Shemot 4

1 And Moshe answered and said, But, what if they will not believe me, nor pay heed unto my voice but will say, Hashem hath not appeared unto thee.
2 And Hashem said unto him, What is that in thine yad? And he said, A matteh (a rod, staff).
3 And He said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a nachash; and Moshe fled from before it.
4 And Hashem said unto Moshe, Put forth thine yad, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his yad, and caught it, and it became a matteh in his yad;
5 That they may believe that Hashem Elohei Avotam, Elohei Avraham, Elohei Yitzchak, and Elohei Ya’akov, hath appeared unto thee.
6 And Hashem said furthermore unto him, Put now thine yad into thy kheyk. And he put his yad into his kheyk; and when he took it out, hinei, his yad was leprous as snow.
7 And He said, Put thine yad into thy kheyk again. And he put his yad into his kheyk again; and plucked it out of his kheyk, and, hinei, it was turned again as his other basar.
8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither pay heed to the voice of haOt Harishon, that they will believe the voice of haOt haAcharon.
9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two otot, neither pay heed unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the mayim of the Nile, and pour it upon the yabashah (dry land); and the mayim which thou takest out of the Nile shall become dahm upon the yabashah.
10 And Moshe said unto Hashem, O Adonoi, I am not an ish devarim, neither heretofore, nor since Thou hast spoken unto Thy eved; but I am slow of speech, and of a slow lashon.
11 And Hashem said unto him, Who hath made man’s peh (mouth)? Or who maketh dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, Hashem?
12 Now therefore go, and Eh-heh-yeh (I will be) with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
13 And he said, O Adonoi, send, now, by the yad of him whom Thou wilt send.
14 And the Af Hashem was kindled against Moshe, and He said, Is there not Aharon thy ach the Levi? I know that he can speak well. And also, hinei, he cometh forth to meet thee; and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his lev.
15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth; and Eh-heh-yeh (I will be) with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people; and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of Elohim.
17 And thou shalt take this matteh in thine yad, wherewith thou shalt do haOtot.
18 And Moshe went and returned to Yitro his khoten (father-in-law), and said unto him, Let me go, now, and return unto my achim which are in Mitzrayim, and see whether they be yet alive. And Yitro said to Moshe, Lech l’shalom (go in peace).
19 And Hashem said unto Moshe in Midyan, Go, shuv (return) into Mitzrayim; for all the anashim are dead which sought thy life.
20 And Moshe took his isha and his banim, and set them upon a donkey, and he returned to Eretz Mitzrayim; and matteh HaElohim in his yad.
21 And Hashem said unto Moshe, When thou goest to return into Mitzrayim, see that thou do all those mofetim before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine yad: but I will harden his lev, that he shall not let HaAm go.
22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith Hashem, Yisroel is beni (My son), even My bechor (first-born):
23 And I say unto thee, Let beni (My son) go, that he may serve Me: and if thou refuse to let him go, hinei, I will slay thy ben, even thy bechor.
24 And it came to pass on the derech at the malon, that Hashem met him, and sought to kill him.
25 Then Tzipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the arlat ben (foreskin of son) of her, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a choson damim (a bridegroom of blood) art thou to me.
26 So He let him go; then she said, A choson damim thou art, because of the circumcision (i.e., [bris] milah).
27 And Hashem said to Aharon, Go into the midbar to meet Moshe. And he went, and met him in the Har HaElohim, and kissed him.
28 And Moshe told Aharon kol divrei Hashem who had sent him, and all haOtot He had commanded him.
29 And Moshe and Aharon went and assembled together kol Ziknei Bnei Yisroel;
30 And Aharon spoke all hadevarim which Hashem had spoken unto Moshe; and he did haOtot before the eyes of HaAm.
31 And HaAm believed; and when they heard that Hashem had visited the Bnei Yisroel, and that He had looked upon their oni, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.

Shemot 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!

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.

Shemot 4 Commentaries

The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002,2003,2008,2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International. All rights reserved.