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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 4

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

Verse 1

They, &c. Many of the common people, not of the ancients, chap. iii. 18. (Menochius) --- He knew that all ought to bring credentials from God, when they come in his name to institute a new order of things. This Moses, Jesus Christ, and the apostles did. Nothing less than a miracle can suffice to guard against imposters, who will never be able to stand this test throughout, in such a manner, but that God will evidently confound their delusive designs, if they should even attempt to work miracles. (Haydock) --- Believe the works. (St. John, x. 15; Mark xvi.) (Worthington)

Verse 4

A rod. This alluded to the three states in which the Hebrews had lived in Egypt: 1. As holding the sceptre; 2. as persecuted in a crafty and cruel manner; and 3. as liberated by Moses. (Menochius) --- The dragon [i.e., the serpent] was so terrible as to make even Moses flee. (Philo.)

Verse 7

Again. When Moses first appeared in defence of his brethren, Pharao afflicted them more grievously; but at last he was forced to let them go. (Menochius)

Verse 9

Blood. This third sign had the same tendency as the former. It showed the cruel persecution inflicted upon the Hebrews, particularly in drowning their male infants; a cruelty which God would shortly revenge, by turning the waters of Egypt into blood, and by slaying the first-born and the army of the Egyptians. (Tirinus)

Verse 10

Of tongue, being impressed with awe, at the divine presence. He feared, therefore, that he should not be able to deliver himself intelligently at the court of Pharao, and might rather excite the disgust of that haughty tyrant. (Haydock) --- He had been 40 years absent in the land of Madian, and might have forgotten both the Egyptian and Hebrew languages in some degree; in which sense slowness or heaviness of tongue is taken, (Ezechiel iii. 5.) to express an unknown language. (Calmet) --- God was thus pleased to shew, that all the glory arising from this enterprize belonged to himself; and he thus also gave occasion to Moses to humble himself, while he wrought miracles. (Menochius)

Verse 13

Send. Many of the fathers think Moses here prays for the coming of the Messias, who was to be the deliverer of his people; (St. Justin, &c.) or he begs at least that one more proper than himself may be selected; in which some discover marks of pusillanimity, others of great and laudable modesty; so that the anger of God here only means an earnest expression of his will , that Moses should make no further demur. Lyranus supposes that Aaron was the person pointed at by Moses; and God grants his request. (Calmet)

Verse 16

To God. Hebrew, "thou shalt be to him in the place of God." He shall hear and obey thee, explaining to the people the instructions thou shalt give him. I have established thee the god of Pharao, and Aaron shall be thy prophet, chap. vii. 1. (Calmet) --- I will address myself immediately to thee. (Tirinus)

Verse 17

Rod. So the devil taught Mercury and Bacchus to mimic Moses, and to carry a wand. Tum virgam capit, hac animas ille evocat orco. (Virgil, iv.) (Calmet)

Verse 19

Life. "After those many days were elapsed, the king of Egypt died," who had obliged Moses to flee, as the Septuagint, Josephus, and Philo add at the end of ver. 18. Upon which God, who had already commissioned him to go, and saw him willing, gives him this further assurance that he has nothing to fear for his own person. (Haydock)

Verse 21

I shall harden, &c. Not by being the efficient cause of his sin; but by withdrawing from him, for his just punishment, the dew of grace, that might have softened his heart; and so suffering him to grow harder and harder. (Challoner) --- Non impertiendo misericordiam. (St. Augustine, ep. 194, ad Sixt.) Thus God permitted the false miracles of the magicians, and did not suffer the scourges to continue long, so that the tyrant soon relapsed and forgot his promises. (Origen, Philos. xx; Theodoret in Romans ix. 16.) (Calmet)

Verse 22


First-born, heir to my promises, and the object of my complacency.

Verse 23

Thy son. This was the tenth and last scourge, which forced the king to relent. (Menochius)

Verse 24

The Lord met him, and would have killed him. This was an angel representing the Lord, who treated Moses in this manner, for having neglected the circumcision of his younger son: which his wife understanding, circumcised her child upon the spot, upon which the angel let Moses go. (Challoner) --- Both his children were born about this time. But Eliezer, the younger, had not been circumcised; and therefore remained under the power of the destroying angel. (Origen, contra Cels. v.) Others think the angel was going to kill Moses. (Calmet)

Verse 25

Stone, like a flint. Such stones are very common in Egypt, and are used by the embalmers to open the side of the deceased. The Galli priests make themselves eunuchs without danger, by means of sharp stones. (Pliny, Natural History xxxv. 12.) Josue circumcises with the like, Josue v. But any instrument will suffice. (Calmet) --- Sephora seized the first thing that came in her way, to save the life of her husband, with whom God was displeased for this neglect of complying with the law, whatever might be his pretext. It was not fit that he should be a legislator, who was not a pattern of obedience. (Tirinus) --- Spouse. I have redeemed thee from destruction, by shedding the blood of my son; therefore I will deem this a ratification of our marriage. Never forget our union, which costs me so much, and which has placed you in such imminent danger. The Hebrew mothers style their newly circumcised infants bloody spouses, in imitation of Sephora, who on this occasion perhaps addresses the words to Eliezer. The Septuagint read, "Sephora....fell at his feet, and said, the blood of my son’s circumcision has ceased to flow," &c., which is not very easy to understand.

Verse 27

Of God. Horeb, where both brothers met, after Sephora was returned to her father.

Verse 30

The three signs, prescribed above, in proof of their mission. (Calmet)

Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Exodus 4". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/exodus-4.html. 1859.
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