12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.
I already covered this verse with yesterday’s post, but as I was researching other commentaries I discovered a different read on it that I thought deserved some individual attention. When I first read the verse I only interpreted the phrase “he saw that there was no man,” as meaning Moses was checking for any other Egyptian guards who might witness and report his actions to the Pharaoh. However another interpretation that others have considered is that he was checking for any Israelite who was going to rise to the occasion and save their persecuted brother.
It could be that this verse is describing Moses coming to the realization that there was a void of leadership among the Israelite people. Perhaps he was realizing that they needed someone to fight in their behalf, and if no one else was going to fill that role then he would. This, of course, is another trait of great leaders. They do not elect themselves to greatness, rather they see a people in need, but none of them willing to stand up and do what needs to be done, and so the leader takes that responsibility out of necessity.
So which is it? Was Moses looking side-to-side out of caution, ensuring that he wouldn’t be caught, or was he merely looking to see if anyone else would help, and finding no one took the mantle upon himself? Frankly, I cannot tell, and in the greater scheme of things it probably doesn’t matter, but both interpretations do offer interesting possibilities for Moses’s development of character.