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Exodus 2:3

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

An ark of bulrushes - גמא תבת tebath gome, a small boat or basket made of the Egyptian reed called papyrus, so famous in all antiquity. This plant grows on the banks of the Nile, and in marshy grounds; the stalk rises to the height of six or seven cubits above the water, is triangular, and terminates in a crown of small filaments resembling hair, which the ancients used to compare to a thyrsus. This reed was of the greatest use to the inhabitants of Egypt, the pith contained in the stalk serving them for food, and the woody part to build vessels with; which vessels frequently appear on engraved stones and other monuments of Egyptian antiquity. For this purpose they made it up like rushes into bundles, and by tying them together gave their vessels the necessary figure and solidity. "The vessels of bulrushes or papyrus," says Dr. Shaw, "were no other than large fabrics of the same kind with that of Moses, Exodus 2:3, which from the late introduction of planks and stronger materials are now laid aside." Thus Pliny, lib. vi., cap. 16, takes notice of the naves papyraceas armamentaque Nili, "ships made of papyrus and the equipments of the Nile:" and lib. xiii., cap. 11, he observes, Exodus ipsa quidem papyro navigia texunt: "Of the papyrus itself they construct sailing vessels." Herodotus and Diodorus have recorded the same fact; and among the poets, Lucan, lib. iv., ver. 136: Conseritur bibula Memphitis cymba papyro, "The Memphian or Egyptian boat is constructed from the soaking papyrus." The epithet bibula is particularly remarkable, as corresponding with great exactness to the nature of the plant, and to its Hebrew name גמא gome, which signifies to soak, to drink up. See Parkhurst sub voce.

She laid it in the flags - Not willing to trust it in the stream for fear of a disaster; and probably choosing the place to which the Egyptian princess was accustomed to come for the purpose specified in the note on the following verse.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The ark was made of the papyrus which was commonly used by the Egyptians for light and swift boats. The species is no longer found in the Nile below Nubia. It is a strong rush, like the bamboo, about the thickness of a finger, three cornered, and attains the height of 10 to 15 feet. It is represented with great accuracy on the most ancient monuments of Egypt.

Slime and pitch - The “slime” is probably the mud, of which bricks were usually made in Egypt, and which in this case was used to bind the stalks of the papyrus into a compact mass, and perhaps also to make the surface smooth for the infant. The pitch or bitumen, commonly used in Egypt, made the small vessel water-tight.

In the flags - This is another species of the papyrus, called tuff, or sufi (an exact equivalent of the Hebrew סוּף sûph ), which was less in size and height than the rush of which the ark was made.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Observe the order of Providence: just at the time when Pharaoh's cruelty rose to its height by ordering the Hebrew children to be drowned, the deliverer was born. When men are contriving the ruin of the church, God is preparing for its salvation. The parents of Moses saw he was a goodly child. A lively faith can take encouragement from the least hint of the Divine favour. It is said, Heb 11:23, that the parents of Moses hid him by faith; they had the promise that Israel should be preserved, which they relied upon. Faith in God's promise quickens to the use of lawful means for obtaining mercy. Duty is ours, events are God's. Faith in God will set us above the fear of man. At three months' end, when they could not hide the infant any longer, they put him in an ark of bulrushes by the river's brink, and set his sister to watch. And if the weak affection of a mother were thus careful, what shall we think of Him, whose love, whose compassion is, as himself, boundless. Moses never had a stronger protection about him, no, not when all the Israelites were round his tent in the wilderness, than now, when he lay alone, a helpless babe upon the waves. No water, no Egyptian can hurt him. When we seem most neglected and forlorn, God is most present with us.
Ellen G. White
Education, 61-2

The lesson is for all. None can know what may be God's purpose in His discipline; but all may be certain that faithfulness in little things is the evidence of fitness for greater responsibilities. Every act of life is a revelation of character, and he only who in small duties proves himself “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed” (2 Timothy 2:15) will be honored by God with weightier trusts. Ed 61.1

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 96

Such was the training of Moses in the lowly cabin home in Goshen; of Samuel, by the faithful Hannah; of David, in the hill-dwelling at Bethlehem; of Daniel, before the scenes of the captivity separated him from the home of his fathers. Such, too, was the early life of Christ, in the humble home at Nazareth; such the training by which the child Timothy learned from the lips of his mother Eunice, and his grandmother Lois, the truths of Holy Writ. FE 96.1

Further provision was made for the instruction of the young, by the establishment of the “school of the prophets.” If a youth was eager to obtain a better knowledge of the Scriptures, to search deeper into the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and to seek wisdom from above, that he might become a teacher in Israel, this school was open to him. FE 96.2

By Samuel the schools of the prophets were established to serve as a barrier against the widespread corruption resulting from the iniquitous course of Eli's sons, and to promote the moral and spiritual welfare of the people. These schools proved a great blessing to Israel, promoting that righteousness which exalteth a nation, and furnishing it with men qualified to act, in the fear of God, as leaders and counselors. In the accomplishment of this object, Samuel gathered companies of young men who were pious, intelligent and studious. These were called the sons of the prophets. The instructors were men not only versed in divine truth, but those who had themselves enjoyed communion with God, and had received the special endowment of His Spirit. They enjoyed the respect and confidence of the people, both for learning and piety. FE 96.3

In Samuel's day there were two of these schools,—one at Ramah, the home of the prophet, and the other at Kirjath-jearim, where the ark then was. Two were added in Elijah's time, at Jericho and Bethel, and others were afterward established at Samaria and Gilgal. FE 96.4

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Ellen G. White
The Ministry of Healing, 372

Especially does responsibility rest upon the mother. She, by whose lifeblood the child is nourished and its physical frame built up, imparts to it also mental and spiritual influences that tend to the shaping of mind and character. It was Jochebed, the Hebrew mother, who, strong in faith, was “not afraid of the king's commandment” (Hebrews 11:23), of whom was born Moses, the deliverer of Israel. It was Hannah, the woman of prayer and self-sacrifice and heavenly inspiration, who gave birth to Samuel, the heaven-instructed child, the incorruptible judge, the founder of Israel's sacred schools. It was Elizabeth the kinswoman and kindred spirit of Mary of Nazareth, who was the mother of the Saviour's herald. MH 372.1

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 382

A strong wind blowing from the sea now brought flocks of quails, “about a day's journey on this side, and a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and about two cubits above the face of the earth.” Numbers 11:31, R.V. All that day and night, and the following day, the people labored in gathering the food miraculously provided. Immense quantities were secured. “He that gathered least gathered ten homers.” All that was not needed for present use was preserved by drying, so that the supply, as promised, was sufficient for a whole month. PP 382.1

God gave the people that which was not for their highest good, because they persisted in desiring it; they would not be satisfied with those things that would prove a benefit to them. Their rebellious desires were gratified, but they were left to suffer the result. They feasted without restraint, and their excesses were speedily punished. “The Lord smote the people with a very great plague.” Large numbers were cut down by burning fevers, while the most guilty among them were smitten as soon as they tasted the food for which they had lusted. PP 382.2

At Hazeroth, the next encampment after leaving Taberah, a still more bitter trial awaited Moses. Aaron and Miriam had occupied a position of high honor and leadership in Israel. Both were endowed with the prophetic gift, and both had been divinely associated with Moses in the deliverance of the Hebrews. “I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam” (Micah 6:4), are the words of the Lord by the prophet Micah. Miriam's force of character had been early displayed when as a child she watched beside the Nile the little basket in which was hidden the infant Moses. Her self-control and tact God had made instrumental in preserving the deliverer of His people. Richly endowed with the gifts of poetry and music, Miriam had led the women of Israel in song and dance on the shore of the Red Sea. In the affections of the people and the honor of Heaven she stood second only to Moses and Aaron. But the same evil that first brought discord in heaven sprang up in the heart of this woman of Israel, and she did not fail to find a sympathizer in her dissatisfaction. PP 382.3

In the appointment of the seventy elders Miriam and Aaron had not been consulted, and their jealousy was excited against Moses. At the time of Jethro's visit, while the Israelites were on the way to Sinai, the ready acceptance by Moses of the counsel of his father-in-law had aroused in Aaron and Miriam a fear that his influence with the great leader exceeded theirs. In the organization of the council of elders they felt that their position and authority had been ignored. Miriam and Aaron had never known the weight of care and responsibility which had rested upon Moses; yet because they had been chosen to aid him they regarded themselves as sharing equally with him the burden of leadership, and they regarded the appointment of further assistants as uncalled for. PP 382.4

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 592

The Lord Himself directed the education of Israel. His care was not restricted to their religious interests; whatever affected their mental or physical well-being was also the subject of divine providence, and came within the sphere of divine law. PP 592.1

God had commanded the Hebrews to teach their children His requirements and to make them acquainted with all His dealings with their fathers. This was one of the special duties of every parent—one that was not to be delegated to another. In the place of stranger lips the loving hearts of the father and mother were to give instruction to their children. Thoughts of God were to be associated with all the events of daily life. The mighty works of God in the deliverance of His people and the promises of the Redeemer to come were to be often recounted in the homes of Israel; and the use of figures and symbols caused the lessons given to be more firmly fixed in the memory. The great truths of God's providence and of the future life were impressed on the young mind. It was trained to see God alike in the scenes of nature and the words of revelation. The stars of heaven, the trees and flowers of the field, the lofty mountains, the rippling brooks—all spoke of the Creator. The solemn service of sacrifice and worship at the sanctuary and the utterances of the prophets were a revelation of God. PP 592.2

Such was the training of Moses in the lowly cabin home in Goshen; of Samuel, by the faithful Hannah; of David, in the hill dwelling at Bethlehem; of Daniel, before the scenes of the captivity separated him from the home of his fathers. Such, too, was the early life of Christ at Nazareth; such the training by which the child Timothy learned from the lips of his grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15), the truths of Holy Writ. PP 592.3

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 180-3

When this cruel decree was in full force, Moses was born. His mother hid him as long as she could with any safety, and then prepared a little vessel of bulrushes, making it secure with pitch, that no water might enter the little ark, and placed it at the edge of the water, while his sister should be lingering around the water, with apparent indifference. She was anxiously watching to see what would become of her little brother. Angels were also watching that no harm should come to the helpless infant, which had been placed there by an affectionate mother, and committed to the care of God by her earnest prayers mingled with tears. And these angels directed the footsteps of Pharaoh's daughter to the river, near the very spot where lay the innocent little stranger. Her attention was attracted to the little strange vessel, and she sent one of her waiting-maids to fetch it to her. And when she had removed the cover of this singularly constructed little vessel, she saw a lovely babe, “and, behold, the babe wept, and she had compassion on him.” She knew that a tender Hebrew mother had taken this singular means to preserve the life of her much loved babe, and she decided at once that it should be her son. The sister of Moses immediately came forward and inquired, “Shall I go, and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go.” 3SG 180.1

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Ellen G. White
The Story of Redemption, 106-8

The women dared not murder the Hebrew children, and because they obeyed not the command of the king, the Lord prospered them. As the king of Egypt was informed that his command had not been obeyed, he was very angry. He then made his command more urgent and extensive. He charged all his people to keep a strict watch, saying, “Every son that is born in Egypt ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.” SR 106.1

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