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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 4

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 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 believe me. — They had formerly refused him, "and thrust him away." Exodus 2:14 Acts 7:27 And so they might again, if he had not somewhat to show for his extraordinary calling. Quaeque repulsa gravis. - Hor. In the year 434, the Jews of Crete were shamefully seduced by a pseudo-Moses, who promised to divide the sea for them to bring them back to their own country. Funccius, in Comm. Chron. Those that will not receive the love of the truth, are justly given up to the efficacy of error. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11

Verse 2

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

A rod. — Heb., Matte, in answer to Maze, What is that? an elegant antonomasia in the original. This is ordinary in both Testaments; the penmen whereof, many of them, were, as Cicero saith of Demetrius Phalereus, oratores parum vehementes, dulces tamen, soft, but sweet orators.

Verse 3

And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.

And it became a serpent. — So doth the word to those that cast away the care of it; it stings them with unquestionable conviction and horror. With this rod Moses should guide the Israelites, sting the Egyptians. Isaiah 14:29 Jeremiah 8:17

And Moses fled from before it, — First fly from sin as from a serpent, saith one. But if thou hast taken this serpent into thy hand, rest not, till, like Moses’s serpent, it be turned into a rod again to scourge thy soul. Be either innocent or penitent.

Verse 4

And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:

Take it by the tail. — Which was dreadful to be done, because of the antipathy and likely danger; but faith fortifies the heart against the fear of the creature, and carries a man through the difficulty of duty.

Verse 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. — Miracles are sufficient testimonies of an extraordinary calling from God, provided that they be true miracles (not such as Deuteronomy 13:1-3 ), to confirm a calling that is agreeable to God’s holy word, as here.

Verse 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.

Put now thine hand. — Here was sign upon sign, as Exodus 3:12 . So low stoops the Most High to our meanness. And doth he not the same favour for us by the often administration of the Lord’s supper? Doth he not seal again and again, …?

Was leprous as snow. — Let us but lay our hands upon our hearts, thrust them into our bosoms to rifle there, and we shall be sure to take them out leprous, all of a tetter. tetter: A general term for any pustular herpetiform eruption of the skin, as eczema, herpes, impetigo, ringworm, etc.

Verse 7

And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his [other] flesh.

As his other flesh. — To show him that God, by small means, could bring about great matters, and that in a moment. See Isaiah 66:7-8 . Which yet was ill applied by Cardinal Pool to this revolting nation in Queen Mary’s days.

Verse 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 signs have a voice, and words. Psalms 105:27 They speak not only to our eyes, but ears; as those many prodigies did before the last desolation of Jerusalem; as the terrible tempest at Rome in 1516, - the same year that Luther began to stir, - that so struck the church where Pope Leo was creating his cardinals, that it removed the child Jesus out of the lap of his mother, and the keys out of St Peter’s hand. So the two suns seen in London at the coming in of King Philip on Feb. 15, 1553: the new star in Cassiopeia in 1572: the prodigious comet Oυδεις κωμητης οστις ου κακον φερει . in 1618, …

Verse 9

And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour [it] upon the dry [land]: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry [land].

Shall become blood. — In the year 874, in Brixia in Italy, it rained blood for three days and three nights. In 1505, there appeared in Germany, upon the garments of men and women various prints and tokens of the nails, of the sponge, of the spear, of the Lord’s coat, and of bloody crosses. Maximilian, the Emperor, had, and showed the same to Francis Mirandula, who thereupon wrote his "Staurestichon," and therein thus -

“Non ignota cane, Caesar monstravit, et ipsi

Vidimus; innumeros prompsit Germania testes.” Baleus Centur., 8. Func., Chronol. Act. and Mon., fol. 769, 1853.

In the third year of Queen Mary, William Pikes being at liberty after imprisonment, and going into his garden, took with him a Bible: where sitting and reading, there suddenly fell down upon his book four drops of fresh blood, and he knew not from whence it came. Whereat he being sore astonished, and wiping out one of the drops with his finger, called his wife and said, In the virtue of God, wife, what meaneth this? Will the Lord have four sacrifices? I see well enough the Lord will have blood; his will be done, and give me grace to abide the trial, …

Verse 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.

I am not eloquent. — Heb., A man of words, a master of speech - ηγουμενος λογου - as Paul was. Acts 14:12 He had not that first, second, and third of an orator, - elocution, or pronunciation. And yet God made choice of him rather than of eloquent Aaron to pray. Exodus 17:12 Not gifts but graces prevail in prayer.

Slow of speech. — Of a letsom delivery; wordbound.

Verse 11

And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?

Who hath made man’s mouth? — There is no mouth into which God cannot put fit words. Balaam’s ass was enabled by God to convince his master. Whereas by a man, never so full and fluent, he cannot bring forth his conceptions, without the obstetrication of God’s assistance. Proverbs 16:1

Verse 12

Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

I will be with thy mouth.See Trapp on " Matthew 10:19 "

Verse 13

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

By the hand of him whom thou wilt. — Or, shouldst send: by that excellent speaker the Messiah, cuius dicere est facere. Thus when God had answered all Moses’s objections, he frowardly denies to go notwithstanding, and bids him send by his son, as one that was better fitted for the service. That which made Moses so unwilling, was, whatever he pretended, the fear of his life: which rub when God had once removed, he went on his journey. Exodus 4:19-20

Verse 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. — And no wonder: Patientia laesa fit furor. Where God commandeth, there to ask a reason is presumption; but to oppose reason, is a kind of rebellion.

I know that he can speak well. — The gift of utterance is a high favour, a piece of a Christian’s riches. 1 Corinthians 1:5 See Trapp on " 1 Corinthians 1:5 " Aaron, as Cicero saith of Aristotle, had aureum flumen orationis, a golden gift of speech.

Verse 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.

Will teach you.See Trapp on " Exodus 4:11 " See Trapp on " Exodus 4:12 "

Verse 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.

And he shall be thy spokesman. — God hath made me ill-favoured in this world, and without grace in the sight of men, said Tyndale to Frith, Act. and Mon., fol. 988. speechless and rude, dull and slow witted: your part shall be to supply that which lacketh in me: remembering, that as lowliness of heart shall make you high with God, even so meekness of words shall make you sink into the hearts of men.

Instead of God. — To dictate unto him my mind and counsel. Such a god to every Christian is his sanctified conscience.

Verse 17

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

Wherewith thou shalt do signs. — God, of his freewill, joining his operation thereunto; as likewise he doth to the outward signs in the two sacraments: and hence their energy, which else would be none.

Verse 18

And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which [are] in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.

Whether they be yet alive. — Which if they be, though in a low condition, both they and I shall see cause to be thankful. Lamentations 3:39 Ecclesiastes 9:4

Verse 19

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

For all the men are dead. — Here the Lord lays his finger upon the sore. This was that pad in the straw, the thing that made Moses hang off as he did; however he pretended the people’s incredulity, his own inability, and this and that, neither did he altogether dissemble: but self-love needs not be taught to tell her tale.

Verse 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.

Upon an ass. — This may argue his poverty, as Zechariah 9:9 . Especially if he had but one ass for the whole family.

Verse 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.

But I will harden his heart. — With a judiciary penal hardness. And thus God is in this book eight times said to have hardened Pharaoh’s heart: thrice it is said that he hardened his own heart, and five times his heart is said to have been hardened - viz., by the devil, through the just judgment of God.

Verse 22

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

Even my firstborn. — And so "higher than the kings of the earth." Psalms 89:27

Verse 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. — God commanding Pharaoh to let go his people, and yet hardening his heart that he would not let them go, is not contrary to himself. For by so commanding him, he requireth his obedience; and by so hardening him, he punisheth his disobedience.

Verse 24

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

And sought to kill him. — To do justice upon him, according to Genesis 17:14 , and as upon one that was an unfit man to take care of the Church, having no better ordered his own house. 1 Timothy 3:5 God passeth not by the sins of his best children without a sensible check, especially if scandalous and committed against conscience. He hath much ado to forbear killing us in such cases: he is even ready to have a blow at us, and cries like a travailing woman, who bites in her pain while she can, to be delivered of his judgments. Isaiah 42:14

Verse 25

Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast [it] at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband [art] thou to me.

Surely a bloody husband. — A peevish wife, whose frowardness is either tollenda or toleranda, cured or carried patiently, ne coniugium fiat coniurgium. She was not so hot, but Moses was as meek.

Verse 26

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

A bloody husband thou art. — This peal she rings oft in his ears, and so taught him patience.

“Coniugium humanae divina Academia vitae.”

Certain it is that we are a bloody spouse to Christ: the Church is Aceldama, a field of blood.

Verse 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.

And the Lord said unto Aaron. — To this religious family rather than to any other, God appeareth: which mercy is remembered, 1 Samuel 2:27 .

Met him in the mount of God. — His wife either had left him, or was sent back by him to her father. God supplies that comfort by the coming of Aaron.

Verse 28

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

And Moses told Aaron. — So clouds, when full, pour down, and the spouts run, and the eaves shed, and the presses overflow. Aromatical trees sweat out their precious oils: and as ambergris is nothing so sweet in itself as when compounded with other things; so good men are great gainers by communicating with each other.

Verse 29

And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:

And Moses and Aaron. — So Zerubbabel and Jehoshua; Paul and Barnabas; the other disciples "by two and two"; Mark 6:7 the two faithful witnesses; Revelation 11:3 both for more authority, and for mutual help and comfort.

Verse 30

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

And did the signs. — Moses did; or Aaron, by his command and appointment.

Verse 31

And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

They bowed their heads. — An ordinary gesture among the Jews then: as at this day, the reverence they show is in standing up, and the gesture of adoration in the bowing forward of their bodies: for, kneeling they use none, neither stir they their bonnets in their synagogues to any man, but remain still covered. Spec. Europ.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Exodus 4". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/exodus-4.html. 1865-1868.
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