Exodus 4

Moses Given Powers

1 Then Moses said, "What if they will not believe me or 1listen to what I say? For they may say, '2The LORD has not appeared to you.' "
2 The LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" And he said, "3A staff."
3 Then He said, "Throw it on the ground." So he threw it on the ground, and 4it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.
4 But the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail "-so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand -
5 "that 5they may believe that 6the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you."
6 The LORD furthermore said to him, "Now put your hand into your bosom." So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was 7leprous like snow.
7 Then He said, "Put your hand into your bosom again." So he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, 8it was restored like the rest of his flesh.
8 "If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign.
9 "But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile 9will become blood on the dry ground."
10 Then Moses said to the LORD, "Please, Lord, 10I have never been eloquent *, neither recently * nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue."
11 The LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or 11who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
12 "Now then go, and 12I, even I, will be with your mouth, and 13teach you what you are to say."
13 But he said, "Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will."

Aaron to Be Moses' Mouthpiece

14 Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses, and He said, "Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, 14he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.
15 "You are to speak to him and 15put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do.
16 "Moreover, 16he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him.
17 "You shall take in your hand 17this staff, 18with which you shall perform the signs."
18 Then Moses departed and returned to Jethro 19his father-in-law and said to him, "Please, let me go, that I may return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see if they are still alive." And Jethro said to Moses, "Go in peace."
19 Now the LORD said to Moses in Midian, "Go back to Egypt, for 20all the men who were seeking your life are dead."
20 So Moses took his wife and his 21sons and mounted them on a donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt. Moses also took the 22staff of God in his hand.
21 The LORD said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all 23the wonders which I have put in your power; but 24I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.
22 "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD, "25Israel is My son, My firstborn.
23 "So I said to you, '26Let My son go that he may serve Me'; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, 27I will kill your son, your firstborn.""'
24 Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the LORD met him and 28sought to put him to death.
25 Then Zipporah took 29a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and threw it at Moses' feet, and she said, "You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me."
26 So He let him alone. At that time she said, "You are a bridegroom of blood "-because of the circumcision.
27 30Now the LORD said to Aaron, "Go to meet Moses in the wilderness." So he went and met him at the 31mountain of God and kissed him.
28 32Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD with which He had sent him, and 33all the signs that He had commanded him to do.
29 Then Moses and Aaron went and 34assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel;
30 and 35Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. He then performed the 36signs in the sight of the people.
31 So 37the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD 38was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then 39they bowed low and worshiped.

Exodus 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

God gives Moses power to work miracles. (1-9) Moses is loth to be sent, Aaron is to assist him. (10-17) Moses leaves Midian, God's message to Pharaoh. (18-23) God's displeasure against Moses, Aaron meets him, The people believe them. (24-31)

Verses 1-9 Moses objects, that the people would not take his word, unless he showed them some sign. God gives him power to work miracles. But those who are now employed to deliver God's messages to men, need not the power to work miracles: their character and their doctrines are to be tried by that word of God to which they appeal. These miracles especially referred to the miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ. It belonged to Him only, to cast the power of the devil out of the soul, and to heal the soul of the leprosy of sin; and so it was for Him first to cast the devil out of the body, and to heal the leprosy of the body.

Verses 10-17 Moses continued backward to the work God designed him for; there was much of cowardice, slothfulness, and unbelief in him. We must not judge of men by the readiness of their discourse. A great deal of wisdom and true worth may be with a slow tongue. God sometimes makes choice of those as his messengers, who have the least of the advantages of art or nature, that his grace in them may appear the more glorious. Christ's disciples were no orators, till the Holy Spirit made them such. God condescends to answer the excuse of Moses. Even self-diffidence, when it hinders us from duty, or clogs us in duty, is very displeasing to the Lord. But while we blame Moses for shrinking from this dangerous service, let us ask our own hearts if we are not neglecting duties more easy, and less perilous. The tongue of Aaron, with the head and heart of Moses, would make one completely fit for this errand. God promises, I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth. Even Aaron, who could speak well, yet could not speak to purpose, unless God gave constant teaching and help; for without the constant aid of Divine grace, the best gifts will fail.

Verses 18-23 After God had appeared in the bush, he often spake to Moses. Pharaoh had hardened his own heart against the groans and cries of the oppressed Israelites; and now God, in the way of righteous judgment, hardens his heart against the teaching of the miracles, and the terror of the plagues. But whether Pharaoh will hear, or whether he will forbear, Moses must tell him, Thus saith the Lord. He must demand a discharge for Israel, Let my son go; not only my servant, whom thou hast no right to detain, but my son. It is my son that serves me, and therefore must be spared, must be pleaded for. In case of refusal I will slay thy son, even thy first-born. As men deal with God's people, let them expect so to be dealt with.

Verses 24-31 God met Moses in anger. The Lord threatened him with death or sent sickness upon him, as the punishment of his having neglected to circumcise his son. When God discovers to us what is amiss in our lives, we must give all diligence to amend it speedily. This is the voice of every rod; it calls us to return to Him that smites us. God sent Aaron to meet Moses. The more they saw of God's bringing them together, the more pleasant their interview was. The elders of Israel met them in faith, and were ready to obey them. It often happens, that less difficulty is found than was expected, in such undertakings as are according to the will of God, and for his glory. Let us but arise and try at our proper work, the Lord will be with us and prosper us. If Israel welcomed the tidings of their deliverance, and worshipped the Lord, how should we welcome the glad tidings of redemption, embrace it in faith, and adore the Redeemer!

Cross References 39

  • 1. Exodus 3:18; Exodus 6:30
  • 2. Exodus 3:15, 16
  • 3. Exodus 4:17, 20
  • 4. Exodus 7:10-12
  • 5. Exodus 4:31; Exodus 19:9
  • 6. Genesis 28:13; Genesis 48:15; Exodus 3:6, 15
  • 7. Numbers 12:10; 2 Kings 5:27
  • 8. Numbers 12:13-15; Deuteronomy 32:39; 2 Kings 5:14; Matthew 8:3; Luke 17:12-14
  • 9. Exodus 7:19, 20
  • 10. Exodus 3:11; Exodus 4:1; Exodus 6:12; Jeremiah 1:6
  • 11. Psalms 94:9; Psalms 146:8; Matthew 11:5; Luke 1:20, 64
  • 12. Exodus 4:15, 16; Deuteronomy 18:18; Isaiah 50:4; Jeremiah 1:9
  • 13. Matthew 10:19, 20; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11, 12; Luke 21:14, 15
  • 14. Exodus 4:27
  • 15. Exodus 4:12, 30; Exodus 7:1; Num 23:5, 12, 16; Deuteronomy 18:18; Isaiah 51:16; Isaiah 59:21; Jeremiah 1:9
  • 16. Exodus 7:1, 2
  • 17. Exodus 4:2, 20; Exodus 17:9
  • 18. Exodus 7:9-20; Exodus 14:16
  • 19. Exodus 2:21; Exodus 3:1
  • 20. Exodus 2:15, 23
  • 21. Exodus 18:3, 4; Acts 7:29
  • 22. Exodus 4:17; Exodus 17:9; Num 20:8, 9, 11
  • 23. Exodus 3:20; Exodus 11:9, 10
  • 24. Exodus 7:3, 13; Exodus 9:12, 35; Exodus 10:1, 20, 27; Exodus 14:4, 8; Deuteronomy 2:30; Joshua 11:20; 1 Samuel 6:6; Isaiah 63:17; John 12:40; Romans 9:18
  • 25. Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 31:9; Hosea 11:1; Romans 9:4
  • 26. Exodus 5:1; Exodus 6:11; Exodus 7:16
  • 27. Exodus 11:5; Exodus 12:29; Psalms 105:36; Psalms 135:8; Psalms 136:10
  • 28. Numbers 22:22
  • 29. Genesis 17:14; Joshua 5:2, 3
  • 30. Exodus 4:14
  • 31. Exodus 3:1; Exodus 18:5; Exodus 24:13
  • 32. Exodus 4:15
  • 33. Exodus 4:8
  • 34. Exodus 3:16
  • 35. Exodus 4:15, 16
  • 36. Exodus 4:1-9
  • 37. Exodus 3:18; Exodus 4:8; Exodus 19:9
  • 38. Genesis 50:24; Exodus 3:16
  • 39. Genesis 24:26; Exodus 12:27; 1 Chronicles 29:20

Footnotes 18

Chapter Summary


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 Commentaries

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