(Exo 4:1 NASB) Then Moses answered and said, “What if they will not believe me, or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’”
Exo 4:1: This is the third objection by Moses. He has already said, “Who am I to deliver my people?” Then he objected, “What do I tell them your name is?” Now he asks, “What if they don’t believe me or or don’t listen to me? What if they don’t believe that You told me this?”
(Exo 4:2 NASB) And the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.”
Exo 4:2: Elohim tells Moses what to do in this case. He asks Moses what is in his hand. It is nothing more than a shepherds staff. It has no power or magic whatsoever.
(Exo 4:3 NASB) Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.
(Exo 4:4 NASB) But the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”– so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand–
(Exo 4:5 NASB) “that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
Exo 4:5: There a dual meanings here. The rod is a symbol of royal authority and power in Egypt. The snake represented the patron cobra goddess of lower Egypt. A symbol of this goddess was worn over the forehead of the pharaohs. It represented an alleged divinely protected sovereignty. It also represented a menacing symbol of death to those who were enemies of the crown.
Normally grabbing a snake by the tail would be a foolish act. Moses is demonstrating his faithfulness by his obedience.
(Exo 4:6 NASB) And the LORD furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand into your bosom.” So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow.
(Exo 4:7 NASB) Then He said, “Put your hand into your bosom again.” So he put his hand into his bosom again; and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh.
Exo 4:7: This malady, (Hebrew word tsara’at) and the one described in Leviticus 13-14 are probably not what we know as leprosy.
There are substantial differences in this disease and leprosy. Leprosy mostly attacks the nervous system, but the early symptoms are skin lesions. Leprosy does not allow the victim to feel damage to the skin tissue. Hence, there are losses of toes or fingers, disfigurements, etc. by secondary mechanical damage and ulceration.
The physical condition described here is not leprosy, but that is often used for lack of a better description and lack of knowledge of the disease described. The term “leprous like snow” is probably not referring to the color, but to the flakiness of the skin.
(Exo 4:8 NASB) “And it shall come about that if they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign.
(Exo 4:9 NASB) “But it shall be that if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”
Exo 4:9: This last sign later becomes the first of the ten plagues of Egypt. The Nile was deified by the Egyptians because it appeared to give life to the vegetation when it would rise over it’s banks every year.
This, like the first sign, is an attack on the false gods of Egypt. If the Elohim of Moses has the power to turn the life-giving Nile into a symbol of death, then they would surely know that Elohim can destroy Pharaoh and the Egyptian gods.
(Exo 4:10 NASB) Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”
(Exo 4:11 NASB) And the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
(Exo 4:12 NASB) “Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”
Exo 4:12: This is the fourth objection raised by Moses. Moses says essentially, “I am not a man of words.” Moses is possibly describing a speech impediment that he has, or it could be something else. It is more likely that Moses was not confident is his speaking of Hebrew. Moses was told to speak to the “elders of Israel” and that is what he probably thought he couldn’t do, speak Hebrew well enough to the elders to explain it to them (Ex. 3:16-18).
In verses 11 & 12, Elohim tells Moses that He created man’s mouth as well as all his senses. If it were a speech problem, He would just say “there,” you are healed. But instead Elohim says “I will be your mouth and TEACH you what you are to say.”
(Exo 4:13 NASB) But he said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever Thou wilt.”
(Exo 4:14 NASB) Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.
Exo 4:14: Moses implores Adonai to send someone else. This greatly angers Elohim, but He does not turn in judgment to Moses. Instead He tells Moses that he can use his brother, Aaron, as his spokesman. Elohim points out that Aaron speaks “fluently,” which is another indication that this is a reference to the speaking of the Hebrew language.
Elohim knew this would happen beforehand, because He has sent for His brother to meet him already.
(Exo 4:15 NASB) “And you are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do.
(Exo 4:16 NASB) “Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and it shall come about that he shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be as God to him.
(Exo 4:17 NASB) “And you shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”
Exo 4:17: The words will come from Elohim. He will be with their mouths and will teach them what to do. Aaron will be the mouth for Moses and Moses will be as Elohim in telling him what to say.
(Exo 4:18 NASB) Then Moses departed and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, “Please, let me go, that I may return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see if they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”
(Exo 4:19 NASB) Now the LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.”
(Exo 4:20 NASB) So Moses took his wife and his sons and mounted them on a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt. Moses also took the staff of God in his hand.
Exo 4:20: Moses got the blessing to leave from his father-in-law. Verse 20 says that Moses returned to the land of Egypt, but verse 24-27 describe an incident that happened along the way.
(Exo 4:21 NASB) And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.
(Exo 4:22 NASB) “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Israel is My son, My first-born.
Exo 4:22: Elohim tells Moses that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart. Moses will know exactly what to expect when he gets there.
Elohim then tells Moses that the people of Israel are His firstborn son (Ex. 19:5-6, Deut. 14:1, Jer. 31:9, Hosea 11:1). All of his people are a part of that group through Messiah (Romans 8:14)
(Exo 4:23 NASB) “So I said to you, ‘Let My son go, that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your first-born.”‘”
Exo 4:23: The plagues are attacks on the false gods of Egypt. But the last plague strikes them the hardest.
(Exo 4:24 NASB) Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the LORD met him and sought to put him to death.
(Exo 4:25 NASB) Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.”
(Exo 4:26 NASB) So He let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood”– because of the circumcision.
Exo 4:26: This account raises many questions. We do not know why Moses disobeyed Elohim’s instruction concerning circumcision. The sequence of the verses strongly suggest that this was Moses first-born son, Gersham. It could be that Moses thought that circumcision would be too difficult on the lad while on a rigorous journey.
Why would Elohim desire to kill Moses for this (Gen. 17:13-14)?
Zipporah expresses her anger at Moses for not circumcising their son. She throws the foreskin at Moses’ feet and calls him a bridegroom of blood to her. The term should probably be “bridegroom of bloodguiltiness.”
(Exo 4:27 NASB) Now the LORD said to Aaron, “Go to meet Moses in the wilderness.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God, and he kissed him.
(Exo 4:28 NASB) And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD with which He had sent him, and all the signs that He had commanded him to do.
Exo 4:28: Aaron and Moses met at Mount Horeb. Moses informed Aaron of what had transpired.
(Exo 4:29 NASB) Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel;
(Exo 4:30 NASB) and Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. He then performed the signs in the sight of the people.
(Exo 4:31 NASB) So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.
Exo 4:31: They assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel. Then Aaron did the speaking. Now Moses did not have to worry about how well he would communicate to the Hebrew elders.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas