The Word Made Fresh
1The LORD answered Moses, “Now you’ll see what I will do to Pharaoh. He will let the people go and forcefully drive them out of his country.”
2And God said to Moses, “I am the LORD. 3I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but I did not make myself known to them by my name, ‘the LORD.’ 4I made an agreement with them that the land of Canaan where they lived as foreigners would belong to them. 5I heard the cries of the Israelites the Egyptians are holding as slaves and I have remembered my promise. 6So, you can tell the Israelites that the LORD will set them free from their slavery to the Egyptians with powerful and mighty acts. 7I will take them as my people, and I will be their God. They will never forget that I am the LORD their God who freed them from slavery to the Egyptians. 8Tell them I will bring them into the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It will belong to them. I, the LORD, have declared it.”
9Moses told the Israelites what God had said, but they wouldn’t listen. Their spirits were broken. Their slavery was a terrible burden.
10Then the LORD said to Moses, 11“Tell Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to let the Israelites leave his country.”
12But Moses said, “The Israelites wouldn’t listen to me. What makes you think Pharaoh will? You know I am not an eloquent speaker.”
13So the LORD told Moses and Aaron how to deal with the Israelites and with Pharaoh, and made them responsible for setting the Israelites free from Egypt.
14Here is a list of the ancestors of the tribes of Israel:
The sons of Reuben, Israel’s eldest son, were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron and Carmi. These are the clans of the tribe of Reuben.
15Simeon’s sons were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar and Shaul (the son of a Canaanite woman). These formed the clans of Simeon.
16Levi’s sons were Gershom, Kohath and Merari. Levi lived to be 137 years old. 17Gershom’s sons were heads of the clans of Libni and Shimei. 18Kohath’s sons were Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. Kohath lived for 133 years. 19Merari’s sons were Mahli and Mushi, and all these were the clans of the Levites. 20Amram married his aunt, Jochebed, his father’s sister. She bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years. 21Izhar’s sons were Korah, Nepheg and Zichri. 22The sons of Uzziel were Mishael, Elzaphan and Sithri. 23Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon. She and Aaron had Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 24Korah’s sons were Assir, Elkanah and Abiasaph. All these are the clans of the Korahites. 25Aaron’s son Eleazar married one of Putiel’s daughters and she gave birth to Phinehas. These are all the heads of the clans of the Levites.
26The Aaron and Moses mentioned above were the very ones to whom the LORD said, “Bring the Israelites out of Egypt clan by clan.” 27They are the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt to set the Israelites free.28The LORD spoke to Moses in Egypt 29and said, “Tell Pharaoh everything I tell you to say.” 30But Moses told the LORD, “Since I am not a smooth talker. why would Pharaoh listen to me?”
1: In answer to Moses’ complaint, the LORD promises action.
2-9: God tells Moses that he did not reveal the sacred name to Abraham, but did establish a covenant with his people to give them the land of Canaan. Moses is to tell the people that the LORD (using the sacred name) will deliver them and give them the land of Canaan for their possession. Still, the people find it hard to believe Moses because of the suffering they have had to endure.
10-13: God again tells Moses to go to Pharaoh but Moses protests. The people they’re trying to rescue won’t listen to him, he says, so why should Pharaoh? God insists and lays the responsibility squarely on Moses and Aaron.
14-25 An intermission: the genealogy of Reuben, Simeon and Levi (Moses and Aaron are Levites). Moses’ parents are named: Amram son of Kohath, and his wife Jochebed. Jochebed is Amram’s aunt – his father’s sister, a family arrangement that would not be allowed today. Curiously, Aaron’s descendants get a lot of attention, but Moses’ gets none.
26-27: Again, it is repeated that God told Moses and Aaron to talk to Pharaoh. Excuse me, here it is Aaron and Moses, not Moses and Aaron. Hmmm.
28-30: We regress a bit in these verses. Only Moses is mentioned here as if we have gone back to the burning bush conversation between him and the LORD. Here it is remembered that Moses objected to God’s call by claiming to be a “poor speaker” in most English translations, but the Hebrew translates literally, “I am a man of uncircumcised lips.” Various explanations have been given this phrase, but I think it likely is a reference to Moses’ Egyptian upbringing; he spoke Hebrew with an Egyptian accent. Thus, he feared the Israelites would not trust him.
I think one lesson in this story is that the more unsuited we feel about doing something we know is the right thing to do (that is, something we know God wants us to do), the more we can depend on God to back us up. Be brave! It is reported that John Wesley’s last words on his death bed were, “The best of all is, God is with us.” Never forget that.