receive true justice unless they see {?} as the covenant God. And before Moses could be prepared to be a man of justice, he had to see the futility of humanistic justice, and be ready to say “Amen” to the every law word of God. Let us pray.

Oh Lord, our God we thank thee that even as thou did separate Moses as unto thyself, so too thou dost separate us to thyself. By separating us from the things of man. Give us grace to grow in terms of thy leading and mercy, to become more than conquerors in Christ, our Lord. In His name we pray. Amen.

Are there any questions now, about our lesson? Yes?

[Audience] Just an anecdote with regard to your observation that oppressed people are not always good, uh, even among Christians, when I was in Romania some time ago, I was disappointed but somewhat amused almost by the fact that even among Christians who are still severely persecuted there, there are typical disagreements over doctrinal matters, over activities in the churches. Two men, a leader of a Baptist church and one leader of a Pentecostal church couldn’t get along with one another, even in their situation.

[Rushdoony] It is a part of the Romantic movement that people who are oppressed or are minorities must necessarily be good. And, as a result, all the sympathy nowadays is with the underdog, not with God’s justice. Yes? Any other questions?

[Audience] As you were talking about Moses and how he was a stranger, I was thinking of Joseph and what God did to Joseph. Is there a parallel there? [00:27:33]

{Rushdoony} Yes, a very, very good point because that’s a pattern throughout the Bible. Both Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph were each in their turn brought to a point of separation. A point of being compelled by very trying and painful experiences to see the difference between God’s way and man’s way, and you can go on through the Bible and in some cases, especially Jeremiah, the schooling is very, very hard and painful. And we must remember the schooling is not only for now, it’s for eternity. So, we learn a great many things in this world the hard way, because through endless time, those lessons are going to be used by us for the glory of God. Any other questions or comments? If not, let us conclude in prayer.

Oh Lord, our God, we give thanks unto thee that even as thou through all the painful trials and experiences led Moses back to Egypt and out of Egypt towards the Promised Land, so in all our experiences thy hand is upon us to accomplish thy purpose, and thy ways although often hard and painful for us, are altogether good, altogether righteous, altogether holy. Give us grace to receive them from thy hand, and to know that thy purpose for us is altogether wonderful. And now go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen. [00:30:28]

End of Tape.