Exodus 4:1-17

Signs for Moses

1 Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you’?”
2 Then the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied.
3 The LORD said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.
4 Then the LORD said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.
5 “This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”
6 Then the LORD said, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous[a] —it had become as white as snow.
7 “Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.
8 Then the LORD said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second.
9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”
10 Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
11 The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”
14 Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you.
15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.
16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him.
17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”

Exodus 4:1-17 Meaning and Commentary


This chapter is a continuation of the discourse that passed between God and Moses; and here Moses makes other objections to his mission; one is taken from the unbelief of the people of Israel, which is removed by giving him power to work miracles, by turning the rod in his hand into a serpent, and then into a rod again; and by putting his hand into his bosom at one time, when it became leprous, and again into the same place, when it became sound and whole, and by turning the water of the river into blood, Ex 4:1-9, another objection is formed from his want of eloquence, which is answered with an assurance, that God, that made man's mouth, would be with his mouth, and teach him what to say; and besides, Aaron his brother, who was an eloquent man, should be his spokesman, Ex 4:10-17 upon which he returned to Midian, and having obtained leave of his father-in-law to depart from thence, he took his wife and his sons, and returned to Egypt, Ex 4:18-20 at which time he received some fresh instructions from the Lord what he should do before Pharaoh, and what he should say unto him, Ex 4:21-23 then follows an account of what befell him by the way, because of the circumcision of his son, Ex 4:24-26 and the chapter is closed with an account of the meeting of Moses and Aaron, and of their gathering the elders of Israel together, to whom the commission of Moses was opened, and signs done before them, to which they gave credit, and expressed their joy and thankfulness, Ex 4:27-31.

Cross References 23

  • 1. S Exodus 3:18; Exodus 6:30
  • 2. ver 17,20; Genesis 38:18; Exodus 7:19; Exodus 8:5,16; Exodus 14:16,21; Exodus 17:5-6,9; Numbers 17:2; Numbers 20:8; Joshua 8:18; Judges 6:21; 1 Samuel 14:27; 2 Kings 4:29
  • 3. Ex 7:8-12,15
  • 4. ver 31; S Exodus 3:6; Exodus 14:31; Exodus 19:9
  • 5. Leviticus 13:2,11; Numbers 12:10; Deuteronomy 24:9; 2 Kings 5:1,27; 2 Chronicles 26:21
  • 6. Numbers 12:13-15; Deuteronomy 32:39; 2 Kings 5:14; Matthew 8:3; Luke 17:12-14
  • 7. S Exodus 3:18
  • 8. ver 30; Judges 6:17; 1 Kings 13:3; Isaiah 7:14; Jeremiah 44:29
  • 9. Exodus 7:17-21
  • 10. S Exodus 3:11; Exodus 6:12; Jeremiah 1:6
  • 11. Luke 1:20,64
  • 12. Psalms 94:9; Psalms 146:8; Matthew 11:5; John 10:21
  • 13. S Exodus 3:10
  • 14. ver 15-16; Numbers 23:5; Deuteronomy 18:15,18; Isaiah 50:4; Isaiah 51:16; Jeremiah 1:9; Matthew 10:19-20; Mark 13:11; S Luke 12:12; Luke 21:14-15
  • 15. John 1:1-3
  • 16. Nu 11:1,10,33; Numbers 12:9; Numbers 16:15; Numbers 22:22; Numbers 24:10; Numbers 32:13; Deuteronomy 7:25; Joshua 7:1; Job 17:8
  • 17. ver 27; 1 Samuel 10:2-5
  • 18. ver 30; Nu 23:5,12,16; Deuteronomy 18:18; Joshua 1:8; Isaiah 51:16; Isaiah 59:21; Jeremiah 1:9; Jeremiah 31:33
  • 19. Exodus 7:1-2; Jeremiah 15:19; Jeremiah 36:6
  • 20. Numbers 33:1; Psalms 77:20; Psalms 105:26; Micah 6:4
  • 21. S ver 2
  • 22. ver 20; Exodus 17:9
  • 23. Exodus 7:9-21; Exodus 8:5,16; Exodus 9:22; Exodus 10:12-15,21-23; Exodus 14:15-18,26; Numbers 14:11; Deuteronomy 4:34; Psalms 74:9; Psalms 78:43; Psalms 105:27

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. The Hebrew word for "leprous" was used for various diseases affecting the skin.
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