Exodus 4:23

23 and I say to you, "Let my son go that he may serve me." If you refuse to let him go, behold, I 1will kill your firstborn son.'"

Exodus 4:23 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 4:23

And I say unto thee, let my son go, that he may serve me
Worship God according to his will in the place he had designed for him, and where he might be safe and free; and which service was due from him as a son, and to be performed not in a servile way, but in a filial manner, and therefore as a servant he could demand his dismission, and much more as his son; and this is required in an authoritative way, for saying is here commanding, insisting on it as a point of right to be done: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy
meaning, not only in a strict and literal sense Pharaoh's firstborn son, and heir to his crown, but the firstborn of all his subjects, which in a civil sense were his. This was not to be said to Pharaoh at the first opening of his commission to him, but after all methods had been tried, and the several other plagues designed were inflicted on him to no purpose, he was to be told this, which was the last plague, and succeeded; but this is told to Moses before hand, that when other messages he should be sent with to him, and all that should be done by him would prove ineffectual, this, when sent with and performed, would have the desired effect.

Exodus 4:23 In-Context

21 And the LORD said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.
22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son,
23 and I say to you, "Let my son go that he may serve me." If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.'"
24 At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death.
25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it and said, "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!"

Cross References 1

  • 1. Exodus 11:5; Exodus 12:29
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.