Acts 7:17–29 (NA28)
17Καθὼς δὲ ἤγγιζεν ὁ χρόνος τῆς ἐπαγγελίας ἧς ὡμολόγησεν ὁ θεὸς τῷ Ἀβραάμ, ηὔξησεν ὁ λαὸς καὶ ἐπληθύνθη ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ
But as the time of the promise God had made to Abraham was drawing near the people increased and multiplied in Egypt
Exodus 1:7 (BHS/WIVU)
7וּבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל פָּר֧וּ וַֽיִּשְׁרְצ֛וּ וַיִּרְבּ֥וּ וַיַּֽעַצְמ֖וּ בִּמְאֹ֣ד מְאֹ֑ד וַתִּמָּלֵ֥א הָאָ֖רֶץ אֹתָֽם׃ פ
And the children of Israel they were fruitful and they multiplied and they were many and they were very numerous and the land was filled with them
18ἄχρι οὗ ἀνέστη βασιλεὺς ἕτερος [ἐπʼ Αἴγυπτον] ὃς οὐκ ᾔδει τὸν Ἰωσήφ.
Until another king over Egypt arose, who did not know Joseph
Exodus 1:8 (BHS/WIVU)
8וַיָּ֥קָם מֶֽלֶךְ־חָדָ֖שׁ עַל־מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־יָדַ֖ע אֶת־יוֹסֵֽף׃
And a new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph
19οὗτος κατασοφισάμενος τὸ γένος ἡμῶν ἐκάκωσεν τοὺς πατέρας [ἡμῶν] τοῦ ποιεῖν τὰ βρέφη ἔκθετα αὐτῶν εἰς τὸ μὴ ζῳογονεῖσθαι.
This man deceitfully took advantage of our people (and) mistreated our ancestors making their infants be abandoned so that they would not be kept alive
20Ἐν ᾧ καιρῷ ἐγεννήθη Μωϋσῆς καὶ ἦν ἀστεῖος τῷ θεῷ· ὃς ἀνετράφη μῆνας τρεῖς ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ τοῦ πατρός,
At this time Moses was born and he was beautiful to God. Who was brought up three months in the house of his father
- Exceeding fair (ἀστειος τῳ θεῳ [asteios tōi theōi]). Ethical dative, fair to God (as God looked at him). Ἀστειος [Asteios] is from ἀστυ [astu], city, and so means “of the city,” with city manners and polish. Old word, only twice in the N. T. (here and Heb. 11:23) and both times about Moses and taken from Ex. 2:2. He was nourished (ἀνετραφη [anetraphē]). Second aorist passive indicative of ἀνατρεφω [anatrephō]. He was brought up at home for three months in defiance of the new Pharaoh.
21ἐκτεθέντος δὲ αὐτοῦ ἀνείλατο αὐτὸν ἡ θυγάτηρ Φαραὼ καὶ ἀνεθρέψατο αὐτὸν ἑαυτῇ εἰς υἱόν.
And when he was abandoned the daughter of Pharaoh took him and brought him to herself for a son
- When he was cast out (ἐκτεθεντος αὐτου [ektethentos autou]). Genitive absolute with first aorist passive participle of ἐκτιθημι [ektithēmi]. Took up (ἀνειλατο [aneilato]). Second aorist middle indicative (with first aorist vowel α [a] instead of ε [e] as often in the Koiné) of ἀναιρεω [anaireō], common in the N. T. in the sense of take up and make away with, to kill as in verse 28, but here only in the N. T. in the original sense of taking up from the ground and with the middle voice (for oneself). Quoted here from Ex. 2:5. The word was used of old for picking up exposed children as here. Vincent quotes Aristophanes (Clouds, 531): “I exposed (the child), and some other women, having taken it, adopted (ἀνειλετο [aneileto]) it.” Vulgate has sustulit. “Adopted” is the idea here. “After the birth of a child the father took it up to his bosom, if he meant to rear it; otherwise it was doomed to perish” (Hackett). Nourished him for her own son (ἀνεθρεψατο αὐτον ἑαυτῃ εἰς υἱον [anethrepsato auton heautēi eis huion]). Literally, “she nursed him up for herself (ἑαυτῃ [heautēi] besides middle voice) as a son.” This use of εἰς [eis]=as occurs in the old Greek, but is very common in the LXX as a translation of the Hebrew le [lə; לְ]. The tradition is that she designed Moses for the throne as the Pharaoh had no son (Josephus, Ant. ii. 9, 7).
22καὶ ἐπαιδεύθη Μωϋσῆς [ἐν] πάσῃ σοφίᾳ Αἰγυπτίων, ἦν δὲ δυνατὸς ἐν λόγοις καὶ ἔργοις αὐτοῦ.
And Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was powerful in words and his deeds
- If Israel’s fathers enjoyed relative prosperity in the early days of their Egyptian sojourn, all that changed radically with the coming of a new king in Egypt, who was greatly alarmed at the ever-increasing numbers of Israelites (vv. 17–18). The new king did not “know” Joseph (cf. Exod 1:10–11). The new king “dealt treacherously” with the Israelites, enslaving them in forced labor and compelling them to “expose”54 their children. Stephen greatly reduced the story of Moses’ rescue, certain that the Sanhedrin members were familiar with it already, and focused on the essentials. Hidden for three months in his father’s household and finally exposed when he could no longer be kept secret, Moses was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and reared as her own son (vv. 20–21). Moses is described as being “beautiful to God” (author’s translation; the NIV translates “no ordinary child”), a description that prepares us early for his role as God’s chosen deliverer of his people. Moses was thoroughly trained in all the wisdom of Egypt (7:22).
- Moses now comes on the scene, and his life is treated in three parts, corresponding to each of the three periods of forty years that made up his life (see verse 23). The first period is that of his early life in Egypt. The description is given in terms of a formal threefold pattern and deals with his birth, his early upbringing and his education (see 22:3 and note). When he was born, he was a comely child (Exod. 2:2; Heb. 11:23). The addition before God may mean that he found favour with God (cf. 23:1) or it may reflect a Hebrew idiom and simply mean that he was a very fine child (cf. Jon. 3:3). After resisting the decree that they must expose their infants for three months, his parents eventually did so, but the child was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter who brought him up (Exod. 2:1–10). Although the Old Testament does not expressly relate it, Stephen follows the tradition, attested in Philo, that Moses would naturally be given a thorough Egyptian education. The statement that he was mighty in his words and deeds (cf. Luke 24:19 of Jesus) may seem to conflict with Exodus 4:10, but we should not attach too much factual accuracy to Moses’ own self-depreciatory remarks which were little more than a pretext for avoiding a task that he did not wish to undertake.
23Ὡς δὲ ἐπληροῦτο αὐτῷ τεσσερακονταετὴς χρόνος, ἀνέβη ἐπὶ τὴν καρδίαν αὐτοῦ ἐπισκέψασθαι τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ τοὺς υἱοὺς Ἰσραήλ.
But when a period of forty years was fulfilled for him it entered in his heart to visit his brothers the sons of Israel
- An unknown number of years in Exodus. This could be coming from rabbinical teachings (prob) or perhaps the Holy Spirit
24καὶ ἰδών τινα ἀδικούμενον ἠμύνατο καὶ ἐποίησεν ἐκδίκησιν τῷ καταπονουμένῳ πατάξας τὸν Αἰγύπτιον.
And when he saw one of them being unjustly harmed he defended (him) and produced vengence for the one who had been oppressed by striking down the Egyptian
- See Exodus
25ἐνόμιζεν δὲ συνιέναι τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς [αὐτοῦ] ὅτι ὁ θεὸς διὰ χειρὸς αὐτοῦ δίδωσιν σωτηρίαν αὐτοῖς· οἱ δὲ οὐ συνῆκαν.
And he thought his brothers would understand that God by his hand was granting deliverance to them but they did not understand
- Exodus does not mention God in the account. Stephen, under the guidance of the Spirit, is perhaps relating how Moses is rejected in a manner such that Christ is also rejected by them, the Sandhedrin
- A crisis in the life of Moses came when he was forty years old. The age of Moses at this point is not given in the Old Testament, but Stephen’s statement agrees with the opinion of some of the Jewish rabbis; the figure, therefore, is probably meant to be taken simply as a round number. ‘Forty’ was the age at which a person had ‘grown up’ (Exod. 2:11). Similarly, the Old Testament says nothing about Moses deciding to go and visit his fellow countrymen, although this is a natural inference from the story (Exod. 2:11). The choice of words may be meant to imply that the thought was implanted in Moses’ mind by God, and that the thought was one of positive concern for the Israelites. This concern expressed itself in attacking and killing an Egyptian who was oppressing one of the Israelites. According to the Old Testament story Moses hid the body in the sand and did not want anybody to know what he had done. This must have been interpreted by Stephen in terms of his not wanting anybody hostile to know what had happened and report the incident to the authorities (cf. Exod. 2:14). For Moses’ hope, as interpreted by Stephen, was that the Israelites might recognize that they had a friend and ally in an influential position through whom God would bring them salvation, i.e. deliverance from their unfortunate plight as slaves. Luke would undoubtedly expect his Christian readers to see here a parallel between Moses and Jesus as the saviours of God’s people, whether or not Stephen’s hearers would catch the point: the behaviour of the Jews in refusing to recognize Jesus as Saviour was of a piece with their earlier rejection of Moses (7:52).
26τῇ τε ἐπιούσῃ ἡμέρᾳ ὤφθη αὐτοῖς μαχομένοις καὶ συνήλλασσεν αὐτοὺς εἰς εἰρήνην εἰπών· ἄνδρες, ἀδελφοί ἐστε· ἱνατί ἀδικεῖτε ἀλλήλους;
And on the following day he made an appearance to them while they were fighting and (he) was attempting to reconcile them in peace saying, “men, brothers why are you doing wrong to one another?”
27ὁ δὲ ἀδικῶν τὸν πλησίον ἀπώσατο αὐτὸν εἰπών· τίς σε κατέστησεν ἄρχοντα καὶ δικαστὴν ἐφʼ ἡμῶν;
But the one who was doing wrong to his neighbor pushed him (aside?) saying, “who appointed you a ruler and a judge over us?”
28μὴ ἀνελεῖν με σὺ θέλεις ὃν τρόπον ἀνεῖλες ἐχθὲς τὸν Αἰγύπτιον;
Do you not want to do away with me in the manner in which you did away with the Egyptian yesterday
29ἔφυγεν δὲ Μωϋσῆς ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ καὶ ἐγένετο πάροικος ἐν γῇ Μαδιάμ, οὗ ἐγέννησεν υἱοὺς δύο.
And Moses fled at this statement, and became a foreigner in the land of Midian where he became the father of two sons
- The incident was immediately followed by another one, which confirmed Stephen’s interpretation of it. When Moses discovered them (i.e. the Israelites) quarrelling with one another, he tried to reconcile them by appealing to them to behave as brothers. Here Stephen generalizes the Old Testament account which is narrated in terms of Moses taking the side of an oppressed man and chiding his oppressor (Exod. 2:13). Stephen’s way of putting it emphasizes the activity of Moses as a reconciler. But his efforts were in vain; the wrongdoer vehemently attacked him for setting himself up as a ruler and a judge (Exod. 2:14), thus failing to realize that it was God who had so appointed him. His hostile awareness that Moses had slain the Egyptian constituted an implicit threat to him, and so Moses judged it expedient to flee the country (and the wrath of Pharaoh, Exod. 2:15) and become an exile in Midian. Here he settled down long enough to raise a family (Exod. 2:21f.; 18:3f.).