Forty years had passed since Exodus 1, and Moses is now 40 years old. We do not know a great many specifics about his life, but there are a few historical tidbits that can be put together. From archaeological finds as well as some written histories, we know that Egypt was the greatest land of its day, the United States of America of that time.
Moses probably lived in the palace with his mother (Pharaoh's daughter), Pharaoh, and the rest of his family, for about 35 years. We can understand from this conjecture, that Moses had access to the cream of everything in Egypt. Being part of the Royal Family, if he rode out on a chariot, the people on the street bowed. He would have had the best. If Moses traveled down the Nile by barge, it was among the finest in Egypt.
When it came to education, he probably had the finest tutors available in the land. We know for sure, from written records, that they had a great university, in its time comparable in esteem to an Oxford or a Harvard today. He would have been instructed in astronomy, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, music, and art. The movie, The Ten Commandments, depicted this well. Undoubtedly, much of what he was taught was nothing more than sheer foolishness—just as much in our modern universities also teach a lot of foolishness. Nevertheless, the overall effect of what he learned filled him with knowledge and understanding that would stand him in good stead later.
In reading between the lines of Scripture, during his 35 years in the palace, Moses never really lost contact with the people of Israel and with his real family, even though Jochebed and Amram turned him over to Pharaoh's daughter. From time to time, he would have been able to visit with them. He would, then, have had access to the language, history, and expectations of Israel. His mind, to be used later by God, was being formed by being filled with knowledge.
Stephen says that he was "mighty in words and deeds." He became a statesman, representing Egypt to foreign peoples and leaders. Ancient historians say that he was a soldier. The years passed. But despite being prepared for high office in Egypt, the memories of his early childhood and his real parents—the knowledge that they were slaves and that his kinsmen were groaning in the brickyards—never left him.
A mind was being formed during those years. Please do not forget yourself in all of this. God has been dealing with us a great deal longer than our conversion, perhaps from our earliest years.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Conviction and Moses
The act that Moses did here was heroic. It was noble. At the same time, it was also foolish. It was heroic and noble in that he could have just given the Israelites money. Is not that what most of us do today when somebody is in trouble? Especially when we find trouble in the United States, what does the government do? They throw money at the problem and say, "Be healed. Be relieved. The oppression is over now because we threw money at you."
Moses could have done that because he was in a position to have funneled a great deal of money toward them from the treasuries of Egypt. Maybe, instead of giving them money, he could have relieved some of the oppression by using his influence within the hierarchy of Egypt to help those in government understand their plight and make life a bit easier on the Israelites. Perhaps he could have forbidden the taskmasters to beat them or require so much of them. But he did not do any of these things.
What did he do? Moses gave himself to their plight. He gave his life. He gave his all. That is the heroic and the noble aspect of his action. The foolish part is that there is no mention in Exodus, Acts, or anywhere else that he sought God about what he should do or when he should do it. This is an important point in terms of conviction. Because Moses did what he did—giving up all that he did, perhaps forsaking the possibility of taking over the throne of Egypt—he gave up all of his rights to his Egyptian heritage to cast his lot with slaves.
He did just the opposite of what Joseph did. Joseph went from a slave to the second-highest position in Egypt in a matter of hours. Moses went the other direction, from the top to the bottom. Yet, nowhere does it say that he sought God.
However, for a man to do that, he must have had some strong beliefs, strong feelings about what he was doing. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that a preference can be such a strong belief that one will actually give his life to doing something. Yet, it is not a conviction (by the Court's definition) but only a preference, and preferences are not protected by the Constitution of the United States. Only convictions are protected. Thus, this is important to us.
Did Moses have a preference or a conviction? We know that he had strong feelings, and he was moved to act on what he did. However, we also know from the lack of information in the Scriptures that he did not seek God.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Conviction, Moses and Us