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Exodus - Chapter 04

Bible Study Notes

Exodus 4:1-9 Moses feared on what to do when the people wouldn’t believe Moses. The Lord will perform miracles through Moses as proof to the children of Israel: The staff turning into a serpent, his hand turning leprous, and the water from the Nile River turning to blood.

Exodus 4:10-17 Moses feared public speaking and felt inadequate in his ability to speak for the Lord. The Lord assures Moses that He, the Lord, will be Moses’ mouth; Another miracle. Moses still feared and didn’t want the job. The Lord was angry with Moses, but granted his request. The Lord will tell Moses what to say, but Moses will tell his brother Aaron, and Aaron will speak to Pharaoh.

Notes: The instructions to Moses and Aaron here describe the responsibilities of a prophet who is called to speak exclusively and exhaustively what God reveals. Typically, a prophet is both the recipient and deliverer of God’s message, but in this case Aaron is the recipient and deliverer of Moses’ message. When God says that Moses shall be as God to Aaron, he is calling both of these men to faithfulness in their respective roles of relating what he reveals. From his upbringing, Moses was likely already familiar with someone being the “mouth” of another person. In ancient Egypt, there was a high official called “the mouth of the king” whose job was to mediate between the “god” Pharaoh and the people of Egypt by speaking Pharaoh’s words unaltered to the people.

Exodus 4:18-23 Moses asks leave of his father-in-law to see if his people are still alive, avoiding telling him the exact truth of his mission. When the time came, God commanded Moses that it was time to go, especially seeing that all those in Egypt that wanted him dead were dead themselves. God told Moses that Pharaoh will initially refuse to let the children of Israel go free and because of this, God will kill Egypt’s first-born sons.

Notes: To the ancient Egyptians, the firstborn son was special and sacred, and the Pharaoh considered himself the only son of the gods. Now he heard of a whole nation designated as God’s firstborn son, meaning “declared and treated as first in rank, preeminent, with the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of being actually the firstborn.” The Lord pointedly referred to the nation collectively in the singular in order to show that he was a father in what he would do, i.e., bring a nation into existence, then nurture and lead him.

Exodus 4:24-26 The Lord sought to kill Moses on the way because Moses never circumcised his son. Zipporah somehow knew this and performed the circumcision herself. The result, however, was God’s foregoing the threat and letting Moses go.

Notes: Not only has the Lord remembered his covenant promises (2:24), but his people are also called to remember the conditions of the covenant. Moses is held responsible for the provisions of the covenant with Abraham that required him to circumcise his sons (Gen. 17:9–14). Failure to be circumcised may lead to being “cut off” (some form of severe punishment from God; see notes on Gen. 17:14; Ex. 12:15; Lev. 7:11–36; Num. 9:6–14). Moses’ failure to circumcise his son could have led to his death, had it not been for his wife’s action. Once again, Moses’ life is preserved through the actions of another, this time through his wife Zipporah.

Exodus 4:27-30 God appeared to Aaron and told him to go and meet Moses at Mt. Horeb (Sinai). Moses revealed to Aaron God’s plan. When they reached Egypt, they gathered together all the elders and leaders of the children of Israel, told them God’s plan, and performed the three miracles to prove to them their mission was true. Upon believing, the children of Israel bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord.

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