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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.

31. And the people believed. Either this is a synecdoche, a part of the people being put for the whole, or else Moses signifies that after the announcement was published, all with one consent embraced the message of their deliverance. I prefer the former meaning; because their solemn adoration is immediately subjoined, which could only have taken place in a public assembly. But we shall presently see how fickle and infirm was their belief. It is plain, from its levity and inconstancy, that it was without any living root. But it is not unusual that the word belief should be improperly applied to a mere assent and disposition to believe, which speedily passes away. Thus Christ (Mark 4:15) speaks of the faith of many as transient. “The people,” therefore, “believed,” when they heard that their afflictions were regarded by God, since that statement carried with it credibility and authority; but it was such belief as might be dissipated by the first adverse wind; and so, indeed, it happened. This passage, then, teaches, that theirs is no great attainment, and that they are deserving of no great praise, who eagerly and joyfully receive what is propounded to them in God’s name, unless faith, being deeply rooted in their hearts, sustains itself boldly against the assaults of temptation. Some connect the clauses differently,6565     As in A.V.; and this rendering is confirmed by Dathe, “Hi fidem habuerunt; et cum audirent,” etc. “The people believed; and when they heard that assistance in their calamities awaited them, gave thanks to God.” But the copula is here rightly resolved into the expositive particle, and the sense is — “When the people had heard what Aaron reported, they believed.” God’s visiting them here expresses the actual occurrence, viz., that God was willing to render them aid in their sore distress. Their “worshipping” was in token of their gratitude, because it was not enough for them privately and individually to reflect on the favor of God, unless they also openly manifested their religious feeling; not as if God greatly requires outward ceremonies, but because they are useful supports to our infirmity, and it is right, that not the mind only, but the body also, should be employed in the service of God.

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