Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Exodus 6:12

But Moses spoke before the Lord , saying, "Behold, the sons of Israel have not listened to me; how then will Pharaoh listen to me, for I am unskilled in speech?"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Circumcision;   Despondency;   Doubting;   Moses;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Circumcision;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Circumcision;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Aaron;   Magic;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Circumcision;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Lips;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Circumcision;   Lip;   Moses;   Prayer;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Uncircumcised;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Aaron;   Circumcision;   Exodus, the Book of;   Lip;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Uncircumcised lips? - The word ערל aral, which we translate uncircumcised, seems to signify any thing exuberant or superfluous. Had not Moses been remarkable for his excellent beauty, I should have thought the passage might be rendered protuberant lips; but as this sense cannot be admitted for the above reason, the word must refer to some natural impediment in his speech; and probably means a want of distinct and ready utterance, either occasioned by some defect in the organs of speech, or impaired knowledge of the Egyptian language after an absence of forty years. See Clarke's note on Exodus 4:10.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Exodus 6:12". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/exodus-6.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Uncircumcised lips - An uncircumcised ear is one that does not hear clearly; an uncircumcised heart one slow to receive and understand warnings; uncircumcised lips, such as cannot speak fluently. The recurrence of the hesitation of Moses is natural; great as was the former trial this was far more severe; yet his words always imply fear of failure, not of personal danger (see Exodus 3:11).

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Exodus 6:12". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/exodus-6.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Moses spake before the Lord,.... Who appeared in a visible form, and had spoke to him with an articulate voice, and before whom Moses stood, and made the following reply:

saying, behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; even though he brought a comfortable message to them from the Lord, and delivered many gracious promises of his to them, assuring them of deliverance out of Egypt, and of their possession of the land of Canaan:

how then shall Pharaoh hear me? making a demand upon him to part with a people, from whose labour he receives so much advantage, and has such an addition to his revenues, and who is a mighty king, and haughty monarch. And this is further enforced from his own weakness and unfitness to speak to Pharaoh:

who am of uncircumcised lips? had an impediment in his speech, could not speak freely and readily, but with difficulty; perhaps stammered, and so uttered superfluous syllables, repeated them before he could fully pronounce what he aimed at; or in other words, he was not eloquent, which was his old objection, and had been fully answered before: and by this it appears that there was no alteration in the speech of Moses since God spoke with him at Mount Horeb. Some think Moses expected to have had this impediment removed, and tacitly hints at it here, not being so well satisfied with Aaron's being joined with him as his mouth and spokesman, which seemed to carry in it some reflection upon him.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Exodus 6:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/exodus-6.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who [am] of d uncircumcised lips?

(d) Or barbarous and rude in speech and by this word

(uncircumcised) is signified the whole corruption of man's nature.

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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Exodus 6:12". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/exodus-6.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

how then shall … who am of uncircumcised lips? — A metaphorical expression among the Hebrews, who, taught to look on the circumcision of any part as denoting perfection, signified its deficiency or unsuitableness by uncircumcision. The words here express how painfully Moses felt his want of utterance or persuasive oratory. He seems to have fallen into the same deep despondency as his brethren, and to be shrinking with nervous timidity from a difficult, if not desperate, cause. If he had succeeded so ill with the people, whose dearest interests were all involved, what better hope could he entertain of his making more impression on the heart of a king elated with pride and strong in the possession of absolute power? How strikingly was the indulgent forbearance of God displayed towards His people amid all their backwardness to hail His announcement of approaching deliverance! No perverse complaints or careless indifference on their part retarded the development of His gracious purposes. On the contrary, here, as generally, the course of His providence is slow in the infliction of judgments, while it moves more quickly, as it were, when misery is to be relieved or benefits conferred.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Exodus 6:12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/exodus-6.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?

Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened to me; they gave no heed to what I have said, how then shall Pharaoh hear me? - If the anguish of their spirit makes them deaf to that which would compose and comfort them, much more will his pride and insolence, make him deaf to that which will but exasperate him.

Who am of uncircumcised lips — He was conscious to himself that he had not the gift of utterance.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Exodus 6:12". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/exodus-6.html. 1765.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Exodus 6:12. Moses spake before the Lord The phrase before the Lord, evidently denotes some visible appearance of the Deity, that divine Shechinah, in which God discovered himself to Moses. Uncircumcised lips, according to the meaning of the phrase in other parts of Scripture, expresses vile, unworthy, unfit; and therefore Moses here, with great modesty and humility, declares his own unworthiness and inability to persuade Pharaoh. The expression seems similar in import to that which he uses, ch. Exodus 4:10 though, perhaps, it is more emphatically lowly. It is very certain, that the word uncircumcised, was used as a term of contempt among the Jews; who used to call the Gentiles uncircumcised. Hence they speak of uncircumcised ears; uncircumcised hearts; Jeremiah 6:10; Jeremiah 9:26 which imply hearts and ears unholy and unsanctified; deaf to true wisdom; insensible of true goodness; vile and unworthy. To suppose, as some have done from this passage, that Moses was tongue-tied, seems ridiculous enough. The phrase, naturally and clearly expresses his lowly opinion of himself, his unfitness for such an office, and his inability to persuade or prevail.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Exodus 6:12". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/exodus-6.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

i.e. Of polluted lips. Uncircumcision being a great defect and blemish, whereby men were rendered profane, contemptible, and unfit for many services and privileges, may note any defect, whether moral, and of the spirit, or natural, and of the body. So here it notes Moses’s inability to clothe God’s commands in such words as might prevail with Pharaoh. But this was a great weakness of faith, as if God could not effect his purpose, because the instrument was unfit.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Exodus 6:12". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/exodus-6.html. 1685.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Uncircumcised lips. So he calls the defect he had in his words, or utterance. (Challoner) --- The Hebrews call the heart, &c., uncircumcised, when it has any natural or moral defect, Acts vii. 15. (Tirinus) --- "I do not speak the language in its purity." Sym.[Symmachus?], "I express my sentiments with difficulty," chap. iv. 10. (Onkelos.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Exodus 6:12". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/exodus-6.html. 1859.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(12) How then shall Pharaoh hear me?—This time the objection comes from Moses. His double rejection, by Pharaoh (Exodus 5:1-4) and by Israel (Exodus 6:9), had thrown him back into utter despondency. All that diffidence and distrust of himself which he had shown in his earlier communications with Jehovah (Exodus 3:11; Exodus 4:1; Exodus 4:10; Exodus 4:13) revived, and he despaired of success in his mission. Was it of any use his making a second appeal to the foreign monarch when he had failed with his own countrymen?

Uncircumcised lips.—Rosenmüller argues from this expression that Moses was “tongue-tied;” but it is not clear that more is meant here than in Exodus 4:10, where Moses says that Hebrews 13 “slow of speech and of a slow tongue.” He had some difficulty of utterance; but whether or not it was a physical impediment remains uncertain. “Uncircumcised” is used, according to the Hebrew idiom, for any imperfection which interferes with efficiency. An “uncircumcised ear,” is explained in Jeremiah 6 to be an ear that “cannot hearken;” and an “uncircumcised heart: (Lev. xxvi 41) is a heart that fails to understand.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Exodus 6:12". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/exodus-6.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?
children
9; 3:13; 4:29-31; 5:19-21
am
The italics shew that this word has been supplied by our translators; hence it may be inferred by some that Moses was uncircumcised. The difficulty is in some measure cleared away, by using the word uncircumcised in the sense of unsuitable or incapacitated, see ver. 30, which agrees with ch. 4:10 where Moses complains of want of eloquence; but by substituting is for am in this place, the connection with the former part of the verse is preserved; "For if the chosen seed, the circumcised sons of Jacob, refuse to hear me," as though Moses had said, "how can I expect to make uncircumcised Pharaoh pay attention to me?"
30; 4:10; Leviticus 26:41; Deuteronomy 30:6; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 1:6; 6:10; 9:26; Acts 7:51
Reciprocal: Exodus 3:11 - GeneralLeviticus 19:23 - uncircumcised;  Ezekiel 24:27 - thy

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Exodus 6:12". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/exodus-6.html.