Moses: A Divine Phenomenon

Moshe Ben-Chaim

Unfortunately, we are conditioned to accept that when reading any text, especially those containing stories or historical accounts, that there is nothing more to the story than the surface information. We err when viewing Torah accounts in this superficial manner and forfeit God's intended messages. Maimonides expressed this in his Guide. We must be highly sensitive to all Torah portions. Only then, will the questions leap from the pages to our surprise, and delight.

We are told of Pharaoh's enslavement of the Jews, and then his plan to exterminate all males. The Rabbis teach he feared the idolatrously-predicted birth of the Jewish messiah and therefore wished to kill him. Names are disclosed of the midwives who feared God and saved the newborns, whom the Rabbis teach are Moses' mother and sister. This is followed by Moses' birth, but it describes his father and mother as Levites. Why do we need to know all of this added information?  

We read further, and must ask of what significance it is that Moses was "good". Good in what way? He was yet an infant; an early stage where one is incapable of goodness. 

What is so vital in Pharaoh's daughter's coinciding bathing and finding the infant Moses; her pity on him; the information that she took him as a "son" – that Moses ended up raised in Pharaoh's palace?

Subsequent tot this, the Torah continues with Moses' "going out" to his brothers; his killing of the Egyptian; a second "going out" and the rebellious Dassan and Aviram; Pharaoh's desire to kill him; and Moses defense of Yisro's daughters after he fled Egypt. 

We just completed Genesis, where we learned of God's command to Abraham that he leave his home town. We learned of Joseph's dreams which forced his sale and eventual rise to viceroy status. Whether it is an outright, Divine decree to Abraham, Joseph's prophetic dreams, or a series of ostensibly "natural" events surrounding Moses, the Torah's record of these accounts intends to communicate important lessons. Not history lessons, but lessons of God's providence and human perfection.

It appears from the sequence that due to needs of that era, God created Moses. Yes, God "created" him Divinely, with his high level of intelligence, like no other man. Maimonides states, "Due to God's love for us and to guard His promise to Abraham our father, God made Moses, the leader of all prophets and sent him…(Laws of Idolatry 1:3 — last words of that chapter)". Moses was necessary at this precise historical moment to function as God's emissary. His timed birth, prematurely, saved him from the Egyptian murderers. And his keen intellect was demanded that he perform the miracles. The fact that he was "good" must refer to his unusually beautiful appearance, also indicating Divine intervention. His parents were of the house of Levi, those immersed in the study of God. This too may have contributed to Moses' development in God's path. 

Moses' striking form may have been necessary to appeal to Pharaoh's daughter, that she pitied him and took him in as a son. His beauty could also bolster her ability to violate her father's decree on infant males. I did not see a source, but I wonder if God kept her barren, as the verse indicates to me, taking him in as a son might suggest she had no son prior. being barren would add to her desire for a child, even a Hebrew.

What demanded Moses be raised among royalty? The following acts of his "going out" to care for his brothers may answer this. For one who is raised with a level of social superiority might be better groomed for his eventual leadership role, and greater ability to confer with kings, as Moses eventually required in connection with Pharaoh. Despite this, Moses did tell God later "Who am I to speak with Pharaoh?" However, this does not mean Moses was not better prepared to do so, through his upraising. This only refers to his great humility, a perfection. But one can be perfected and humble, yet possess the ability to stand before kings.

"Going out to his brothers" immediately follows the account of Pharaoh's daughter, teaching that one is related, or due, to the other. Moses' "going out" may serve to substantiate that his upbringing successfully offered him leadership abilities. Moses also went out on two occasions, teaching that his concern and ability to lead was not an isolated case. And following this account, we learn of Moses' defense of Yisro's daughters, a third case of Moses expressed abilities.