16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.
When Moses intervened to save the Israelite slave things hadn’t turned out so well for him. Thankfully, it would seem that the disappointment of that experience was not enough to make him lose his heroic nature. Away, in a new land, with no obligation to these strangers, he still extended himself to help them in their time of need. The record does not tell us whether he confronted the troublesome shepherds or if he simply came to help the maidens after the mischief was over. I would be very curious to know whether he was still as bold as when he slew the Egyptian guard, or if he had started to temper his responses.
In either case, Moses does reveal a nurturing quality that wasn’t recounted when he freed the Israelite slave. In that earlier moment we only heard of his moment of passion when he destroyed the oppressor, but now he is shown exemplifying compassion and care, helping to gather the women’s sheep and watering the animals for them. Ultimately Moses will be called to lead a broken people, and that is going to require much more of an investment of time and effort, not just quick, instantaneous fixes.
Also, it occurred to me that one of these seven daughters must be Zipporah, whom Moses will soon marry. Their meeting at the well bears a striking resemblance both to the meeting of Abraham’s servant and Rebekah at the well, and to the meeting of Jacob and Rachel.