THE PENTATEUCH PART II: EXODUS
Exodus chapters 5:1 - 7:25
Moses and Aaron Take God's Message to the Pharaoh
Lord of our struggles and our victories,
Your promise has always been that You would be with those who seek You and strive to live according to Your will during their journey to eternity. You never promised, however, that the journey would be without struggles and sufferings. The struggles and sufferings of the children of Israel under Egyptian bondage and Your mighty works to bring them to salvation and freedom are a comfort to us in our struggles with sin and in our desire to be freed from the sufferings of this earthly existence. Just as You persevered to bring Israel to salvation, so too do You persevere with us, Lord, giving us strength when we are weak and the resolve to make the righteous choice when we waver under the pressures of worldly wisdom. Send Your Holy Spirit to guide us, Lord, in our study of Moses' mission to the reluctant children of Israel, who feared suffering more than they feared slavery and death. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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Since Pharaoh will not listen to you, I shall lay my hand on Egypt and with great acts of judgment lead my armies, my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt. And the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh when I stretch out my hand against the Egyptians and lead the Israelites out of their country. Exodus 7:4-5
After his rendezvous with Aaron at Mt. Horeb/Sinai, Moses and his brother made the return journey to the Delta region of Egypt to meet with the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Having gained the support of the elders of the tribes of Israel (Ex 4:29-31), Moses and Aaron arranged to have an audience with the ruling Pharaoh. If our projected dates for Moses are correct, it is now the year 1355 BC. Moses was eighty years old and his elder brother Aaron was eighty-three (Ex 7:7). These two elderly men were about to take on the most powerful king in the entire ancient Near East. If our projections are accurate, and the dates Egyptologists have assigned to the Egyptian king list are accurate, the reigning pharaoh would have been Amenhotep III (ruled c. 1390 " c. 1352 BC) who ruled at the height of Egyptian power and influence in the world. There are, however, many other theories supporting other kings of the 18th Dynasty as well as the kings of the 19th Dynasty.
Please read Exodus 5:1-5: Moses and Aaron's First Meeting with
5:1After this, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, This is what Yahweh, God of Israel, says, Let my people go, so that they can hold a feast in my honor in the desert. ' 2Who is Yahweh,' Pharaoh replied, for me to obey what he says and let Israel go? I know nothing of Yahweh, and I will not let Israel go.' 3 The God of the Hebrews has encountered us,' they replied. Give us leave to make a three-days' journey into the desert and sacrifice to Yahweh our God or he will strike us with a plague or with the sword.' 4The king of Egypt said to them, Moses and Aaron, what do you mean by distracting the people from their work? Get back to your forced labor.' 5And Pharaoh said, Now that the people have grown to such numbers in the country, what do you mean by interrupting their forced labor?'
Obedient to God's instructions (Ex 3:20), Moses and Aaron sought an audience with the Egyptian king. Ancient kings usually gave regular audiences open to their subjects where they dispensed justice and met the representatives of foreign nations (1 Kng 3:16-25; 10:1-3). Thebes, the national capital, was located south of the Delta and was at least a week's journey away by chariot, while Avaris, the old Hyksos capital, which served the Pharaohs of the 18th and 19th Dynasties as their summer capital, was very close to Goshen on the eastern side of the Delta. The audience was probably held in the palace at Avaris near Goshen since the Pharaoh later called in the Israelite's taskmasters the same day of the his first meeting with Moses and Aaron (Ex 5:10). Later in the narrative he will also summon Moses and Aaron at night for a private audience (Ex 12:31).
In the audience with the Egyptian king Moses and Aaron requested that the Pharaoh allow the Israelites to make a three-days' journey into the wilderness to worship their God with a sacrifice and a feast (Ex 5:1).
Answer: Worship was defined as sacrifice. Sometimes the animal was entirely consumed in the altar fire but at other times, in a communion sacrifice, the sacrifice was consumed in a sacred meal in the presence of God.
At this time the eating of animal flesh was only associated with the sacred shared communion meal of the animal which had been sacrificed to God. The permission to kill animals and to eat the meat at will was not given until after the Israelites occupied their tribal lands in the promised land (Dt 12:13-16). Since there are no specific feasts mentioned in Scripture up to this point, it is assumed by most Bible scholars that the feast mentioned is actually the Passover sacrifice that will be celebrated in the desert at Mt. Sinai two years after the exodus out of Egypt (Num 9:1-4).
Yahweh's command to Pharaoh to let the Israelites go to worship in the desert was first given in God's instructions to Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:18) and then the command is repeated in Scripture in the ten different requests Moses presented to the Pharaoh (Ex 5:1; 7:16, 26; 8:4, 16, 23; 9:1, 13; 10:3, 24). Most of the requests are associated with the plagues, with the exception of the third and sixth plagues.
Exodus 5:2: Who is Yahweh,' Pharaoh replied, for me to obey what he says and let Israel go? I know nothing of Yahweh, and I will not let Israel go.' An amused Pharaoh began by ridiculing the Israelite god in the presence of all those who were assembled for the royal audience. Worshiped as a god himself, the Egyptian king was essentially saying that this god of the Hebrews was so insignificant that even he knew nothing about this god. This was, of course, the root of the problem. If Pharaoh had truly known Yahweh, he would have willingly submitted to the request.
Question: How was the failure to know Yahweh a key part of the mission to free Israel? What was God's plan for Israel and for Egypt? See Ex 7:4-5.
Answer: It was God's intention that both Israel and Egypt come to know Yahweh through the ten plagues of the Exodus experience: Since Pharaoh will not listen to you, I shall lay my hand on Egypt and with great acts of judgment lead my armies, my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt. And the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh when I stretch out my hand against the Egyptians and lead the Israelites out of their country (Ex 7:4-5).
Answer: The experiences of plagues had exactly the effect God intended: the Israelites and the Egyptians, including the Pharaoh, come to learn the answer to the Pharaoh's question: Who is Yahweh?
Question: Was it only Israelites and Egyptians who were to benefit from the experience of coming to know Yahweh in the terrifying narrative of the ten plagues? See Ex 10:2; 12:27-28; 13:8; Dt 4:9; 6:7, 20-25.
Answer: It was not only the Israelites and the Egyptians who learned to know Yahweh. Every reader and hearer of the narrative, down through the generations, came to have a deeper understanding of the revelation of God. Through the story of the ten plagues and the liberation of Israel we all have come to know Yahweh as a righteous, just and truthful God who administers judgment on the wicked and brings salvation to the righteous. We also discover the answer to the Pharaoh's question Who is Yahweh and why should I obey him? A lesson that Israel was commanded to pass on to all future generations.
Moses and Aaron seem sadly inept in their confrontation with the Pharaoh. Realizing that they were not making the impact they had hope to make, they delivered God's message but they also took liberties with what God had instructed them to say to the Pharaoh (Ex 3:18, 4:23).
Question: What did they decide to add to Yahweh's instructions in an attempt to convince the Pharaoh?
Answer: They told the pharaoh if he refused to honor Yahweh's request that Yahweh will strike us with a plague or with the sword.'
One wonders why they thought the Pharaoh would be moved by such a threat. From the Pharaoh's point of view, if the god of the Israelites did strike the Hebrew slaves with plagues and the sword it would only have benefited the Pharaoh's plan to reduce their numbers. You can almost picture the Pharaoh smiling at their suggestion of violence against the Israelites committed by their own god.
Question: Moses and Aaron's addition to God words reminds us of another biblical figure who, when confronted by an adversary, added to God's command concerning a covenant prohibition concerning a certain tree? Compare Genesis 2:16-17 to 3:1-3.
Answer: When the serpent asked Eve if it was true that God really said she and Adam were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden (Gen 3:1), Eve told the serpent that God said she and Adam could not eat nor even touch the forbidden tree. God did not tell them they couldn't touch the tree (see Gen 2:17 and 3:2-3).
Throughout salvation history men and women who have decided to interpret for themselves what God really meant to establish for his covenant people as opposed to what God clearly identified as covenant commands, obligations and prohibition have always brought suffering to the people of God and impeded the progress the Church as God's vehicle of salvation in fulfilling God's plan for salvation of mankind: Eve, Korah, Balaam, Jeroboam, King Saul, Prince Absalom, King Uzziah, Caiaphas, and Martin Luther are only a few of the names of misguided or willful individuals whose names fill that list of infamy.
Question: Despite or maybe even because of the suggestion that the Israelites would become the recipients of God's wrath for failure to offer proper worship, what was the Pharaoh's response to their request?
Answer: He refused the request and said it as an indication of their laziness and an excuse for idleness.
Question: What was ironic about the suggested threat to Israel?
Answer: The Egyptian king's refusal to allow the Israelites to go and worship their God did indeed result in plagues on Israel (five plagues) but also on Egypt (ten plagues).
Exodus 5:5:And Pharaoh said, Now that the people have grown to such numbers in the country, what do you mean by interrupting their forced labor?'
Question: What was the significance of the Pharaoh's statement in light of the concerns of his predecessors in regard to the Israelites? See Exodus 1:9-14.
Answer: Like his predecessors this pharaoh still saw the large Israelite population as a military threat, and he was continuing his predecessors' efforts to control their population through forced labor.
Please read Exodus 5:6-18: Pharaoh's Instructions to the
Slave Masters and Israel's Response
5:6That very day, Pharaoh gave the order to the people's taskmasters and their scribes, 7 Do not go on providing the people with straw for brickmaking as before; let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8But you will exact the same quantity of bricks from them as before, not reducing it at all, since they are lazy, and that is why their cry is, Let us go and sacrifice to our God. 9Give these people more work to do, and see they do it instead of listening to lying speeches.' 10The people's taskmasters and scribes went out to speak to the people and said, Pharaoh says this, I shall not provide you with any more straw. 11Go and collect straw for yourselves where you can find it. But your output is not to be any less. 12So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble for their straw. 13The taskmasters harassed them. You must complete your daily quota,' they said, just as when the straw was there.' 14And the Israelites' foremen whom Pharaoh's taskmasters had put in charge of them, were flogged and asked, Why have you not fulfilled your quota of bricks made today as before?' 15The Israelites' foremen went and appealed to Pharaoh, Why do you treat your servants like this?' they said. 16 No straw is provided for your servants, yet still the cry is, Make bricks! And now your servants are being flogged!... 17 You are lazy, lazy,' he retorted. That is why you say, Let us go and sacrifice to Yahweh. 18Get back to your work at once. You will not be provided with straw, all the same, you will deliver the quota of bricks.'
This very astute Pharaoh recognized that the problem wasn't that the Israelites wanted a break from their labors to worship their god, but that he had the beginnings of a slave revolt on his hands and that very day he took action to deal with the threat to his power and authority.
Question: What instructions did the Pharaoh give the slave masters?
Answer: The government would no longer provide the straw for brick-making. The Israelites would have to collect the straw themselves but the production schedule was to remain the same.
In the production of sun-baked clay bricks, chopped straw was mixed with clay as a binding agent. As the straw decayed a chemical was released that gave the clay greater plasticity which prevented the bricks from crumbling after they had dried and hardened in the sun (Davis, Studies in Exodus, page 83).
Question: What was the intention of the Pharaoh's command that the Israelites were to gather their own straw to make the bricks? Hint: it unlikely that the command was made just to punish the Israelites for submitting the request to go and worship their god; see Exodus 5:9, 19-21 and 6:9.
Answer: It was probably his intention to use the harsh treatment to discredit Moses and Aaron and to encourage the Israelites to turn against their leadership.
Question: Why didn't he just execute Moses and Aaron?
Answer: Pharaoh was probably wise enough to realize that making Moses and Aaron into martyrs could be the catalyst for a full scale revolt.
The inspired writer certainly had an understanding of the hierarchy of the Egyptian system: Egyptian scribes recorded the commands of the pharaoh and communicated the official commands to the Egyptian taskmasters who in turn instructed the slave foremen who were selected from the ranks of the slave population. The Nazis had a similar efficient system in the slave labor camps they operated prior to and during WWII.
Exodus 5:12-14: 12So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble for their straw. 13The taskmasters harassed them. You must complete your daily quota,' they said, just as when the straw was there.' 14And the Israelites' foremen whom Pharaoh's taskmasters had put in charge of them, were flogged and asked, Why have you not fulfilled your quota of bricks made today as before?'
Answer: They were being punished because the Israelites were not making their daily quote of brick production, and having been humiliated by the beating, the foremen, who were probably influential in the Israelite community, would turn against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. If that was the Pharaoh's intention, his plan worked. The Israelites did blame their suffering on Moses and Aaron's intervention, and they refused to listen to them.
Exodus 5:15-16: 15The Israelites' foremen went and appealed to Pharaoh, Why do you treat your servants like this?' they said. 16 No straw is provided for your servants, yet still the cry is, Make bricks! And now your servants are being flogged!...
Question: Who did the Israelites cry out to previously in their distress? What did this change in their appeal for mercy suggest?
Answer: Previously the Israelites cried out to the God of their fathers in their distress (Ex 3:9), but now they have turned to the false god who was the Egyptian Pharaoh, recognizing his power over them above Yahweh's power to protect them.
Question: Does their lack of faith in God and redirected faith in the pharaoh to save them remind you of another critical time in salvation history when the people of God abandoned God's chosen redeemer for salvation by a pagan king? See John 19:14-16.
Answer: The Israelites turning away from God and his appointed representative in favor of the intervention of a pagan king is reminiscent of the Jews who stood before the Roman governor Pontus Pilate and cried out: We have no king but Caesar; a king who was also worshiped by his people as a god.
Archaeological note: Excavations by archaeologists Naville (1883) and Kyle (1908) at the ruins of the Egyptian city identified as biblical Pithom found that the lower courses of the brickwork were made with good chopped straw. The middle courses, however, had less straw which was mostly composed of stubble plucked from the roots. At the upper courses of the brickwork the bricks were made of pure clay and had no straw whatsoever (Halley's Bible Handbook page 120).
Please read Exodus 5:19-23: The Israelite Foremen
Complain to Moses and Moses Complains to God
5:19The Israelites' foremen saw they were in a difficult position on being told, You will not reduce your daily production of bricks.' 20As they left Pharaoh's presence, they met Moses and Aaron who were standing in their way. 21 May Yahweh look down at you and judge!' they said to them. You have brought us into bad odor with Pharaoh and his officials; you have put a sword into their hand to kill us.' 22Moses went back to Yahweh and said, Lord, why do you treat this people so harshly? Why did you send me? 23Ever since I came to Pharaoh and spoke to him in your name, he has ill-treated this people, and you have done nothing at all about rescuing your people.
Question: What was the result of the beating the Israelite foremen received?
Answer: They turned against Moses and Aaron.
Question: What was Moses' response to their accusation that he had was responsible for killing his people.
Answer: Moses took his problem directly to God.
Exodus 5:22-23 22Moses went back to Yahweh and said, Lord, why do you treat this people so harshly? Why did you send me? 23Ever since I came to Pharaoh and spoke to him in your name, he has ill-treated this people, and you have done nothing at all about rescuing your people.
The Israelites were not the only ones who were confused and dispirited. In this very frank exchange with God Moses had the temerity to accuse God of doing nothing to help the Israelites. Moses' people were experiencing a crisis of faith, but Moses was also experiencing a crisis "his was a crisis of expectation. The experience of additional suffering was not how he thought Yahweh would fulfill His promise to liberate the Israelites from bondage. He didn't understand Yahweh's warning that He would allow Pharaoh's heart to remain hardened against Moses and his people as part of the plan to reveal Himself to Egypt and Israel.
Please read Exodus 6:1-8: Yahweh Reveals How He Will
6:1Yahweh then said to Moses, Now you will see what I am going to do to Pharaoh. A mighty hand will force him to let them go, a mighty hand will force him to expel them from his country.' 2God spoke to Moses and said to him, I am Yahweh. 3To Abraham, Isaac and Jacob I appeared as El Shaddai, but I did not make my name Yahweh known to them. 4I also made my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the country in which they were living as aliens. 5Furthermore, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, enslaved by the Egyptians, and have remembered my covenant. 6So say to the Israelites, I am Yahweh. I shall free you from the forced labor of the Egyptians; I shall rescue you from their slavery and I shall redeem you with outstretched arm and mighty acts of judgment. 7I shall take you as my people and I shall be your God. And you will know that I am Yahweh your God, who have freed you from the forced labor of the Egyptians. 8Then I shall lead you into the country which I swore I would give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and shall give it to you as your heritage, I, Yahweh. '
In God's patient response to Moses' accusation, He gave Moses' His plan and His promise of Israel's redemption. In the use of His covenant name I AM Yahweh (verse 8), God reminded Moses of his divine call to be God's agent of redemption. Notice the repetition of the expressions mighty arm and mighty hand of Yahweh throughout the Exodus narrative.
Exodus 6:2-3: 2God spoke to Moses and said to him, I am Yahweh. 3To Abraham, Isaac and Jacob I appeared as El Shaddai, but I did not make my name Yahweh known to them.
Perhaps no other passage in Scripture has generated as much scholarly discussion as these two verses. These verses have become the foundation of the so called Documentary Hypothesis theory and have generated discussion among scholars since the theory was first introduced in the 19th century AD.(1)
There are several possible explanations that biblical scholars have proposed to deal with this apparent discrepancy, since according to the Genesis narrative the patriarchs did know God as Yahweh Gen 13:4; 15:2, 18; 28:13, 16; 28:21
Yahweh promised Moses that He would liberate the Israelites in four mighty acts.
Question: What are God's four statements of salvation in Exodus 6:6?
In the traditional celebration of eating the Passover sacrifice in a sacred feast on the first night of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, it became the custom for the children of Israel to consume four communal cups of wine during the sacred meal. Each of the cups represented one of these four statements of redemption (Mishnah: Pesahim, 10:1-10:2) .
Exodus 6:7-8: 7I shall take you as my people and I shall be your God. And you will know that I am Yahweh your God, who have freed you from the forced labor of the Egyptians. 8Then I shall lead you into the country which I swore I would give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and shall give it to you as your heritage, I, Yahweh. '
God's mighty works were to be a sign to both the Egyptians and the Israelites that they should come to know Yahweh as the One True God. This statement is repeated seven times in Exodus 6:7; 7:5, 17; 8:22; 10:2; 14:4, and 18.
Please read Exodus 6:9-13: The Israelites and Moses
6:9And Moses repeated this to the Israelites, but they would not listen to Moses, so crushed was their spirit and so cruel their slavery. 10Yahweh then said to Moses, 11Go to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and tell him to let the Israelites leave his country.' 12But Moses spoke out in Yahweh's presence and said, The Israelites have not listened to me, so why should Pharaoh take any notice of a poor speaker like me [I of uncircumcised lips]?' 13Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron and sent them to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
[..] = literal translation (Interlineal Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 154).
In Exodus 4:10 Moses complained to God of being heavy of mouth and tongue (literal translation) and now in 6:12 he made the same complaint, describing himself as being a man of uncircumcised lips. It is a complaint he will repeat in God's presence a third time in Exodus 6:30 (Interlineal Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, pages 149, 154, 156). In this exchange, God ignored Moses' complaint and ordered Moses and Aaron to continue with their mission.
Please read Exodus 6:14-27: The Toledot of Levi, the Third Son of Jacob
These were their heads of families: The sons of Reuben, Israel's first-born: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron and Carmi: these are the clans of Reuben. The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul son of the Canaanite woman: these are the clans of Simeon. These were the names of the sons of Levi with their descendants: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. Levi lived for a hundred and thirty-seven years. The sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei, with their clans. The Sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. Kohath lived for a hundred and thirty-three years. The sons of Merai: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of Levi with their descendants. Amram married Jochebed, his aunt, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived for a hundred and thirty-seven years. The sons of Izhar were: Korah, Nepheg and Zichri. And the sons of Uzziel: Mishael, Elzaphan and Sithri. Aaron married Elisheba daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, and she born him Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. The sons of Korah: Assir, Elkanah and Abiasaph. These are the clans of the Korahites. Eleazar, son of Aaron, married one of Putiel's daughter who bore him Phinehas. These were the Levitical heads of families, according to clan. It was to this Aaron and Moses that Yahweh said, Lead the Israelites out of Egypt in their armies.' It was they who spoke to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to lead the Israelites out of Egypt "namely Moses and Aaron.
The restatement of the mission to redeem Israel and Moses and Aaron's part as God's agents in that mission is followed by a toledot (generational list). On the surface it seems to be an incomplete list. The list starts with the first two sons of Jacob, listing their sons, and then proceeds to the generational list of Jacob's third son, Levi. The list does not go beyond Levi's sons (the clans of the tribe of Levi), grandsons (sub-clans), and their sons (families Aaron and Korah who experienced the Exodus). The list ends with a statement affirming Moses and Aaron as the leaders of the Exodus out of Egypt.
DIVISION OF THE CLANS IN THE TRIBES OF REUBEN, SIMEON AND LEVI
|The Clans of Reuben|
|The Clans of Simeon|
* Canaanite mother
|The Clans of Levi (Levi lived 137 years)|
|Gershon||Kohath (133 yrs)||Merari|
(sub-clans and their families)
|descendants of Kohath and their sons (sub-clans and their families)||
descendants of Merari
(sub-clans and their families)
|Libni||Amram (137 yrs) m. Jochebed =(Aaron, Moses)*||Mahli|
(Korah, Nepheg, Zichri)
(Mishael, Elzaphan^, Sithri)
* Miriam is not listed in the Ex 6 genealogy but she is listed in Num 26:59.
^ leader (elder) of the house Kohathite clans (Num 3:30)
__ underlined names continue in the next subset of clan families
sons of Aaron
(son of Amram & g-son of Kohath)
sons of Korah
(son of Izhar & g-son of Kohath)
|Aaron* m. Elisheba of Judah (dau. of prince Amminadab)+ = Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar^, Ithamar||
Korah m. ? =
Assir, Elkanah, Abiasaph
Eleazar ^ m.
one of Putiel's ** dau =
Phinehas ^ (Num 25:6-13)
* Aaron was Israel's first High Priest.
+ Amminadab was a prince of Judah; his son, Nahshon, was selected as the census official for Judah (Num 1:7 ) and was chosen as the prince of Judah to lead the march of the tribes of Israel, leading the company that carried the standard of the Judahites (Num 10:14; 1 Chr 2:10).
** Putiel (only named in this passage in Scripture) is the maternal grandfather of Phinehas. Most scholars believe his name is Egyptian in origin coupled with the Hebrew suffix el = Puti-el and meaning the one who el (god) has given. The name of Eleazar and Puti-el's grandson, Phinehas, is a name that also indicates Egyptian origin. A number of names in the tribe of Levi show Egyptian influence. This may suggest intermarriage between the Egyptians and Hebrews (Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 5, pages 346, 561).
^ Eleazar succeeded Aaron as High Priest and Phinehas succeeded his father Eleazar as High Priest. Putiel's daughter is mentioned because she was the mother of Phinehas, Israel's third High Priest, and the man with whom God made a covenant of the perpetual priesthood (Num 25:10-13; Sir 45:23-26), which prefigures Christ's perpetual priesthood. After Phinehas the high priesthood had to descend through his line and later would be limited to the line of his descendant Zadok (1 Chr 5:30-34/ 6:4-8). The line of legitimate High Priests ended with the murder of Onias III in 170 BC. He was the last descendant of Zadok to serve as Israel's High Priest (2 Mac 4:1-6, 30-38).
Question: Why does the toledot only list three sons of Jacob and stop with the descendants of Levi, Jacob's third son by Leah?
Answer: The purpose of the toledot is not to give a complete genealogical account of Jacob's descendants, but to show that Levi was the third son in birth order and authority within the family. The names of his descendants are listed because the last two generations were to play significant roles in the Exodus experience.
Exodus 6:23: Aaron married Elisheba daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, and she born him Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.
Question: Who were Amminadab and Nahshon? Why are their names included in the genealogy? Look up their names in a Bible Dictionary and look up these passages: Gen 38:27-30; Ruth 4:18-22; Num 1:7; 2:3; 7:12, 17; 10:14; 1 Chr 2:3-17; Mt 1:14-16 and Lk 4:31-33. Why are these names included?
Answer: Amminadab was the great-grandson of Perez who was the son of Jacob's son Judah by the Canaanite woman, Tamar. Amminadab was a prince of the tribe of Judah and the father of Prince Nahshon. Nahshon was chief of the sons (princes) of Judah; he was the brother-in-law of Aaron and a bearer of the promised seed of the Messiah. Not only was he a descendant of Judah's son Perez (the line of the promised seed ), but he was an ancestor of King David and Jesus of Nazareth. Their names provide a link to the Davidic covenant and to the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. This toledot, like many others in the Old Testament, links the Old Testament to the New.
Question: What was significant about the marriage between Aaron, Israel's first High Priest and the daughter of the chief prince of the tribe of Judah from whom King David was descended? Does this ancient covenant union become important in the mission of the Messiah-Redeemer?
Answer: The marriage between Aaron, Israel's first High Priest, and Elisheba the daughter and sister of chief princes of the tribe of Judah established a covenant union between the royal House of King David and the priestly House of Aaron. This union was regarded in Jewish tradition as uniting the royal and priestly lines in Judah (Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol.4, Nahshon , page 998). Jesus the Messiah, from the tribe of Judah, is both King and High Priest of the New Covenant people of God, and His titles can be traced back to this genealogy in Exodus chapter 6.
Answer: This genealogy is more than a record of the line of Moses and Aaron. It points to the establishment of the ministerial priesthood and the formation of covenants within the Sinai Covenant with the ministerial priestly covenant formed with Aaron and his sons and covenant of a perpetual priesthood with Aaron's grandson Phinehas, a covenant which foreshadows Christ's High Priestly office.
The covenants with Aaron and his sons and the covenant with Phinehas are #s 5 and 6 on the list of Yahweh's Eight Covenants:
In the charts above on the genealogy of Exodus 6:14-25, you will notice that the genealogy terminated in the sons of Eleazar and Korah.
Question: Why does the genealogy end with these two descendants of Kohath son of Levi instead of continuing on with a full genealogy of the other sub-clans of the sons of Kohath and the clans of the nine other tribes? Eleazar succeeded Aaron as Israel's High Priest, but what part did Korah play in the history of Israel? See the history of Korah in Numbers 16:1-17:5 [16:1-40] and quote the significant passage. How do these two men typify the two collective seeds prophesied in Genesis 3:15? Hint: Genesis 3:15 prophesizes both in a collective sense and in an individual sense. The seed of the woman refers both to all men and women who yield their lives to God and to one individual in particular, while the seed of the serpent represents all men and women who stand in opposition to God, as well as, the anti-Christ.
Answer: Korah and his accomplishes led the first rebellion against God's divinely ordained priesthood, wanting to decide for themselves the order of worship and who would serve. Korah and his followers were destroyed by fire. He stands out in sharp contrast to Aaron's righteous son Eleazar, ordained by God to serve in the liturgical worship service: The priest Eleazar took the bronze censers which had been carried by the men destroyed by the fire. They were hammered into sheets to cover the altar. They are a reminder to the Israelites that no unauthorized person, no one not of Aaron's line, may approach and offer incense before Yahweh, on pain of suffering the fate of Korah and his party, as Yahweh had said through Moses. The genealogy ends in naming two men:
Please read Exodus 6:28-7:9: Yahweh's Instructions to
Moses and Aaron Before their Second Audience with the Pharaoh
6:28Now the day when Yahweh spoke to Moses in Egypt, 29Yahweh said to Moses, Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything that I am going to say to you.' 30But Moses said to Yahweh's face, I am a poor speaker [a man of uncircumcised lips], so why should Pharaoh take any notice of me?' 7:1Yahweh then said to Moses Look, I have made you as a god for Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron is to be your prophet. 2You must say whatever I command you, and your brother Aaron will repeat to Pharaoh that he is to let the Israelites leave his country. 3But I myself shall make Pharaoh stubborn and shall perform many a sign and wonder in Egypt. 4Since Pharaoh will not listen to you, I shall lay my hand on Egypt and with great acts of judgment lead my armies, my people the Israelites, out of Egypt. 5And the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh when I stretch out my hand against the Egyptians and lead the Israelites out of their country.' 6Moses and Aaron did exactly as Yahweh had ordered. 7Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh. 8Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron, 9 If Pharaoh says to you, Display some marvel, you must say to Aaron, Take your staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh, and let it turn into a serpent!
[..] = literal translation (Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 156).
Exodus 6:28-30: 28Now the day when Yahweh spoke to Moses in Egypt, 29Yahweh said to Moses, Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything that I am going to say to you.' 30But Moses said to Yahweh's face, I am a poor speaker [a man of uncircumcised lips], so why should Pharaoh take any notice of me?' This was the third time that Moses complained to God that he was not an eloquent speaker (Ex 4:20; 6:13, 30), two times making the complaint using the term a man of uncircumcised lips (Ex 6:13, 30). Having been raised in the rarified atmosphere of the royal Egyptian court, Moses would have been well aware of the necessity of a leader of men to be an able speaker. His fear, first expressed in Exodus 4:10, that he was heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue (literal translation), was that his lack of skills in this art would not render him an ineffective representative of his people. But this objection that he was of uncircumcised lips does not address a physical disability in his speech or a lack of eloquence so much as a moral defect. His protest is similar to the Prophet Isaiah's protest when God called him to his prophetic ministry in Isaiah 6:5: Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, Yahweh Sabaoth. In the presence of a pure and holy God Isaiah was suddenly overwhelmed by his sinful human nature. This may also be Moses' humble objection.
Exodus 7:1: 7:1Yahweh then said to Moses Look, I have made you as a god for Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron is to be your prophet.
God utters commands and his prophet speaks His words. It is in this way that Moses is as a god to Aaron: Moses utters commands and Aaron speaks Moses' words to Pharaoh and the Israelites.
Exodus 7:2-6: 2You must say whatever I command you, and your brother Aaron will repeat to Pharaoh that he is to let the Israelites leave his country. 3But I myself shall make Pharaoh stubborn and shall perform many a sign and wonder in Egypt. 4Since Pharaoh will not listen to you, I shall lay my hand on Egypt and with great acts of judgment lead my armies, my people the Israelites, out of Egypt. 5And the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh when I stretch out my hand against the Egyptians and lead the Israelites out of their country.' 6Moses and Aaron did exactly as Yahweh had ordered.
Despite Moses' objection that he was not an eloquent speaker; the Lord gave Moses and Aaron one more pep talk outlining the game plan before sending them to face the Egyptian Pharaoh. Like a coach who has done everything possible to encourage his away team, even though the home team has the advantage, He told them they could accomplished their mission to defeat the Egyptians and liberate their people if they had enough faith in the gifts He had given them.
Question: What effect did God's pep talk have on Moses and Aaron?
Answer: Moses and Aaron submitted themselves to the Lord (Ex 7:6).
Exodus 7:7-9 7Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh. 8Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron, 9 If Pharaoh says to you, Display some marvel, you must say to Aaron, Take your staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh, and let it turn into a serpent!
Then, with a few final words about what strategy to employ, the Lord sent the eighty year old Moses and eighty-three year old Aaron out into the arena of the Pharaoh's royal audience chamber to confront the very formidable home team led by a vigorous and confidant adversary, a man who believed he had the powers of a god-king and who was the leader of the most wealthy and powerful nation in the Near East.
Please read Exodus 7:10-13: Moses and Aaron's Second
Meeting with the Pharaoh: the Duel of the Staff-Serpents
7:10Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did as Yahweh had ordered. Aaron threw down his staff in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it turned into a serpent. 11Then Pharaoh in his turn called for the sages and sorcerers, and by their spells the magicians of Egypt did the same. 12Each threw his staff down and these turned into serpents. But Aaron's staff swallowed up theirs. 13Pharaoh, however, remained obstinate and, as Yahweh had foretold, refused to listen to Moses and Aaron.
Obedient to Yahweh's plan, Moses and Aaron threw down their staffs, which immediately became serpents. Unimpressed, the Pharaoh called in his magicians who duplicated Moses' and Aaron's sign. The names of the Egyptian magicians, according to 2 Timothy 3:8, were Jannes and Jambres.
Question: Moses and Aaron must have been disheartened that the Egyptian magicians, who were probably priests, could duplicate their sign until they discovered that the sign to impress the Egyptians wasn't the staffs turning into snakes. What was the real sign of God's representatives' power and authority over the Egyptians and what was the Pharaoh's response?
Answer: Their serpents devoured the Egyptian serpents. Pharaoh remained unmoved, as God had foretold.
The word "serpent/snake" in the Hebrew text is tannin (tanniym), which can also refer to a sea or river monster/dragon; see where the word is also used in Gen 1:21; Dt 32:33; Job 7:12; Is 27:1; 51:9 (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, page 1072). In the Septiagint Greek this word is translated "dragon." If the serpent was the Egyptian river crocodile, the transformation of Aaron's staff into a crocodile which then ate the crocodiles of the Egyptian sorcerer/priests would have been a significant sign for the Pharaoh. The crocodile god Sobek was a creator-god and the guardian god of the reigning Pharaoh.
Please read Exodus 7:14-25: Yahweh's Instructions
Concerning Moses and Aaron's Third Meeting with the Pharaoh and The First
7:14Yahweh then said to Moses, Pharaoh is adamant. He refuses to let the people go. 15Go to Pharaoh tomorrow morning as he makes his way to the water, confront him on the river bank and in your hand take the staff that turned into a snake. 16Say to him, Yahweh, God of the Hebrews, sent me to say: Let my people go and worship in the desert. Up till now, you have refused to listen. 17This is what Yahweh says: You will know that I am Yahweh by this: with the staff that is in my hand I shall strike the waters of the River and they will turn to blood. 18The fish in the river will die, and the River will stink, and the Egyptians will not be able to drink the river water. ' 19Yahweh said to Moses, Say to Aaron, Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt "over their rivers and canals, their marshland, and all their reservoirs "and they will turn to blood. There will be blood throughout the whole of Egypt, even in sticks [wood] and stones [stone] (vessels). ' 20Moses and Aaron did as Yahweh ordered. He raised his staff and struck the waters of the River, with Pharaoh and his officials looking on, and all the water in the River turned to blood. 21The fish in the River died, and the River stank; and the Egyptians could no longer drink the River water. Throughout the whole of Egypt there was blood. 22But by their spells the magicians of Egypt did the same; Pharaoh remained obstinate [heart hardened] and, as Yahweh had foretold, refused to listen to Moses and Aaron. 23Pharaoh turned away and went back into his palace, taking no notice even of this. 24And the Egyptians all dug holes along the river-bank in search of drinking water, since they could not drink the River water. 25After Yahweh struck the River, seven days went by.
[..] = literal translation (Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 158).
Moses was commanded to confront Pharaoh on the river bank. It may have been Pharaoh's normal practice to offer prayers or to perform some other religious service daily on the bank of the river that was the life blood of Egypt, a river personified as the god Hapi (Hapy), the spirit of the Nile , the god Khumn, considered the guardian of the resources of the Nile, and a river that was believed to be the very blood stream of the principle Egyptian deity, the god Osiris "a deity uniquely united in death to the Pharaoh himself (see Ex 8:16/20; Egypt: Gods, Myths and Religion, pages 18-19,41-45, 55, 184-5).
Question: What was the purpose of the first plague according to this passage?
Answer: That the Pharaoh, who stated that he did not know Yahweh, should come to know him: This is what Yahweh says: You will know that I am Yahweh by this: with the staff that is in my hand I shall strike the waters of the River and they will turn to blood.
Question: What was the extent of the damage that was caused by the first plague?
Exodus 7:19b: there shall be blood throughout the land of Egypt, even in wood and stone vessels (The Jewish Study Bible, page 118). The literal Hebrew reads wood and stone but vessels is understood according to the The Jewish Study Bible, published by the Jewish Bible Society, Tanach translation, Oxford University, 2004.
Question: What is the significance of this detail included in the description of the sign of the first plague that there was blood even in wood and stone vessels? Hint: in most ancient cultures water was used in ritual purification. The holy water for purification was kept in vessels that were either wood or stone "a natural vessel that was not corrupted by man (a vessel with natural materials not altered by man like a fired ceramic vessel); see Jn 2:6-10
Answer: In the first sign of Jesus' ministry, He turned water into the blood of the grape at Cana using the water from stone vessels. Holy water for ritual purification was kept in wooden or stone vessels. In Jesus' first public act, He reversed the curse of the first plague, which was a curse on the river that gave life to the Egyptians, by prefiguring the River of Life that was to flow from His body in the blood and water of Baptism and the Eucharist.
Exodus 7:20-21: 20Moses and Aaron did as Yahweh ordered. He raised his staff and struck the waters of the River, with Pharaoh and his officials looking on, and all the water in the River turned to blood. 21The fish in the River died, and the River stank; and the Egyptians could no longer drink the River water. Throughout the whole of Egypt there was blood.
Question: Did the Israelites also experience the plague of the Nile?
Exodus 7:22-25: 22But by their spells the magicians of Egypt did the same; Pharaoh remained obstinate [heart hardened] and, as Yahweh had foretold, refused to listen to Moses and Aaron. 23Pharaoh turned away and went back into his palace, taking no notice even of this. 24And the Egyptians all dug holes along the river-bank in search of drinking water, since they could not drink the River water. 25After Yahweh struck the River, seven days went by.
That the Pharaoh's magicians were able to turn some water into blood really didn't solve the Egyptians' problem. Their powers were obviously limited to slight of hand since they could not reverse the miracle that Yahweh's representatives had performed.
Question: How was God merciful to the people so that they did not die of thirst?
Answer: God provided that there should be water available for the people if they dug near the river bank (Ex 7:24). It was God's intent to reveal His power to the Egyptians and Israelites by His attack on the Nile and to show that their pantheon of gods and goddesses were false; He did not intend that the people should die.
It is not surprising that the Pharaoh made no comment but turned away and returned to his palace. To acknowledge in any way Moses and Aaron's foreign god or the plague that their god brought on the Nile held greater implications for the Pharaoh than simply releasing a population of slaves to enjoy a sacred feast celebrating their god. The Pharaoh's position of authority as a god-king, the very essence of his being, and the status of the nation in the worship of the gods and goddesses of Egypt hung in the balance, and he knew it.
This was the first of ten plagues that displayed the awesome power of Yahweh: the God of Israel and the One True God, who executed judgment on Pharaoh, a man who falsely claimed to be a god, and upon the false gods/goddesses of Egypt.
The Ten Egyptian Plagues
|Scripture Passage||The Plagues|
|Ex 7:14-35||1. Water of the Nile turned to blood (even the water in wood and stone vessels)|
|Ex 7:26-8:10 (8:1- 14)||2. The plague of frogs|
|Ex 8:12-15 (8:16-19)||3. The plague of lice/mosquitoes|
|Ex 8:16-28 (8:20-32)||4. The plague of the mixture + *|
|Ex 9:1-7||5. The plague of that caused the death of the Egyptians' livestock +|
|Ex 9:8-12||6. The plague of the boils|
|Ex 9:13-32||7. The plague of the hail +|
|Ex 10:12-20||8. The plague of the locusts|
|Ex 10:21-23||9. The plague of darkness +|
|Ex 11:1-8; 12:29-34||10. The plague of the death of the firstborn +|
M. Hunt copyright 2009
* the precise nature of the 4th plague is not clear. The Hebrew word for the fourth plague is arov / arob, a noun based on a Hebrew root meaning to mix, thus yielding a word that means mixture ( Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 160; Briggs-Driver-Brown Hebrew Lexicon, page 487).
Scripture does not identify the nature of the fourth plague; it is only noted that it was a mixture. It is possible, however, to suggest what the fourth plague may have been from observing the pattern of the other plagues that seem to progress in pairs:
Therefore, one might conclude that the plague of the lice /mosquito insects (found only in the plural; see Ex 8:17, 18) might be followed by a plague composed of a mixture of pesky insects. This was the view of the 1st century AD Jewish priest-historian Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 2.14.3), and St. Jerome agreed by describing the fourth plague in his Latin Vulgate (produced c. 400 AD) as all kinds of flies. (2) This is also the interpretation offered in the Jewish Tanach (Old Testament) translation of the Jewish Study Bible, page 119. The interpretation of swarms of insects fits the context of the biblical text which testifies that the very ground the people stood on was filled with arov (Ex 8:17). The text also describes the 'arov as coming into the houses, even the palace of the Pharaoh (Ex 8:20) "it seems likely that the Pharaoh's soldiers could have prevented a plague of wild beasts (a popular interpretation of the 4th plague in the Middle Ages) from entering his palace, but it would have been an impossible task to protect the pharaoh's palace from millions of insects. The description of the plague of the arov in the biblical text is contextually compatible with the interpretation swarms of a mixture of insects.
Questions for group discussion:
Question: Did God's hardening of the Egyptian pharaoh's heart interfere with the man's free will choices? Did the pharaoh no longer have the option of being compassionate to the Israelites? What does the exercise of God's gift of free-will mean? Is freedom of will also license to do what ever one desires? See CCC 311, 1730-42; 1 Tim 2:3-4; 2 Pt 3:9.
Question: Faced with the increased suffering of the people, both the Israelites and Moses experienced a crisis: the people experienced a crisis of faith in the God of their fathers, but Moses experienced a crisis of expectation in God's plan for his people. Have you been tested by such an experience? Was it a crisis of faith or a crisis of expectation concerning your idea of God's plan for your life?
Question: Do you expect that belief in God should minimize your suffering on your journey to salvation? Why does God allow His people to suffer? Pope John Paul II wrote: Christ does not explain in the abstract the reasons for suffering, but before all else he says: Follow me! Come! Take part through your suffering in this work of saving the world, a salvation achieved through my suffering! Through my cross!' (Salvifici Doloris, 26). See CCC 307 and 318.
1. Document Hypothesis Theory: At the end of the nineteenth century German Protestant Bible scholars Wellhausen and Graf introduced the theory that the Pentateuch was an amalgam of two documents, composed at different times and places but centuries after Moses and the Exodus. They labeled the two narrative sources the J source and the E source. The J source (J is the German Y) or Yahwistic source was from the story of Adam and Eve (Gen chapter 2) onward where ever the name YHWH was used for God and the E source was believed to be from all parts of the narrative in which God was referred to by the plural noun for god, Elohim. Later additional sources, designated P for priestly source and D for Deuteronomic source, were added. The theory suggested that the different sources were finally combined, edited and written down in the 6th century BC after Judah's return from the Babylonian exile. Initially this theory was condemned by the Catholic Church and most main-stream Protestant Churches. As time went on the theory gained more acceptance and today even Catholic Bible notes include notations that a certain part of the Pentateuch narrative is from source P , etc. with no suggestion that this is only a theory without a shred of physical evidence. No two scholars can agree of the division of the text between the supposed four sources and not a single piece of text has ever been discovered in ancient documents that recorded disjointed parts of the Pentateuch. The greatest damage this theory inflicts on the Bible is that it denies the divine inspiration of the written text and a single divinely ordained plan for man's salvation.
2. Bible scholars, both Jewish and Christian have struggled to determine the exact nature of the fourth plague. The Greek Septuagint translation dealing with the fourth plague, the 1st century AD Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria (Life of Moses, I), and 3rd century AD Christian scholar Origen (Homilies on Exodus 4.1, 6) believed it was a plague of the pesky Egyptian sand lice. 1st century AD Jewish priest and historian, Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 2.14.3) recorded that the third plague was lice while the fourth plague was a mixture of all sorts of pestilential creatures... , a view shared by a number of the Jewish Rabbis of the 2nd century AD, while other Rabbis favored different types of wild animals. St. Jerome, however, agreed with Josephus and translated his Latin Vulgate (produced c. 400 AD) to record that the fourth plague was a plague of all kinds of flies (omne genus muscarum), and most Catholic Bibles present Jerome's view of the fourth plague. In the Middle Ages Jewish Rabbis favored the theory that the mixture consisted of wild animals and this became the standard view in many Protestant Christian translations of this Old Testament passage. Today, many Rabbis have returned to the view of Josephus. See an excellent article on the controversy concerning the fourth plague in: Bible Review, April 2003, Beasts or Bugs? , Gary A. Rendsburg, pages 24-31.
|Free will||311, 1730-42|
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2009 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.