Follow up to this question.

Moshe shows up with his brother and makes a demand of Paroh -- give up a chunk of your labor, or else. Then time and time again, Hashem, through Moshe, effects a major attack on the well being of Egypt: the water supply, the food, the trees, the animals etc.

Why doesn't Paroh just kill Moshe as someone threatening the wellbeing of the nation? He sought to kill Moshe after the killing of a single Egyptian but he doesn't seem to lay a hand against Moshe during (at least) the first 7 plagues.

Are there midrashim or meforshim which deal with this?

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    By the time he would have done so, he did not dare. Hashem had shown His power and Par'o needed Moshe to cancel the plagues. Additionally, Par'o had (in his own mind) started to see the conflict as being whether he could outlast this foreign god. Had he actually tried to kill Moshe, he would have been admitting that he could not defeat Moshe. Besides, by the time that he was ready to do so, it was too late to make the attempt. Moshe had shown that he was a powerful enough sorcerer that Par'o could not attack with his soldiers. Only his most powerful magicians could try and they had lost. Feb 12, 2019 at 3:26
  • Related: "Did Pharaoh attempt to kill Moses during the plagues".
    – Tamir Evan
    Jul 19, 2019 at 13:12

3 Answers 3


The Or HaChaim says in his commentary (Shemot 2:15):

ויבקש להרוג וגו'. פירוש ביקש להוכיח הדבר אם כן עשה כדי להרוג אותו, ולזה ברח משה מפני פרעה שמא יתברר הדבר ויהרגנו. או ירצה באומרו מפני פרעה כי הכיר בפניו כי זעומים הם והרגיש מזה וברח הגם שלא ידע כי הגיעו הדברים לפרעה:

ויבקש להרוג אותו. He tried to kill him. This means that Pharaoh tried to establish proof that Moses had killed the Egyptian as a result of which he would be brought to trial and be executed. This is why Moses fled from Pharaoh in case Pharaoh would obtain enough proof to make him stand trial. On the other hand, the words מפני פרעה may refer to Pharaoh's face. When Moses looked at Pharaoh's angry face he realised that he was in danger and fled even though he did not know what Pharaoh knew and what he did not.

If Pharaoh needed to "establish proof that Moses had killed the Egyptian as a result of which he would be brought to trial and be executed" then that leads me to believe that Pharaoh, for whatever reason (legal, political or otherwise), was not necessarily in a position to unilaterally order the execution of Moses.


This will be an unsourced answer. I imagine this has a lot to do with politics. Moses only goes back to Egypt after the Pharoah who wanted to arrest him dies, this leaves open the idea that Moses can't be convicted of having killed that Egyptian 40 years ago. This might explain why the new Pharoah never bring's up the Egyptian that Moses killed in the past.

So when Moses makes demands of Pharaoh he seems to be making those demands with the understanding he will not be arrested. And Moses's initial public demand is not "Let my people free," it was "let them celebrate a festival to our God." This is actually a reasonable, and probably lawful demand in Egyptian society. We know that Egypt had a forced labor class that was paid, had rights, and even organized labor strikes, so it makes sense that Pharaoh wouldn't kill Moses outright because that would make Pharaoh look bad to the royal court.

Moving on from there, Moses never threatens Pharaoh directly with harm. God causes all the plagues, even if Moses (or Aaron?) put on a little show while it happens. This gives the impression that even if Pharaoh decided to kill Moses/Aaron, the plagues might still keep coming, so killing them off wouldn't solve anything.


If God could harden Pharaoh's heart against freeing the Israelites, He could harden Pharaoh's heart against killing Moses.

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    But did He? We already knew that anything is possible
    – Double AA
    Feb 18, 2019 at 3:11

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