Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, had made a law that every boy baby of the Hebrew race should be killed, and there was great sorrow because of it. But when Moses was born, his mother managed to hide him for three months; then she made a cradle, or little ark, and putting him into it, carried him down to a river and hid the cradle among the reeds there.
Soon after this, Pharaoh's daughter came with her maidens to the river-side, and when she saw the beautiful child, she sent one of her maidens to bring it to her.
She took the little boy to the palace and named him Moses, and he became a great man among the Egyptians; he knew, however, that he belonged to the Hebrew race, and when he saw how badly his own people were treated, he tried to help them; but at last he was obliged to leave Egypt, and became a shepherd, taking care of the flocks of a priest called Jethro. He also married Jethro's daughter.
After a time, God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush, and told him that he must go and rescue his people from the cruel Egyptians. Moses thought he could not do this; but God promised to help him, and to show him what he would be able to do with that help, God turned the rod which Moses carried into a serpent. Then God told Moses to pick the serpent up by the tail, and as he did so, it became a rod again. He showed him another sign, also; but Moses was still afraid, because he could not talk well and thought that Pharaoh would not listen to him. So God told him to take his brother Aaron for a spokesman.
Moses and Aaron, therefore, went into Egypt, where they called together the chief men among their own people, the Hebrews, or Israelites, and told them what God had commanded. Moses also did the miracles which God had given him power to do, and the people believed that God had sent him.
After this Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, and told him that it was the Lord's command that he should let the Israelites go. Pharaoh knew nothing about God, and became very angry, saying that Moses and Aaron kept the people from their work by telling them such things; and he treated the poor Israelites worse than before.
But Moses had faith in God; so he was able to perform before the king the wonderful things that he had done before his own people; still, Pharaoh would not let the children of Israel go.
Then Moses turned the waters of the rivers into blood; and after that he caused large numbers of frogs to run over the land and through the houses, doing great harm. He also brought locusts and other insects to be a pest to the people, and caused many of the useful animals which belonged to the Egyptians to grow sick and die, doing all these wonders with the rod which God had given him. But Pharaoh would not listen to him.
Then God commanded Moses again, and he brought other plagues upon the Egyptians; but Pharaoh would not give up.
At last, however, God sent a still more terrible trouble; for the first-born of every Egyptian family, and even the first-born among their flocks, died; although the Israelites, who were constantly praying to the Lord and making sacrifices, were spared, as they had been all the time.
Then Pharaoh was frightened into obeying God, and he let the Israelites go; so they started at once for the land of Canaan, and the Lord guided them by a cloud, which at night looked like a pillar of fire.
When the Israelites had reached the Red Sea, they found that Pharaoh was pursuing them with a large army. But God commanded Moses to stretch forth his rod over the sea; he did so, and the waters parted, making a high wall upon either side, so that the children of Israel passed through and reached the other side in safety. Pharaoh and his hosts followed and were all drowned.
When the children of Israel saw that they were safe, they sang a beautiful song of praise to God, and then they went on their way again.
After they had traveled for some time, they were in need of bread and meat, and they complained about Moses because he had brought them to a land where they had not enough to eat. But God sent them plenty of quails and also a substance which they could use for bread. Later, when they wanted water, the Lord commanded Moses, and he struck a rock with his rod, and pure water poured out of it, so that the thirsty people and their animals had all that they wanted.
In this way God took care of them as they journeyed through the new and strange country toward the promised land, and Moses became the law-giver of the Israelites, receiving his commandments from God.