The Second Book of Moses, Called Exodus

Chapter 4

Moses's rod is turned into a serpent, 1-5. His hand is leprous, 6-9. He is reluctant to be sent, 10-12. Aaron is appointed to assist him, 13-17. Moses departs from Jethro, 18-20. God's message to Pharaoh, 21-23. Zipporah circumcises her son, 24-26. Aaron is sent to meet Moses, 27, 28. The people believe them, 29-31.

1 And Moses answered and said, "But behold, they will not believe me, nor listen to my voice, for they will say, 'The LORD has not appeared to you.'" 2 And the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" And he said, "A rod." 3 And he said, "Cast it on the ground." And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent. And Moses fled from before it. 4 And the LORD said to Moses, "Put forth your hand and take it by the tail." And he put forth his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand. 5 "This is so that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has appeared to you."

6 And the LORD said furthermore to him, "Now put your hand into your bosom." And he put his hand into his bosom. And when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. 7 And he said, "Put your hand into your bosom again." And he put his hand into his bosom again and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. 8 "And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe you, neither listen to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. 9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither listen to your voice, that you shall take some of the water of the river and pour it upon the dry land. And the water which you take out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land."

10 And Moses said to the LORD, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before, nor since you have spoke to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue." 11 And the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say." 13 And he said, "O my Lord, send, I pray you, by the hand of him whom you will send."

14 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses and he said, "Is there not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And also behold, he comes forth to meet you. And when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 And you shall speak to him and put words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you what you shall do. 16 And he shall speak for you to the people. And he shall be, even he shall be to you as a mouth, and you shall be to him as God. 17 And you shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall perform signs."

18 And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, "Let me go, I pray you, and return to my brothers who are in Egypt and see whether they are yet alive." And Jethro said to Moses, "Go in peace." 19 And the LORD said to Moses in Midian, "Go, return into Egypt. For all the men are dead who sought your life." 20 And Moses took his wife and his sons and set them upon a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand.

21 And the LORD said to Moses, "When you go to return into Egypt, see that you perform all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart so that he shall not let the people go. 22 And you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD: "Israel is my son, even my first-born. 23 And I say to you, 'Let my son go so that he may serve me.' And if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your son, even your first-born."'"

24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him and sought to kill him. 25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, "Surely a bloody husband you are to me." 26 So he let him go. Then she said, "A bloody husband you are because of the circumcision."

27 And the LORD said to Aaron, "Go into the wilderness to meet Moses." And he went and met him on the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him and all the signs which he had commanded him. 29 And Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the children of Israel. 30 And Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses and performed the signs in the sight of the people. 31 And the people believed. And when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.

Commentary

Matthew Henry Commentary - Exodus, Chapter 4

Notes

[v.2-9] - In these verses, God tells Moses of three signs to prove He sent Moses to the Israelites: turning a rod into a serpent, making his hand leprous, and turning water to blood. Moses only performs the first two of the three signs, perhaps to settle some of his own doubt. The first two signs are a demonstration that God has the power to restore, for He restored the staff from a serpent and He restored Moses' hand from the leprosy. The third sign was a demonstration of God's judgment, for the Egyptians viewed the river as a source of prosperity and God is showing His ability to make that of ruin by turning it to blood. In some fashion, these three signs (among others) were performed before Pharaoh in order for God to demonstrate His power and glory. The Israelites were convinced, for God had doubtless prepared their hearts, but Pharaoh was not, as God had purposed to use these signs to harden his heart in order that a better demonstration of His power may be made known (Romans 9:17-18).

[v.11] - God declares His power of creation to show Moses that He not only made the mouth of man, but also ordains whether it can speak or is mute, and whether an ear may hear or an eye may see.

[v.12] - Reference, Proverbs 16:1.

[v.14-16] - God, willing to show patience for the obstinate Moses, grants him a partner for his mission in going to the Israelites and then to Pharaoh. This perhaps was a conflict intended to take place by the hand of God, for we will later read in the law that, "One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins. At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, the matter shall be established." (Deuteronomy 19:15). Furthermore, Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor." Note that Christ also sent His disciples out in pairs (Luke 10:1).

[v.24-26] - This may seem to be a passage that is out of place or difficult to understand why it is placed here, but there is a point to it. So far, there has not been any record of Moses circumcising his sons. Genesis 17:1-14 outlines a covenant God had made with Abraham (who was before this covenant named Abram) that all male children of the descendants of Abraham were to be circumcised. This was to be an everlasting covenant. Breaking this covenant resulted in that soul being cut off from his people, which usually meant death and that line of descendants not being established. Here in Moses' case, God meets Moses because of this issue and seeks the life of Moses for breaking this covenant. Now, concerning Zipporah's zeal for the matter, Matthew Henry offers some insight in his commentary by saying, "Moses is unable to circumcise him; therefore, in this case of necessity, Zipporah does it, whether with passionate words (expressing her dislike of the ordinance itself, or at least the administration of it to so young a child, and in a journey), as to me it seems, or with proper words-solemnly expressing the espousal of the child to God by the covenant of circumcision (as some read it) or her thankfulness to God for sparing her husband, giving him a new life, and thereby giving her, as it were, a new marriage to him, upon her circumcising her son (as others read it)."

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