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Moses’ Miraculous Power


Then Moses answered, “But suppose they do not believe me or listen to me, but say, ‘The L ord did not appear to you.’ ” 2The L ord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 3And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw the staff on the ground, and it became a snake; and Moses drew back from it. 4Then the L ord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand, and seize it by the tail”—so he reached out his hand and grasped it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5“so that they may believe that the L ord, the God of their ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

6 Again, the L ord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” He put his hand into his cloak; and when he took it out, his hand was leprous, as white as snow. 7Then God said, “Put your hand back into your cloak”—so he put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored like the rest of his body— 8“If they will not believe you or heed the first sign, they may believe the second sign. 9If they will not believe even these two signs or heed you, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

10 But Moses said to the L ord, “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 11Then the L ord said to him, “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the L ord? 12Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.” 13But he said, “O my Lord, please send someone else.” 14Then the anger of the L ord was kindled against Moses and he said, “What of your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he can speak fluently; even now he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you his heart will be glad. 15You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and will teach you what you shall do. 16He indeed shall speak for you to the people; he shall serve as a mouth for you, and you shall serve as God for him. 17Take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”

Moses Returns to Egypt

18 Moses went back to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him, “Please let me go back to my kindred in Egypt and see whether they are still living.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” 19The L ord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt; for all those who were seeking your life are dead.” 20So Moses took his wife and his sons, put them on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt; and Moses carried the staff of God in his hand.

21 And the L ord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the L ord: Israel is my firstborn son. 23I said to you, “Let my son go that he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; now I will kill your firstborn son.’ ”

24 On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the L ord met him and tried to kill him. 25But Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched Moses’ feet with it, and said, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26So he let him alone. It was then she said, “A bridegroom of blood by circumcision.”

27 The L ord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went; and he met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28Moses told Aaron all the words of the L ord with which he had sent him, and all the signs with which he had charged him. 29Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the Israelites. 30Aaron spoke all the words that the L ord had spoken to Moses, and performed the signs in the sight of the people. 31The people believed; and when they heard that the L ord had given heed to the Israelites and that he had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

1. And Moses answered. Moses relates in this chapter how hesitatingly he obeyed God, not from stubbornness, but from timidity, for he does not shake off the yoke, as unruly beasts do, but shrinks away from it, that it may not be placed upon him.5050     “Pensant qu’il ne luy peut estre approprie;” thinking that it cannot be fitted to him. — Fr. And hence we may better perceive under what infirmity he labored, so that his faith was almost stifled. On the one side, he was willing and ready to obey; but when the arduous difficulties of his task presented themselves, he could not escape from this conflict until he had exhausted all efforts to escape. Nor indeed can we greatly wonder that he resisted for a time, since he could see scarcely any advantage in his undertaking. I admit that he ought to have proceeded according to God’s command, even with his eyes shut, since on His will alone all believers are bound to depend; he ought not to have judged of a thing (in itself) incredible, from his own reasoning, but from the voice of God. Nor, in point of fact, did he either refuse to credit God’s words, or wish to reject the burden imposed upon him; but when, on the other hand, he beheld dangers from which he could not disentangle himself, his mind was thus a prey to distracting feelings. Neither is there any believer who is not often drawn into such harassing discussions, whenever his mind is darkened by the perception of obstacles. There was, therefore, in the mind of Moses, willingness and zeal, though alacrity and firmness were wanting; because through his weakness he was compelled to hold back by the hinderances which presented themselves. We must carefully distinguish between the timidity which delays our progress and the bold refusal which is allied to contempt. Many, in flying from trouble, are so withheld from duty, that they grow hardened in their inactivity; while those who desire to act rightly, although through anxiety and fear they apparently recoil, still aspire to ulterior progress, and, in a word, do not so far alternate as to withdraw themselves altogether from the command of God. Moses seems, indeed, to murmur, and to enter into altercation with God; but whether this were audacity or simplicity, there was more of modesty in it, than as if he had hidden himself in silence, as we have said that many do, who by their silence only strengthen themselves in the liberty to disobey. This was clearly his object, that he might afterwards be more fitted to proceed. The holy man was very anxious, because he knew from experience that his countrymen were depraved, and almost intractable; disburdening himself, then, of this anxiety into the bosom of God, he desires to be confirmed by a fresh promise, so that he may be freed from this impediment, and proceed with alacrity.

2. What is that in thine hand? In accordance with the idiom of the Hebrew language, Moses now explains more fully, and more distinctly pursues, what he had before only generally alluded to respecting the signs. In the three signs which he refers to we must consider their respective meanings The pastoral crook, which he carried in his hand, is flung on the ground, and becomes a serpent; again it is taken back into his hand, and recovers its original nature. I doubt not but that God wished to shew him, that although his condition was abject and despicable, still he would be formidable to the king of Egypt. For his rod was the symbol of a shepherd; and what would be more contemptible than for a keeper of sheep to come up from the desert, and to oppose to the scepter of a most powerful king that crook, by which he could scarcely protect himself and his flock from wild beasts? But God assures him, that although deprived of earthly splendor, wealth, or power, he would still be terrible to Pharaoh; as much as to say, that he need not fear lest Pharaoh should despise him, or take no account of him as a mere rustic, because his rod, turned into a serpent, would inspire more terror than a thousand swords. As to what Moses says, that he himself fled from it in alarm, unquestionably God intended to affright his servant, that he might the better estimate from his own feelings what would be the power of God to terrify that proud king. This, then, was the object of the miracle, that there was no occasion for mighty armies, since Pharaoh would tremble at the sight of the simple rod; and that the rod need not be wielded and violently agitated, because it would inspire sufficient terror by its own movement and agitation. The one part of the miracle, where the rod returned to its former shape, was intended to shew Moses, that what was to be hostile and injurious to his enemy, would be an assistance and safeguard to himself. Therefore, the same rod which encouraged and emboldened Moses, depressed and overwhelmed his foe. But that he dares, in immediate obedience to the voice of God, to lay hold of the serpent, is a proof of his remarkable faith; and this appears more manifestly from his sudden change, that he fears not to provoke a poisonous and noxious animal, by taking hold of its tail, when he had so lately fled from its very sight in consternation. His timid mind, then, was capable of great courage, and his timidity and piety brought forth their fruit alternately. And this is especially worthy of remark, that Moses was strengthened by the presence of God; but that he was weakened when he turned his eyes to the untameable minds of his own race, and to the proud tyranny of Egypt. The question now arises, whether the change of the rod into a serpent was real, and actual, or whether the outward form only was changed? Although I should be unwilling to contend pertinaciously for a thing of little consequence, I embrace that opinion which is more probable, that not merely an image or vision appeared, but that God, who created all things out of nothing, gave a new nature to the rod, and again made a rod out of the serpent, which was in no degree more difficult than to change Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26.) Since this was easy to God’s power, it does not appear likely to me that He had recourse to the illusion of visions. As to the imitation of the magicians, we will speak of their sorceries in their proper place.

5. That they may believe. This spectacle, then, was not shewn to Moses once only, but the power was imparted to him also of frequently repeating the miracle; both to acquire credit from the Israelites, and to repress the audacity of Pharaoh. For although the sentence is incomplete, there is no ambiguity in the sense, viz., that Moses is armed with power from heaven to make his vocation sure, and that none may doubt him to be a Prophet divinely commissioned. It would be tedious here to dilate expressly on the use of miracles, suffice it briefly to lay down, that they sometimes serve as preparatives to faith, sometimes for its confirmation. We see an example of both in the metamorphosis of the rod, by which Moses was the more animated and encouraged to gather strength, although he already believed God’s promise; but the Israelites, who were both incredulous and unteachable, were prepared and compelled to believe. Besides, the miracle opened a door of faith with the Israelites, that, being persuaded of his prophetical office, they might submit to be taught; whilst he was himself led on to greater assurance and perseverance. For although the Almighty begins further back, and refers to the adoption of the patriarchs, and this was calculated to lay the foundation of their hope of redemption, it still does not follow that they were prepared to receive Moses, until the authority of his ministry had been established. Wherefore, I have said, that their faith was commenced by the miracle.

6. Put now thy hand into thy bosom. By this sign Moses was instructed that what is in the greatest vigour withers away at once, at the command of God; and that what is dry is thus restored to its original vigour; in a word, the statement of Paul was confirmed by it, that God “calleth those things which be not, as though they were.” (Romans 4:17.) It was, so to say, a kind of leprosy, when Moses was banished from the court into the land of Midian, where he led his flock through wild and rough places, among thorns and brambles. After he had passed forty years like one half-dead, having no dignity or name, he regained, as by a restoration, (postliminio) what he had lost. Therefore God now promises him that he would soon restore what He had taken away. This is the simple connection of the sign with its effect, with which sober readers will be content, without giving heed to the subtleties of others. For this was particularly needful to be understood, that all men stand or fall according to God’s will; that when they seem most strong, their strength suddenly fails, and they waste away; and, again, as soon as God pleases, they return from their deformed and failing state to rigor and beauty. In this way the holy man learnt that, as he had lain in obscurity for a time, because he had been withdrawn, by God’s hand, from the society of men, and had been cast into solitude, so he need not despair of becoming a different man by the same hand. This condition, too, in some measure, pertained to the whole body of the people; but because it better suits the person of Moses, it is preferable to retain this exposition; lest, only considering his present position, as a mean and humble shepherd, he should distrust his capacity for undertaking his office, and that he should expect dignity and boldness to be given him by God. Moreover, God did not mean to instruct Moses individually only, (as we have said,) but to raise him above the contempt of the people, that the exile by which his dignity had been marred, should not detract from his influence and authority; but, because the calling of God shone forth in him like a resurrection, that he should, at the same time, be invested with weight and reputation.

8. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee. In these words God took away from Moses every handle for doubt; as much as to say, that he was sufficiently provided and strengthened to overcome the stubbornness of the people; and yet, heaping up the measure to overflowing, he afterwards added a third sign, from whence Moses might attain full confidence, and that no further hinderance should oppose his pious desires. This, too, is a remarkable evidence of the kindness of God, that he deigned so liberally to add sign to sign, and to contend with the evil heart of the people, until with a strong hand he drew them out of their torpor of incredulity. Surely, if they neglected the first miracle, they were unworthy to have another proof of his power set before them by God. It was, then, a wonderful exercise of longsuffering still to persevere in arresting their dullness. With equal clemency does He now overlook our sluggishness of heart; because, when with far less reverence than we ought we receive the testimonies whereby He manifests His grace, He avenges not our foul ingratitude, but rather adds new remedies for the cure of our unbelief. As by the two former miracles God shewed the power which he willed to exercise by the hand of Moses, so in this third He taught them what would be His dealings with the Egyptians. And then, both from within and from without, Moses was confirmed before all the people. The conclusion is, then, that when God should lift up His hand against the Egyptians, so far would they be from having strength to resist, that the very strongholds in which they proudly trusted should be felt to be adverse and injurious to them. We know how many and various were the advantages they derived from the Nile. Their land, on one side, was rendered, by its opposing barrier, safe and invincible; its many ports enriched their nation by their convenience for the importation and exportation of merchandise; the fertility of their fields arose from its inundations; in a word, Egypt attributed the chief part of its prosperity to the Nile. But now God gives warning not only that it should not profit the Egyptians, but that it was in His power to turn all its advantages into injuries; nay, that the very stream which used to fertilize their land by its irrigation, should cover and defile it with blood. With respect to the words, the “voice of the sign” is figuratively applied to mean a demonstration of the power of God, by which the Israelites might be taught that Moses was sent them by God as their deliverer. For although the rod turned into a serpent could not speak, yet very loudly, indeed, did it announce, that what the Israelites deemed altogether impossible, would not be difficult to God. Others thus resolve the particle את,5151     את the noun substantive translated a sign, and את the particle indicating an accusative case, are the same word in Hebrew, if points are not used. Hence Calvin has called the את here a particle, though avowedly commenting upon its purport as a noun. — W “If they will not believe your voice, because of the sign;” but the former interpretation is more correct. The meaning of the expression, however, is added soon afterwards, in this distinction — “If they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice;” as though God had said, that His power cried out, or thundered in His miracles, to obtain a hearing for the teaching of His servant.

10. O my Lord. Moses catches at every word of escape, so as to force himself from the task imposed on him, not that he desires to refuse the command, but because he trembles at its importance. It is this distrust of his own powers which makes him so hesitating and timid. The remedy was obvious, that he should assure himself, since he well knew that he was undertaking nothing rashly, that God, whose command he obeyed, would supply him with ample strength. In this, then, lay the fault, that he did not cast all his cares on God, and, setting aside his own weakness, hope against hope, like Abraham, who

“considered not his own body now dead; neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb; being fully persuaded that what God had promised, he was able also to perform.” (Romans 4:18, 19, 21.)

It was an act of modesty in him to reflect on the defect which he mentioned, if he had but asked for succor from God; but when he proceeds further, and requests to be altogether discharged, he does an injustice to God, as if He would lay a greater burden on His servants than they could bear, or would give any inconsiderate command. This over-anxious caution is, therefore, deservedly condemned, although it may have some admixture of virtue; because whatever difficulty we encounter, this ought to be a sufficient encouragement to us, that as often as God chooses men as His ministers, although they are in themselves good for nothing, He forms and prepares them for their work. It is, indeed, lawful to fear in perplexities, provided that our anxiety overcomes not the desire to obey; but whatever God enjoins it is never right to refuse on any pretext. Moreover, we see that the instruments which seem but little suitable are especially employed by Him, in order that His power may more fully appear. He might, if He had chosen to use Moses as His ambassador, have made him eloquent from the womb; or, at least, when He sends him to his work, have corrected his stammering tongue. It seems a mockery, then, to give a commission of speaking to a stammerer; but in this way, (as I have said,) He causes His glory to shine forth more brightly, proving that He can do all things without extrinsic aid. Interpreters vary as to the meaning of the words. Some think that the clause “since thou hast spoken to thy servant” is added in amplification, as if the tongue of Moses began to be more slow than ever since the vision had appeared; but since the particle גם,5252     גם, properly also Here rendered since in A V.; the margin of which exhibits, otherwise, the Hebrew idiom with exactness. — W gam, is thrice repeated, I interpret it simply, that Moses had never been eloquent from his infancy, and that he was not now endued with any new eloquence.

11. Who hath made man’s mouth? Here the cause is expressed, why the hesitation of Moses was worthy of reprehension; viz., because arrested by his own infirmity, he did not look up to God, who, being above the want of any human aid, easily accomplishes whatsoever He has decreed, and subduing all the obstacles which terrify men, obtains in any direction assistance according to his will. Moses objects his stammering as a cause for holding back; God replies, that it is He alone who governs the tongue which He has created; therefore, that if some be tongueless or dumb, and some quick and eloquent of speech, the difference is all of His good pleasure. Whence it follows that all nature (as it is called) is subject to his government, so that He easily finds means of the things that are not; and, on the other hand, remove far out of the way whatever impediments interpose, and even forces them into obedience. But He not only asserts his right and power of government in the general course of nature, but teaches that it is of His special grace alone that some exceed others in eloquence; and not only so, but that it is in His hand to make wonderful changes, so as to strike the most eloquent dumb, and to fit the tongue of the dumb for speaking. And this experience also shews, that sometimes those who excel in readiness of speech, want words; and, on the contrary, that the stammering and slow of speech plead a single cause with admirable dexterity, although the power may be wanting to them in every other case. Since, then, it is in God’s power to bind or to loose men’s tongues at any moment, it was wrong of Moses to hesitate, as if in surprise, because he possessed not natural freedom of speech; as if it were not possible for the author of nature to remedy this disadvantage. But while it is good to magnify the immense power of God, in removing all the hinderances which oppose us, so must we beware of resting upon it indiscriminately, as though it were subject to our fancies. For we see men, whilst they too boldly undertake whatever their own lusts suggest, shielding themselves with this thought, that all means and events are in God’s hands, so that nothing may stand in the way of their impetuosity. But the power of God is basely profaned by this rashness; and, therefore, this truth is not duly applied to its legitimate purpose, unless a vocation and command clearly invites us on. We must, then, mark the connection: Go, where I shall send thee. Am I not Jehovah, who gives to men speech, and sight, and hearing? the tendency of which is, that Moses, confidently trusting to the bounty of God, should devote himself earnestly to his work.

13. Send, I pray thee, by the hand. Those who interpret this passage as alluding to Christ,5353     Cornelius a Lapide in loc. “Multi patres, ut S. Justinus, Tertll., Cyprian., Euseb., scribentes contra Judaeos, et Rupert. putant Mosen hic petiisse adventum Messiae; hujus enim nomen erat missus vel mittendus, etc. Hic sensus valde probabilis, et accommodatus est, quicquid objiciat Absolen. et audacter nimis tantis patribus obstrepat Eugubinus: ita enim olim alii patriarchae in gravibus causis semper ad Christum promissum respiciebant, et ad eum suspirabant, ut patet de Jacob. Genesis 49:10, 18.” The gloss in the Geneva Bible is, “i.e., (by the hand or ministerie) of the Messias, or some other that is more meete than I.” as though Moses said, that His power was needed to accomplish so mighty a task, introduce a forced and far-fetched sense, which is contradicted by the context, for God would not have been so aroused to anger by such a prayer. I see not why others should suppose it to be spoken of Aaron;5454     “Quia frater Aaron suus erat eo senior, et eloquentior, eum desiderabat habere socium sibi a Domino assignandum,” — Nic, de Lyra Com. in loco. So also R. Sal. Jarchi. for there is no weight in their conjecture, that Moses preferred his brother to himself. The third sense is more probable, viz., that God should stretch forth his hand to direct whomsoever he destined for the work. In that case, the relative must be in the masculine gender; but in order to avoid all ambiguity, I prefer the feminine, as I have translated it. (Mitte per manum per quam.) For there is no doubt but that Moses desires the task, too weighty and difficult for himself, to be transferred to some one else; just as if he had said — Since there are multitudes at hand whom thou mayest employ, choose whomsoever thou wilt of them, provided only it be some other, and that I be excused. There is an implied antithesis between Moses and others, in which he hints at his own natural disqualification, and says that others are endued with dexterity, industry, and activity; and thence he argues that it will be absurd that God should reject the hands which are adapted and ready for the work.

14. And the anger of the Lord was kindled. This passage confirms, by opposition, that expression, that there is no better sacrifice than to obey the voice of the Lord, (1 Samuel 15:22,) since God is so grievously offended with the hesitation of Moses, in spite of his specious excuses. But nothing is more pleasing to God than to maintain the authority of his word, and that men should suffer themselves to be guided by this rein. God had pardoned His servant’s slowness and unwillingness to the work; but beholding that he obstinately refused, He spares him no longer. Hence we are warned cautiously to beware, lest if God bear with us for a time, we give way to self-indulgence, as if we were permitted to abuse His patience with impunity. Still it is a mark of His fatherly kindness, that in His anger He contents Himself with reproof. As to His saying that he knew that Aaron would be his brother’s interpreter, it is questionable whether He had intended from the beginning to employ him in this way, or whether He conceded thus much at length to the diffidence of Moses.

It is indeed true, that God does nothing which He has not decreed by His secret providence before the creation of the world; yet sometimes second causes intervene why this or that should be done. Either view is probable, — either that God affirms Aaron to be already chosen by Him to be an assistant to Moses, or that He says He will grant this concession to the infirmity of Moses. The latter pleases me best, that Aaron should be added in anger as his brother’s companion, and that part of the honor should be transferred to him; when Moses, by his own repugnance, had deprived himself of some of his dignity. But why is he called “the Levite,” as if he were an unknown person? Some reply, that there were many among the Israelites of that name; but this simple solution satisfies me, that it was not any indifferent individual of the children of Israel who was promised to Moses as his companion, but his own brother; one who, by his close relationship, might exercise greater familiarity with him. Unless, perhaps, God looked forward to the future calling of the tribe of Levi; for he tells us, by the mouth of Malachi, that His covenant was with Levi, that his descendants should be the keepers of the law and of the truth, and the messengers of the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 2:4-8.) Thus the sense would be very satisfactory, that God would restrain His wrath, and although aroused to anger by the refusal of Moses, he would still take an ambassador out of that tribe which he destined to the priesthood. Moreover, no slight confirmation is added, in that Aaron would come forth to meet his brother in the Desert, and would receive him with great joy. It was as much as to shew that whilst God was pressing forward His servant from the land of Midian with the one hand, He would stretch forth the other to draw him into Egypt. Though the vision ought to have quickened him to perform God’s command, yet because it was necessary to stimulate his inactivity, Aaron was sent, as if God openly put forth His hand to excite him forward. For he had neither come into the Desert for pleasure, nor by chance, nor from vain curiosity; but Moses knew assuredly that a banner thus was set up for him by God, to shew him the certainty of his way. So by the coming of Ananias the vision seen by Paul was confirmed, and placed beyond the reach of doubt. (Acts 9:17.) This was, indeed, extorted from God by the importunity of Moses. According to His infinite goodness He willed to elicit from the sin of His servant materials for His grace; just as He is accustomed to bring light out of darkness. (2 Corinthians 4:6.) God mentions his brother’s gladness to Moses, in order to reprove his own indifference; as much as to say, Aaron will willingly come forth, and will receive you with joy and gladness; whilst you, depressed with sorrow and anxiety, or stupified by distrust, can scarcely be induced to stir a foot.

16. And he shall be thy spokesman. God destroys the pretext for his exemption, by assigning to his brother the office of spokesman, and yet does He not put the other in his place; nay, so merciful is the arrangement, that while He yields to His servant’s prayer, He yet confers honor upon him in spite of himself. The offices are thus divided — Moses is to have the authority, Aaron is to be the interpreter. Thus Moses is set before his brother, from no respect to his own dignity; because the grace of God was to shine forth conspicuously in the head no less than in the members; as it is expressed in these words, that “Aaron should be instead of a mouth, and Moses instead of God;” i e., that he was to dictate what Aaron should faithfully report, and to prescribe what he should obediently follow. By this example did God bear witness that the gifts of the Spirit, as well as our vocations, are distributed by Him at His own good pleasure; and that none excels either in honor or in gifts, except according to the measure of His free bounty. But that the first-born is made subject to the younger, and is only appointed to be his spokesman, whereas God might have accomplished by his hand and labor, what he rather chose to perform by Moses; hence let us learn reverently to regard His judgments, because they are incomprehensible to us, and like a deep abyss. “To be instead of God” is the same as to lead or to direct, or to have the chief command; as the Chaldee Paraphrast5555     In the Targum of Onkelos, who has employed רב for the אלהים of the Hebrew. — W renders it, to be the chief or master. It is a very weak calumny of the Arians to abuse this and similar passages, in order to refute the proofs of Christ’s divinity, because there is a great difference in speaking of one as God simply and absolutely, and with circumstantial additions. For we know that the name of God is attributed to every potentate, improperly indeed, yet not unreasonably; as when the devil himself is called “the god of this world,” (2 Corinthians 4:4;) but wherever mention is made of the true Deity, Scripture never profanes that sacred name.

17. And thou shalt take this rod. There is no doubt that God chose this shepherd’s rod to be the instrument of his power, in order the more to confound the pride of Pharaoh. For what but shame and reproach could it bring to Moses, that he should bear with him the crook with which he had heretofore guided his sheep in their folds and hovels? This symbol, then, of a rustic and contemptible occupation, was opposed to the scepter of Pharaoh, not without humiliation. In this respect, therefore, the obedience of Moses is worthy of praise, because he is not ashamed of a mean and humble appearance, but willingly carries his rod, and thus makes himself as nothing, and glorifies God. So is God usually wont to hide his treasures in earthen vessels, and to choose “the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty.” But from Moses being commanded to work the miracles with the rod, we gather that outward signs are often made use of by God, when He works by His own hand; not to derogate at all from his power, or to obscure his praise, but to make it manifest that the whole world is subject to him, and that he freely applies to whatever use he pleases, things which are otherwise of no account.

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