The Second Book of Moses, Called Exodus

Chapter 6

God renews his promise by his name YAHWEH, 1-8. Moses vainly attempts to encourage the Israelites, 9. He and Aaron are again sent to Pharaoh, 10-13. The genealogy of Reuben, of Simeon, and of Levi, from whom came Moses and Aaron, 14-25. The history resumed, 26-30.

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he shall let them go, and with a strong hand he shall drive them from his land."

2 And God spoke to Moses and said to him, "I am the LORD. 3 And I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob by the name of God Almighty, but by my name, YAHWEH, I was not known to them. 4 And I have also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers. 5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Therefore, say to the children of Israel, 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you from under the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage and redeem you with an out-stretched arm and with great judgments. 7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you into the land, concerning which I swore to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and I will give it to you for a heritage. I am the LORD.'" 9 And Moses thus spoke to the children of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses by reason of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.

10 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 11 "Go in, speak to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel depart from his land." 12 And Moses spoke before the LORD, saying, "Behold, the children of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?" 13 And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron and gave them a charge to the children of Israel and to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

14 These are the heads of their father's houses. The sons of Reuben (the first-born of Israel): Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. These are the families of Reuben. 15 And the sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman. These are the families of Simeon. 16 And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. And the years of the life of Levi were one hundred and thirty-seven years. 17 The sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimi, according to their families. 18 And the sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. And the years of the life of Kohath were one hundred and thirty-three years. 19 And the sons of Merari: Mahali and Mushi. These are the families of Levi according to their generations. 20 And Amram took him Jochebed, his father's sister, for a wife. And she bore him Aaron and Moses. And the years of the life of Amram were one hundred and thirty-seven years. 21 And the sons of Izhar: Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri. 22 And the sons of Uzziel: Mishael, Elzaphan, and Zithri. 23 And Aaron took him Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon, for a wife. And she bore him Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 24 And the sons of Korah: Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph. These are the families of the Korhites. 25 And Eleazar, Aaron's son, took him one of the daughters of Putiel for a wife. And she bore to him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers of the Levites according to their families. 26 These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom the LORD said, "Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies." 27 These are those who spoke to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to bring out the children of Israel from Egypt. These are that Moses and Aaron.

28 And it came to pass on the day when the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 That the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "I am the LORD. Speak to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, all that I say to you." 30 And Moses said before the LORD, "Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh listen to me?"


Matthew Henry Commentary - Exodus, Chapter 6


[v.2-3] - These two verses can be tough to understand. After all, God had used both forms of His name previously. For instance, we can see in Genesis 15:7 that God tells Abram, "I am [Yahweh] who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it." Then later, in Genesis 17:1, God tells Abram, "I am the Almighty God. Walk before me, and be perfect." We see that God had used both forms of His name in the past. So, why does He say here in verse 3 that, "by my name, YAHWEH, I was not known to them"? The answer to that, I admit that I do not know. I will draw upon the words of John Gill to provide a possible explanation: "[Some] think, as Saadiah Gaon, that the word 'only' is to be supplied, as in Genesis 32:28 and the sense to be, that by his name [Yahweh] he was not only made known to them, but by his name Elshaddai (ale-shad-dah'-ee), and others also; and others reconcile the difficulty thus, that though the name [Yahweh] itself was known to the patriarchs, by which they were assured that God is eternal, immutable, and faithful to his promises; yet he was not known as to the efficacy of this name, or with respect to the actual performance of his promise, as he now would be by delivering the children of Israel out of Egypt, and bringing them into the land of Canaan; though perhaps, by reading the words with an interrogation, the clause will appear more plain, 'and by my name [Yahweh] was I not known to them?'"

[v.3] - "YAHWEH" - Reference, Genesis 12:7-8, 15:7, 22:14; Exodus 3:14; Job 1:21; Psalm 68:4, 83:18; Isaiah 12:2, 26:4, 42:8, 44:6, 51:22; Jeremiah 16:21, 23:6, 32:18, 33:16; Amos 5:8; Micah 4:13; John 8:58; Revelation 1:4, 8, 4:8, 11:17, 21:6, 22:13.

[v.4] - "my covenant" - Reference, Genesis 12:1-8, 15:18-21, 17:1-8.

[v.6-7] - "burdens" - LXX: "tyranny."

[v.7] - "you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians" - This is a very important phrase. It is referenced in several places throughout the Torah (see Exodus 16:6, 20:2; Leviticus 11:45; Deuteronomy 4:20, 5:6). One very notable place this phrase is mentioned is in the introduction of God's law. In Exodus, chapter 20, God begins the telling of His law by saying, "I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Exodus 20:2). This phrase is to be a memorial for the Israelites to know that it is God alone who delivers His people. This statement remains as relevant today as it did the day it was first told out of the mouth of God, for He does not change (Malachi 3:6). God is still the One who delivers His chosen ones from the bondage of sin. The Apostle Paul makes this clear in the passage of Romans 8:28-30, which says, "And we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the first-born among many brothers. Moreover, those whom he predestined, he also called, and those whom he called, he also justified, and those whom he justified, he also glorified." Paul says that God calls His elect according to His own purpose. He then traces that path by showing that God first foreknew His elect, that is, He beforehand knew, or acknowledged, His chosen ones from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). God then predestined, or predetermined the existence and lives of His chosen ones according to His unchangeable purpose. Once predestined, God then calls, or divinely summons, His chosen ones to salvation. After answering the call to salvation, God then justifies His chosen ones, meaning, He pronounces them free from guilt or blame. Upon justification, God then preserves His elect until He finally glorifies them, that is, He lifts them up in glory to receive their inheritance of eternal life in the kingdom of Heaven. In retrospect with the Israelites in Egypt, God had foreknew them to be His chosen nation, He set in order the events which brought them into existence and also that which would take place afterward (i.e., from Jacob being chosen, to the coming into Egypt), He called them out to be delivered from the bondage of Egypt (i.e., He sent Moses to deliver the message), He justified them before His sight (i.e., Pharaoh had no right to keep God's chosen nation; therefore He moved to deliver them), finally, He glorified the Israelites (i.e., He ultimately brought them into the promise land and gave them rest). The point is that the deliverance of the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, and also the deliverance of Christians from the bondage of sin, was and is purely God's doing.

[v.14-27] - These verses make up a genealogy, or as it would be called by the Hebrews, תּוֹלְדוֹת, or towldah (to-led-aw'). A towldah is translated as, (plural only) descent, (i.e., family), or (figuratively) history—birth, generations. Essentially, we're looking at a small family tree. A good example of another towldah is the much larger one that spans the first eight chapters of 1st Chronicles. Another notable genealogy is that of Jesus Christ in Luke 3:23-38. Another genealogy of Jesus Christ, one that is shorter than the one in Luke, is found in Matthew 1:2-16. A towldah is used to verify ancestry and posterity. Today, we don't pay much mind to genealogies, but to the Israelites, even to the first century Jews, genealogies were very important. This genealogy here in this chapter gives us the reason why these genealogies are so important. In order for Moses and Aaron to be recognized among the Israelites, especially with the elders, they must be a descendant of Jacob, or Israel. Furthermore, when the office of the priesthood is established later on, it will be necessary that Moses and Aaron are descendants of Levi. This genealogy proves both cases for Moses and Aaron: that they are both descendants of Israel and descendants of Levi. Now, even though genealogies are important, we are not to harp on them, as the Apostle Paul teaches in Titus 3:9 and 1st Timothy 1:4. Today, with the revelation of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, our only concern is to be of the house, or of the children (i.e., to be adopted), of God by Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4-6), rather than relying upon excessive genealogies, which, as Paul said, "minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith," and, "are unprofitable and vain." Now, that is not to say that the genealogies in the Bible are to be ignored or disregarded. If that were the case, they wouldn't have been recorded in the Scriptures. They do serve a purpose, for they provide a good point of reference for facts mentioned in the Bible. As Paul said, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (1st Timothy 3:16).