Last week, we saw that, just as Adam prefigures Israel in his exile from Eden, Abram foreshadows the exodus of the nation. In a similar way, key events in Moses’ life would later unfold on a national level in the chosen people’s escape from Egypt and wilderness wanderings.
Scripture presents the life of Moses anticipating Israel’s collective experience. First, the infant Moses escapes death when his mother puts him in a basket and places him among the “reeds” (סוף; suf) of the river bank (Exod 2:3). Similarly, though most English translations record the Hebrews’ escape from Egypt through the “Red Sea,” the Hebrew is actually ים סוף (yam suf), which contains the same word for “reeds” (סוף; suf) used with reference to Moses’ escape from Pharaoh in his infancy. In this way, Exodus shows that both Moses and Israel escape Pharaoh through bodies of water described as סוף (suf).
Second, when Moses kills an Egyptian for harassing a fellow Hebrew (Exod 2:12), he flees to Midian where he sits down “by a well (באר; be’er)” (2:15). Likewise, when the Israelites flee from Egypt in the exodus, they end up in the land of Moab—a location closely associated with Midian (cf. Gen 36:35; Num 22:1-7; I Chron 1:46)—where they come to “the well (באר; be’er) of which the Lord said to Moses, ‘Gather the people together so that I might give them water” (Num 21:16). More, according to the Book of Acts, he remains in Midian for forty years before returning to Egypt as Israel’s leader (cf. Acts 7:23, 30); Moses’ forty-year stay in the wilderness of Midian mirrors the Israelites’ own forty-year wilderness wandering before entering the land of Canaan. Thus, in Moses (just like in Adam and Abram), we have an individual representative of the whole people of Israel.