Advertisements

Moses speaks to the Israelites - Artist unknown (1907)

Moses  again complained to God. His first attempt to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery had failed. The Israelites blame Moses – who in turn blames God.

God told Moses,

“Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. Because of my mighty hand, he will let them go. Because of my mighty hand, he will drive them out of his country.”

Moses and Aaron gather the Israelites - Unknown ArtistGod continued,

“I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty but by my name, Yahweh, I did not make myself fully known to them. I established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant with them.

Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from slavery and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgement. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.”

Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.

Then God told Moses, “Go, tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go.”

But Moses faltered, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me since I speak with faltering lips?”

Advertisements

What the story means to us today

God’s immense power must be revealed for the Israelites to truly “know” God

God tells Moses that not only will Pharaoh free the Israelites from slavery, he will drive them out of the country with fervor.

Freeing the slaves would create a tremendous economic downfall for the Egyptian state. Regardless, by God’s hand, the Egyptians will release the Israelites from bondage. This is what God meant when he said Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew him as “God” but not truly as “Yahweh” They would not truly know God, nor experience his incredible power, until he worked the miracles that freed the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.

Additional thoughts and considerations

Moses’ faltering lips – Moses continues to cover for insecurity

Moses is again fearful and feels he is not up to the task. He pleads with God, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?”

Indeed, the task God assigns Moses, to free the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, is a monumental undertaking. His fear is understandable. But God has already offered to let Aaron, Moses’ brother, speak for him. Moses’ continuing claim of faltering lips shows his apprehension is rooted in something deeper than concern that he is not sufficiently eloquent. It is clear Moses feels he has little power or influence – certainly not enough to change a king’s mind.

What Moses does not recognize (or lacks the faith to believe), is that God’s support makes him one of the most powerful people on earth. Successful completion of the task will be world-changing, and Moses will become one of the most notable figures in human history as a result.

An abrupt ending to the story?

The Israelites complain to Moses and Aaron - Artist UnknownIn most translations, the story stops here, leaving an open-ended question, “Why would Pharaoh listen to me?” The next section is an interlude of sorts. The genealogy of Moses is presented, laying the framework for all participants, before continuing the story of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from bondage.

Notes on Biblical translation

God “Almighty”

Exodus 6:3 tells us, “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God almighty”.

The word “God Almighty” (el sadday or el-shadday) has been translated as such since the LXX and Jerome. However, the true meaning of the word is not known. It has been proposed to mean “Almighty”, “high God”, and “mountain God” (possibly referring back to the Mountain of God mentioned in earlier verses).

“By my real name, the Lord, I was not known to them”

Verse 6:3 continues, “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name ‘the Lord’ I was not known to them”. The true translation of the word “the Lord” is Yahweh. The tradition of not rendering God’s name in print prompts most translations to render the text as “Lord” instead. Thus, the more accurate translation reads,

“I am Yahweh. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty but by my name Yahweh I was not known to them”.

They did not listen to Moses because of their hard labor and “discouragement”

Most translations tell us that the Israelites ignored Moses’ call for patience because of their hard labor and “discouragement”. The original Hebrew is believed to mean “shortness of spirit”, “shortness of breath”, or “weary”. However, some propose the word means “impatient” which would render the verse as “they did not listen to Moses because of their hard labor and impatience”.

“I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God”

The original Hebrew translated as “I will take you as my own people” is a common Hebrew phrase in the Bible. The same language is used when describing a marital relationship (e.g. Aaron took Elisheba to himself as a wife) and to the adoption of children. It infers a close familial, protective relationship. God is telling the Israelites that symbolically; he will adopt them as his children.

Bible Text

NIV

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”

2 God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, l but by my name the LORD n I did not make myself fully known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’ ”

9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.

10 Then the LORD said to Moses, 11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.”

12 But Moses said to the LORD, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?”

Moses and Aaron - Unknown Artist (1526)The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.

The NET Bible

6:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, for compelled by my strong hand he will release them, and by my strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”

6:2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD. 6:3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name ‘the LORD’ I was not known to them. 6:4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as resident foreigners. 6:5 I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. 6:6 Therefore, tell the Israelites, ‘I am the LORD. I will bring you out from your enslavement to the Egyptians, I will rescue you from the hard labor they impose, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 6:7 I will take you to myself for a people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from your enslavement to the Egyptians. 6:8 I will bring you to the land I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob—and I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD!’ ”

6:9  Moses told this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and hard labor. 6:10 Then the LORD said to Moses, 6:11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt that he must release the Israelites from his land.” 6:12 But Moses replied to the LORD, “If the Israelites did not listen to me, then how will Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with difficulty?”

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

New King James Version

6 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”

2 And God spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I was not known to them. 4 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; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then 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 which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD.’ ” 9 So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.

10 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 11 “Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the children of Israel go out of his land.”

12 And Moses spoke before the LORD, saying, “The children of Israel have not heeded me. How then shall Pharaoh heed me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?”

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

The Message

1 6 GOD said to Moses, “Now you’ll see what I’ll do to Pharaoh: With a strong hand he’ll send them out free; with a strong hand he’ll drive them out of his land.”

2–6 God continued speaking to Moses, reassuring him, “I am GOD. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as The Strong God, but by my name GOD (I-Am-Present) I was not known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the country in which they lived as sojourners. But now I’ve heard the groanings of the Israelites whom the Egyptians continue to enslave and I’ve remembered my covenant. Therefore tell the Israelites:

6–8 “I am GOD. I will bring you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I will rescue you from slavery. I will redeem you, intervening with great acts of judgment. I’ll take you as my own people and I’ll be God to you. You’ll know that I am GOD, your God who brings you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I’ll bring you into the land that I promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and give it to you as your own country. I AM GOD.”

9 But when Moses delivered this message to the Israelites, they didn’t even hear him—they were that beaten down in spirit by the harsh slave conditions.

10–11 Then GOD said to Moses, “Go and speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt so that he will release the Israelites from his land.”

12 Moses answered GOD, “Look—the Israelites won’t even listen to me. How do you expect Pharaoh to? And besides, I stutter.”

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

King James Version

6 Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land. 2 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: 3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I 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, wherein 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 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out 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 ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did oswear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD. 9 And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.

10 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 11 Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land. 12 And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?

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