Exception-al Hebrew

Have you ever known someone for whom the normal rules of humanity don’t seem to apply? It’s not necessarily that they get special privileges, as much as they seem to be able to escape the consequences. The ones I find most frustrating are those who aren’t doing it intentionally, they are mostly oblivious to the incongruity.

Moses is one of those, sort of. He is supposed to die as a Hebrew boy as soon as he is born. The Egyptians are supposed to throw him into the Nile, possibly feed him to Nile crocodiles. And yet, instead, he is placed in a basket, and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. Now, keep in mind, this whole time, everyone knows he is a Hebrew, and that he’s escaping the normal fate of other Hebrew boys:

The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her maidens walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid, and she brought it to her. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”

Exodus 2:5-6 NASB

An exception is made for Moses, almost immediately. He is a Hebrew boy who is allowed to live, and allowed by the very people killing all the rest. It’s obvious, but it’s not fair. Not is it obviously not fair, but both Hebrews and Egyptians seem okay with this. So, it is doubly not fair. Not to add insult to injury, but the Creator of the universe is also okay with it, so perhaps it becomes triply unfair. Yet, this exception to the rule is part of His purpose.

It’s possible that if this were the only exception Moses receives, it would be merely interesting, but not obnoxious. The exceptions don’t stop here. Remember that everyone knew he was a Hebrew? It wasn’t like Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments, it was a well known fact that Moses wasn’t an Egyptian. Notice the entire absence of any “discovery” by Moses in the passage below:

Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. And she named him Moses, and said, “Because I drew him out of the water.” Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.

Exodus 2:9-11 NASB

These paranoid Egyptians, who want to subjugate the Hebrews for national security reasons, then allow an entitled one of their own to move among them. So, what happened to the national security issue? It seems an exception was made to their paranoid policy in the case of Moses. Perhaps these Egyptians figured they had “bought Moses off” with the riches of his entitled adoption as “grandson of Pharaoh”. But it’s clear they hadn’t “bought him off” at all. Moses commits murder on behalf of his people, leading to another exception.

He went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, “Why are you striking your companion?” But he said, “Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and said, “Surely the matter has become known.” When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well.

Exodus 2:13-15 NASB

Here Moses intercedes, knowing which one of the two is the offender. That’s the first surprise, but the second is the extortion used by the offender (making him truly offensive – pun intended). He knows Moses killed the Egyptian, and uses that knowledge against this powerful grandson of Pharaoh. But notice Moses notices the matter has become known, but doesn’t run until Pharaoh finds out. Did you miss the “exception”?

It can’t be that only this offensive Hebrew knew of the death of the Egyptian. The Hebrews apparently knew, but said nothing. Were they hoping that Moses would do more? Were they waiting to see if he would lead them against Egyptians? We don’t know why only that they made an exception in the case of Moses, and didn’t inform their task masters about him.

Well, obviously, the secret eventually was made known to Pharaoh, and he sought to kill Moses, and Moses flees (again, not so much like the movie). Which leads to the next exception. Why wasn’t Moses pursued? I’m pretty sure the paranoid Egyptians wouldn’t tolerate a loose murder from the Hebrews being allowed to roam free. And yet, they do, and he does. And the exceptions are allowed to continue. Only the next one isn’t necessarily in his favor.

Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came to draw water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them and watered their flock. When they came to Reuel their father, he said, “Why have you come back so soon today?” So they said, “An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock.” He said to his daughters, “Where is he then? Why is it that you have left the man behind? Invite him to have something to eat.”

Exodus 2:16-20 NASB

It seems the heroic Moses was left behind by the very people he helped…again. First the Hebrews sell him out, meaning he has to flee. And then the daughters of the priest of Midian leave him behind after he defends them, and waters their sheep. It seems that sometimes exceptions don’t always work in our favor. Some consequences are good, and sometimes those consequences are excepted as well.

Hopefully the lesson here becomes obvious to us. In the economy of our Master, we don’t always get the consequences of our actions, good or bad. Grace works in God’s favor, for it is His favor that grace contains. In so many ways, we too are exceptional, in that we receive exceptions to the normal rules from our Master. It’s not that everyone is okay with that, but that we become okay with it, both as we discover it about ourselves, but also as we find it in others.

And, to continue the application, we are to treat others with the same exceptions we receive from our Savior. His mercy and His grace we so freely receive from Him, this becomes the content of our communion with our fellow disciples. Sometimes these exceptions work in our favor, and sometimes, we need to let our Master define the favor for us. And so, our fellow disciples may misunderstand us, and we may suffer for the good we do them. This too becomes an exception we receive from the hand of our Master, who was also misunderstood, and suffered at their hands.

Who is more exceptional than our Savior, He who gathers plain people and makes exceptions for them, transforming them into exceptional people? Pretty crazy, huh? Or is it just extraordinarily exceptional?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation


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