13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? 14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.
Moses’s arc had brought him to see the suffering of the Israelites and take action to save one of them. After having slain an Egyptian guard to save one of his brethren, one might think he would be frightened to return, but this was not the case. Having ventured into the trouble of the Israelites once, he then came back a second time. Apparently, the first visit had only encouraged him to continue.
On the second visit, he made an entirely new observation. Whereas he was already acquainted with the abuse that the Israelites suffered at the hands of the Egyptians, now he saw two Israelites striving among themselves, no Egyptians involved whatsoever. In this we see a representation for how the Israelites were divided among themselves. They might have been universally oppressed, but that pressure had not fused them into one. They needed a leader, not only to protect them from an external enemy, but also from themselves.
And, as before, Moses saw this as an opportunity for him to step up and fill the need. He approached the two men and tried to mediate between them. He did not rush to make an accusation or a judgment, he began by asking them for their testimony…but immediately everything went awry. The two had absolutely no respect to him, they did not see him as their leader, and in fact they viewed him with suspicion and hostility. This, unfortunately, would be a reoccurring theme in Moses’s dealings with the Israelites. Though his intentions were pure, at every turn they would doubt and accuse him. Assuming the mantle of their leader was going to be a difficult and heavy burden, and in this instance, he was only having the smallest sampling of that fact.
Even worse, Moses now learned that his deeds from his last sojourn among the Israelites were known. Presumably neither of these two Israelites were present when he slew the Egyptian guard, and if they already had heard about it, then soon everyone else would.