Was it a Crime?

May 28, 2021

Scripture Resource Passage: Exodus 2:11–15

Moses steps into scene—center stage. We do not know his motivation. Perhaps he was aware of a longstanding mistreatment? Did he decide to set things right? We ask, “Has Moses divinely arrived for such a time as this?”

Today’s Scripture resource passage provides an entryway into God’s choosing. This is no sanitized version of a squeaky clean, pure-handed individual. God’s sovereign-emphatic-sacred selection of a man who brings death in his hands is startling. We should not idly ignore the blood splattered sand of Egypt. 

Moses is on a walk about, possibly investigating a construction project. The exact location is not described other than, “he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor” (Exodus 2:11). While watching the hard labor an Egyptian, possibly a supervisor, can be seen beating a Hebrew slave. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A flurry of unanswered questions as Scripture reports Moses killing the Egyptian. Murder? Manslaughter? Justifiable homicide? Hate crime? An act of rescue initiated by a Good Samaritan? 

Moses may have struck him many times. A crushing smash to the head might have been enough. Or, after being hit in the chest the man falls. Dropping, his head hits a sharp stone corner. A deadly encounter. Are you ready for the startling and holy transition?

Later, this same Moses will hear and act for God in ways unparalleled by others. Moses, the deadly-one, will be known as the Lawgiver. He will hand deliver the Law from God to the people (Exodus 19 and 20). 

Moses, with blood on his hands, called and appointed by God? Wait—what about the Egyptian who died? Was it murder? Attorney’s would ask: was this manslaughter, justifiable homicide or a hate crime? And of course we want to ask, “Is not this very act precisely what will be condemned in the words from Mt. Sinai, ‘thou shalt not murder’” (Exodus 20:13 KJV)? 

Scripture’s record offers no explanation. After reading this episode, disciples could be left confounded as again, God’s sovereignty is worked out before us. 

Life Application

  • How does the behavior of Moses compare to that of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)?
  • Exodus 2 captures two moments of violence, one of which results in death. Disciples humbly pray asking, “What are we to do with this Moses story?” When asking myself this question memory stirs within and a specific reference resides in my mind. Check it out, if you are so inclined–Romans 11:33-36.

I look forward to reading your comments and suggestions.

Published by Andrew Simkins

Dr. Andrew Simkins provides spiritual direction for individuals and small groups through the regular blog posts found on this site. He resides in northwest Indiana with his beloved, along with nearby children and grandchildren who are the adornment of his life.

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