Why was Moses dressed up as a Mitsri when the daughters of Yisro found him and according to some midrash he had left Egypt 50 or more years previously? Being Jewish it is unlikely he spoke like a Mitsri. Since the Torah stresses this fact there must be some reason for it apart from him being an Egyptian prince and since he was running away from pharaoh after having a death sentence, he most likely lost that 'position'.

And why did the Jewish people on leaving Egypt specially want the 'smolos' the Egyptian clothes which Rashi says they even preferred to the gold and silver? In Egypt they never wore them as it says they never changed their names speech or clothes. They most likely wore Egyptian linen even in Egypt only their fashion styles were different. So why change their 'fashion' on leaving Egypt?

  • One can say that Moshe rabainu wanted to always remember the miracle he had escaping from pharaoh. And the Jews to always remember the miracle of escaping from Egypt. That is why it was even more important than gold and silver.
    – expern
    May 30, 2013 at 8:15
  • 1
    Well if nothing else, Egyptian linen was noted for its high quality. (E.g. the Kohen Gadol's garments for Yom Kippur were specifically Egyptian linen.)
    – Shalom
    May 30, 2013 at 11:26
  • 2
    What makes you think that he was dressed as an Egyptian?? Maybe it makes sense to say that he was, but where does the Torah say that? They merely said that an Egyptian man saved them. So, maybe he was speaking an Egyptian language? Maybe he told them that he had come from Egypt? Maybe his name sounded Egyptian? There could be a dozen reasons, of which clothing is only one.
    – Shimon bM
    May 30, 2013 at 13:45
  • 3
    "Being Jewish it is unlikely he spoke like a mitsri." Speech patterns are probably more influenced by environment than genes. He was raised by Egyptians.
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 31, 2015 at 1:52

1 Answer 1


Moses was dressed as an Egyptian because until he fled he was an Egyptian prince! Though the purpose of the pasuk (and midrash) stressing his Egyptian identity is indeed a complex one. The text wavers back and forth whether Moshe's identity was primarily Israelite or Egyptian.

The Mechilta does not mention clothing:

"Did not Israel possess four mitzvot [while they were in Egypt]…: that they were sexually pure, that they did not gossip, that they did not change their names, and that they did not change their language." -- R. Eliezer haKappar, as quoted by the Mechilta

though clothing does appear here:

Minor Pesikta, Devarim (Ki Tavo) 41a Another interpretation: “And there they became a nation” – this teaches that the Israelites were distinct there, in that their clothing, food, and language was different from the Egyptians’. They were identified and known as a separate nation, apart from the Egyptians.

Based on this midrash, clothing was important as identifying mark of Israelites as a separate nation.

Regarding borrowing Egyptian clothing on leaving Egypt, indeed Rashi (Shemot 12:35) says this, citing Mechilta. As Gur Aryeh (quite plausibly IMHO) explains it, this is that the Egyptians, not the Israelites, were the ones who held this clothing particularly dear.

I do not think that these midrashim, from different sources -- Mechilta does not specify clothing earlier as identifying Israelites, and is the source for someone holding clothing dear -- are supposed to be combined to make a nice and entertaining devar Torah, though surely there are people who have constructed such divrei Torah.

  • 1
    Speaking of mixing midrashim, according to the midrash that he spent 40 years as the king of Kush before making it to Midyan, that means that he kept his egyptian clothes the whole time.
    – Menachem
    May 30, 2013 at 13:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .