How Old Was Moses When He Left Egypt?

Moses is one of the most distinguished figures in the Old Testament. He is the main character in four of the Bible’s first five books. Moses survived life-threatening circumstances in his infancy because God had great plans for his life, which included using him to free the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt. As a result, many Bible readers wonder how old Moses was when he left Egypt.

Moses left Egypt twice. He was 40 years old the first time he left, fleeing to Midian after killing an Egyptian man for beating a Hebrew slave. He was 80 years old the second time he left Egypt when he led the nation out of slavery to the Promised Landthrough the parted Red Sea, after the Ten Plagues.

What New Testament book mentions Moses’ age when he left Egypt for the first time? Why did he return only to depart for a second time? What book of the Bible mentions his age when he left for good? How old was Moses when he died? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Also, the book of Exodus identifies Moses as Hebrew even though he grew up in Egypt. This fact makes many Bible readers wonder what languages Moses spoke.

Moses 10 Commandments
Why did Moses flee to Midian? See below

Moses Was 40 Years Old When He Left Egypt for Midian

The New Testament reveals Moses’ age when he left Egypt for the first time. The seventh chapter of Acts records Stephen, a convert to Jesus Christ, speaking to the Jewish authorities (Acts 7:1-52) before they killed him, making him the church’s first martyr (Acts 7:53-60).

In the speech, Stephen overviews Old Testament history to show that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah God promised, fulfilling its laws and prophecies.

Acts 7:23-44 records the part of Stephen’s speech that refers to Moses. It starts with the time Moses killed an Egyptian slave master for beating a Hebrew, which led to his escape to Midian (Exod. 2:11-22).

Stephen mentions Moses’ age

Acts 7:23 dates the occasion in Moses’ life. “When he was forty years old,” says Stephen, “it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel” (ESV). When the timeline in Acts and Exodus are blended, it’s clear that Moses’ life had three phases, each consisting of 40-year periods.

The book of Exodus didn’t reveal Moses’ age when he observed the Egyptian beating the Hebrew slave. It only says that he was an adult. “One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people” (Exod. 2:11, emphasis added).

Also, Moses had Hebrew ancestry. His heritage leads Bible readers to wonder what Israelite tribe Moses was from and where the Bible reveals that information.

Book of Exodus
How old was Aaron when he left Egypt? See below

Moses Was 80 When He Left Egypt a Second Time

The day that Moses and his older brother, Aaron, confront the Egyptian Pharaoh as God’s spokespersons, demanding that he free the Israelites from slavery, is a pivotal moment in Exodus.

It starts a cascade of events that include the ten plagues, escaping through the parted Red Sea, and the defeat of the Egyptian army.

In his instructions to Moses and Aaron, God explains what will happen, “The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”

Then the passage highlights the brothers’ obedience: “Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the Lord commanded them” (Exod. 7:5-6).

Moses age when he confronts Pharaoh

The next verse, the last of the passage, reveals Moses’ and Aaron’s ages. Exodus 7:7 reads, “Now Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh” (ESV). There are three explanations for why the passage mentions their ages, all of which may be simultaneously true.

First, it’s a way to date the event. As already stated, the brothers’ confrontation with Pharaoh was a critical moment for their lives, that generation of Israel, and the nation’s history. The occasion’s significance may be why the passage notes how old Moses and Aaron were at the time.

Second, to¬†highlight¬†God’s unusual way of working in the world. The eldest brother was the leader in other nations and cultures in the ancient world. [2]

While Aaron helped Moses speak to the Pharaoh, God called the youngest brother to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, not Aaron.

Third, given that Moses and Aaron were in their 80s, mentioning their ages reminds readers of their dependence on God. One of the themes in the Bible is that God calls unworthy and seemingly incapable people to do his work in the world (e.g., Jacob, David, Mary).

This mode of operation gives glory to God because observers are less inclined to credit the servant’s strength, talents, or abilities.

Additionally, Stephen implies that Moses was 80 at this time, “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush” (Acts 7:30).

Also, Moses’ life takes a dramatic turn when he ends another man’s life. Learn who Moses killed and why.

Moses' age left Egypt
How old was Moses when he died? See below

Moses’ Death and Legacy

Bible scholars note that Scripture divides Moses’ life into three forty-year periods.

  • First, he spent 40 years in Egypt as he grew up in Pharaoh’s courts before fleeing to Midian after he killed a man.
  • Second, he spent 40 years in Midian, married to Zipporah, whose father was Jethro, who became an advisor for Moses.
  • Third, he spent 40 years in the desert after leading Israel out of Egypt (cf. Acts 7:36).

Moses died when Israel was on the edge of the Promised Land. While God allowed him to see the vast landscape from a nearby mountaintop, he didn’t let him enter it because of a previous act of disobedience (cf. Num. 20:10-13).

Moses’ obituary reads, “Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated” (Deut. 34:7, emphasis added).

The famous American preacher, D.L. Moody, once said, “Moses spent forty years in Pharaoh’s court thinking he was somebody; forty years in the wilderness learning he was nobody; and forty years showing what God can do with a somebody who found out he was a nobody.” [2]

References:
[1] Exodus by Douglas K. Stuart. New American Commentary. p. 182.
[2] Exodus by John L. Mackay. A Mentor Commentary. p. 140.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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