Exodus 1–4: Moses & Yahweh

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 14: Monday

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
Exodus 1:8 LSB

Monday’s Bible reading of Exodus 1–4, introduces Moses, one of the dominant and most dramatic figures of the Old Testament.

Exodus 12:40–41 tells us that when the nation of Israel left Egypt, they had been there 430 years; Moses is born when the descendants of Jacob had been in Egypt for almost 400 years and at a time when the Hebrews had been enslaved and used for forced labor.

And a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply and it be in the event of war, that they also join themselves to those who hate us and fight against us and go up from the land.”
So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labors. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel. So the Egyptians brutally compelled the sons of Israel to slave labor; and they made their lives bitter with hard slave labor in mortar and bricks and in all kinds of slave labor in the field, all their slave labor which they brutally compelled them to do.
Exodus 1:8–14 LSB

The continued growth of their families caused Pharaoh to decree the killing of all the baby boys by the Hebrew midwives. These two women, however, feared God more than Pharaoh, and did not do this. At Pharaoh’s questioning as to why they had not killed the baby boys, they told him the Hebrew women gave birth too quickly before they could get there. At this point:

And Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.”
Exodus 1:22 LSB

Ironically, Pharaoh was setting the stage for Moses to be found by his own daughter and to grow up as her son.

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
Hebrews 11:23 LSB
But she could not hide him any longer. So she took for him an ark of papyrus reeds and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and put it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her young women walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the ark among the reeds and sent her maidservant, and she took it to her. Then she opened it and saw the child. And behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”
Exodus 2:3–6 LSB
It was at this time that Moses was born, and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home. And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. And Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was powerful in words and deeds.
Acts 7:20–22 LSB

Philip Ryken writes that when Moses was educated:

“This was the finest training the world had to offer—a first class secular education…it was customary for foreign princes to be reared and educated in the Egyptian court. The “children of the nursery,” they were called; and as a child of the nursery, Moses was trained in linguistics, mathematics, astronomy, archi­tecture, music, medicine, law, and the fine art of diplomacy… With this kind of background, it is no wonder that he came to be “highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people” (Exod. 11:2). There was a divine purpose in Moses’ education, for God was preparing him to lead his people out of Egypt.”1

Moses’ strong personality and character flaws are evident in Exodus 2. Committing assault and murder, he has to flee for his life to Midian. Here he becomes a shepherd, marries and might have lived his entire life in obscurity except one day God arrests his attention with a burning bush.

God tells him He has seen the affliction of His people and heard their cries, but when He tells Moses He is sending him to Pharaoh to them out of Egypt, Moses balks, not only about going to Pharaoh, but about going back to his people. Israel.

Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am about to come to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ And they will say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
And God furthermore said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name from generation to generation.”
Exodus 3:13–15 LSB

In God’s Name to His People, I quoted the translators of the Legacy Stancard Bible on the meaning of God’s covenant name, given to Moses:

“In the LSB, God’s covenant name is rendered as Yahweh. The meaning and implication of this name is God’s self-deriving, ongoing, and never-ending existence. Exodus 3:14–15 shows that God Himself considered it important for His people to know His name. The effect of revealing God’s name is His distinction from other gods and His expression of intimacy with the nation of Israel. Such a dynamic is a prevalent characteristic of the Scriptures as Yahweh appears in the OT over 6,800 times.”2

Moses, yet continues to protest that he doesn’t have any speaking ability, even after God tells him three signs to use for the Israelites: his staff turning into a snake and back again, his hand turning leprous and then whole again, and that when he takes water from the Nile and pours it on the ground, it will turn into blood. Moses appears to have run out of excuses, because he then tells God, “Please, Lord, send now the messageby whomever You will.”

Then the anger of Yahweh burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he can certainly speak. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you. And he will see you and be glad in his heart. And you are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will instruct you in what you shall do. Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will become as a mouth for you, and you will become as God to him. And you shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.”
Exodus 4:14–17 LSB

John Davis writes,

“for the first time we have an expression of the anger of God (v. 14), for it now became apparent that Moses was not speaking out of weakness, but out of a lack of obedience.”3

Phililp Ryken believes:

“Moses rebellion is evident from the way he addressed God: “O Lord,” This may sound respectful enough, but it lacked genuine reverence…Moses did not use the name that God had revealed to him, the special divine name Yahweh…and thus he failed to acknowledge God’s full sovereignty and majesty.”4

Moses desists and begins his journey back to Egypt with his wife and sons. Turning the water of the Nile and all the bodies of water in Egypt into blood will be the first plague that God sends on Pharaoh and the Egyptians. God also tells Moses what Moses will find out will be final plague.

And Yahweh said to Moses, “When you go to return to Egypt, see to it that all the miraculous wonders which I have put in your hand, that you do them before Pharaoh; but as for Me, I will harden his heart with strength so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says Yahweh, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”’”
Exodus 4:21–23 LSB

Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
The Birth of MosesJan van’t HoffGospel Images. Exodus 2:5-6.
The calling of MosesJan van’t HoffGospel Images. Exodus 3:6.
Moses and the Burning Bush: Richard Simon: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
1,4Philip Graham Ryken, Exodus: Saved For God’s Glory (Crossway Books, Wheaton IL: 2005) 53, 120.
2Foreward to the Legacy Standard Bible. Retrieved 03 January 2023.
5John J. Davis, Moses and the Gods of Egypt: Studies in Exodus (BMH Books, Winona Lake IN: 1971, 1986 Second ed.) 76-77.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2021–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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