November 17, 2008
20 At that time Moses was born, and was exceedingly handsome.
I’ve read this chapter from Acts countless times; my 6th grade students had to memorize Stephen’s speech a couple years ago, so you can imagine how many times we had to practice and recite it. However, my mouth literally dropped open when I read verse 20 this morning. I didn’t remember Stephen saying anything about Moses being handsome! I don’t know why it struck me as so surprising, but it did. So, I decided to look at other translations–certainly Moses’ appearance wasn’t of that much importance that it’d be mentioned. Here is how other versions translate the bold text:
NIV: he was no ordinary child
NASB: he was lovely in the sight of God
Amp: he was exceedingly beautiful in God’s sight
KJV: and was exceeding fair (is anyone else bothered by the lack of “ly” at the end of exceeding?)
ESV: he was beautiful in God’s sight
These verses still left me wondering: was God talking about being pleased with Moses’ physical appearance or his heart/mind? This whole thing perplexed me because I’ve read other examples of people being beautiful in God’s sight, but I always thought that meant that God loved their hearts and their faith in Him. Can God be pleased with our looks as well? Perhaps. Maybe it was important to God that Moses be physically attractive. After all, the Scriptures imply that that was why his mother kept him. So, it could be that God used Moses’ appearance to save him, and thereby a multitude of others as well.
On the other hand, God might not be talking about Moses’ physical appearance at all. It could be that God just thought that Moses’ heart was beautiful. Despite Moses’ initial fearfulness and hesitation to do what God asked (“Oh Lord, please send someone else to do it,”) God still thought Moses was beautiful?!
Well, who knows what was actually meant by the word “beautiful”? The Holy Spirit. (And maybe you!) Regardless, either possibility is encouraging to me.