18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Let me return to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.”
Jethro said, “Go, and I wish you well.”
19 Now the Lord had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand. Exodus 4:18-20
Moses was fairly pessimistic about what he’d find in Egypt. Of course, the Lord knew who would still be around and who would have moved on.
Moses still hadn’t met up with Aaron yet, but he did carry the staff of God with him, so that in itself was a step in the right direction towards his confidence.
Recall, also, that Moses is writing this little detail into the Book of Exodus so it was important enough for him to mention here.
What I find interesting is that a free man would return to the land his people were being held captive, essentially walking into his own enslavement. That is not a small deal. It’s one thing to be enslaved after things go south where you’re working; it’s entirely different to experience it as a free man. On the other hand, he might have been given fair treatment since he grew up in one of the Pharaoh’s household.
So, reluctant to be the voice for God for his people, Moses started back to Egypt, knowing full well that he could be working alongside his compatriots making bricks.
Moses, I believe, was taking a step of faith going back to Egypt. He knew he would meet up with Aaron and the two of them would go into Egypt together. One foot in front of the other, he was uprooting his family and going back to Egypt.