For ten years Moshe lay in the dungeons of Midyan, forgotten by Yisro. He would have died had not Zipporah, Yisro’s daughter, secretly fed him every day.
Then, one day she came to her father and said, “Father, ten years ago, you placed the Egyptian who appeared here in the pit. You ordered all to refrain from feeding or giving him drink. Why do you not send one of the servants now to see if he still lives?’’
Yisro looked at his daughter in astonishment and said, “You speak foolishly, daughter, How is it possible for a man who had not eaten for ten years to live?’’
His daughter persisted, however, and Yisro went to the pit where he had placed Moshe. Looking down into the dark hole, he was astonished to see Moshe, standing and praying to G-d for deliverance. He was dirty and haggard, but he was alive.
“It is a miracle!’’ cried Yisro. “He is still alive after all these years without food and water.”
Ordering his servants to take Moshe out of the pit, he had him brought to his home, where he was bathed and given fresh clothing.
“Now I know that you are truly a man of G-d,” said Yisro. “For only so could you have survived all these years in the pit.”
Moshe was now treated like an honored guest in Yisro’s home.
His daughter, Zipporah, was well known among the people of the region. She was renowned as a beauty and as a woman of fine and noble character. All the princes of the region desired her for a wife, and they all came to Yisro to ask for her hand in marriage. To every one that came, Yisro had the same answer: “In my garden there is a wondrous staff. If you succeed in pulling it from the ground and bringing it here, you may have my daughter as a wife. But I warn you that those who fail risk their very lives.’’
Many tried and failed, and more were too fearful to even try, lest they fail. Thus the staff remained in Yisro’s garden. It was made of a precious stone and had on it wondrous writings and carvings, but no one was able to remove it from the ground.
One day, as Moshe strolled through the garden, he noticed the staff. Walking over, he admired it for its beauty and pulled on it to remove it from the ground. Without the slightest effort, the staff slid from the ground into Moshe’s hand. He took it inside the house with him.
Yisro was sitting in the house when Moshe walked in.
“What have you there?” asked Yisro in a breathless voice.
“It is a staff that I found rooted in the ground in your garden,” answered Moshe.
“What? Did you remove the staff?”
“Yes. Was there something wrong?”
“No,” responded Yisro. “On the contrary, you have succeeded in doing something that no other man has been able to. You have removed the wondrous staff that all the princes of the East could not. Now, I shall keep my word. If you are willing, you may have my daughter Zipporah as your wife.”
Moshe and Zipporah were married and Moshe began working as a shepherd for his father-in-law.
Moshe And The Kid
Moshe was chosen to be the greatest leader the Jewish people ever had, not because of his great wisdom or his magnificent bravery. He had all these qualities, but there was one other quality that Hashem considered more important than the others.
One day, as Moshe was tending Yisro’s flocks, he took the sheep and goats to the edge of the desert area where they could eat the soft grass that grew there.
Suddenly, he saw a kid run from the flock and head in the direction of the desert.
“Stop!” cried Moshe, as he began to pursue the kid.
The animal, seeing Moshe pursue it, grew frightened and began to run even faster. It headed directly for a spring of water that was found nearby and began to drink thirstily.
Moshe, coming upon the kid, saw what was happening and realized that the kid had not intended to escape, but rather was very thirsty and merely wanted to drink.
Moshe put his arms around the kid and said: “My little kid, I am sorry. Had I known that you were thirsty, I would never have chased you and frightened you.”
He allowed the kid to finish drinking, and then lifted it to his shoulder, saying: “I will carry you back to the herd, for you are young and weak.”
And then Hashem looked down and saw Moshe’s actions, and said, “How great are your mercies, Moshe. You have pity on a kid. Therefore, you are fit to be the leader of My flock Israel. I know that you will be a faithful shepherd and a merciful leader for them, too.”
The Burning Bush
The time was now ripe for Hashem to appear to Moshe and appoint him leader of Bnei Yisrael. One day, while Moshe was in the desert with his flocks, he noticed a very strange bush. It was very low and bent, and there were no flowers or leaves on it – just thorns.
“How strange,” thought Moshe. “It is so similar to my people who have become low and depressed and who have become ugly because of their slavery.”
And as he continued to look at it, a flame suddenly burst forth from the midst of the bush.
“The bush is similar to my people,” thought Moshe. “Is this flame meant to represent the enemies of the Jews who will consume them?”
But even as he thought these words, Moshe beheld a wonderful thing. The flames surrounded the bush and encircled it, but could not consume it.
“This is a good sign,” he said happily. “Just as the flame could not consume the bush, so shall the enemies of the Jews never be able to overcome them.”
Hashem now spoke to Moshe for the first time, but not wishing to frighten him, made His voice sound like that of his father Amram.
Moshe looked around and said, “Father, is that your voice?’’
Now Hashem answered, “No, it is the voice of the L-rd.” Thus did Moshe begin his work as the leader of Bnei Yisrael.