Egyptians and Hebrews

When Moses was grown he killed an Egyptian who was beating an Hebrew and buried him in the sand. The next day Moses intervened between two Hebrews who were quarreling. The numbers point to another pair of quarreling Hebrews and an Egyptian who was also buried in the sand.

Exodus 2:11-14

11It came to pass in those days Moses grew and went out among his brothers and saw their oppression. H Acts 7:23 H Hebrews 11:24 He saw a Mizraim man beating a Hebrew man from his brothers from the children of Israel. 12He looked this way and that way and when he saw that there was no man watching he killed the Mizraim and hid him in the sand. H Acts 7:24 Exodus 2:11-1213He went out the next day and looked and saw 2 Hebrew men were quarreling together. He said to him who did the wrong, Why do you beat your fellow? Q Acts 7:26 A Matthew 5:9 Exodus 2:1314He replied, Who made you a great man and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Mizraim yesterday? Q Acts 7:27-28 Q Acts 7:35 Exodus 2:14aMoses was afraid and said, Surely this thing is known. Exodus 2:14b (Exodus 2:11-14 BRB)


2+2 = 4 = Numbers


The book of Numbers is about two generations. The first generation are those who left Egypt as adults. The second generation are those who were kids when they left Egypt and those who were born during the 40 years in the wilderness. The first generation makes up the census count at the beginning of the book of Numbers and the second generation makes up the census count near the end of the book. Between the two census counts every single person in the first generation, except Joshua and Caleb and a few others, die and are buried in the sand.

The two stories in Exodus are actually the same story, which is why they are given back to back. They can be overlayed for comparison.

First Story (Exodus 2:11-12)
Egyptian who fights Hebrew and is killed and buried in the sand by Moses. Hebrew who is rescued.
Second Story (Exodus 2:13-14)
Hebrew who wrongly quarrels with his fellow Hebrew and resists Moses. Hebrew who is vindicated.

When the stories are overlayed the identity of the fighters is that 1 is Egyptian/Hebrew and 1 is Hebrew. Interesting. The two generations in the book of Numbers resemble that. The first generation is Hebrew, but they are Hebrews who only know Egypt and are therefore Egyptian. The second generation, still young and impressionable when they left Egypt, or not born yet, are just Hebrews. Their only frame of reference are the miracles, the encounter at the mountain, the commandments, Moses, etc. They weren't old enough to be fully formed around life in Egypt.

In the wilderness the first generation is put to death more or less naturally by Yahvah and buried by Moses and the community. This is the killing and hiding of the Egyptian in the sand. The surviving generation is the Hebrew Moses rescued from the Egyptian.

(Note that Moses was replaying events on different scales at different points in his lifetime. First he killed and buried the individual Egyptian and then he did the same with the Egyptian generation. He also rescued the individual Hebrew and then did the same with the Hebrew generation.)

The other story in the pair says that two Hebrews were quarreling. One of them was in the wrong and resisted Moses when he tried to intervene. This also fits the pattern in Numbers.

The book of Numbers has a number of stories where there's quarreling. There's quarreling over food and water, there's quarreling over Moses' wife, there's quarreling over who should be in charge, but the passage that defines the book and seems to be the best match with the story in Exodus is the story where the first generation dooms the second to 40 years in the wilderness by quarreling over whether to go up and take the land.

25They returned from spying out the land after 40 days. 26They came to Moses FE and Aaron and to all the assembly of the children of Israel FE to the wilderness of Paran to Rakem. They brought back word to them and to all the assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. FE 27They related to Moses and said, We went to the land to which you sent us. Surely it flows with milk and honey and this is the fruit of it. 28The people who live in the land are strong and the cities are fortified and very great and also we saw the children of Anak there. 29The Amalekites live in the land of the south and the Hethites and the Jebusites and the Amorites live in the mountains and the Canaanites live by the sea and by the banks of the Jordan. Numbers 13:25-2930Then Caleb stilled the people before Moses and said, Let us go up at once and inherit it for we are well able to overcome it. Numbers 13:3031The men who went up with him said, We are not able to go up against the people for they are stronger than we. Numbers 13:3132They brought to the children of Israel an evil report of the land which they had spied out saying, The land through which we have gone to spy out is a land that devours its inhabitants and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. FE 33We saw giants there, the children of Anak from the giants. We were in their sight like grasshoppers and so we were in their eyes. Numbers 13:32-33 1Then all the assembly was in commotion and lifted up their voices and cried and the people wept that night. 2All the children of Israel murmured against Moses FE and against Aaron and all the assembly said FE to them, Would god we had died in the land of Mizraim or would god we had died in this wilderness. 3Why has the Master brought us into this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and our little ones should be prey? We were better off when we lived in Mizraim. Numbers 14:1-34They said to each other, Let us make to ourselves a head and we will return to Mizraim. Numbers 14:4FE 5Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembled of the assembly of the children of Israel. 6Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh from the spies of the land tore their clothes. 7They said to all the assembly of the children of Israel, The land through which we passed to spy is a very good land. 8If the Master delights in us he will bring us to this land and give this land to us FE that flows with milk and honey. 9Only do not rebel against the Master nor be afraid from the people of the land, because they are our bread, for their strength has passed from them and the Master is with us. You will not be afraid from them. Numbers 14:5-910The whole assembly said to stone them with stones. A Hebrews 12:3 FE The glory of the Master appeared in the cloud in the tent of time before all the children of Israel. 11The Master said to Moses, FE How long will this people provoke me? How long will they not believe me, for all the signs which I have done among them? 12I will strike them with pestilence, and destroy them, and I will make you a people which is greater and mightier than they. Numbers 14:10-1213Moses said to the Master, Then the Mizraim will hear it, for you brought up this people in your might from among them, 14and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land, for they have heard that the Master is in the middle of this people, that the Master is seen face to face, and that your cloud stands over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15If you will kill all this people as 1 man, then the peoples who have heard the fame of you will say, 16Because the Master was not able to bring this people into the land which he swore to them, therefore he has slain them in the wilderness. Numbers 14:13-1617Now let your power, master, be great as you spoke saying, 18The Master is long-suffering and of great mercy, and you forgive iniquity and transgression, by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and on the children's children to the 3rd and 4th generation. 19Pardon the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your mercy, as you have forgiven them from Mizraim even until now. Numbers 14:17-1920The Master said to Moses, I have forgiven them according to your word, 21but as truly as I live the whole land will be filled with the glory of the Master. 22Yet all the men who have seen my glory and the signs which I did in Mizraim and in the wilderness have tempted me now these 10 times, and have not listened to my voice; 23surely they will not see the land which I swore to their fathers, neither will any of those who provoked me see it; 24but my servant Caleb, because he has my spirit with him and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went; and his seed will inherit it. 25The Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the mountains. Tomorrow turn and set out for the wilderness by the way of the sea of Reeds. Numbers 14:20-25 (Numbers 13:25-14:25 BRB)

The first generation, the Egyptian, clings to the bad report instead of trusting Yahvah's direction to take the land. They begin to, well, quarrel, over what to do. They want to elect a new leader and go back to Egypt. Their Egyptian-ness is showing.

Ironically, their argument for not going up, but returning to Egypt, is that they want to make life better for their kids. But they are wrong, or deceived. If they wanted to make life better for their kids, if they wanted out of the wilderness, they needed to go up and take the land just as Yahvah had told them. Instead they would rather go back to Egypt and place their kids into a life of slavery. They're hiding their own fears of going up behind "what's best for the kids." Yahvah sees their duplicity and says:

27How long will this wicked assembly murmur in my presence? I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel which they murmur in my presence. 28Say to them, The Master says, As I live, as you spoke in my presence, so I will do to you. 29Your corpses will fall in this wilderness and all that were numbered of you according to your whole number from 20 years old and upward, because you have murmured against me. 30You will not come into the land concerning which I swore to make you live except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31Your little ones who you said would become prey and your children who today do not know good and evil will enter into the land and I will bring them there and they will know the land which you have despised. 32As for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. 33Your children will be shepherds 40 years in this wilderness H Acts 7:36 and will suffer for your prostitution until your corpses are consumed in this wilderness. H Jude 1:5 A 2 Corinthians 6:5 34According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, even 40 days, a year for each day, you will suffer for your iniquities, 40 years A Hebrews 12:2 FE , then you will know that it is because you have murmured before me. 35I the Master have said, I will surely do it to all this evil assembly that are gathered together before me. In this wilderness they will be consumed and there they will die. (Numbers 14:27-35 BRB)

Because the adults, the first generation, choose not to obey and go up to Canaan, but quarreled over the word, they doomed their kids to life in the wilderness. The young were not in the wrong. The young were not thinking like Egyptians. They would have gone up, and eventually did. But the first generation, the Egyptian, wronged his fellow Hebrew, beat him down and enslaved him to a lifetime in the wilderness. But the Hebrew had the final word. He was vindicated, and rescued, when the Egyptian died and could no longer interfere.