Advertisements

Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh - Master of the Dinteville Allegory (1537)

The  Lord spoke to Moses in Egypt,

“I am the Lord. Tell Pharaoh, king of Egypt, everything I tell you.”

But Moses said to God, “Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?”

Then the Lord said to Moses,

“See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you. Your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgement, I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

Moses and Aaron turn rod into snake - Robert Leinweber (abt. 1900)Moses and Aaron did just as God commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron was eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

God told Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh asks you to perform a miracle, say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh’ and it will become a great snake.”

So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw down his staff in front of Pharaoh and his officials and it became a snake.

Advertisements

Pharaoh summoned his wise men and sorcerers and Egyptian magicians, and they did the same thing by their secret arts. Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said he would do.

What the story means to us today

God’s power cannot be bested

This time, God offers an extended explanation of how he will deliver the Israelites from Egyptian captivity. He then sends Moses and Aaron on their mission.

To convince Pharaoh he should free the Israelites, Aaron throws down his staff and it becomes a snake. But Pharaoh’s magicians are able to do the same thing. However, Aaron’s snake gobbles up the snakes summoned by Pharaoh’s magicians. God’s power cannot be bested, a lesson that will be demonstrated to Pharaoh several times before he finally concedes.

Additional thoughts and considerations

How did Pharaoh’s magicians turn their staffs into snakes?

Ancient Egypt commonly turned to secret charms, spells, and rituals. They held a massive library of spells housed in an area of the Egyptian temples known as “The House of Life”. Historical Egyptian documents describe “black magic” feats such as turning a wax crocodile into a real one and making a snake as stiff as a staff.

Aaron's rod turning into a serpent before Pharaoh and his officials - Artist UnknownSome propose Pharaoh’s magicians paralyzed a snake by pressing on the back of its head, then threw it on the ground to revive it. It was a well-known magic trick in ancient times and one that the magicians would have surely known how to do. However, Aaron’s act exceeds the “trick” performed by Pharaoh’s magicians – his staff eats the staffs of all Pharaoh’s men proving that God’s miracle was no magic trick.

Pharaoh’s hardened heart

Despite Moses’ miracle, Pharaoh refuses to let the Israelites go. The verses tell us “Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.” God knew what Pharaoh’s response would be before Moses and Aaron were sent on their mission.

Possibly God strengthens Pharaoh’s resolve knowing that a greater victory, with an even greater reward, is in store for the Israelites. More likely, however, it is God’s plan to allow man to choose their destiny. God gives man freewill and thus, Pharaoh is free to choose whether to let Moses go or not.

Moses and Aaron’s age

The verses tell us “Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh”. The Old Testament often gives us ages of participants when a major event is about to take place. Participant ages were commonly recorded in leu of specific dates.

Notes on Biblical translation

Your staff will become a “snake”

Aaron's rod becomes a snake - Artist unknownThe original Hebrew word used here for “snake” differs from past verses. In this instance, the Hebrew word means “great serpent” (or sea monster, dragon, crocodile). It’s a generic term used for large snake-like creatures. The word suggests Egyptian symbolism for their snake gods (e.g. Apophis, Wadjit) and hints that the snake Moses summoned was greater than all others.

Bible Text

NIV

28 Now when the LORD spoke to Moses in Egypt, 29 he said to him, “I am the LORD. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you.”

30 But Moses said to the LORD, “Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?”

7 Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. 2 You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. 5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

6 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD commanded them. 7 Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

8 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.”

10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said.

The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.

The NET Bible

6:28  When the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 6:29 he said to him, “I am the LORD. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I am telling you.” 6:30 But Moses said before the LORD, “Since I speak with difficulty, why should Pharaoh listen to me?”

7:1 So the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. 7:2 You are to speak everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh that he must release the Israelites from his land. 7:3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and although I will multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt, 7:4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. I will reach into Egypt and bring out my regiments, my people the Israelites, from the land of Egypt with great acts of judgment. 7:5 Then the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD, when I extend my hand over Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them.

7:6 And Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the LORD commanded them. 7:7 Now Moses was eighty years old and Aaron was eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh.

7:8 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 7:9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Do a miracle,’ and you say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ it will become a snake.” 7:10 When Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, they did so, just as the LORD had commanded them—Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants and it became a snake. 7:11 Then Pharaoh also summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the magicians of Egypt by their secret arts did the same thing. 7:12 Each man threw down his staff, and the staffs became snakes. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 7:13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard, and he did not listen to them, just as the LORD had predicted.

Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006. Print.

Aaron's rod turning serpent before Pharaoh and his officials - Artist UnknownNew King James Version

28 And it came to pass, on the day 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 But Moses said before the LORD, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh heed me?”

7 So the LORD said to Moses: “See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land. 3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.”

6 Then Moses and Aaron did so; just as the LORD commanded them, so they did. 7 And Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh.

8 Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 9 “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Show a miracle for yourselves,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and cast it before Pharaoh, and let it become a serpent.’ ” 10 So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, just as the LORD commanded. And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent.

11 But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. 13 And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the LORD had said.

The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

The Message

28 And that’s how things stood when GOD next spoke to Moses in Egypt.

29 God addressed Moses, saying, “I am GOD. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I say to you.”

30 And Moses answered, “Look at me. I stutter. Why would Pharaoh listen to me?”

1–5 7 GOD told Moses, “Look at me. I’ll make you as a god to Pharaoh and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to speak everything I command you, and your brother Aaron will tell it to Pharaoh. Then he will release the Israelites from his land. At the same time I am going to put Pharaoh’s back up and follow it up by filling Egypt with signs and wonders. Pharaoh is not going to listen to you, but I will have my way against Egypt and bring out my soldiers, my people the Israelites, from Egypt by mighty acts of judgment. The Egyptians will realize that I am GOD when I step in and take the Israelites out of their country.”

6–7 Moses and Aaron did exactly what GOD commanded. Moses was eighty and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

8–9 Then GOD spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said, “When Pharaoh speaks to you and says, ‘Prove yourselves. Perform a miracle,’ then tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh: It will turn into a snake.’ ”

10 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did what GOD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his servants, and it turned into a snake.

11–12 Pharaoh called in his wise men and sorcerers. The magicians of Egypt did the same thing by their incantations: each man threw down his staff and they all turned into snakes. But then Aaron’s staff swallowed their staffs.

13 Yet Pharaoh was as stubborn as ever—he wouldn’t listen to them, just as GOD had said.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.

King James Version

28 And it came to pass on the day when the LORD spake unto Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 That the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, I am the LORD: speak thou unto Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say unto thee. 30 And Moses said before the LORD, Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me?

7 And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. 2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. 3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them. 6 And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they. 7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.

8 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. 10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. 13 And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009. Print.

Sources: NIV, The Message, The NET Bible, King James Version, NET Bible Notes, Faithlife Study Bible, The Apologetics Study Bible, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary, The Bible Reader’s Companion, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Holman Concise Bible Commentary, The Bible Exposition Commentary, The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, The Teacher’s Commentary, The Bible Guide, Word Studies in the New Testament, Holman Bible Handbook, Calvin Commentaries, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines, The New Manner and Customs of the Bible, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Bible Dictionary, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, The Archaeological Encyclopedia, Biblical Archaeology Review, The New Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Analytical Lexicon, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Advertisements