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Exodus 3:15-17

15. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

15. Et dixit rursum Deus ad Mosen, Sic dices filiis Israel, Jehova Deus patrum vestrorum, Deus Abrahae, Deus Isaac, et Deus Jacob, misit me ad vos. Hoc est nomen meum in perpetuum, et memoriale meum in seculum et seculum.

16. Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt.

16. Vade et congrega seniores Israel, et dices illis, Jehova Deus patrum vestrorum apparuit mihi, Deus Abrahae, Isaac, et Jacob, dicendo, Recordando recordatus sum vestri, et quid vobis factum fuerit in Aegypto.

17. Propterea dixi, Educam vos ex afflictione Aegypti ad terrain Chananaei, et Hitthaei, et Amorrhaei, et Pheresaei, et Hivaei, et Jebusaei, ad terram fluentem lacte et melle.

17. And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.

15. And God said moreover. God again assumes his name taken from the covenant which he had made with Abraham and his posterity, that the Israelites may know that they do not deceive themselves in an uncertain God, provided they depart not from the religion of their fathers; for as soldiers assemble round their standard to maintain the order of their ranks, so does he command them to look back upon the special grace of their adoption, and to know that they are a people elected of God, because they are Abraham’s sons. He confines them within these limits, that they may not wander about in search of God. For we know that whatever opinions were held by the Gentiles as to the Deity, were not only entangled with many errors, but were also ambiguous, so that they were always wavering with respect to them. God demands another kind of religion from his people, on the certainty of which their hearts may depend. Besides, their long sojourn in the land of Egypt, although it had not destroyed the knowledge of the true God, had yet much obscured that light of revelation which their fathers possessed. And again, the promise might seem to be obsolete, when they had received no assistance, whilst overwhelmed in such an abyss of misery; and on this ground the faith received from their fathers had undoubtedly grown cold. Wherefore, that they may learn to repose upon it, he calls himself the God of their fathers, and declares, that by this title he will be celebrated for ever; for I cannot consent to refer this to the previous expression, “I am that I am,” since the context does not admit of it. Hence might be inferred the incomparable love of God towards his chosen people, because he had passed over all the nations of the earth, and had attached himself to them alone. But we must remember, that although it was honorable to Abraham and the patriarchs for God to take his name from them, yet that the main object of this was to confirm the truth of his promise. There may be an apparent incongruity in saying, “this is my memorial unto all generations,” because a much more excellent memorial succeeded in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ; but my reply is, that since, in the coming of Christ, the truth of the covenant made with Abraham was shewn forth, and was thus demonstrated to be firm and infallible, its memory was rather renewed than destroyed; and that thus it still survives and flourishes in the Gospel, since Abraham even now ceases not to be the father of the faithful, under the one Head. We conclude that God would not be spoken of on earth, without the effects of his gratuitous adoption appearing, by which he may be proved to be faithful and true.

16. Go and gather. Because it was not easy either to gather the whole people into one place, or for his commission to be heard by so great a multitude, Moses is commanded to begin with the elders, and to speak to them concerning their coming deliverance, that they may thus by their authority arouse the body of the people to a good hope. For their dismissal must be sought for from the king in the name of all, and all their minds prepared for departure; since, unless they had timely notice of it, there would have been no general consent to embrace the mercy of God. It was then of great importance that the vocation of Moses should be well known, that they might boldly follow him as the leader set over them by God. He does not express without a purpose, that the God who had been seen by him, was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; for the vision, which would have been otherwise hardly credited by the people, depended on the ancient covenant which was deposited with them. Therefore, in order to obtain belief for his words, Moses reminds them that the deliverance, of which he was now about to treat, and of which he is appointed by God as the leader, was formerly promised in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Lastly, because we usually receive with difficulty what is new and strange, Moses therefore lays his foundation on the old revelations, which were beyond the reach of doubt. But he repeats what he had before related to be said to himself, thus setting before the others what he had privately heard to assure him of his vocation. We know that when God does not immediately succour us in our adversities, our minds are worn down with grief, and sink into despair; because we think that God has no care for us. Lest, therefore, the minds of the Israelites should despond, Moses is commanded to tell them that it is God’s time for remembering them; and, although he might seem not to behold for a while, yet that he would not for ever forget his own people. What follows, that the injuries done to them by the Egyptians had come into account, is added in confirmation; for, since he is judge of the world, he cannot but rise as an avenger after long endurance of injustice and tyranny. Let us, too, learn from this passage, when God seems to turn away his face from us, by delaying to help us, to wait patiently until he looks upon us in due season; since his forgetfulness is only temporary, when he gives us over to the will of our enemies. I have shewn elsewhere how these phrases are to be understood, viz., that according to the estimate of our own senses, things are attributed to God which do not properly belong to him.

17. And I have said. By this expression God reminds us that he in his secret counsel determines what he will do, and therefore that we must put a restraint on our desires, which otherwise press forward too fast, and let him freely and voluntarily appoint what he knows to be best to be done; not because he has need of taking time to deliberate, but that we may learn to depend on his providence. By this decree the children of Israel were assured that the end of their woes was near, because there is nothing which can prevent God from performing his work. But he speaks briefly, as of a thing well known; because what had been handed down through the patriarchs, as to their future deliverance, was not entirely forgotten. He enumerates several nations whose lands He would give them, that he might thus the more attract them to come forth. With the same object he affirms that the whole country flows “with milk and honey,” lest its barrenness should alarm them, because famine had driven their fathers out from thence. But although the land of Canaan was naturally fertile, there is no doubt but that its fruitfulness chiefly arose from the blessing of God. The conclusion is, that a spacious dwelling-place is prepared for them, since for their sake God will drive out many nations, that they may possess the habitations of them all; and that, finally, they need not fear want, because God will abundantly supply them with food, as if the whole of that land were filled with rivers of milk and honey.

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