Hebrews 11:27 ESV

By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.

But in the original narrative the author clearly states that Moses was afraid and left Egypt

Exodus 2:14 ESV

He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” 15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.

How then does then author of Hebrews say Moses was not afraid?

3 Answers 3


The Greek word used in Hebrews 11:27, given by the ESV as 'left', is κατέλιπεν, which means: to abandon, to leave behind, to forsake. So the writer of the Hebrews is clearly speaking of the time when Moses abandoned/left behind/forsook Egypt, i.e. the time when he departed never to return.

Regarding the text in Exodus 2:14, it doesn't say Moses left Egypt, it says, "Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian." It is hardly likely the writer to the Hebrews was unfamiliar with this incident, and that it was known to him that Moses was not exercising faith at that time. Moses lack of faith at various times in his life is immaterial to the point being made in Hebrews 11:27.

In my answer here, I show how Moses reluctantly started his journey as God's appointed leader of Israel, but as time went on (and before he abandoned/left behind/forsook Egypt) he became an exceptional man of faith -- the leader God knew him to be.

There is no contradiction here.

  • @ enegue,Does not the word forsake also imply fleeing May 23, 2022 at 12:18
  • 2
    Well, no. It doesn't. Fleeing involves an element of fear, but the incident the writer of the Hebrews is referring to has Moses standing on the shore of the Red Sea and saying to the people, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."
    – enegue
    May 23, 2022 at 12:37
  • 2
    That's not fearful -- that's faithful!
    – enegue
    May 23, 2022 at 12:37

The two texts are discussing different parts of Moses' life:

  • Ex 2:14 - describes Moses' emotions of fear after he murdered the Egyptian and was discovered at the age of 40
  • Heb 12:27 is describing Moses' fearless faith at the age of 80 when he lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and then (Heb 11:28) celebrated the Passover.

The contrast is significant and shows how much the cowering Moses (at 40 years) had grown in faith where, later at 80 years, he was fearless.

Thus, there is no contradiction between the two texts.

  • Is Hebrews 11 not referring to Moses when he escaped to Midian May 23, 2022 at 8:27
  • 1
    @collenndhlovu - Moses left Egypt twice (1) when he was 40 years old, alone and afraid, (2) when he was 80 years old and brave, leading the Israelites and celebrating the first Passover. Heb 11 refers to the second of these.
    – Dottard
    May 23, 2022 at 9:52
  • @ Dottard,according to J Gill it seems he was fleeing from Pharaoh's wrath after killing the Egyptian May 23, 2022 at 12:22
  • 1
    Because 1) Pharaoh had a 100% track-record of going back on his promises to let the people go, and more importantly 2) God had told Moses that He would harden Pharaoh's heart and that Pharaoh would pursue the people with his army (biblehub.com/exodus/14-4.htm). So Moses had to have faith that God would protect the people.
    – bob
    May 23, 2022 at 15:27
  • 1
    @collenndhlovu - in fact, the king of Egypt did go back on his word and chased Moses and the Israelites to bring them back but Moses trusted God and was fearless.
    – Dottard
    May 23, 2022 at 21:26

The answers don't seem to explain the apparent contradiction. Hebrews clearly says "Moses left Egypt not fearing the king's anger". If you base this chronologically this happened before the Passover, so it was when Moses fled Egypt after killing the Egyptian. But... I do believe "not fearing the king" is referring to the second time he left Egypt.The key here is the statement that "he persevered", which was not true when he left Egypt the first time. The statement that he "observed the Passover" in Hebrews is not intended to be chronological. It is basically a list of things that showed his faith. First he came to the people of Egypt on God's mission to free the people. He approached the Hebrew leaders and stated what his commission from God was(which took a lot of faith). He then after the plagues observed the Passover. That is my humble opinion.

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