Exodus 4:21-23

21 The LORD said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.
22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son,
23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’ ”

Exodus 4:21-23 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO EXODUS 4

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.

Exodus 4:21-23 In-Context

19 Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead.”
20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.
21 The LORD said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.
22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son,
23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’ ”
24 At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him.
25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said.

Cross References 7

  • 1. S Exodus 3:19,20
  • 2. Exodus 7:3,13; Exodus 8:15; Exodus 9:12,35; Exodus 10:1,20,27; Exodus 11:10; Exodus 14:4,8; Deuteronomy 2:30; Joshua 11:20; 1 Samuel 6:6; Psalms 105:25; Isaiah 6:10; Isaiah 63:17; John 12:40; Romans 9:18
  • 3. Exodus 8:32; Exodus 9:17
  • 4. S Genesis 10:15; Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 3:19; Jeremiah 31:9; Hosea 11:1; Malachi 2:10; Romans 9:4; 2 Corinthians 6:18
  • 5. Exodus 5:1; Exodus 7:16
  • 6. S Exodus 3:18
  • 7. Genesis 49:3; Exodus 11:5; Exodus 12:12,29; Numbers 8:17; Numbers 33:4; Psalms 78:51; Psalms 105:36; Psalms 135:8; Psalms 136:10