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Moses’ Miraculous Power


Then Moses answered, “But suppose they do not believe me or listen to me, but say, ‘The L ord did not appear to you.’ ” 2The L ord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 3And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw the staff on the ground, and it became a snake; and Moses drew back from it. 4Then the L ord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand, and seize it by the tail”—so he reached out his hand and grasped it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5“so that they may believe that the L ord, the God of their ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

6 Again, the L ord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” He put his hand into his cloak; and when he took it out, his hand was leprous, as white as snow. 7Then God said, “Put your hand back into your cloak”—so he put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored like the rest of his body— 8“If they will not believe you or heed the first sign, they may believe the second sign. 9If they will not believe even these two signs or heed you, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

10 But Moses said to the L ord, “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 11Then the L ord said to him, “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the L ord? 12Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.” 13But he said, “O my Lord, please send someone else.” 14Then the anger of the L ord was kindled against Moses and he said, “What of your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he can speak fluently; even now he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you his heart will be glad. 15You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and will teach you what you shall do. 16He indeed shall speak for you to the people; he shall serve as a mouth for you, and you shall serve as God for him. 17Take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”

Moses Returns to Egypt

18 Moses went back to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him, “Please let me go back to my kindred in Egypt and see whether they are still living.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” 19The L ord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt; for all those who were seeking your life are dead.” 20So Moses took his wife and his sons, put them on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt; and Moses carried the staff of God in his hand.

21 And the L ord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the L ord: Israel is my firstborn son. 23I said to you, “Let my son go that he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; now I will kill your firstborn son.’ ”

24 On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the L ord met him and tried to kill him. 25But Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched Moses’ feet with it, and said, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26So he let him alone. It was then she said, “A bridegroom of blood by circumcision.”

27 The L ord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went; and he met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28Moses told Aaron all the words of the L ord with which he had sent him, and all the signs with which he had charged him. 29Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the Israelites. 30Aaron spoke all the words that the L ord had spoken to Moses, and performed the signs in the sight of the people. 31The people believed; and when they heard that the L ord had given heed to the Israelites and that he had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

14. And the anger of the Lord was kindled. This passage confirms, by opposition, that expression, that there is no better sacrifice than to obey the voice of the Lord, (1 Samuel 15:22,) since God is so grievously offended with the hesitation of Moses, in spite of his specious excuses. But nothing is more pleasing to God than to maintain the authority of his word, and that men should suffer themselves to be guided by this rein. God had pardoned His servant’s slowness and unwillingness to the work; but beholding that he obstinately refused, He spares him no longer. Hence we are warned cautiously to beware, lest if God bear with us for a time, we give way to self-indulgence, as if we were permitted to abuse His patience with impunity. Still it is a mark of His fatherly kindness, that in His anger He contents Himself with reproof. As to His saying that he knew that Aaron would be his brother’s interpreter, it is questionable whether He had intended from the beginning to employ him in this way, or whether He conceded thus much at length to the diffidence of Moses.

It is indeed true, that God does nothing which He has not decreed by His secret providence before the creation of the world; yet sometimes second causes intervene why this or that should be done. Either view is probable, — either that God affirms Aaron to be already chosen by Him to be an assistant to Moses, or that He says He will grant this concession to the infirmity of Moses. The latter pleases me best, that Aaron should be added in anger as his brother’s companion, and that part of the honor should be transferred to him; when Moses, by his own repugnance, had deprived himself of some of his dignity. But why is he called “the Levite,” as if he were an unknown person? Some reply, that there were many among the Israelites of that name; but this simple solution satisfies me, that it was not any indifferent individual of the children of Israel who was promised to Moses as his companion, but his own brother; one who, by his close relationship, might exercise greater familiarity with him. Unless, perhaps, God looked forward to the future calling of the tribe of Levi; for he tells us, by the mouth of Malachi, that His covenant was with Levi, that his descendants should be the keepers of the law and of the truth, and the messengers of the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 2:4-8.) Thus the sense would be very satisfactory, that God would restrain His wrath, and although aroused to anger by the refusal of Moses, he would still take an ambassador out of that tribe which he destined to the priesthood. Moreover, no slight confirmation is added, in that Aaron would come forth to meet his brother in the Desert, and would receive him with great joy. It was as much as to shew that whilst God was pressing forward His servant from the land of Midian with the one hand, He would stretch forth the other to draw him into Egypt. Though the vision ought to have quickened him to perform God’s command, yet because it was necessary to stimulate his inactivity, Aaron was sent, as if God openly put forth His hand to excite him forward. For he had neither come into the Desert for pleasure, nor by chance, nor from vain curiosity; but Moses knew assuredly that a banner thus was set up for him by God, to shew him the certainty of his way. So by the coming of Ananias the vision seen by Paul was confirmed, and placed beyond the reach of doubt. (Acts 9:17.) This was, indeed, extorted from God by the importunity of Moses. According to His infinite goodness He willed to elicit from the sin of His servant materials for His grace; just as He is accustomed to bring light out of darkness. (2 Corinthians 4:6.) God mentions his brother’s gladness to Moses, in order to reprove his own indifference; as much as to say, Aaron will willingly come forth, and will receive you with joy and gladness; whilst you, depressed with sorrow and anxiety, or stupified by distrust, can scarcely be induced to stir a foot.

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