2017-11-19 - Exodus: Hear Ye, Hear Ye
A. Moses on the Road Again
First, Moses goes to his father-in-law to “ask permission” to go back to Egypt. This was probably because he was taking of his family with him. His family at this time included his wife Zipporah and his two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. His request was more of a courtesy than actually asking for permission.
Also notice Moses didn’t really tell Jethro the reason he was going back, probably because of fear that Jethro would try to discourage him. There is no question that what Moses was to face was dangerous, and Jethro, fearing for his daughter and grandsons, might try to stop him. Later, though, we will meet Jethro again, functioning as an advisor to Moses.
Moses, in Verses 19 and 20, reminds the reader that he was going to Egypt under the direction of the Lord. He knew that the Pharaoh and the others who had wanted to take his life for killing an Egyptian overseer, were dead. With this fear out of the way, he took his family with him. He also made a point of noting he was also taking the staff.
In this section, there is a certain amount of duplicate material, but this is a way of emphasizing the importance of God’s words. He encouraged Moses regarding the necessity of showing the signs, given for the benefit of Israel’s elders, to Pharaoh as well. The Lord gave Pharaoh the opportunity to allow the people leave to go. God made it clear to Moses, even with the signs, Pharaoh would not change his mind and free the people. In fact the Lord would not let Pharaoh change his mind.
Again I want to make it quite clear that God is simply reinforcing the direction the King had already chosen. Dr. McGee expresses the concept of the hardened heart this way:
“What does it mean to harden Pharaoh’s heart? Did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Yes, but in this way: If Pharaoh were a tenderhearted, sweet fellow who desired to turn to God and was happy to have Moses deliver the children of Israel because Pharaoh wanted to do something for them, then it was mean of God to harden the heart of this wonderful Pharaoh. If that is the way you read it, friends, you are not reading it right;u. The hardening is a figurative word, which can mean twisting, as with a rope. It means God twisted the heart of Pharaoh. He was going to squeeze out what was in it. God forced him to do the thing he really wanted to do.” 2
The Lord would not let Pharaoh change direction, as He intended to use the stubbornness of the king for His own glory. Moses, by both word and deed, was to make it clear it was God who was demanding the release of Israel.
Notice the irony here; Israel was called by God His first-born, and because Pharaoh refuses to free the first-born of God, God would take the first-born of Pharaoh. God’s slaying these individuals then should not be unexpected, as the warning of this act was one of the first judgments foretold by Moses.
Everybody seemed to be having children trouble. God would have problems with His children Israel when they got to the wilderness. Pharaoh would lose his son due to his disobedience to God, and now we see Moses get into trouble with God because of his son(s?). On the way back to Egypt, the family stopped at a Motel 6 for the night.
While the family was there, we are told the Lord was going to kill Moses. Now there are a couple of problems with the understanding of the passage. First. who was circumcised, the eldest son or the second? I don’t know. There is no agreement among commentators.
Second, why did this situation arise? We don’t really know why the child had not been cicumcised. It appears from Zipporah’s behavior that she had something to do with the lapse. Moses, having spent his days in Midian, and apparently his wife not wanting to circumcise the child, neglected to perform this act. It maybe that he didn’t realize the importance.
But what is clear is God, as God of the Covenant, was sending Moses to Egypt. Accordingly as His representative, Moses needed to understand the importance of his keeping it. As a result, God threatened Moses with death because he had not circumcised his son. Let’s read the passage that is the basis for this sign.
“This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”” (Genesis 17:10–14).
Zipporah, to save Moses’ life, was forced to perform the act on her child. This would seem to support the idea, based on her reaction against Moses, that she had something to do with the fact it had not been performed until now.
“To further underscore this connection between Moses’ grave condition and the circumcision of his son, Zipporah takes the excised foreskin and touches Moses’ feet. (This need not be, as many commentators argue, a euphemism for his genitals, for this is not a puberty rite.) The Lord lets Moses go, and the grip of death is lifted.” 3
Because the child was circumcised, Moses was no longer in any danger. He was also now aware of the danger of disobedience to the Lord even in the “small” things.
Exodus study to be continued.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.