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Exodus Chapter 4
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The Burning Bush
4:1 When Moses [was able to] reply, he said, 'But they will not believe me. They will not listen to me. They will say, 'God did not appear to you.' '
4:2 'What is that in your hand?' asked God.

'A staff.'

4:3 'Throw it on the ground.'

When [Moses] threw it on the ground, it turned into a snake, and Moses ran away from it.

4:4 God said to Moses, 'Reach out and grasp its tail.' When [Moses] reached out and grasped [the snake], it turned back into a staff in his hand.
4:5 'This is so that they will believe that God appeared to you,' [He said]. 'The God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.'
4:6 God then said to Moses, 'Place your hand [on your chest] inside your robe.'

When [Moses] placed his hand in his robe and removed it from his chest, it was leprous, [as white] as snow.

4:7 'Place your hand in your robe again,' said [God].

[Moses] placed his hand [back] into his robe, and when he removed it from his chest, his skin had returned to normal.

4:8 'If they do not believe you,' [said God], 'and they do not pay attention to the first miraculous sign, then they will believe the evidence of the second sign.
4:9 'And if they also do not believe these two signs, and still do not take you seriously, then you shall take some water from the Nile and spill it on the ground. The water that you will take from the Nile will turn into blood on the ground.'
4:10 Moses pleaded with God. 'I beg You, O God, I am not a man of words - not yesterday, not the day before - not from the very first time You spoke to me. I find it difficult to speak and find the right language.'
4:11 'Who gave man a mouth?' replied God. 'Who makes a person dumb or deaf? Who gives a person sight or makes him blind? Is it not I - God?
4:12 Now go! I will be with your mouth and teach you what to say.'
4:13 'I beg you O Lord!' exclaimed [Moses]. 'Please! Send someone more appropriate!'
4:14 God displayed anger toward Moses. 'Is not Aaron the Levite your brother?' He said. 'I know that he knows how to speak! He is setting out to meet you, and when he sees you, his heart will be glad.
4:15 You will be able to speak to him, and place the words in his mouth. I will then be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what to do.
4:16 He will speak to the people for you. He will be your spokesman, and you will be his guide.
4:17 Take this staff in your hand. With it, you will perform the miracles.'

Moses Leaves Midian
4:18 Moses left and returned to his father-in-law Jether. He said, 'I would like to leave and return to my people in Egypt, to see if they are still alive.'

'Go in peace,' said Jethro to Moses.

4:19 While Moses was still in Midian, God said to him, 'Go return to Egypt. All the men who seek your life have died.'
4:20 Moses took his wife and sons and, putting them on a donkey, set out to return to Egypt. He also took the divine staff in his hand.
4:21 God said to Moses, 'On your way back to Egypt, keep in mind all the wondrous powers that I have placed in your hand. You will use them before Pharaoh. But I will make him obstinate, and he will not allow the people to leave.
4:22 You must say to Pharaoh, 'This is what God says: Israel is My son, My firstborn.
4:23 I have told you to let My son go and serve Me. If you refuse to let him leave, I will [ultimately] kill your own first-born son.' '
4:24 When they were in the place where they spent the night along the way, God confronted Moses and wanted to kill him.
4:25 Tzipporah took a stone knife and cut off her son's foreskin, throwing it down at [Moses'] feet. 'As far as I am concerned, you're married to blood, she said [to the child].
4:26 [God] then spared [Moses]. '[You were] married to blood because of circumcision,' she said.

First Confrontation with Pharaoh
4:27 God said to Aaron, 'Go meet Moses in the desert.'

[Aaron] went, and when he met [Moses] near God's Mountain, he kissed him.

4:28 Moses described to Aaron everything that God had told him about his mission, as well as the miraculous proofs that He had instructed him to display.
4:29 Moses and Aaron went [to Egypt], and they gathered all the elders of Israel.
4:30 Aaron related all the words that God had told Moses, and he demonstrated the miraculous proofs before the people.
4:31 The people believed. They accepted the message that God had granted special providence to the Israelites, and that He had seen their misery. They bowed their heads and prostrated themselves.



Commentary:

first time You spoke to me
  This indicates either that Moses had heard God's voice before, or that he had spent quite a while near the Burning Bush (Rashi; Seder Olam Rabbah 5). Or, 'even after You spoke to me' (Ramban; Lekach Tov), or, 'because You have spoken to me' and I am so immersed in prophecy (Ralbag).

I find it difficult to speak...
  (Rashbam; Lekach Tov; Chizzkuni; Ralbag). Literally, 'I am heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue.' Others write that it denotes a speech defect (Rashi; Ibn Ezra; Ralbag; Bachya, quoting Rabbenu Chananel).

Send someone more appropriate
  (Targum; Sforno). Literally, 'send by the one You will send.' Or, 'Send whomever else You wish' (Rashi; Rashbam); or, 'Send [Aaron], the one You usually send' (Rashi).

spokesman
  Literally, 'mouth.'

guide
  (Ralbag). Literally, 'God' or 'judge.' Or, 'master' (Targum; Rashi; Rashbam).

Jether
  Yether in Hebrew, another form of Jethro (Exodus 3:1). Some say that the name was changed to Jethro when he became a believer (Rashi on Exodus 18:1). Here, we see that it was at this point, when he spoke to Moses, who had just returned from Sinai.

sons
  This indicates that Moses' second son, Eliezer (Exodus 18:4) had already been born. He might have just been born, and since it was before his circumcision, not yet named. See Exodus 4:24.

make him obstinate
  Literally, 'harden his heart.'

wanted to kill him
  Moses, for not circumcising his son. According to others, it was for delaying (see Exodus 4:27; Rashbam cf. Nedarim 34a). Some say that God wanted to kill the uncircumcised infant (Nedarim 32a).

her son's
  Some say that it was her newborn son Eliezer (Sh'moth Rabbah, Rashi; Ibn Ezra). According to others, it was the older son, Gershom, who was not yet circumcised (Targum Yonathan; Sefer HaYashar).

throwing it down
  (Rashi). Literally, 'touching;' see note, this verse 'Moses' feet.'

Moses' feet
  (Rashi; Rashbam; Ibn Ezra). In the Talmud, one opinion is that it was at Moses' feet, another that it was at the child's feet, and a third, that it was at the feet of the angel who wanted to kill him (Yerushalmi, Nedarim 3:9). Others have, 'the blood ran down [the child's] feet' (Ralbag); or, 'She peeled back [the foreskin] toward his legs' (Malbim).

married
  Literally, 'a bridegroom of blood.' Some interpret the Hebrew word chathan here to denote a newly circumcised child (Ibn Ezra), because the child is being initiated into new joy (Radak, Sherashim).

to blood
  Or, 'you are like a murderer to me' (Ibn Ezra; Radak; Sherashim; Tur); 'you are the murderer of my husband' (Rashi); or 'You are bleeding so much' (Ralbag). According to the opinion that she was addressing Moses (see note, this verse, 'to the child'), she said, 'Through this bloody child you will remain mine [and live]' (Rashbam; Targum Yonathan); or, 'Your marriage to me requires this blood' (Sforno; Chizzkuni; Tur; cf. Targum). Or, 'the circumcision blood of [my son] is staunched' (Septuagint).

to the child
  In the Talmud there is a debate as to whether she was addressing Moses or the child (Yerushalmi, Nedarim 3:9).

to Aaron
  Who was then in Egypt.

God's mountain
  See note on Exodus 3:1, that this appears to indicate that Sinai was on a direct route between Egypt and Midian. However, God may have been angry with Moses for taking this indirect route through the southern Sinai (see note on Exodus 4:24).





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