From where did Chazal learn that the midwives actively concerned themselves with the boys welfare?
(1,17) “But the midwives feared G-d and did not do as the king of Egypt had said to them (אליהן), but they enabled the boys to live.”
The Midrash comments that the posuk does not say להן, but rather אליהן - this teaches that he propositioned them to sin with him, but they did not acquiesce. It further comments on the words, “but they enabled the boys to live” - since it already says that they did not do as he had spoken to them, is it not obvious that they enabled the boys to live? But it is to teach that not only did they not fulfil the command of Pharaoh to kill the boys, but they even actively concerned themselves with the babies' welfare by supplying them with food and water, and praying that they would be born totally healthy.
This Midrash is problematic, because maybe it was very necessary to write “but they enabled the boys to live”, because otherwise I might think that when it says that they "did not do as the king of Egypt had said to them", it is referring to their refusal to sin with him, but that they did carry out his orders to kill the boys. There are also other questions that can be asked on this Midrash.
In order to answer everything let us first look at the gemora in Pesachim 25b on the posuk in Devarim 22:26 which talks about the law of a betrothed maiden who was forced to sin - “because as a man rises up against his fellow and kills him, so too is this matter”. The gemora asks: What is the connection between a murderer and a betrothed maiden? It answers that it is coming to equate a murderer to a betrothed maiden, and a betrothed maiden to a murderer. That just a as a betrothed maiden is required to give up her life rather than sin, so too a person should give up his life rather than murder. And just a person can be saved from death by killing the attacker, so too a betrothed maiden can be saved by killing the attacker.
Now, the Midrash is clear- since we learned that Pharaoh propositioned the midwives but they refused even though they knew that he might kill them, it is clear that they knew that they must give up their lives rather than commit adultery. If so, they must have also known that the same is true by murder. So why did the posuk have to state that they enabled the boys to live, since it is obvious that they would not have murdered them? Because of this the Midrash answered that it is to teach that they supplied them with food and water.
Why was Moshe called good immediately after he was born?
(2,2) “And the woman conceived and bore a son, and she saw him that he was good.”
The Midrash says that from the phrase “and she saw him that he was good”, we learn that Moshe was born already circumcised. But how is this hinted to in these words?
It says in the gemora (Yerushalmi), and also in the Yalkut Shimoni on sefer Shoftim, on the posuk 11:3 “and Yiftach fled from his brethren, and dwelled in the land of good” - but surely he only went outside Eretz Yisrael. Is outside Eretz Yisael called a land of good? The Midrash answers that yes it is, because it is exempt from the requirement to give tithes.
Now, the Midrash on parshas Eikev on the posuk 7:13 “He will bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land”, compares the fruit of your womb to the fruit of your land - just as the fruit of your land requires tithing, so too the fruit of your womb requires tithing, which is Bris Milah. If so, we now understand the Midrash - “she saw him that he was good”, and that which is exempt from tithing is called good. But a tithe must also be given from a person, that is, Bris Milah. If so, how could he be described as good immediately when he was born? Therefore, it explains that he was born already circumcised, and thus it was correct to call him good, since there was no need to give from him a tithe.
How did the Midrash learn that the king of Egypt had been stricken with leprosy?
(2,23) “And it was in those many days that the king of Egypt died.”
Rashi brings the Midrash which says that he was stricken with leprosy, and a leper is considered like a dead person. The question is asked how the Midrash knew this - maybe it means literally that he died?
We can answer this according to what is written in the Midrash on the posuk 47:28 “and the days of Yisrael drew near towards death” - it must be that he is still alive, because it says in Koheles 8:8 “there is no rulership on the day of death”. And so too it says by Dovid HaMelech “and the days of Dovid drew near towards death” - it does not refer to him here as king, because “there is no rulership on the day of death”.
The explanation of this Midrash, is that it is problematic that the posuk did not say "and the days of Ya’akov drew near towards death", because the name Yisrael connotes rulership, and there is no rulership on the day if death. And it brings a proof of this from Dovid. Perforce, it is clear from here that he is still alive.
Now we can understand the Midrash that we started with, because it says here “the king of Egypt died”, but this is a problem, because since there is no rulership on the day of death, how could the posuk refer to him as king? Therefore, it explained that he had not actually died, but rather he had been stricken with leprosy, and a leper is considered as one who is dead.
How could Moshe be so negligent and lead the flock up a steep mountain?
(3,1) “And Moshe was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Yisro, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock after the wilderness, and he came to the mountain of G-d, to Choreiv.”
The Targum Yonason translated the words “after the wilderness” - to a good pasture. We can explain why he did so according to the gemora in Bava Metzia 36b, which says that if a shepherd leads sheep up a steep mountain and one of them falls, then he is liable to pay damages, because bringing them up a steep mountain was an act of negligence. However, if he leads them there to bring them to a good pasture, then he is not considered negligent, and thus he is exempt from paying damages. And it says in the Midrash on the posuk “to the mountain of G-d, to Choreiv” - that the mountain was as sharp as a sword.
Here too, the Targum was that Moshe led the flock up a steep mountain, which is an act of negligence. Therefore, he explained that that he was leading them to a good pasture.
Why was Moshe afraid that Yisrael would not believe him?
(4,1) “And Moshe answered and said: Behold, they will not believe me, and they will not heed my voice, but they will say "Hashem did not appear to you". And Hashem said to him: What is this in your hand? And he said: A staff.”
There are many questions to be asked on these posukim. We can explain them according to the Midrash on the posuk in Devarim 4:41 “then Moshe separated three cities” - one who eats from a pot knows the taste of the food. Moshe was afraid that the matter of the cities of refuge would apply to him, because of his killing of the Egyptian. But Hashem said to him: You are exempt.
Now, there is a dispute in the gemora in Makkos 13a between R. Meir and R, Yehudah about whether a murderer returns to his ancestral position of greatness. R. Meir holds that he does return, because he learns from the laws of a Hebrew servant. But R, Yehudah holds that he does not return, because a Hebrew servant himself does not return to his ancestral greatness.
Therefore, Moshe said “they will not believe me and they will not heed my voice, but they will say: Hashem did not appear to you”. And their proof will be because I murdered the Egyptian, and a murderer does not return to his ancestral position of greatness.
But it says in the Midrash that the staff that was in the hand of Moshe was the staff that was used by Adam HaRishon and Avrohom, and so too by Ya’akov and Amram, because it was the way of kingship to carry such a staff.
Thus, “Hashem said to him: What is this in your hand? And he said: A staff”. Hashem was telling him that from the staff that was in his hand it would be clear to Yisrael that he had returned to his ancestral position of greatness, because it is the way of kings, his forefathers, to use it. Therefore, you do not have to be afraid that they will not believe you.