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engage in hard service in royal buildings, for which they had to make bricks. A subsequent king formed at last the horrible plan of killing all the male children who were born to the Hebrews, so that none but the daughters should be allowed to live. He commanded the Egyptians to take away from the Hebrew mothers all their male children as soon as they were born, and to cast them into the river.
AL this time an Israelitish woman pore a beautiful little boy. She hid him for three months with great difficulty; and when she could hide him no longer, she made a basket of bulrushes, and put the child into it, and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river Nile. Not long afterwards, the daughter of Pharaoh came to bathe in the Nile; and seeing the little ark among the reeds, she sent one of her maids to fetch it. And when it was opened, behold, there layin it a beautiful child, and it wept. “ This is one of the Hebrews' children,” said she, touched with compassion. Then came the sister of the little child, who was standing near, and said, “ Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?" "Yes, go," replied the princess. The girl runs and brings her mother. So the little child's own mother became the nurse for the king's daughter. And the princess afterwards took the child into her palace, and had him instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. She gave him the name of Moses; that is, “ drawn out of the water.”a
In the mean time, the oppression of the Israelites still went on. Moses grew up to manhood, and did not pass for an Israelite, but for a son of
Pharaoh's daughter. But he saw with grief the misery of his people, and their grievous oppression. One day he went out, and seeing an Egyptian smiting an Israelite, he went to the help of the injured party, and slew the Egyptian. He supposed that his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them ; but they understood not. When the king heard of this, Moses was obliged to flee, and went into the land of the Midianites, who were descendants of Abraham, dwelling in the wilderness by the Red Sea. At a well in this wilderness he defended seven daughters of Reuel, or Jethro, a priest of Midian, against the violence of some shepherds, who would not allow them to get water. By these means he became acquainted with Jethro, the father of the virgins, who was a prince among the Midianites, and a priest of God. He gave him one of his daughters, Zipporah, for his wife, and intrusted to him the care of his flocks. Thus the adopted son of a royal princess became a shepherd in a strange land, as his fathers had been. He kept the flocks of liis father-in-law, and had no longing after the splendour of the Egyptian palace.
MOSES BEFORE PHARAOH.
21. Moses was forty years of age when he fled out of Egypt; he lived forty years as a shepherd among the Midianites, and still the oppressions of the Israelites did not come to an end. One day, as he was keeping his flock in the wilderness by the mount of Horeb, he saw a bush burning with fire, and yet not consumed. When he turned aside to see it, a voice called to him out of the
bush : “ Moses, Moses.” And he said, Here am I.” The voice cried, “ Draw not nigh hither : put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” Moreover he said, “ I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Then Moses hid his face. And the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. Come now, therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” a
That was a great commission. And Moses said unto God, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt ?" And the Lord said, “Surely I will be with thee.” “But,” said Moses,
they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice : for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.” And the Lord said unto him, To What is that in thine hand ?” And he said, “A rod.” And the Lord said, “ Cast it on the ground." And Moses cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled before it. And the Lord said, “ Take it by the tail ;” and he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand. And the Lord said further to him, “ Put now thine hand into thy bosom.” And he did so; and when he took it out, behold, it was leprous as snow. And the Lord said, “ Put
thine hand into thy bosom again ;” and he did so, and it became again like his other flesh. “And it shall come to pass," said the Lord, “ if they will not believe these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land : and the water shall become blood upon the dry land.” And Moses said unto the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant : but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue." And the Lord said unto him, “Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind ? have not I the Lord ? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” And the Lord said further to him, “Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth : and he shall be thy spokesman unto the people.” b
And so it happened. Moses and Aaron gathered the elders of the people of Israel together, and told them that God would bring them out of Egypt. Then they went to the king and said, “ Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may
hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.” And Pharaoh said, “ Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go."
And from that day Pharaoh commanded that still heavier burdens should be laid upon the people than before. “ The Hebrews are too well off,” said he. “Ye shall no more give the people straw to make
• Exod. iv. 1-17.
brick, as heretofore : let them go and gather straw for themselves; and you shall require the same number of bricks as heretofore.”. Moses indeed performed the wonders with his rod before Pharaoh; but as the Egyptian magicians performed similar things with their enchantments, it made no impression upon him. When, therefore, Pharaoh would not hearken, God caused fearful wonders to be wrought in Egypt by Moses, and he sent one plague after another upon the people.
Aaron stretched out his rod over the river Nile, and its waters were changed into blood. For seven days the mighty stream flowed along all blood; so that no one could drink the water, and all the fish in the river died. That was the first plague. But Pharaoh still refused to let the people go.
Aaron then stretched forth his hand over the waters of Egypt; and frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt, and came into their houses, into their bed chambers, and upon their beds, and into their ovens, and into their kneading troughs. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “ Entreat the Lord, that he may
the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go.”d And Moses prayed unto the Lord, and the frogs all died in one day, so that they gathered them together in heaps; and the land stunk with them. But Pharaoh hardened his heart, and would not let the children of Israel go. A third plague must come.
Then Aaron stretched out his rod, and all the dust of the land became lice, which plagued both man and beast. The magicians said, “This is the
C Exod. v. 1-9.
d Exod. viii. 8-15.