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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.

21. When thou goest to return. Moses had not previously enumerated the wonders; but from this verse we gather, that whatever we shall presently read to be done, was already commanded by God. There is then, no doubt, but that God had already advised him of his whole course of proceeding, lest he might yield to the obstinacy of the proud tyrant, and when two or three miracles had been wrought in vain, might cast away his rod, together with the charge committed to him. Now, therefore, God exhorts him to perseverance; and although he might perceive after three or four miracles that the obstinacy of the king was indomitable, still that he should not turn back, nor be discouraged, but should continue even unto the end. This, then, is the sum, that he should not faint nor fail, when he saw the inutility of his first efforts; nor cease to contend boldly till he had fulfilled all the objects of his vocation. Moreover, lest he might think it the effect of chance, that he did not immediately obtain the victory, or might consider it strange that the miracles should be eluded with impunity by a mere mortal, as if he stood before God unconquered in his boldness, God himself foretells that he would be the moderator of all this contest, nay, that whatsoever should seem to oppose the deliverance of his people would arise from his own secret counsel. Thus he shews Moses the reason why he should not stop until he had performed all the miracles; because the tyrant must be gloriously conquered, and overwhelmed in so many hard-fought engagements, that the victory might be more splendid. In the meantime He declares that the king of Egypt would not be thus obstinate contrary to His will; as if He could not reduce him to order in a moment; but rather that He would harden his heart in order that He might violently overwhelm his madness.5959     חזק. Constrinxit, revinxit; hinc roboravit, confirmavit; intransitive etiam invaluit, praevaluit. — Prof J Robertson Clavis Pentateuch, in loco W The word which Moses uses signifies sometimes to apprehend, sometimes to restrain by force, sometimes to strengthen; but it seemed to me that I should best render its sense by the word “constringo,” to constrain; since undoubtedly God would make it appear that he would be the President6060     Agonotheta. — Lat. Le maistre du camp. — Fr. (as it were) of all the contests in which Moses was to engage, so as even to control the heart of his adversary, and to harden it into obstinacy. Since the expression seems harsh to delicate ears, many soften it away, by turning the act into mere permission; as if there were no difference between doing and permitting to be done; or as if God would commend his passivity, and not rather his power. As to myself, I am certainly not ashamed of speaking as the Holy Spirit speaks, nor do I hesitate to believe what so often occurs in Scripture, that God gives the wicked over to a reprobate mind, gives them up to vile affections, blinds their minds and hardens their hearts. But they object, that in this way God would be made the author of sin; which would be a detestable impiety. I reply, that God is very far from the reach of blame, when he is said to exercise his judgments: wherefore, if blindness be a judgment of God, it ought not to be brought in accusation against him, that he inflicts punishment. But if the cause be often concealed from us, we should remember that God’s judgments are not without reason called a “great deep,” and, therefore, let us regard them with admiration and not with railing. But those who substitute his permission in the place of his act, not only deprive him of his authority as a judge, but in their repining, subject him to a weighty reproach, since they grant him no more of justice than their senses can understand.

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