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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Exodus 6

Verse 1

1. Pharaoh’s response to Moses and Aaron’s initial request 5:1-6:1

Moses’ prayer of inquiry and complaint reveals the immaturity of his faith at this time. He, too, needed the demonstrations of God’s power that followed.

"By allowing us to listen to Moses’ prayer to God, the author uncovers Moses’ own view of his calling. It was God’s work, and Moses was sent by God to do it." [Note: Sailhamer, The Pentateuch . . ., p. 250.]

This section climaxes with the apparent failure of Yahweh’s plan to rescue Israel. This desperate condition provides the pessimistic backdrop for the supernatural demonstrations of Yahweh’s power that follow.

Verses 2-7

2. Moses and Aaron’s equipment as God’s messengers 6:2-7:7

The writer gave the credentials of God and His representatives, Moses and Aaron, in these verses.

Verses 2-9

God explained to Moses that He would indeed deliver Israel out of Egypt in spite of the discouragement that Moses had encountered so far. God proceeded to remind Moses of His promises to the patriarchs and to reveal more of Himself by expounding one of His names.

"During the patriarchal period the characteristic name of God was ’God Almighty’ (Exodus 6:3; see, for example, Genesis 17:1), the usual translation of the Hebrew El Shaddai, which probably literally means ’God, the Mountain One.’ That phrase could refer to the mountains as God’s symbolic home (see Psalms 121:1), but it more likely stresses His invincible power and might. . . .

"But during the Mosaic period the characteristic name of God was to be ’the LORD,’ the meaning of which was first revealed to Moses himself (Exodus 3:13-15). Exodus 6:3 is not saying that the patriarchs were totally ignorant of the name Yahweh." [Note: Youngblood, p. 41.]

The occurrences of "El Shaddai" in Genesis are in Genesis 17:1; Genesis 28:3; Genesis 35:11; Genesis 43:14; Genesis 48:3; and partially in Genesis 49:3. The name occurs 30 times in Job. Shaddai may come from the Hebrew sd ("breast") or from the Ugaritic tdy ("mountain"). In the former case it would mean "God the Nourisher," and in the latter "God of the Mountain." [Note: See Kaiser, "Exodus," p. 340.]

"Thus though the name YHWH existed well before the time of Moses, the meaning of that name was not revealed until the time of Moses." [Note: Gianotti, p. 39. See Johnson, p. 56; and Robert Dick Wilson, "Yahweh (Jehovah) and Exodus 6:3," in Classical Evangelical Essays in Old Testament Interpretation, pp. 29-40.]

"Yahweh" reveals God as "the absolute Being working with unbounded freedom in the performance of His promises." [Note: Keil and Delitzsch, 1:467.] It emphasizes God’s power at work for His people, as He was about to demonstrate it.

"Whatever the situation or need (in particular, the redemption from Egypt, but also future needs), God will ’become’ the solution to that need." [Note: Gianotti, p. 46. See also the note on Exodus 6:3 in the NET Bible.]

In this revelation God promised to do three things for Israel.

1. He would deliver the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage (Exodus 6:6). Moses communicated this in a threefold expression suggesting the completeness of the deliverance.

2. He would adopt Israel as His nation (Exodus 6:7). This took place at Sinai (Exodus 19:5).

3. He would bring Israel into the Promised Land (Exodus 6:8).

Note the repetition of the phrase "I will" seven times in these verses, emphasizing the fact that God would certainly do this for Israel. The whole revelation occurs within the statements "I am the LORD" (Exodus 6:2; Exodus 6:8) which formalize it and further stress the certainty of these promises.

"So this passage effectively paves the way for the transition from the simple covenant with Abraham to the complex new (Mosaic) covenant with the people as a whole." [Note: Jonathan Magonet, "The Rhetoric of God: Exodus 6:2-8," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 27 (October 1983):66.]

"This small section of narrative also sketches out the argument of the whole Pentateuch. God made a covenant with the patriarchs to give them the land of Canaan (Exodus 6:4). He remembered his covenant when he heard the cry of the Israelites in Egyptian bondage (Exodus 6:5). He is now going to deliver Israel from their bondage and take them to himself as a people and be their God (Exodus 6:6). He will also bring them into the land which he swore to give to their fathers (Exodus 6:8). The die is cast for the remainder of the events narrated in the Pentateuch." [Note: Sailhamer, The Pentateuch . . ., p. 251.]

Verses 10-13

Moses continued to claim lack of persuasive skill in speech (Exodus 6:12; cf. Exodus 6:30). He failed to grasp the full significance of what God had just revealed to him. Jesus’ disciples, and we, had and have the same problem. It was God, not Moses, who would bring the people out of Egypt.

"Seven distinct objections were raised by Moses as reasons why he should not undertake the arduous task to which he was called. They have been thus epitomised [sic]: Lack of fitness, ’who am I, that I should go?’ (iii. 11); lack of words, ’what shall I say?’ (iii. 13); lack of authority, ’they will not believe me’ (iv. 1); lack of power of speech, ’I am not eloquent’ (iv. 10); lack of special adaptation, ’Send by whom Thou wilt send’ (iv. 13); lack of success at his first attempt, ’neither hast Thou delivered Thy people at all’ (Exodus 6:23); lack of acceptance, ’the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me’ (vi. 12)." [Note: Meyer, p. 62.]

Verses 14-30

The selective genealogy (cf. Numbers 3:27-28) of Moses and Aaron accredits these men as God’s divinely appointed messengers (prophets) to the Israelites.

Moses’ Family Tree (Exodus 6:14-27)

Click image for full-size version

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Exodus 6". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/exodus-6.html. 2012.