Exodus 4 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Exodus 4)

Verse 1

[1] And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.

They will not hearken to my voice-That is, they would not take his bare word, unless he shewed them some sign. He remembered how they had once rejected him, and feared it would be so again.

Verse 2

[2] And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.

A rod — Or staff.

Verse 5

[5] That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.

That they may believe — An imperfect sentence to be thus compleated, This thou shalt do, before them, that they may believe.

Verse 6

[6] And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.

His hand was leprous, as snow — For whiteness. This signified, That Moses, by the power of God, should bring sore diseases upon Egypt, that at his prayer they should be removed. And that whereas the Israelites in Egypt were become leprous, polluted by sin, and almost consumed by oppression, by being taken into the bosom of Moses they should be cleansed and cured.

Verse 8

[8] And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.

The voice of the first sign — God's works have a voice to speak to us, which we must diligently observe.

Verse 10

[10] And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

O my Lord, I am not eloquent — He was a great philosopher, statesman, and divine, and yet no orator; a man of a clear head, great thought and solid judgment, but had not a voluble tongue, nor ready utterance; and therefore he thought himself unfit to speak before great men, and about great affairs. Moses was mighty in word, Acts 7:22, and yet not eloquent: what he said was strong and nervous, and to the purpose, and distilled as the dew, Deuteronomy 32:2, though he did not deliver himself with that readiness, ease and fineness that some do.

Verse 13

[13] And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.

Send by whom thou wilt send — By any but me.

Verse 14

[14] And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.

And the anger of the Lord was kindled against him — Even self-diffidence when it grows into an extreme, when it either hinders us from duty, or clogs us in duty, is very displeasing to him.

Verse 15

[15] And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.

I will be with thy mouth and with his mouth — Even Aaron that could speak well, yet could not speak to purpose, unless God were with his mouth; without the constant aids of divine grace, the best gifts will fail.

Verse 16

[16] And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.

Instead of God — To teach and to command him.

Verse 17

[17] And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

Take this rod — The staff or crook he carried as a shepherd, that he might not be ashamed of that mean condition out of which God called him. This rod must be his staff of authority, and must be to him instead, both of sword and sceptre.

Verse 19

[19] And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.

The Lord said unto Moses — This seems to have been a second vision, whereby God calls him to the present execution of the command given before.

Verse 20

[20] And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.

The rod of God — His shepherd's crook so called, as it was God's instrument in so many glorious works.

Verse 21

[21] And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

In thy hand — in thy power: I will harden his heart - After he has frequently harden'd it himself, wilfully shutting his eyes against the light, I will at last permit Satan to harden it effectually.

Verse 22

[22] And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:

Thus saith the Lord — This is the first time that preface is used by any man, which afterwards is used so frequently by all the prophets: Israel is my son, my first-born - Precious in my sight, honourable, and dear to me.

Verse 23

[23] And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

Let my son go — Not only my servant whom thou hast no right to detain, but my son whose liberty and honour I am jealous for.

If thou refuse, I will slay thy son, even thy first-born — As men deal with God's people, let them expect to be themselves dealt with.

Verse 24

[24] And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.

It seems the sin of Moses, was neglecting to circumcise his son, which perhaps was the effect of his being unequally yoked with a Midianite, who was too indulgent of her child, and Moses so of her. The Lord met him, and, probably, by a sword in an angel's hand, sought to kill him - This was a great change. Very lately God was conversing with him as a friend, and now coming forth against him as an enemy. In this case of necessity Zipporah herself circumcised the child without delay; whether with passionate words, expressing the dislike of the ordinance itself, or at least the administration of it to so young a child.

Verse 26

[26] So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

So he let him go — The destroying angel withdrew. But still Zipporah cannot forget, but will unreasonably call Moses a bloody husband, because he obliged her to circumcise the child; and upon this occasion, (it is probable) he sent them back to his father-in-law, that they might not create him any farther uneasiness. When we have any special service to do for God, we should remove that as far from us as we can, which is likely to be our hindrance: let the dead bury their dead, but follow thou me.

Verse 27

[27] And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.

In the mount of God — That is, the place where God had met with him.

Verse 28

[28] And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.

Moses told Aaron all — Those that are fellow-servants to God in the same work, should use a mutual freedom, and endeavour, rightly and fully to understand one another.

Verse 30

[30] And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.

Aaron did the signs — By the direction of Moses.