Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. (Exodus 2:11)
When the text says that Moses had “grown,” in Hebrew it would be literally translated as “had become great” – in other words, it acknowledges that he was a prince of Egypt. Even with all the benefits that would accompany such a status Moses, nevertheless, sought to identify with his Hebrew brethren; he knew that he was seed of Abraham. As such he was overcome with the injustice of the Egyptian beating his Hebrew kinsman. In rabbinical commentary it is noted that Moses had deep compassion on the Hebrews for their suffering and that he queried as to what Israel had done to deserve this suffering. From Judaism’s point of view, he was filled with loving-kindness for the oppressed and held contempt for tyranny.
In describing such a person, there are two Hebrew terms that apply here: chesed and rachamim. The first, chesed, means “to devote oneself entirely to someone else’s needs.” The second, rachamim, is from a root that means “to protect from harm.” From this same root is derived the Hebrew word for “womb” and, thus, rachamim conveys a maternal-like protectiveness. The point is that these qualities are prerequisites for being a true leader and shepherd for God’s people. Moses displayed them time and again and, for this reason, was chosen to lead Israel from their bondage and through the wilderness.
All of these qualities are also evident in the life and ministry of Messiah. Matthew records that, “when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). This is why He devoted Himself completely to the reconciliation of man to the Almighty by willingly laying down His life. He said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
As followers of Messiah it is important that we emulate these characteristics and that we demonstrate them to those God places in our life. Let’s face it, people can be a challenge and will always put us to the test but, still, if we are to be His witnesses to a fallen world we must faithfully represent Him to the world. May He empower us by His Spirit to do just that, today and every day.
Blessings and Shalom,