But before the promise God had hand-delivered to Abraham could be fulfilled, the people had to grow and multiply in Egypt, and that indeed went on until another ruler came to power who had not known Joseph. He was extremely cunning in his management of our forefathers requiring them to make public their newborn that they might be culled. It was at this time that Moses was born. And for three whole months he was nursed in the dwelling of his father. And when he was (finally) made public, it was to Pharaoh's daughter who adopted him to bring him up as her very own son. And that was how Moses came to be nurtured in all the (accumulated) wisdom of the Egyptians, a most formidable person in speech and in deeds. And when he had reaches the age of 40, he longed deeply in his heart to visit his brothers, the sons of Israel. And that was when, seeing one of them being seriously assaulted, he came to the man's rescue, and avenged him by slaying the Egyptian. He had supposed that his own kin would understand that God was giving them deliverance by his hand, but they did not understand this at all. And so, the next day when he appeared to them as they were quarrelling, he sought to resolve the dispute, saying, 'Fellows, you are brothers, why inflict injury on each other?' But the one wronging his neighbour thrust him aside, saying, 'Who then has made you to be the ruler and judge over us? Are you going to finish me off as you finished that Egyptian off yesterday?' With this retort Moses fled, becoming an exile in the land of Mid'ian, where (in time) he became father to two sons. (Acts 7:17-29/transliteration by Bruce C Wearne)

PHAROAH?: Ramses II is one of the most popular candidates for the pharoah who presided over the Exodus. PICTURE: Mira Pavlakovic/www.freeimages.com


IN A NUTSHELL

Stephen tells how God chose Moses to bring the promise to Abraham to fulfilment even after the Israelites rejected him.

Some of Stephen's accusers were originally from Egypt. The Synagogue of the Freedmen included Cyrenians and Alexandrians. Their accusations were serious. Stephen, they alleged, was not an authentic worshipper of the Almighty. He was not a true Jew. He did not give genuine respect to the Temple. His attitude to the Law of Moses was suspect. Or so they said.

But Stephen did not enter into a counter debate about the religious credentials of himself or of his accusers. He simply gave an account of Israel's story from Abraham, describing how Israel came into the story. God's people were to carry His promises for all mankind. And Stephen reminds his listeners that Moses, the lawgiver, was not raised in the temple but in Pharaoh's Egypt.


Baby Moses had been kept alive by a miracle, when Pharaoh's cunning ethnic cleansing policy was part of everyday life in that land. Moses grew up in the household of Pharaoh's daughter. But this Pharaoh did not recognise Joseph's honoured place and so Joseph's people no longer enjoyed the privileges that had been secured for them when they first came fleeing famine as a motley crew of seventy-five persons. Moses would continue Joseph's defence of his people in that foreign land, but even with a place in Pharaoh's household, his own people rejected him.


The punishment Moses had meted out on their behalf did not bring his own people's acceptance. To the contrary; his position became precarious. Moses had to flee and in the wilderness of Midian married and fathered two sons. It was there, in exile, that God Almighty discussed with Moses His tactics to deliver Israel from Egypt's slavery.

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